First Among Sequels (#5) by Jasper Fforde

Published: 26 June 2008
Goodreads badgePublisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Pages: 395
Format: Book
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Literary Detective Thursday next is officially off the case.. Once a key figure in the BookWorld police force, she is concentrating on her duties as a wife and mother. or so her husband thinks…

Unofficially, Thursday is working as hard as ever = and in this world of dangerously short attention spans, there’s no rest for the literate.

Can Thursday stop Pride and prejudice being turned into a vote-em-off reality book? Who killed Sherlock Holmes? And will Thursday get her teenage son out of bed in time for him to save the world?

A sad day is approaching readers, there are only seven Thursday Next books currently; and we are up to five. But until then, we shan’t let this worry us as we will eagerly enjoy the immense anticipation until beloved Jasper gives us more from his grand knowledge brain in Dark Matter. I will also restrain myself from reviewing his other series for awhile, we may have over-Jaspered ourselves and I feel too much more excitement may cause injury.

There is so much more in this novel than I was expecting, it is overwhelming in the most amazing way. If Jasper does not get a knighthood or something for this series I am going to complain to somebody. As I said this is the fifth book in the Thursday Next series, and after the excitement of discovering this alternate world, exploring books in the literal sense, meeting literary characters, solving duel world issues and saving it from destruction, we see Thursday Next: the mother and carpet laying woman extraordinaire!

I was thrown initially because this story is set in 2002, long after the 1980’s adventures of the previous books. It takes a little getting used to as you adjust to this family scenario instead of the action packed and business side of the previous ones. That is not to say there is no business and action, certainly, but this time we get the added bonus of the family involved as well. Dear little Friday who we saw being adorable and swinging joyfully from curtain rods in Something Rotten is now 16 and being a teenager. It is rather nice seeing Thursday interact with her family in a semi normal fashion; as much normality that can be expected from this surreal world at least.

Having read the previous books I was initially waiting for a moment where I was told it was a dream or an alternate alternate reality, just because it seemed so different from the others yet somehow very much the same. And I suppose when you jump fifteen years or so things tend to have sorted themselves out in the missing years. This feeling did not last as you easily get involved and carried along by this new and equally detailed story, resulting in of course, you spending a lot of your time trying to remember and keep up with who is where and what is going on. The intrigue and suspense pick up their pace very quickly and when the drama begins you are suddenly flung into six different situations at once, the same wonderful sensation that previous books has offered.

We do get multiple updates on what has been happening in these missing years, and any detail that is introduced that seems confusing does get explained further on. What Jasper does well is bring the narrative detail and information into the conversations between characters. Dialogue in the kitchen can manage to explain away bald dodos and missing relatives, and it can give you insights in characters easier than standard descriptive sentences. This saves from having to read the blocks of text where readers are given the run down on everything or everyone. Jasper still has moments of information but they are woven extremely well into the writing style Thursday’s narrative voice has, especially when it comes to recapping not just new information.

A reoccurring issue I have found is that I read one of Mr Fforde’s books, which means I am reading about other books, which means I want to read these books, and then have to go and read them as well. Barely 60 pages in and he has me desperately wanting to read Pinocchio. I can’t be expected to control my reading habits when he makes all these books sound so alluring; and the fact that his books are so addictive means I have no time to read two alongside one another. And if Fforde’s books weren’t wonderful enough, he casually throws in a reference to Doctor Who. I can only adore you so much at a time Mr Fforde! And for the Whovians of the world, since this is set in 2002 it refers to the classic Who which made me all warm and fuzzy on the inside

As in previous books there are a range of brilliant literary characters that appear in this book: new and returning figures both friend, foe and in between. It has even more illegal cheese, Sir Leicester breathlessly ejaculating and the peach mystery has finally been answered. What else does one want in a novel? Amongst all this organised chaos and complexities, Fforde manages to offer some beautiful and true insights and observations about reading, not reading, reality television and the modern world. It suits the 2002 setting perfectly and certainly is something that is relevant today.

I am refusing to reveal anything else, despite my temptations, because anything I say will ruin something and I wouldn’t do it to you. This is a book that is so superb that you have got to read and find these surprises on your own. You will hate me if I ruin even the smallest thing for you. If you have not read any in this series you must read through the others as fast as your little eyes can take you. You should not read these out of order but you must read them, you won’t regret it.

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