Unfortunately, neither The Boyfriend nor Starbucks Queen are even the slightest bit interested in True Blood, and most of the people I know who are have either only read the books or only seen the show or are behind on the show because they're watching it on DVD or whatever. Therefore, I am spewing out all my opinions here because I can't keep them to myself any longer.
Reasons the Books are Better than the Show:
1. Sookie is a lot less annoying when you can't hear her. I like Anna Paquin, and think she mostly does an okay job with the character (though this season the writing for her has been weak at best) but sometimes she has a voice like a dental drill. Particularly when she is shrieking "BEEEEEEEEEELL!" every 38 seconds.
2. In the books, Alcide is a hottie and he and Sookie have crazy chemistry. On the show he has all the personality of a garden hose, and he and Sookie seem to barely like one another. He's been underused this season, but I'm not exactly sad, because the actor playing him is a significant disappointment.
3. The books are a little more focused than the show, allowing the Sookie character to be more important. They're told from her point of view, so reader can find her character more sympathetic.
4. The fairy Claudine is more awesome and interesting and involved and less "Whoo, I'm mysterious and pointy-faced in my fuzzy-filtered Stevie Nicks world!" Her character personality-wise is much more similar in the books to what Maryanne was last season. In the books, Claudine is an active and vital force for good out in the world rather than the twinkly, whimpering doom-whisperer she's been thus far on the show.
5. There is a lot less Arlene in the books. I find Arlene and her storyline sort of annoying this season, though I think the actress is doing the best she can with the little she's been given. She's a shrill character, and I wish she'd been improved instead of turned into a whiny stereotype and easy doorway for witchcraft to enter the show.
6. Calvin Norris is an interesting and complicated character, instead of a deranged meth head who shouldn't have even showed up until season 4. I was extremely disappointed at how he's been used in the show, since his character in the books is another option for Sookie--a slightly more "normal" guy who wants to give her a more "normal" life. I mean, aside from being a panther, obviously.
7. Bubba! I know why they can't use him on the show, but I do miss him.
Reasons the Show is Better Than the Books:
1. Lafayette doesn't die! In the books, he's a throwaway character who gets murdered at the end of book one. In the show, he is just a huge bowl of awesome and Nelsan Ellis should get an award or a big check or something. He's an effeminate-looking gay tough guy, who has a lot of great lines, and I'm happy that he finally has someone to appreciate him, though I'm not sure I like where this Jesus thing is going.
2. Jason is a better character. In the books he's kind of a selfish jerk, whereas in the show he is sometimes self-involved, but sweet...though not very bright. Often, watching Jason try to puzzle out what's going on around him and figure out what the appropriate response should be is the funniest part of the episode. I am admittedly rather unimpressed with him and his whole wannabe-cop, dating the meth-girl story line this season. He's a much better brother than he is in the books, though, and I have liked his interactions with Sookie.
3. Although this season the side characters have gotten a little out of control, in the past I have enjoyed how some of the very minor book characters have developed their own lives and personalities and story lines. Terry Bellefleur is a great example of this--he's mentioned in the books in passing, but I have liked his character and become invested in what happens to him (frankly, his relationship with Arlene and falling out with Sam has me very concerned at the moment). Sam is another character that is not nearly as important in the books as he is in the show. It's interesting to see him have his own life, though I could have happily done without his creepy white-trash family. (Also, the dude who plays him is adorable and apparently not shy about getting naked a lot.)
4. Jessica! She's a completely new invention from Alan Ball, and she's great -- a young vampire, a counterpoint to Bill, Eric, Pam, and all the other vamps we know who are centuries old. She's a modern girl trying to figure out how to behave and where her place in the world might be. The interactions between her and Bill (her unwilling surrogate dad, who--we're led to believe--is nicer to her than her real dad ever was), her and Sookie (both a surrogate mom and an older sister, helping Jessica see how a nice--but not stiflingly sheltered--girl behaves), her and Hoyt (one of the cutest relationships on the show), and her and Pam (who shows her how a BAD girl behaves) are all great and show different sides of familiar characters.
5. As many have been mentioning this season, Dennis O'Hare's Russell Edgington has been campy fun all the way around. Although his storyline is very different than it was in the books, he's been a delight to watch in every episode. He's another person who deserves an award or a large check (particularly since I think his character doesn't have much longer to live.)
Things That are Ties:
1. Tara in the books is a minor side character who is not very interesting. I really liked her character in Season One, but she all of season two and most of season three weeping around. I miss when she was feisty. I did enjoy her recent conversation with Sam, but she seriously needs to stop getting all the "victim" stories.
2. Sam's brother, a recent addition, could go either way. I'm not sure if the show is better because he's in it or the books are better because he's not. Although I like that he's kind of scrappy, and his crush on Jessica is kind of cute, he can be a pain-in-the-ass for no reason. Like, okay, you are uneducated and have daddy issues and mommy issues and class issues. Stop treating Sam like trash and let him help you out, pitbull face.
3. The Queen is not interesting to me in the books or the show. She is just dull and mostly used as a plot point rather than a real character.
4. I'd really like to see Sookie's friendship with Pam develop as it does in the books, but so far, Kristen Bauer has done a great job being icy and sarcastic and yet deeply attached to her maker on the show.
5. Eric is awesome no matter where he is. I really don't know how he could be improved. Then again, I am a sucker for a saucy viking.
Any other thoughts?