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Review: First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde

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Publication Date:
27th July 2007
Publisher: Hodder
ISBN: 9780340752029
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Literature/Thriller/Adventure
Source: Bookshelf
Lootability: *****
It has been fourteen years since Thursday pegged out at the 1988 SuperHoop, and Friday is now a difficult sixteen year old. However, Thursday's got bigger problems. Sherlock Holmes is killed at the Rheinback Falls and his series is stopped in its tracks. And before this can be corrected, Miss Havisham dies suddenly in a car accident, bringing her series to a close as well. When Thursday receives a death threat clearly intended for her written self, she realizes what's going on - there is a serial killer on the loose in the Bookworld. And that's not all: The Goliath Corporation is trying to deregulate book travel. Naturally, Thursday must travel to the outer limits of acceptable narrative possibilities to triumph against increasing odds.
How can I not adore Jasper Fforde's books? His logic driven, nonsense based, literature inspired stories consistently blow me away. This is the fifth Thursday Next adventure, and while not my favourite (what can beat The Eyre Affair?), First Among Sequels has the same mind twisting plot as its predecessors and kept me entertained.

What I Liked: The narrative is highly evocative and entertaining, full of pop culture references, witticisms and a keen detail that makes the complex plot easier to follow. 

We are faced with three Thursdays, the real world Thursday Next, Jurisfiction agent, Mother, Wife and ACME carpeter; Thursday5, Jurisfiction cadet and bookworld star of the The Great Samuel Pepys Fiasco; and Thursday1-4 of the original, poorly written Thursday Next books, full of sex and violence.
Thursday5 is gentle, passive and enjoys wheatgrass, yoga and aligning her chakras, while Thursday1-4 is violent, aggressive and couldn't care less about the consequences of her thoughtless actions. 
Their interactions with each other, and with the OutWorlder Thursday, keep you on your toes comparing their similarities and their differences.

In the past, the characters Fforde has included in his bookworld have been from classics like Sense and Sensibility, or made up like Commander Bradshaw and his wife Melanie. In First Among Sequels we hear some familiar modern names including Harry Potter, and get a glimpse of Temperance Brennan from Kathy Reichs popular forensic anthropology books (does anyone else watch Bones?). It's nice to see some more of my favourites sneak into the narrative.

What I Didn't Like: I'm a sci-fi fan, I love Star Trek, Doctor Who and SG1/Atlantis/Universe, and usually I love time travel. Time travel that makes sense to me is welcome and enjoyed, whereas time travel in the Thursday Next books makes my brain ache with the chicken or the egg debate. Scrambled egg equations, time dilution, and three versions of Friday from the same timeline, and another from an alternate timeline. Lazy children, potential children and mentally implanted children make the plot even more confusing and complicated than the already twisted narrative.

To be fair, I find the time travel plot wonderfully engrossing and fascinating, I just don't have the capacity to understand it - neither does Thursday according to many of her conversations with Friday.

Now I'm looking forward to picking up the next few Thursday Next novels and to enjoy more of the BookWorld.


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