The fifth book in Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series, Thursday Next: First Among Sequels, begins more than a decade after its predecessor, Something Rotten. Thursday’s son Friday is now a teenager whose thoughts seem to revolve more around his favorite group Strontium Goat than on joining the ChronoGuard—something he must do, and soon, or the world might end. And that’s the least of Thursday’s problems. She also has to deal with the two book versions of Thursday Next, a reappearance of old nemeses Aornis Hades and Felix8, and Goliath Corporation’s machinations. Worst of all, the stupidity surplus is at an all-time high, and in order to get rid of it, the government has decided to turn Pride and Prejudice into a reality show called The Bennets. It’s up to Thursday to put all things to rights.
I think this book is one of the stronger in the series. As full of literature jokes as the others, it’s also folded upon itself as Thursday has by this time had books written about her, which have spawned BookWorld Thursdays that don’t resemble herself at all—or do they? My favorite parts were some speculation that Harry Potter himself might turn up for a meeting (I won’t give it away), and a passage in which Fforde shares his own feelings about literature (I know this because he shared them at his book signing, too):
I’d been trying to explain to them just what form the BookWorld takes, which was a bit odd, as it was really only my interpretation of it, and I had a feeling that if they actually accepted my way, it would become the way, so I was careful not to describe anything that might be problematical later.
I found that passage to be a beautiful metaphor for the interpretation of literature, and it made me wonder what I might see if I traveled to the BookWorld. I am thinking a lot of squashy places to curl up and read, rain-spattered windows, and books, books, books.
I highly recommend this entire series to book lovers. The jacket blurbs recommend it to fans of Harry Potter, and it has a bit of that charm, but really it’s not like that series. It’s silly, bookish, and full of in-jokes for the well-read. You won’t be able to put them down. I can’t wait for the next Thursday Next.
So… what do you think the BookWorld looks like?
This novel is the second selection for the Bibliophilic Books Challenge and the third for the Typically British Reading Challenge. My next excursion is a trip back to Meryton to visit the Bennets of Longbourn. I haven’t been back for some time.