First Among Sequels

Thursday, October 4, 2012

First Among Sequels
by Jasper Fforde
I love this series so much. I’ve shamefully waited almost three year to read the fifth book, but luckily I wasn’t disappointed. Fourteen years have passed since the end of the 4th book and Thursday has adjusted to her life as a wife and mother, though she may not have given up her work as a literary detective quite as completely as she led her husband to believe. Thursday Next, a literary detective, lives with her husband and kids, Friday, Tuesday and Jenny.
I am constantly astounded by Fforde’s cleverness. He must have such a brilliant mind. His plots are so complex and he always manages to tie everything together beautifully. He’s like the strange literary child of Douglas Adams and P.G. Wodehouse. My favorite part of his books is always the humor and the fantastic literary jokes. For example in one scene Next is talking about a new cadet being inexperienced and said …
“This one was as green as Brighton Rock.”
I know that it’s this very cleverness that is what some readers don’t like and I think he’s one of those authors you either adore or just don’t like. One thing I’ve discovered is that I appreciate these books more now that I’ve had a chance to dig farther into the classics. I get more of the references and humor.
In this Thursday Next book there’s a strange paradox of the other Thursday Next books being referenced within the book. They are part of Book World, just like any book, but it’s odd to wrap your head around. There is Book World, the land inside of books and there is “Outland” the real world. There’s a great explanation about why Outland is so wonderful. There’s a richness in detail in Outland that can’t be matched in the Book World, because in books things like carrots are described simply as a rods of orange, there’s no detail or difference from one carrot to another. Thursday describes it as “living in Lego Land.”
A few fantastic bits that I enjoyed:
1) At one meeting in the Book World Harry Potter is unable to attend because of copyright restrictions.
2) There’s an illegal cheese market, because seriously guys, good cheese is worth buying illegally, it just is.
3) There’s a terrorist threat from the Racy Novels genre, they threaten to drop a “dirty bomb” into serious book. Imagine a sex scene popping up in the middle of a scientific text book or something, hilarious!
4) A serial killer, like a book series… get it. Bahahaha.
5) Generic characters in books often assimilate to the strongest personality, so there are armies of Danverclones, Generics who became Miss Danvers from Rebecca.
BOTTOM LINE: Start with The Eyre Affair, if you like it then keep going with the series because it just gets better. If you don’t like the first one then it’s probably not for you.
"She was the sort of parent you would want to have living close by, but only on the grounds that she would then never come to stay."
“Reading, I had learned, was as creative a process as writing, sometimes more so. 
p.s. Thursday Next is a literary detective and her series is made up of mysteries, so I read this for the R.I.P. Challenge


Sandy Nawrot said...

I would be one of those people who just couldn't love Thursday. I tried, I really did. My expectations were upbeat. But it was almost TOO Britishly clever for me. It got on my nerves. I've never been so sad in my life. There is still a chance that, in the right mood, it would work for me in print. That is on the list for someday!

Jeanne said...

Ha, Douglas Adams and P.G. Wodehouse!

Ana S. said...

I'm with Sandy unfortunately, but I'm willing to give this series another try. Maybe it was just a matter of bad timing?

annieb said...

I read the first three a few years ago and liked them a lot. Then I went on to other things. Time to revisit I think.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Sandy - I've never listened to them on audio, that might make a big difference. I really don't think they're for everyone though. I can see how the cleverness

Ana - It could be timing, but I also think it's one that doesn't work for everybody. You have to really love that sense of humor. It's not one that I would recommend to everyone I know.

annieb - I think the 6th book is the final one in the series. I'm looking forward to reading it next year.

Anonymous said...

douglas and wodehouse? nice. I will make an extra effort to read him, and will take your advice and start with the Jane Eyre Affair.

L (omphaloskepsis)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

contemplatrix - His style reminds me quite a bit of Douglas Adams, incredibly intelligent with a big dash of absurd humor.

Kristi said...

I read the first in the series this summer and really enjoyed it, even though it took me a good chunk of the book before I could really get into it. Based on the premise, I thought it would be kind of a light and silly book, but it was quite dark. I was pleasantly surprised that there was more substance than I was expecting. I have the second one on my nightstand and am hoping to get to it soon. Glad to hear they keep getting better.

ifnotread said...

The only experience I've had of Jasper Fforde is Shades of Grey and I loved it to bits. He is very clever indeed!

Jenners said...

I feel like I need to study before reading these! : )

And I got The Robber Bride today! Thanks so much! I was so excited!

Amanda said...

I read the first two books of this series and really enjoyed them, but I keep getting stuck on The Well of Ascension. I'm not sure why! It just hasn't worked for me as well, and I need to get past it if I'm going to read on.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Kristi - I agree, the first one took me awhile to get into. You really have to accept the premise and just embrace it.

ifnotread - I loved that one too! I kept waiting for book related things, but it's so different. I really got into it by the end though.

Jenners - So glad you got it! Enjoy!

Amanda - The 3rd one, The Well of Lost Plots, was by far my least favorite. I'd recommend powering through it or skipping it because the 4th (Something Rotten) was excellent.

The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

I love the Thursday Next series-I'm waiting for the latest to come in at the library. I'm just a big Fforde fan in general-I loved The Last Dragonslayer and Shades of Grey (whose sequel is FINALLY coming out next year).

Aarti said...

I read the first in this series and enjoyed it but somehow never continued on with it. I think I should - I, too, think Fforde is really witty! I recently read a YA novel by him, though, and was not a fan. I think I should return to this series - it seems more my style :-)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Bookworm1858 - I can't wait for the Shades of Grey sequel! I really loved that book by the end and I think there's so much more story to tell.

Aarti - I haven't read his YA stuff, but I've been curious about it.