Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“Everyone remembers where they were when the BookWorld was remade.”
It is a time of unrest in the BookWorld.
Only the diplomatic skills of ace literary detective Thursday Next can avert a devastating genre war. But a week before the peace talks, Thursday vanishes. Has she simply returned home to the RealWorld or is this something more sinister?
All is not yet lost. Living at the quiet end of speculative fiction is the written Thursday next, eager to prove herself worthy of her illustrious namesake.
The fictional Thursday is soon hot on the trail of her factual alter-ego and quickly stumbles upon a plot so fiendish that it threatens the very BookWorld itself.
Being a long-serving and dedicated reader of the Thursday Next Series I find reviewing them a bit strange. I don’t read reviews of the books, I finish one and I barely pause for breath before I’m reading the next installment. In addition, other than The Eyre Affair the books in the series can’t really be read as stand alone books, and this is proved more the further along in the series you get.
So, before offering my review, I want to say to anyone reading this that if you haven’t read any of the series before, go and read my review of The Eyre Affair first, because that’s where you’ll want to begin. Do not start with this book, because you will be very confused. In fact, I’d say that this one is near impossible to get your head around if you haven’t read the rest.
The reason I gave it 4/5 stars is because even though it was an almost 400 page book, it felt awfully close to being a pause in the series. By that I mean, it was fun to read, but there wasn’t actually any Thursday Next…well, there was, but she wasn’t the real Thursday Next. What this book did was allow Fforde and the reader to delve into the BookWorld, and to establish the world a bit better. This book is a means of establishing the world that is frequently referred to and visited in the series. Fforde, I think, gave it a complete renovation in his imagation, and therefore facilitated that in the series itself – via this book.
One of the first things you’ll encounter is a map of Fiction Island. This is where the majority of the book takes place. It’s a brilliant map, and is worth taking some moments to look at and absorb. Even the map is funny and laced with classic Fforde humor!
I’m glad he wrote this book, but I couldn’t help feel that it was a step away from the series as we have known it so far. This didn’t diminish my enjoyment of it, but there is a certain aspect of this series that I love, and love to read more of, and that was a bit lacking. Even so, I whizzed through this book faster than ever, and devoured every moment.
The premise is that Thursday Next is missing, and due to this, the first person narration is taken over by the fictional Thursday Next, or Thursday 5 as she was called in First Among Sequels. Her job in this book is to find out what happened to the real Thursday, and I thought that this would be resolved at least before the halfway point. I soon realised this wasn’t the case, and it bothered me at first, because I longed for some real Thursday Next action and narration. Then I became quite fond of the written Thursday and her adventures. I particularly liked her relationship with Sprockett the robotic butler. Never have I loved a fictional robot more!
There were plenty of jokes in this one too, especially when the characters are on the cruise ship. I thought those series of chapters were clever and entertaining. They were my favourite chapters by far. Plus, being set in the BookWorld has the added bonus of the writing being occasionally self-aware. The characters are reliant on ‘I said’, and ‘he said’ for example, which is a much-loved feature of Fforde’s wordplay.
To sum up: Avoid this book until you’ve read the rest of the books in the series that precede it. For some, this book might be a welcoming, refreshing change to the adventures of the real Thursday Next, especially for those fans who enjoy scenes in the BookWorld. But for others it might seem a bit off at first…but trust in the author, for he is brilliant.
Link to the book on Goodreads: