In which the supply of metaphor is desperately low and may spark a genre war, especially if those pesky e-books keep at it!
Title: One of Our Thursdays is Missing
Author: Jasper Fforde
Disclaimer for the uninitiated: What you are about to read is a review of the sixth book in a long-running series. Be warned that reading this review will probably lead to severe confusion and potential psychotic babbling without first having read the previous five volumes. If uninitiated, please direct your attention to The Eyre Affair and prepare to enter the world behind the written word. Highly recommended for all book lovers, very comedic, but may contain dodo birds.
What it’s about: She’s baaack! Or is she? My favorite literary detective returns (sort-of) for the sixth installment in the Thursday Next series, and fittingly the sixth book I’ve read this year! I had the privilege (nay, honor) of attending a reading and book signing at Barnes and Noble in New York and am happy to report that Mr. Fforde is as charming and amusing in person as he is on paper. Jasper (I hope he doesn’t mind the liberty!) explained his jumping off point for this book: He had already explored the terrors and challenges of a real person entering the Book World, so he wanted to flip the script and tackle how a book person might feel in the real world. What better way than with a slight shift of focus? The real Thursday is missing, so our book is narrated by the written Thursday.
If you’ve read First Among Sequels (and really if you haven’t, what are you doing with your life? Get thee to a bookstore!), you’ll know that the written Thursday is a bit of a hippie, but also a softer, warmer Thursday and ostensibly the Thursday Thursday wishes she could be. The shift in narrators was actually a welcome change and is the reason I’m dubbing this my favorite Thursday yet! I always found the real Thursday to be a bit too impatient, too short with those who meant her well, and too rash. Of course, these are all integral aspects of her character and probably the reason she is so effective at kicking ass. But written Thursday is so much more relateable as a character. Furthermore, written Thursday gets a truly enviable sidekick–a clockwork butler called Sprocket who’s always good for saving one’s life or mixing up a nice chilled Tahiti Tingle.
With the real Thursday missing, written Thursday must step into her shoes to help avert a genre war between the metaphorically rich Racy Novel and the nearby genres of Women’s Lit and Dogma. The Book World has been “re-made,” now following a map-based model rather than the Great Library model used in previous books. Jasper explained the change at his signing, saying that he had the idea to try out a map-based Book World and realized that the reader has an almost infinite ability to accept change as long as you can explain it away. He admitted that he often wishes he could make changes to his old books, going door-to-door with a Sharpie and updating the books by hand. But since that would be rather time-consuming (and we still want that sequel to Shades of Gray!), he just introduces changes and forces us to believe. His world is so elastic that it’s easy to accept massive up-endings. If we can accept eradication, mindworms, Neanderthals, croquet as a national sport, illegal cheese-dealing, and most importantly an entire world inhabited by Book People, I think we can make it through a little world-rebuilding.
Would I recommend? Yes! As previously mentioned, One of Our Thursdays is Missing is my favorite Thursday Next novel yet. Though Shades of Gray holds pride of place as my favorite Fforde novel, there is undoubtedly still life in Ms. Next, whichever incarnation she may be.