First Among Sequels
by Jasper Fforde
Alternative reality. 362 pp.
Fourteen years after she pegged out at the 1988 SuperHoop, Thursday Next is grappling with a host of problems in the BookWorld: a recalcitrant new apprentice, the death of Sherlock Holmes, and the inexplicable departure of comedy from the once-hilarious Thomas Hardy novels. The Council of Genres is trying to broker a peace deal between certain antagonistic genres: Racy Novel has been recklessly placed between Ecclesiastical and Feminist, and they are at each other's throats. Meanwhile, back in Swindon, the government is reporting a dangerously high stupidity surplus, and Thursday's idle sixteen-year-old son would rather sleep all day than follow his destiny as a member of the ChronoGuard. Not only does she captain the ship Moral Dilemma to the very limits of acceptable narrative possibilities, but Thursday also finds she must face down her most vicious enemy yet: herself.
It has occurred to me, with this novel, that Thursday Next novels stop up my reviewing. I think this is because I like them but I don't know if there's anything more to say than I've said before about Lost in a Good Book or The Well of Lost Plots or Something Rotten. Now that we're five books in, I think that overall I enjoy the alternative reality Fforde has set up. I like how Next functions in that universe. All that said, however, I think I prefer The Eyre Affaire where Next operates primarily in this world or Well of Lost Plots where she operates primarily in the BookWorld. I find the bouncing back and forth a bit irritating.