Click here to read reviewer Dave Roy's take on Thursday Next: First Among Sequels.
For those who want more out of their books, there’s Jasper Fforde. He will take you places no one else can.
First Among Sequels is the fifth book in the Thursday Next series. She can get closer to a story than you or I can: Thursday is a Literary Detective who has the ability (and the technology) to read herself into books. However, her work in the Bookworld is tough. She’s under tremendous pressure to get her sixteen-year-old-son, Friday, signed up for a career in the Time Industry. She sits on a council which is dealing with a possible invasion by the Racy Novel genre and a constantly falling read-rate. She finds herself in a race with other interested parties to acquire the much-needed unscrambled eggs recipe, and while visiting Pinocchio’s, she sees a mysterious fiction probe that causes her great concern. On top of all her detective work, she has to avoid old enemies and deal with two exasperating apprentices who both look exactly like her.
When Thursday is not in the Bookworld, she lives in Swindon, where right now the stupidity surplus is making front-page news. While the stupidity level grows, the number of readers is dropping, and the falling read-rate in the Bookworld is reflected in Swindon’s local bookstore, Booktastic, with its single cobwebby rack of books. Swindon residents are more interested in movies, computer games, and the new reality show that’s in the process of being developed. In addition to books, Swindon is also lacking in affordable cheese; some people (including Thursday) make extra money buying and selling cheese in the underground cheese market.
Although cheese may be hard to get, flooring is not. Swindon can supply all its citizens’ flooring needs through Acme Carpets, but Thursday isn’t installing carpets all day like her husband thinks she is; her carpet job is all a sham. Although she told him that she’s left her Literary Detective job, she’s been working in the Bookworld all along, where she can solve some of her family little problems. She visits the Used Plot Shop to buy a little someone for her husband’s writer’s block, and it’s here in the Bookworld where she finally gets a jumper knitted for Pickwick, her pet dodo bird. “Pickers”, who is never far from Thursday’s mind, is experiencing a feather problem, and this new jumper will come in handy. Another family member concerns Thursday: her Uncle Mycroft, who makes three vaporous appearances here, and each becomes increasingly more important to Thursday.
Life is not easy for Thursday Next (especially when living with a mindworm), but it sure is fun to read. Some of the funniest moments in First Among Sequels are Thursday’s visit to Major Pickles’ house, what Thursday’s mom and Aunt Polly do for laughs, what happens when Pickwick blinks, and the sheep question Thursday is asked in the Bookworld.
Whether it’s his Thursday Next or Nursery Crime series, it’s always fun to see who Fforde includes in his books. In First Among Sequels, Pinocchio appears, Harry Potter almost appears, and Thursday Next saves Pride and Prejudice from being lost forever.
I am wonderstruck by Jasper Fforde’s imagination. His reach is beyond creative.