03 August 2011

Books: First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde (2007)

According to what I read, author Jasper Fforde finished his first series involving Literary Detective Thursday Next with the fourth title, Something Rotten. Now, with First Among Sequels, he begins another four volume series. And in there, lays a problem, insomuch as this one is a sort of sequel to the previous four volumes, and its plot wanders around like a drunk trying to cross a busy street while trying to pretend he’s not drunk.

The series jumps 14 years from the last, and is still set in an alternate universe of 2002. After the events of Something Rotten, the Special Operations Network has been disbanded. But you can’t keep a good detective down, and using Swindon’s Acme Carpets as a front, Thursday and her colleagues Bowden, Stig and Spike continue their same professions, only illegally. But Acme is a front for a front, as Thursday is still working for Jurisfiction and is now grappling with a new apprentice; as well as an inter-genre war is brewing and her sixteen-year-old emo son , Friday, who rather sleep than save the world from the dreaded End of Time.

There are a lot of subplots that go nowhere, and we revisit many areas of the World Building that Fforde created for the first book, which I found distracting. Fforde, though, puts to rest the whole time travel aspect of the series, as he noted that he found it interfering with his plot. Still, as always, Fforde gives us plenty of puns, more literary references to shake a stick at and takes a swipe at reality TV series, which I fond inspired (Pride and Prejudice now becomes The Bennets, with the five sisters doing inane things to hopefully not be voted out). There is also plenty of social commentary within the government of the Thursday Next universe - a dangerously high stupidity surplus, as he puts it – that could be any democratically elected government.

And since this is the first volume of four, Fforde leaves its readers with a major cliffhanger. While this was released in 2007, the next book was promised for 2009. One of Our Thursdays Is Missing, however, would not be released until spring of this year. Major bummer for the fans in 2007, but since this is 2011, it will only be a few weeks (as I'm waiting for the price to drop during our Borders liquidation).

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