Friday, February 26, 2010

Thursday Next - First Among Sequels - Jasper Fforde


2007; 362 pages. #5 in the Thursday Next series (or #6, if you count "The Great Samuel Pepys Fiasco"). Genre : Fictional Book-Jumping. Overall Rating : 9*/10.
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It's been 14 years since the events in Something Rotten. Thursday Next is now ostensibly living a quiet life with hubby Landen and three kids (Friday, Tuesday, and Jenny). She's working for a carpet company, but the carpet company is a front for the officially disbanded SpecOps, and SpecOps is a front for Thursday's job with Jurisfiction.
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Trouble is a-brewin'. There's a Stupidity Surplus in England and Reading Rates are down. Cheese-smuggling is rampant and the Minotaur is still on the loose. The Hades family is back in action, as is Goliath Corp. Not only is The End Of Time rapidly approaching, but what they do to Pride And Prejudice is absolutely intolerable.
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What's To Like...
It's vintage Fforde - lots of threads and lots of wit. There are multiple Thursdays, multiple Fridays, multiple timelines, and lots of books-jumping. Fforde teases you with oodles of plot detail tidbits, and you have to figure out whether they're red herrings, MacGuffins, loose ends, or integral parts of one of the plotlines. There's some of each.
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Some old friends are back. Uncle Mycroft has died, but his ghost still putters around in the workshop. Pickwick has lost all her feathers and needs a knitted sweater. Even the Cat Formerly Known as Cheshire shows up.
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The book gets off to a slow start. Fforde spends a lot of time with the back-story, especially explaining how all the SpecOps and Jurisfiction departments are set up. After a hundred pages, I was beginning to wonder when the action would begin. I shouldn't've worried. The last 250 pages are fantastic.
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Kewl New Words...
Marram : a type of grass usually found on beaches. Profligate : wildly extravagant. Duvet : a soft quilt, usually filled with down. Privet : a European shrub, commonly used to make hedgerows.
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Excerpts...
"Splendid! I just had an idea for a cheap form of power : by bringing pasta and antipasta together, we could be looking at the utter annihilation of ravioli and the liberation of vast quantities of energy. I safely predict that an average-size cannelloni would be able to power Swindon for over a year. Mind you, I could be wrong." (pg. 18)
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"...and the first classic to be turned into a reality book show?"
"Pride and Prejudice, announced Yogert proudly. "It will be renamed The Bennets and will be serialized live in your household copy the day after tomorrow. Set in starchy early-nineteenth-century England, the series will feature Mr. and Mrs. Bennet and their five daughters being given tasks and then voted out of the house one by one, with the winner going on to feature in Northanger Abbey, which itself will be the subject of more 'readeractive' changes." (pg. 272-73)
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Paragraph Lost...
This was a delightful read, so it rates Nine Stars. First Among Sequels ends by setting up the next book, which is titled "One of our Thursdays is Missing".
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My only concern is whether Fforde's getting burnt out on the Thursday Next tales. This book came out in 2007. He's promised us at least one more book in the "Nursery Crime" series; and his most-recent offering is Shades Of Grey, the first story in a new trilogy. Will he run out of new twists in the book-jumping theme? Is he looking for novel challenges? Oh well. Even if it ends with the next installment, it's been fun following Thursday's exploits.

4 comments:

Amanda said...

I thought this was the last book in the series?

I tried to skim through this review so I wouldn't have spoilers in the others. I still have only read the first two.

Hamilcar Barca said...

Wikipedia says the next one will come out sometime in 2011.

No problem re spoilers in the review. Teasers abound, but i consciously avoided revealing anything meaningful about the plot.

Lula O said...

I thought he was done too, so I'm happy to be wrong. I agree I hope he doesn't fry the egg a little too much.

Hamilcar Barca said...

Fforde has already picked the title for the next one, so i presume he's started working on it. indeed, i'd think he's pretty far along, since he's saying that the finished book will come out next year.

it's hard to discuss why i think he might be getting burnt out on the TN series without giving away spoilers. but i like your wording, Lula. "frying the egg a little too much."