This is not the story of Sookie Stackhouse’s Happily Ever After. This is the sad story of a break-up and moving on. A story of revenge and paybacks. Whether that was Charlaine Harris’s intent with this story, I don’t know, but that’s how it read to me.If you’ve read all the books so far in this series, it was obvious that Eric and Sookie were having major problems in their relationship. Eric had vampire obligations, and Sookie found excuse after excuse to avoid talking to him about them. It’s been a slow decline of this relationship since Dead in the Family, and the conclusion of the series had very few surprises.As a reader, I have no say in how the author chooses to end the story. I just hoped that Charlaine Harris could give us something spectacular to end this series. Dead Ever After wasn’t as bad as I thought, but I don’t think Charlaine Harris delivered anything near the quality of the first nine? books in this series. The plot was predictable, the pace slow and tedious except for a few key scenes, and the characters were "off" in many places. The dash of hope at the end between Sam and Sookie wasn’t enough for me. That’s why I am ranking the book at 2.5 stars.As for the Southern Vampire Mystery (do they still call this series by that name?), it was the same old, same old. Someone is after Sookie. There it is in a nutshell. How many times have we seen some character having it in for her? Mostly the same old villains, too. It’s clear that this series has reached end-of-life when the author can’t come up with some new ideas. In Dead Ever After, the reader knows more about the plot against Sookie, instead of watching Sookie unravel it. There was little mystery in Dead Ever After.There was something a bit strange in this book. It left me with an odd feeling that I still can't entirely put my finger on. From the start I found myself wondering how much of this final book was very personal to Charlaine Harris. Was it a coincidence that the opening scenes are of someone selling their soul to the devil? Some have said CH sold out when she sold the rights for these stories to HBO. I don’t know for sure, but there was something in that beginning that made me think of the parallels.There was also a comment that made me think about the drama surrounding the release of this book. Sookie says:Do you sometimes wish you could fast-forward a week? You know something bad’s coming up, and you know you’ll get through it, but the prospect just makes you feel sick.Charlaine Harris knew that this book would not satisfy readers looking for a Sookie / Eric HEA. Is this her commentary? I don’t know, but there a few times I took notice of such lines in the book. Almost like the last word or a parting shot.Anyway, the middle third of this book was excruciatingly slow. At 40% I couldn’t imagine what more could be in this story. Endless pages of minutiae: hamburgers (although the thought of Quinn sneaking a raw hamburger did put a smile on my face), chicken fried steak, and on and on. I had hoped Charlaine could have at least delivered some excitement, but it just wasn’t there.At least the Eric and Sookie scenes were the most emotionally charged in the book. This romance had been at the heart of this series, and in many ways, it was still front and center in this book. Only it wasn’t all fairy blood and gracious plenty; it was the emotional pain of breaking up. Hard to say whether Sookie truly loved Eric, and vice versa. But it was clear over the last two books their relationship was in serious, possibly permanent trouble. Sookie just never seemed to cut him a break, even in this book.It didn’t bother me that they broke up. It just wasn’t meant to be. Neither one of them wanted it enough.I had some problems with Sookie in this book. She seemed very out of character with her frequent swearing, her hardened attitude, and her depression and loneliness. I wondered how much of this Sookie was influenced by the TB Sookie. Seemed that way to me. I didn’t like this Sookie. At one point in the series, she valued the supernaturals, understanding their challenges of mingling with the humans. She always treated the supes with respect, but in Dead Ever After, she refers to them as creatures, as something less than.As for Eric, much is made throughout the book about his pragmatism, as if it is something that couldn’t exist together with his strong feelings for Sookie. As if being practical meant that he didn’t feel any loss here. But the scenes between Eric and Sookie were the best in this book, with the divorce scene reminiscent of early series scenes. It was emotionally charged and I wish it had been longer. There was some real pain there, much like real divorce and breakups.The ending of the book seemed to be fabricated to explain how Sam and Sookie could potentially have a relationship. I could have done without another scene where Sookie is abducted in a car.With Sam, I wish there had been more build-up to the changes in Sam’s life. He just seemed confused for most of the book until the two of them boink it out. We won’t talk about the sex with Sam. No. We. Won’t. I did like the inclusion of Karen Slaughter. Perhaps my favorite scenes is between Pam, Karen and Sookie, as Pam heals her with vampire blood for one last time, and the three women realize their connection. I was sad though, that Pam and Karen would so easily disparage Eric’s motives for taking care of Sookie. It seemed like even they could not believe he could love.While I thought this was a better book than the last two, it was still a disappointing conclusion to the series.