Darkly Dreaming Dexter Book Review

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Darkly Dreaming Dexter is the book that started it all. Without this we would never have gotten the great TV series Dexter.  As for the book itself, you appreciation of it will come down to two things. Whether you like the show and if you can accept the fact that the Dexter in this novel is an altogether different creature, with an even more dark and demented passenger than what get in the show. Read on for the blood splatter report…

Slightly longer nitty gritty plot description from the back cover is as follows: Meet Dexter Morgan, a polite wolf in sheep’s clothing. He’s handsome and charming, but something in his past has made him abide by a different set of rules. He’s a serial killer whose one golden rule makes him immensely likeable: he only kills bad people. And his job as a blood splatter expert for the Miami police department puts him in the perfect position to identify his victims. But when a series of brutal murders bearing a striking similarity to his own style start turning up, Dexter is caught between being flattered and being frightened–of himself or some other fiend. 

This a hard review to do with being bias towards the show and comparing both. After watching 6 seasons of Dexter, you have an image of the characters you love and hate and when you start reading a book with them in it, even though the book came before the show, you can’t help but compare, judge and critique everything. Darkly Dreaming Dexter is the first novel in a series of Dexter related shenanigans and is also the novel that the first season was based off of.  Sadly, the novel pales in comparison to that great season 1 involving the chilling Ice Truck Killer. In the novel, we’re introduced to Dexter and in first person storytelling, stick with him the entire way through. Unfortunately, Dexter is such a narcissistic and completely demented character, you’ll have a hard time trying to root for him. You’ll be yelling at the page whenever he moans about having no emotions, yet is clearly displaying several emotions. Any sort of passion towards him will be thrown out the window when you he’ll start thinking of murdering innocent people (he’s conflicted on the matter, but I’m thinking that could change at anytime) and how it might feel exhilarating to do it. We certainly have a different Dexter on our hands. Like I said before, it’s hard not to be bias.

What about the other characters, such as Deborah, LaGuerta, Angel and Rita?  They are introduced, but character development is paper thin on them.  Deborah is very similar to her character on the TV show. LaGuerta is a hound with an extreme and unhealthy desire towards Dexter. Angel is barely in the novel and isn’t worth talking about. Rita on the other hand is extremely close to her TV counterpart.    

As for the story, if you’ve seen the first season of Dexter, you’ll know where the story is going most of the time. Several changes were made for TV and honestly they were made for the better.  The book reads incredibly fast and due to this, the story is straight and to the point. The ending comes up fast and before you know it, the book is done and several plot threads are left hanging and your left wondering why you didn’t just stick to the show. 

I’ll be honest, if I didn’t see Dexter on TV and all I had was this book, I would’ve enjoyed it much better than I did. I flew through the book, reading chapter after chapter; it was most definitely a page turner. I needed to see how it would end, but I feel like the only reason I had this feeling, was because I wanted to see how different it was going to be, when compared to the show. Due to this, any enjoyment I had after the last page was killed. The only thing I can recommend is this: if you’re going to read the Dexter book series (which I will be doing regardless of my feelings towards the first book), separate any feelings you have towards the show and go in clean without any preconceived notions of it being as good or even better. Trust me, you’ll enjoy the read a lot more.

Rating: 2.5/5 (-2 for a cruel and unlikeable Dexter and -0.5 for a sex crazed LaGuerta)

I've been watching horror movies since I was three. In hindsight, it probably wasn't a good idea.
  • I've read this book (I got it for my birthday last year), but I've never seen the show (I have an idea of what the show's like and have seen clips here and there, but that's it). I enjoyed the book, but I agree, I felt like the ending came up too quickly. I thought the book had a good thing going with the Ice Truck Killer, but that whole storyline didn't feel fully developed (through most of the book I was actually expecting that the identity of the Ice Truck Killer wouldn't be revealed until a later book). And the whole part near the end where he can't decide if he'll kill do the right or wrong thing is really just painful and annoying… And the relationship betwen Dexter and Deborah seemed a bit off to me…

    When I finished this book I had every intention of reading the following books in the series, but I never followed through. I think maybe I just didn't care enough about the characters!

    • Definitely don't let this book stop you from seeing the show. It's great…well Season 1, 2 & 4 are great. The rest… yeah.

      I'm going to eventually read the rest. I heard they go crazy with the supernatural in the later books. So come on, how bad can it be?

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