Review: Jeff Lindsay's Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Posted on Friday, September 4, 2015 by

When I was approached to write for Girl Terror, I really was flattered. I've never been part of something as amazing as this, so I was not going to turn down the opportunity. However, I was stuck with the decision of what to write about. It didn’t take too long to figure out that I was going to review Jeff Lindsay’s novel, Darkly Dreaming Dexter. After all, if you have been following my YouTube Channel or my social network pages, I have been on a Dexter kick for a while now. I have been a dedicated fan to the Showtime Original Series Dexter, and I’ve always wanted to read the novels. It literally took me 9 years to hop on the bandwagon and I am very glad that I did. The novel and the TV show have a lot of common ground, but there are also many differences.

Jeff Lindsay has a perfect way of getting inside the mind of Dexter Morgan, a forensic blood splatter analyst who is also a serial killer. Dexter is directed by his "dark passenger," or an inner voice, that persuades him to kill. A good portion of this novel is parallel to the first season Showtime’s series so if you’re a fan of the show, you can easily follow the novel and it will read fast.  The biggest difference you will find in the novel are the characters themselves. There are slight name changes, job changes, and some character’s importance are minor compared to the TV series. I'm holding back some major spoilers because the character development is much different than the TV show, but boy, there are some differences that are pretty interesting.

One major difference to me is Dexter himself. In the novel, he seems a lot less human compared to the TV show. It appeared to me as if he was stuck more inside his head than he was in the show. Is this why there was more of a dreaming undertone? (Wait, this IS called Darkly Dreaming Dexter. Moving on…) I found that the conversations Dexter had with himself were more frequent. However, Jeff Lindsay’s version of Dexter is equally dark, psychological, and precise.  Additionally, Dexter's dialogue was spot on. I mentally pictured Michael C. Hall narrating the novel just as he did on the TV show. I think it will be very hard to disconnect yourself from the tone, inflection, and enunciation that Michael C. Hall provided in his portrayal of Dexter. Jeff Lindsay captured his emotions (or lack thereof) very clearly. I found that there were many times within the novel that I was sucked in just due to the writing and how easy it was to understand Dexter and his missions. 

The leading females in this novel also have their share of differences. Deb is still a stubborn, determined woman who yearns for respect and advancement within her career. Rita is still broken and frail, as she was seen during the TV show, even though she had some minor differences. LaGuerta’s role in the book is definitely different, and quite possibly dumbed down. I really found myself liking LaGuerta from the TV series better than the novel. In the TV series she appeared much stronger, but I really don’t want to talk too much about LaGuerta because the novel had a twist that I was not expecting at all.

Another difference that stood out to me was the development of the Ice Truck Killer. The TV series had room to develop and grow the reaction to the killer but in the novel, it seemed like there was a weaker connection. I think that the novel lacked some details and psychological bond to which affected Dexter, and the details of the true identity of the Ice Truck Killer. Also, some chain of events with the murders were out of order and when comparing the TV show to the novel, I sometimes forget that the novel came first. I do feel that the TV show gave better justice to the Ice Truck Killer and that major twist was more powerful during the TV series.

Jeff Lindsay made it really easy to love all the characters in this novel. The way he was able to throw in some sarcasm and wit, just made it that much easier to read. After I finished reading this novel, I had to sit down and think hard about this: "was the novel better than the TV series?" This novel is the only novel that is parallel to the TV series so when I begin to read the other novels, I am going to learn a whole different story about the characters I love so much from the TV show.  Again, I’m reading this after the TV series has come to an end, so I have to really disconnect myself from the show in order to really get the proper reaction to these novels.

In conclusion, I found that Darkly Dreaming Dexter was just as enjoyable as the TV show. I feel that Jeff Lindsay did a wonderful job introducing us to the world and mind of Dexter Morgan. I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves the TV series or someone who enjoys books about crime and murder. The novel is not very long (at a whopping 288 pages) and I found that I was able to sit down and read many chapters at once. It was hard to put it down. Plus, if it weren’t for Jeff Lindsay, we wouldn’t have had the TV show. So, thank you Mr. Lindsay for giving birth to Dexter. I look forward to reading the rest of his novels and growing another love for Dexter to satisfy my addiction to the TV show!

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