Being a Dexter series fan, I was extremely excited when I saw the batch of Jeff Lindsay novels on the shelves of our local bookstore. I immediately planned to buy it and even read the first few pages just to get myself pumped up and interested to it. Although I’ve read reviews that it wasn’t really a necessary obligation to read the book just because you love the series, I knew being a big fan requires me to at least give it a try. And I did. But just like most people who admire the series maybe as much as I did and read the book, I was also left disappointed. The special aspect of the book that I was hoping for was how the voice of the novel must be told from the mind of Dexter, our beloved hero/serial killer. But unlike the show, the way Dexter’s thought process is projected in the novel was a bit incoherent and messy. It didn’t seem convincing in a sense that the reader expects much more darkness, vile, and queer thoughts rather than the humorous sickly and pretentious ideas like a puzzle with forced pieces.
Such 1st person perspective technique of a very unique character is always a risky job for a writer and this one falls just as hard as other attempts. I still see the book as something unique though, even though it won’t ever match how the writers of the TV series has created and evolved this new Dexter. Much of the plot of the novel has also been recuperated into the series, so were the characters regarding season 1, and it’s quite respected to both lovers of either the show, the book and/or both.
Plot: It was a bit slow and unconvincing. Not because there was a sense of magical realism or over-the-board scenes that would make you actually feel you are reading fiction, but that the way the mystery of the novel tries to create a compacted story just seemed incoherent. Much of the blame here, of course, is pointed towards how Dexter’s thought process and ideas regarding the external world and what’s happening around it are projected.
Characters: Obviously, Dexter is still one of the characters that I deeply enjoyed. Although being a great big fan of the series would definitely make me very biased reader (as I couldn’t help but compare the Dexter in the novel with the Dexter played by Michael C. Hall) he was still a character that is easy to relate and like, despite his actions being seen by the objective eye as an antagonist.
Deborah was annoying for me, and so were the other minor characters. Brian, Dexter’s brother, didn’t seem believable as I was actually close to summarize that the conscious antagonist of the story is actually Dexter’s subconscious actions coming into greater and more mysterious light.
Imagery: I didn’t felt it. The way the story went was just plain. Maybe the theme that Lindsay was trying to build was the overall dark feeling of it all. But I have my own taste, and no imagery in the book really impressed me.
Reflections: Dexter’s reflections were always there, and we can’t escape it. Maybe he had his moments were a normal reader would solemnly agree and sympathize with him, but there were also numerous times where his reflections could have been better. The opportunity was always there. We, as an audience, needed a serial killer with a conscience. And to have that, we needed our hero to reflect on his killings. How his life and the people he loves or admires revolve around his dark secrets. We needed him to reflect about life and death, we needed him to philosophize even in his own subjective way, but they just weren’t there.
Writings Style: I’m not fond of Lindsay’s writing style. They were out of taste and a bit too forced and easy, like one that may simply come from an average amateur writer. The witty remarks as well have been done before by even lesser writers.
Whatever made me the way I am left me hollow, empty inside, unable to feel. It doesn’t seem like a big deal. I’m quite sure most people fake an awful lot of everyday human contact. I just fake all of it. I fake it very well, and the feelings are never there.- Darkly Dreaming Dexter, 15. Jeff Lindsay.
I did not seem to be thinking any slower or more strangely, and so far I’d had no conversations with invisible buddies that I was aware of.Except in my sleep, of course—and did that really count? Weren’t we all crazy in our sleep? What was sleep, after all, but the process by which we dumped our insanity into a dark subconscious pit and came out on the other side ready to eat cereal instead of the neighbor’s children?- Darkly Dreaming Dexter, 240. Jeff Lindsay.
Reference: Lindsay, Jeff. 2004. Darkly Dreaming Dexter. USA: Vintage Books.