"How was your day today?" asked Gran as I walked back on board the Sunderland.
"Very... expositional to begin with," I said, (...) "but it ended quite dramatically."
Jasper Fforde really knows how to tell a good story. His characters are vivid and engaging... his ideas are imaginative. He has obviously spent a great deal of time thinking through all the workings of his fictional universe. I just wish he'd spend a bit *less* time sharing every detail with his readers and more time on the plot.
As this story opens, Thursday Next, literary detective, has decided to go into hiding in a never-published, substandard crime novel. She is hired by Jurisfiction, the literary world's internal policing system, as a new apprentice. There's plenty going on in the Book World - a minotaur is on the loose, the three witches from Macbeth keep making mad prophecies about Thursday's life that somehow, unnervingly, come true, and someone is systematically killing off Jurisfiction agents. But wait! What about the cliffhanger ending of the last book, Lost in a Good Book?? I was waiting to find out how Thursday was going to bring her eradicated husband back to existence and squirm her way out of the rather serious situation she'd got herself into (ie, hunted by the evil Goliath megacorporation AND by SpecOps, her old "real world" employer). Apparently, Mr Fforde has decided that story needs to be put on hold for about oh, the length of a book, treated as just another side plot while he shares with us all these fascinating details about the Book World (see above). And besides, this means he doesn't have to come up with a new cliffhanger ending for this book - he can just recycle the idea from the last novel, which, not surprisingly, is perfectly justified by the rules of the fictional universe he himself created - a place where there hasn't been an original idea for over a hundred years.
This series is quite maddening, because the stories and characters make for compelling reading, but the books rarely manage to make me laugh out loud and tend to be a little heavy on the details. I think I will probably read the next one, and the next, and the next, just to find out what happens, but will likely gripe about each one along the way. Lucky readers of this blog can look forward to my review of the next title, Something Rotten, which appears (judging from the Amazon.com reviews) to pick up where the aforementioned cliffhanger ending left off.
Other books I've read by this author:
Lost in a Good Book