Something Rotten (#4) by Jasper Fforde

Published: 11 Apr 2005
Goodreads badgePublisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Pages: 393
Format: Book
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Literary detective Thursday next is on a mission – and it’s not just a mission to save the planet. if only it were that simple.

Unemployed following an international cheese-smuggling scandal, our favourite cultural crime-fighter is face with a world of problems: Hamlet’s not attending his conflict resolution classes, President George Formby is facing a coup led by dastardly Yorrick Kaine and, what’s more, the evil Goliath Corporation are refusing to un-eradicate Thursday’s husband, Landen.

Will she ever see Landen again? Is shopping the new religion? Can Thursday prevent Armageddon? And who will babysit her son while she does it?

Sometimes a small part of me hates Jasper Fforde for his brilliant imagination and attention to detail and sheer genius stories that I am overcome with jealousy. But the other 99% of the time I adore him. His character depth and histories and minute details that don’t always have a purpose but somehow make sense and make everything more believable are why I am addicted to these books. I mean who wouldn’t believe Mrs Tiggy Winkle was in your house, seems perfectly logical when Jasper explains it. Of course a gorilla can wear heels and babysit a toddler that only speaks Lorem Ipsum when Jasper explains it.

Something Rotten is just as wonderful as the previous books, and best of all they reference one another and if you hadn’t read them (why haven’t you? What is more important?), but if you haven’t, there are enough quick summaries and references that are silkily woven into the story so it doesn’t stand out as a major recap that stops the flow. It is just simply another humorous, insane and incredible Thursday Next book. I mean where else does Shakespeare, genetic cloning, inappropriate prophets and Chuck Norris get mentioned in one place, answer me that. And if you thought Hamlet wasn’t like Lethal Weapon and Mad Max then you were wrong.

With the previous book offering no real resolution I entered book number four already knowing what was going on, as much as you can anyway. And to some degree I was right. We meet up with Thursday who is still living within the Book World as the Jurisfiction Bellman, and with her child she manages to police the Book World, all the while trying to solve the issues she left behind in the real world.

I have to say this was definitely a high favourite of the series. It wasn’t just the narrative and the revelations and the questions, but there were so many lovable characters and surreal but very realistic moments as well. A lot of answers are given in this book, and a few new questions, I say a few, a lot more questions are asked. Somehow Jasper manages to make things more exciting, more complex, and add more pure and simple genius into every new book. By the end of this series I am not going to be able to control myself if things keep going at this rate. A lot of the previous book flows on into this one as we see more of the Book World life, however Thursday is beginning to tire of it but leaving the literary world does not guarantee the literature is going to leave her.

Many familiar faces return plus a range of new ones. I must say Emperor Zhark and Granny are my strong favourites, but you really can’t choose. The works of Shakespeare cause chaos as per usual, there are just never pleasing some princes; and shopping is fast becoming the new religion. There is professional croquet,  outbreaks of slapstick, minotaurs, cheese and Danish controversy, and the mysterious ovinator to delight the senses and enthrall the mind. I can go on but I won’t.

Somehow, and despite having more books in the series, Jasper has answered all the questions of the previous books. The genius plot of the previous book continues with the aftermath, but in doing so makes the narrative oh so much better. We are kept on the edge of our seats and we are set a flutter in our beds, and if we were to read this in public there would be audible gasps and exclamations as we turn each page. For all the work Jasper has put into this series so far, this is the book that ties it together. And in tying everything together he gives us the greatest ending anyone could possibly imagine. I know I say a lot of things in this book are amazing but this was so spectacular I had to go over it a few times to make sure.

I don’t want you to think anything of this though, Jasper can summerise the past four books all he likes, but he also adds in a whole new set of events and chaos. This is why these books work. Somehow in this organised chaos, that is really not as confusing as it sounds it just makes reviewing rather messy, there are strings that pull you along with Thursday and we get the sense of her urgency, her fear, her confusion and her own chaos. Alan is there in all his adorableness, there’s the ever mocked Daphne Farquitt, Old English, and a whole history of literary characters that are so much stranger than their words give them credit for. If you haven’t started this series yet I can do nothing else for you but hope that you can live with the intense curiosity of never really knowing what it is I am truly going on about.

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