I just finished reading the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. The first five of the books were rereads. The sixth and seventh were new to me. I wish I had the mental energy to review the books properly, but I don’t. So I’m just going to say a little bit about each and then move on to other things.
The first book of the series, The Eyre Affair, is the best (Grade: A+, click here for a post that includes the opening sentence). This book introduces us to Thursday Next and her wacky family, and the most interesting, funny alternate reality. It is a reality in which dodos have been brought back from extinction, literature and art are treated with the same fanaticism as sports, and time travel is an everyday part of life. I could go on and on about how much I love this book and Fforde’s sense of humor. Suffice it to say, they’re awesome.
The second book, Lost in a Good Book (Grade: A-), introduces us to BookWorld, the place where fictional characters live and act out the scenes from their respective books. Thursday Next has the rare ability to read herself into this world and there she joins Jurisfiction, which is basically the BookWorld police. I have to constantly remind myself that BookWorld is a part of Thursday’s universe, not mine, and so it doesn’t have to meet the same standards of believability. That usually works, but sometimes not, which is why this book gets a lower grade than the first.
The third book, The Well of Lost Plots (Grade: B), takes place in BookWorld, where Thursday Next is hiding out from all the people who want to kill her, but she still has many problems to deal with, including an enemy’s attempt to erase her memories. The title is sort of ironic because the plot of the book gets lost among all the details of Fforde’s world-building. He must have spent a great deal of time figuring out the inner workings of BookWorld. Those details were undoubtedly necessary to have in mind while writing the story, but IMHO only about half of them should have made it into the book, which is why I gave The Well of Lost Plots the lowest grade of the series.
The fourth book, Something Rotten (Grade: A), is my second favorite of the series. It makes having finished the previous book worthwhile. In this sequel, Thursday Next fights to get her husband back and save the world in yet another very humorous way, all while taking care of her child, Friday.
The fifth book, Thursday Next: First Among Sequels, is pretty good, too (Grade: A, click here to see what I said about it before).
The sixth book, One of Our Thursdays Is MissingĀ (Grade: B+), takes place mostly in BookWorld. The real Thursday is missing,Ā and the written (i.e., fictional version of) Thursday goes looking for her. Puns abound, sometimes glaringly. What I find oddest and most jarring about this book, though, is that the layout of BookWorld, explained in the previous book of the series, is completely rearranged in this one.
The seventh book, The Woman Who Died a Lot (Grade: A-), takes place in the Thursday’s real world, not BookWorld. This is, I think, one of the funniest books of the series, but only if you consider a world-smiting god to be a humorous subject (I do!). I don’t own this book, but I liked it enough that I’ll probably buy it when the price goes down.