30 July 2011

Books: Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde (2004)

It’s been a little over two years since the events of The Well of Lost Plots, and Thursday Next has decided to leave Jurisfiction and the Bookworld and return the real world with her now two year-old son Friday. She has decided to finally get her eradicated husband Landen back from the Goliath Corporation, but soon finds herself in charge of protecting Hamlet, whose play has been mashed up; then there is a villainous fictional character that has delusions of grandeur. Then she has to deal with a 13th Century prophecy and an all-important croquet match, all while trying to find a job and dodging a hired killer and her time-traveling father.

While the essential one-jokeness of the premise of this series is starting to show, Fforde still manages to bring his clever literary abilities to the forefront, giving us readers some pretty brilliant plotting, a whole slew of bad puns and jokes and supporting characters from the works of Beatrice Potter to the Cat from Alice in Wonderland. The novels continue in the vein of Monty Python, but I see Fforde as more a heir apparent to the late Douglas Adams, whose Hitchhiker’s Guide is still, in my opinion, one of the best parody’s of a genre anyone ever produced. I mean, American’s love Monty Python, and perhaps see the silliness as a homage to that group (which I think it is), but if I were British (which Fforde is), I would consider this series more of a homage to Adams style of making fun science fiction. While Fforde makes fun of literary works and popular fiction (where beloved English romance writer Barbara Courtland becomes Daphne Farquitt), his love of it makes this series so good.

As with any multi-volume series, it does take time for the writer to sort even out their World Building and get into the plot, which is where Something Rotten excels at in this fourth novel. And by plot, I mean he breathes more life into the characters, and gives us a better understanding of her father’s time-traveling life, along with a clever ending that sort of changes the direction of this series.

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