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Posts Tagged ‘Jasper Fforde’

In which we enter a world where libraries have armed agents to enforce late fees and toast parlors are all the rage

Title: The Woman Who Died A Lot

Author: Jasper Fforde

Disclaimer for the uninitiated: What you are about to read is a review of the seventh 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 six 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: Following an assassination attempt in the Book World, the once-great Thursday Next finds herself mildly incapacitated with a limp and a possible addiction to pain patches. But Thursday can’t stay out of the line of fire for long, especially if she plans to take on the role of Chief Librarian for the Swindon All-You-Can-Eat-at Fatso’s Drinks Not Included Library Service. Plus, there’s the problem on the eminent smiting of downtown Swindon by an angry Deity if her sixteen-year-old genius daughter Tuesday isn’t able to get the Anti-Smite Shield up and running by Friday. Following the eradication of the Chronoguard, her son Friday is now without function and his Letter of Destiny helpfully indicates that he’ll be put away for murder on Friday as well. A bunch of fabricated Thursdays seem bent on replacing her, who knows why, and she now has a tattoo on her hand to remind her that her daughter Jenny is just a mindworm—though why she has it is unclear since Landen’s the one who believes in her anyway, right?

Though I usually enjoy the Book World more than Thursday’s real world, I was pleasantly surprised with this Thursday installment. The key was in Thursday herself, who has changed a lot since her early days of guns-blazing bids for glory. Thursday is definitely showing her age—she can barely stand up without help, let alone draw her weapon on a Goliath agent in a firefight. So this time around, Thursday has to use her smarts and learn to trust others when she’s in a jam. The older, wiser Thursday was a welcome switch for me. I also enjoyed the wealth of library jokes and strongly encourage Mr. Fforde to go into production on his “Don’t Give Me Any of Your Shit—I’m A Librarian” T-shirts as fast as possible.

Would I recommend? Certainly. Longtime Thursday fans won’t be disappointed and may be happy to see this new development in the Nextian universe.

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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! (more…)

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In which I decide that if I was a color, I’d be a shade of Blue

Title: Shades of Grey

Author: Jasper Fforde

What it’s about: In Shades of Grey, status is determined by which part of the color spectrum you can see; Purples are the highest, ruling class, while the no-status Greys make up the bulk of the workforce. Eddie Russet is able to see Red, the lowest on the color spectrum (but still a Prime, which does count for something as he points out). He plans to marry into the prestigious Oxblood family and spend his life following the Rules of politeness, developing a patented system for queueing, and (if he can pass the rigorous color exam) selling synthetic hues for National Color. But his plans start to unravel when he falls for a Grey, even though she does try to kill him, twice.

This book was an absolute treat. I have to admit, I’m a little biased because I love Jasper Fforde. He’s written two other series, Thursday Next and Nursery Crime, both of which tell whole new stories (or one might say the real stories) about famous book characters like Jane Eyre or Humpty Dumpty. His books are always extremely witty and fast-paced. The society in Shades of Grey is supposed to exist about 800 years after our own, so tantalizing fragments of the past still exist and the book is peppered with clever word puzzles and weird inventions. The premise reminded me of The Giver, with a little Brave New World thrown in, but with Fforde’s distinct absurdist style all the way through.

This book made me want to learn more about: Color, obviously! I thought I was pretty good with color words, but Fforde’s vocabulary of colors far exceeds my own. Have you ever seen Lincoln? It’s a green. Brunswick (also green)? Gamboge (a yellow)? Fandango is not just a place where paper bag puppets sell movie tickets; it’s  also a purple! (more…)

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