Wednesday, October 20, 2010

First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde (audio)

Book Description:
Literary sleuth Thursday Next is out to save literature in the fifth installment of Jasper Fforde's wildly popular series.

Beloved for his prodigious imagination, his satirical gifts, his literate humor, and sheer silliness, Jasper Fforde has delighted book lovers since Thursday Next first appeared in The Eyre Affair, a genre send-up hailed as an instant classic. Since the no-nonsense literary detective from Swindon made her debut, literature has never been quite the same. Neither have nursery rhymes, for that matter.

It's been fourteen years since Thursday pegged out at the 1988 SuperHoop, and Friday is now a difficult sixteen year old. However, Thursday's got bigger problems. Sherlock Holmes is killed at the Rheinback Falls and his series is stopped in its tracks. And before this can be corrected, Miss Marple dies suddenly in a car accident, bringing her series to a close as well. When Thursday receives a death threat clearly intended for her written self, she realizes what's going on—there is a serial killer on the loose in the Bookworld. And that's not all—The Goliath Corporation is trying to deregulate book travel. Naturally, Thursday must travel to the outer limits of acceptable narrative possibilities to triumph against increasing odds.

Packed with word play, bizarre and entertaining subplots, and old-fashioned suspense, Thursday's return is sure to be celebrated by Jasper's fanatical fans and the critics who have loved him since the beginning.

Finally, I’ve finished the Thursday Next series, which for the most part was highly enjoyable, except for the fact that the series began to fizzle as it got closer to the end. This last book was somewhat of a disappointment. Rambling and disjointed, it was the weakest of the series. It really seemed more like a re-tread of all the previous books, summarizing what went on in them.

Here we find Thursday, and it’s fourteen years later from where the last book (Something Rotten) left off. Thursday and Landen are middle aged marrieds with their children. Friday is a grubby teenager, who barely speaks in anything other than monosyllables. There are two other younger daughters, Tuesday and Jen who we never see. We find out later that Jen is a figment of Thursday’s imagination and doesn’t really exist, due to a spell that Uranus Hades put on her. The narrative is from Thursday’s point of view, so she wouldn’t know this of course, until Landen and Friday tell her, but, due to the spell, Thursday can only remember this fact for a few hours at most before forgetting again and thinking she has a teenage daughter who is up in her room studying or something.

Anyway, back to the story, Thursday has been faking retirement from SpecOps all these years. She’s been hiding her secret from Landen, making him believe she works for a carpet installation company. Meanwhile, she’s still flitting in and out of Jurisfiction, the backbone of the behind the scenes book world that exists in all the Thursday Next novels. Jurisfiction is a brilliant alternate world and my favorite place in all these books. At first things seem a bit tame, until we realize that something is up and there is a dastardly scheme afoot to turn the beloved masterpiece, Pride and Prejudice into a reality TV show! I must admit, I had to laugh over this – it’s not a bad idea! But, the clincher is, if it’s made into a horrible reality show, the original book will disappear! Oh no! Can Thursday stop it? Mrs. Bennet, Kitty and Lydia, of course, are all for the idea, Jane is her usual noncommittal self as long as everyone is happy, Lizzy is distrustful of it – and darn! We never got to see or hear from Darcy – I would have loved to know what he thought of it!

While Thursday is trying to thwart this travesty from happening, she's battling all sort of other disasters due to the "serial" killer (hilarious pun!).  She’s also training her “other” Thursday trainees, one who is known as Thursday5, a peace loving, Earth Shoe, yoga loving Thursday and Thursday 1-4, who is nothing like Thursday5. Thursday5 follows the “real” Thursday all around in Jurisfiction – learning the ways of being a Jurisfication agent. The other one, Thursday 1-4 (based on the books written about Thursday’s adventures) is more like a Lara Croft wannabe. She was quite amusing with her snide remarks and put downs of Thursday5. Everyone detests her in Jurisfiction-including the real Thursday, who disapproved of the way she was written in the first four novels about her.  Thursday 1-4 has plans of her own to secretly turn Jurisfiction upside down – a major takeover more like!

In addition, Thursday is worried about the future of her son Friday and if he’s ever going to save the world. The way he is at 16 is not all that promising – but thanks to her time warp/travelling capabilities from her Dad and Uncle, she knows that Friday is destined to be a genius and play a huge part in time travel and saving the world! But, will he? Uh oh! *much too complicated to go into*

The usual mayhem takes place at the end of the book, but all ends well. The book wasn’t bad, it does have it’s moments, but it did seem to fall a little flat. Overall, it’s an amazing series, with loads of humor and plays on words, it’s ingenious the way it’s written.  Yet, I got the impression that Fforde got tired of it and wanted to end it with the last book, Something Rotten, and was talked into writing another.

I listened to this on audio, which was narrated by Emily Grey, a different narrator than the earlier books. She did a fine job, but I disliked the way she made Landen sound, as if he’s some big, dumb galoof, otherwise it was good, but not great.



Yvette said...

I'm with you, Julie. I didn't much like this last Thursday Next book. It was just okay, not nearly as wonderful as the previous book, SOMETHING ROTTEN when all things Danish were outlawed including Danish pastry. I've loved this series since the beginning. Jasper Fforde is a treasure. The pet dodo, Pickwick - need I say more? Ha!

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

I thought it was a very, very clever series, although Something Rotten wasn't one of my favorites. I think my favorite was Book 2, when we first meet Miss Havisham (I loved her!) I loved the Well of Lost Plots too, the Heathcliff Anger Management group was hilarious, as well as the Jurisfiction award show! I thought it was so funny how Heathcliff is the most hated book character in Jurisfiction! (I admit, I am NOT a fan of Wuthering Heights - I had no sympathy for a single character in the entire book!)

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