I was a latecomer to the Dexter series and, curiosity piqued, I read what I thought was a series of seven books. Turns out to be eight, and I needed to wait a short while for the publication of the last. Annoying to a reader who read seven consecutively all the way through, but an interesting exercise in comparing the books to the show.
There are differences between the books and series — and I had no reason to worry about reading and watching simultaneously as aside from the first title, the books approach a different tangent. There are as many similarities as there are differences, and someone can enjoy both without interfering with the other.
Having said all that, I will add something I rarely say. I prefer the series. This is not to belittle the books or the writer. Usually, I’d chose a book over a filmed adaptation or like them equally, but the series lasted for so long it explored Dexter’s personality to a greater depth and questioned many more issues. The books are lighter, although the series portrays a serial killer who delivers a quicker and cleaner death. The books aren’t explicit but deliver a far different scenario — the Dexter of the books likes to play a little. What I disliked most from the books was the paranormal aspects added to one story and the suggested evolution of the ‘Dark Passenger’. This appeared to provide an excuse and a pardon for every killer’s behaviour. I also disliked Dexter the most in book seven and in a way I’ve never disliked the character on screen. Television Dexter developed, became far more multi-layered than the book version. What’s not to prefer? Still, as always, there would be no series without the books, without the writer. It’s too easy to watch television, forgetting without the writer there is nothing.
My current dilemma is, owning both the series and the novels, and attempting to be more ruthless with what I keep… do I abandon the books to the charity pile? I guess maybe… though perhaps not yet. Should I want to write an anti-hero sometime, Dexter is a character worth more examination.