The Woman Who Died a Lot, by Jasper Fforde

The Woman Who Died a LotI’m pretty sure I’ve used up all of the words to describe Jasper Fforde and his wonderful and delightful books. So I’ll just have to repeat myself: LOVE.

At this point in the series, it’s hard to explain what’s going on without starting way back at the beginning, so just be warned that the rest of this post may be baffling.

Soooo, Thursday is still a badass, but a badass with a limp from some event that I don’t remember and am not sure if I should. She thinks she might be in the running to head her old literary detective SpecOps division, but instead she gets to run the city’s library services, which are decidedly more… aggressive… than any I’ve ever worked for! And of course right away she’s got more than just cataloging to worry about, as Jack Schitt shows up stealing completely unimportant books, and also her consciousness keeps getting stolen by her own doppelgangers, and also an old enemy is confusing her, and also God is pissed off at everyone who believes in him and is smiting cities and possibly soon Thursday’s brother if Thursday’s daughter can’t stop it, and also Thursday’s son is having problems after time travel stops working.

Right. Yes. All of that.

And of course Jasper Fforde turns a great phrase as always, so the book goes fast and delightfully. Perfect brain candy after those two doorstops I just trudged through!

Rating: 8/10

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The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde

I have been meaning to re-read this series since, oh, the first time I read The Eyre Affair almost exactly three years ago. But I really got it into my head to do it over the summer, and by that time I had lent the first book to a good friend who is apparently bad at returning books, and I was all, fret fret fret. But then I realized — audiobooks! So I grabbed this book on audio from the library, and I can now say that it is a rather different experience.

The idea behind The Eyre Affair is actually a complex set of ideas. You have an alternate universe where Britain has been fighting the Crimean War for, you know, 130 years, no big deal, so you’ve got the pro-war/anti-war/pro-soldier/pro-let’s-have-a-nap-instead set of issues. This alternate universe also includes time travel that is constantly re-writing history. Also vampires and werewolves. Also people who really really know you’re talking about them. Also reconstituted dodos. Also many other things, and also, primarily for the book’s purposes, a Special Ops unit dedicated to solving crimes against books. Which is awesome.

It’s a whole big mess of everything, and so when I read it with my eyes, I necessarily imbued a Hitchhiker’s/Buffy/Monty Python snark-the-day-away sort of mentality into it. And in fact, the audio book box promises these things. But what struck me within the first chapter of reading with my ears is that the narrator, despite having a fantastic voice for Thursday, does not choose to play the book that way. She is very very earnest and plays very straight off the page, and I felt like I was missing out on a lot of Fforde’s wit and sarcasm.

On the plus side, I can now pronounce a lot of things from the book better than I could a week ago. Darn British people and their un-intuitive spellings.

The other thing I found interesting about re-reading this book is that I had forgotten how different the first book is from all the rest, because Fforde had really intended The Eyre Affair as a standalone. The pacing is slower (we don’t even get to the Eyre part until practically the end!), there is a LOT of exposition-y stuff, and Thursday is not quite the BAMF she becomes later. And oh my goodness had I forgotten about Daisy. Let me just go jump into this book and punch her in the face.

Right, yes. On the whole I recommend the eyes-reading experience better than the ears-reading, but either way is pretty fantastic.

Recommendation: Do you like books? Mysteries? Sci-fi? Love stories? Dodos? Characters called Braxton Hicks and Jack Schitt? Fun? Go read this series.

Rating: 7.5/10 (lower than last time for the audio sadness)

(A to Z Challenge)

One of Our Thursdays Is Missing, by Jasper Fforde

Jasper! It has been so long! And even longer back to the last Thursday Next! I have missed you so much.

Okay, soooooooooooo. I tried explaining this book to my husband, but it is in fact quite difficult to explain without the help of five previous novels to get across the whole BookWorld concept. But, basically, there is a BookWorld and it is inhabited by all the characters of all the books you ever or never read, and whenever you read a book these characters are like, “Oh, time to pop on stage!” and act out your book. This is why books are slightly different every time you read them, see? It makes perfect sense.

Hanyway, we found out in the afore-linked last novel that the Thursday Next books have been published within the world of Thursday Next, but they’re not the same as the ones we here in our world have been reading, and the chick what plays Thursday is not… not really Thursday-ish. She’s kind of a hippie rather than a badass. Nonetheless, in this book the written Thursday gets a big taste of real Thursday life when not only does a strange book-crash (I cannot explain that) mystery leads her to, among other things, find out that Real Thursday is totes missing, which is a problem on many levels.

I thought this entry was brilliant, possibly because I’ve been severely lacking Fforde in my life recently and possibly because this book was much tighter, I think, than others in the series, and more subtle (especially compared to the last). I also loved that it’s from the point of view of a written Thursday, and therefore gives us more insight into the BookWorld, which is decidedly less complicated than the real Thursday’s world, and also more predictable but predictably amusing. Because the book has a different protagonist and all, I would say it’s difficult to read this without having read the others, but I don’t think impossible.

Worrisome is the fact that the book wraps a lot of things up quite nicely, which leads me to think that all of the Thursdays might be getting shelved soon, though if it’s in favor of new and exciting series I might be okay with this.

Recommendation: If you like literature and you like satire, this satire of literature is for you. But you should probably start back at the beginning for optimum effect.

Rating: 9/10
(A to Z Challenge)

First Among Sequels, by Jasper Fforde (5 January &mdash 6 January)

This came in for me yesterday at the library, and even though I was a few pages into another book, I couldn’t help but read this instead. Love me some Thursday Next.

The events of this book pick up 14 years after those of the previous one. Thursday is now 52 and settled into her life as a wife and a mother of three. SpecOps has been officially disbanded, but Thursday’s job as a carpet layer is really a cover for doing SpecOps work, which is really a cover for continuing her duties in Jurisfiction. In that last, she is stuck with two trainee Jurisfiction agents… Thursday1-4 from the first four books of the series as well as Thursday5 from The Great Samuel Pepys Fiasco. Things, as they do, quickly go wonky and Thursday ends up having to save all of Time as well as herself from evildoers. No big deal.

As I said, I love me some Thursday Next, and this is no exception. It’s a bit more heavy on the allegory this go-round (the government has a surplus of stupidity they have to use up and are thinking about getting into the stupidity credits game; there’s a show called Samaritan Kidney Swap) which I think detracts a bit from the real story, which is Thursday kicking butt and taking names. Nonetheless, I am thoroughly looking forward to the next in the series, which will apparently be called One of Our Thursdays is Missing but is not the next book Fforde is releasing. Sigh. Off to find some Nursery Crime, I suppose…

Rating: 7/10
(Countdown Challenge: 2007, Support Your Local Library Challenge)

Something Rotten, by Jasper Fforde (25 November — 28 November)

Something Rotten is the last of the first four books of the Thursday Next series… I figure that since Jasper took a few years off, I can take a break now, too. 🙂

This was definitely a great conclusion for the set… basically, a whole bunch of odd things that happened in the previous books were recalled and sometimes explained here, and, of course, even more odd things happened!

It’s a hard book to summarize, though, because so much of what happens here is tied to things that happened in other books — a fictional character comes to power, Thursday’s husband is reactualized (or is he?), Thursday’s friend’s wife is an assassin out to kill Thursday… yeah.

The new things in the story are a plot by the aforementioned fictional leader to convince England to hate Denmark, going so far as to claim that Volvos are both unsafe and Danish; Thursday’s acquisition of the Swindon Mallets croquet team which needs to win the SuperHoop to take down the Goliath Corporation; and that Thursday needs to find a new Shakespeare to rewrite Hamlet after its characters wreak havoc on the piece.

Basically, if you’ve liked the previous books, read this one. But do not under any circumstances read this first.

Rating: 7.5/10
(Countdown Challenge: 2004)

The Well of Lost Plots, by Jasper Fforde (22 November — 25 November)

The Well of Lost Plots is the third book in the wonderful Thursday Next series in which our hero, Thursday, vanquishes foes who seek to upend literature.

The previous book focused on time travelling; this one is mostly about book travelling. Thursday has entered the world of Jurisfiction, those in charge of policing the fiction shelves both published and in progress, and is at the same time taking a respite from the Goliath Corporation who are still out to get her. She and her pregnant tummy are hiding out in an unpublished book called Caversham Heights until Thursday can figure out how to get her husband back — if she can remember him.

Yeah, it’s pretty much that confusing. Thursday is also out to solve the mystery of several dead and missing Jurisfiction agents and requite the love of two generic characters. I love it.

It wasn’t quite up to the standard of the first two books — a little too much babying of the reader with unnecessary repetition, and also a few too many typos! — but it was definitely intriguing enough (along with those two books) to cause me to move the next book, Something Rotten up to my new current read. Then I’m going to have to take a break from all the alternate universe-ing, I think. 😀

Rating: 7/10
(Countdown Challenge: 2003)

Lost in a Good Book, by Jasper Fforde (8 November)

This is the second in the Thursday Next series of awesomeness, and I must say this one is even better than the first.

After sending away a Goliath Corporation employee to live in a copy of The Raven, the company is understandably upset and asks Thursday to go back and get him out, please. She refuses, and Goliath goes back in time to kill off her new husband before he can become three years old. If Thursday will go get their employee, they’ll bring back her husband. She’s sold. Unfortunately, her uncle Mycroft has conveniently retired away with his Prose Portal and Thursday has to figure out how to get into the book herself and also figure out why a bunch of weird coincidences keep cropping up at inconvenient moments.

The book was great and mostly easy to understand in spite of all the weird time-travelling and odd coincidences. I really love how everything ties in with books, even when the books in question are ones I haven’t read yet (but should! I’ll get to it!). Definitely a must-read if you’re into befuddling plots and funny talks with Great Expectations characters.

Rating: 8.5/10
(Countdown Challenge: 2002)