First Among Sequels

first among sequels

First Among Sequels
Thursday Next: Book 5

Jasper Fforde
Viking, 2007

From the dust jacket, “Fourteen years after she pegged out at the 1988 SuperHoop (Something Rotten), Thursday Next is grappling with a host of new 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 all at each other’s throats.

“Back in Swindon, the government is reporting a dangerously high stupidity surplus, the Stilonista Cheese Mafia is causing trouble for Thursday and the literary detective scene isn’t what it used to be. And Thursday shoulders the burden for the Acme carpet business, which is both a front for SpecOps and a real business for the underemployed force.

“At home, Thursday’s idle sixteen-year-old son would rather sleep all day than follow his destiny as a member of the ChronoGuard, the force that regulates time travel, and save the world from imminent destruction. And when things get really bad—reality book shows look set to transplant realty TV shows, and Goliath invents a transfictional tourist bus—Thursday must once again have her wits about her as she travels to the very limits of acceptable narrative possibilities to rescue the reading experience from almost certain destruction. She captains the ship Moral Dilemma, fends off vicious Mrs. Danvers clones, dispenses with a so-so Thursday Next novel called The Samuel Pepys Fiasco and faces down her most vicious enemy yet: herself.”

Another Thursday Next novel! This one I didn’t enjoy as much as the first four. Don’t get me wrong – I still love the series but, in after writing 4 other standout books, all authors are allowed one of lesser quality! The main thing wrong with this one is that the author has his character spending a lot of time explaining who BookWorld works – where books are built, and how; how the story is transmitted to the reader via the Imaginotransference Storycode Engine. Even after reading how everything works, it still doesn’t make logical sense so why spend all that time explaining. As a reader it is my job just accept what the author is saying and enjoy it. I didn’t pick up the book to be taught a lesson in how a book is formed in my imagination as I read it! But, once the story got going it was really good and fast paced and ended in a smashing cliffhanger! I can’t wait to start the next in the series!!

Rating 4 out of 5 paws because of all the boring bits in the beginning in an otherwise 5-paw novel!

Reviewer: bobbiesue-locBobbieSue

Something Rotten

something rotten

Something Rotten
A Thursday Next novel, Book 4

Jasper Fforde
Viking, 2004

From the dust jacket: “Detective Thursday Next has had her fill of her responsibilities as the Bellman in Jurisfiction, enough of Emperor Zhark’s pointlessly dramatic entrances, outbreaks of slapstick raging across pulp genres, and hacking her hair off to fill in for Joan of Arc. Packing up her son, Friday, Thursday returns to Swindon accompanied by none other than the dithering Danish prince, Hamlet. Caring for both is more than a full-time job, and Thursday definitely decides it’s time to get back her husband, Landen, if only to babysit. Luckily, those responsible for Landen’s eradication, the operatives of Goliath Corporation – formerly an oppressive multinational conglomerate, now an oppressive multinational religion – have pledged to right the wrong.

“But returning to SpecOps isn’t a snap. Problems arise instantly. When outlaw fictioneer Yorrick Kaine seeks to get himself elected dictator, he whips up a frenzy of anti-Danish sentiment and demands mass book burnings. The return of Swindon’s patron saint bearing divine prophecies could spell the end of the world within five years, possibly sooner if the laughably terrible Swindon Mallets don’t win the SuperHoop, the most important croquet tournament in the land. And if that’s not bad enough, The Merry Wives of Windsor is becoming entangled with Hamlet. Can Thursday find a Shakespeare clone to stop this hostile takeover? Can she prevent the world from plunging into war? Can she vanquish Kaine before he realizes his dream of absolute power? And, most important, will she ever find reliable child care? Find out in this totally original, action-packed romp, sure to be another escapist thrill for Jasper Fforde’s legion of fans.”

We love this book even though a basic understanding of time travel doesn’t help with this time-bending and mind-warping adventure. But don’t let that stop you from attempting to read it. However, it is definitely not a stand-alone sequel; you really do have to read the other books to comprehend what’s going on. Just remember to suspend your belief in the real world and just go with Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next in her alternative-world story.

Rating 5 out of 5 paws because it gets better and better each time we read it!

Reviewer: bobbiesue-locBobbieSue

The Well of Lost Plots

well of lost plots

The Well of Lost Plots
A Thursday Next novel, Book 3

Jasper Fforde
Viking, 2003

From the dust jacket, “Thursday Next definitely needs some downtime. After two rollicking New York Times-bestselling adventures through the Western literary canon, Britain’s Prose Resource Operative was literally and literaturally at her wit’s end – not to mention pregnant. So what could be more welcome that a restful stint in the Character Exchange Program down in the hidden depths of the Well of Lost Plots?

“But a vacation remains elusive. In no time, Thursday discovers that the Well of Lost Plots is a veritable linguistic free-for-all where grammasites run rampant, plot devices are hawked on the black market and lousy books (like the one she has taken up residence in are scrapped for salvage. To top it off, a murderer is stalking Jursifiction personnel and nobody is safe, least of all Thursday herself.

“Once again, it’s up to the ever-resourceful gal detective to track down the killer, save her pulp novel-slash-temporary abode from being chucked into the Text Sea, and get back to her “real” life with her body (and memory, if it’s not too much to ask) intact.”

I enjoyed this book the 4th time around as I have the 1st time I read it years ago! It’s a bit crazy – no, make that a lot of crazy but, crazy-fun! I’ve never read Great Expectations, so I’m not familiar with Miss Havisham’s story line but in this book she is stern, yet kind; she is also a direct, no-nonsense speed demon who likes to take souped-up fictional vehicles into the real world and drive them faster than they’re designed to go. Also included in Thursday’s band of comrades are ibb and obb, two Generic Characters who stay with her while they attend school and gradually become fictional characters with personality.  Thursday has a new nemesis, the sister of Hades from the first book. With a new villain there’s someone new for her to battle with – this time it’s a battle for Thursday’s sanity.

Rating 5 out of 5 paws because I laughed, I cried, I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

Reviewer: bobbiesue-locBobbieSue

Lost in a Good Book

lost in a good book

Lost in a Good Book
A Thursday Next Novel, Book 2

Jasper Fforde

Viking, 2002

From the dust jacket, “If Thursday thought she could avoid the spotlight after her heroic escapades in the pages of Jane Eyre, she was sorely mistaken. The unforgettable literary detective whom Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times calls “part Bridget Jones, part Nancy Drew and part Dirty Harry” has another think coming.

“The love of her life has been eradicated by the corrupt multinational Goliath, and to rescue him Thursday must retrieve a supposedly vanquished enemy from the pages of “The Raven.” But Poe is off-limits to even the most seasoned literary interloper. Enter a professional: the man-hating Miss Havisham from Dicken’s Great Expectations. As Miss H’s new apprentice, Thursday keeps her motives secret as she learns the ropes of Jurisfiction, where she moonlights as a Prose Resource Operative inside books. As if jumping into the works of Kafka and Austen, and even Beatrix Potter’s Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies, weren’t enough, Thursday finds herself the target of a series of potentially lethal coincidences, the authenticator of a newly discovered play by the Bard himself and the only one who can prevent an unidentifiable pink sludge from engulfing all life on Earth.

“The inventive, exuberant and totally original literary fun that began with The Eyre Affair continues with Fforde’s magnificent new adventure, the second installment in what is sure to become a classic series of literary fantasy.”

This is the 5th time I’ve read this book and enjoyed it as much as the first one! The reader bounces back and forth between the “real” world and the fiction world as Thursday continues to work toward getting her husband back and learning what it means to be a Jurisfiction agent. The advanced technology is cool – loved the Gravity Drop – where you climb inside a tube and are dropped through the center of the earth to the other side in a matter of minutes. London to Tokyo in less than an hour!! Very cool! Of course, they have airships but no airplanes! Anyway, the constant threat from Goliath, Spec Ops and Aornis, not to mention a forced overhaul of the Book World Text Grand Central keep Thursday on her toes and the reader on the edge of their seat!!!

Rating 5 out of 5 paws because it’s a page turner and then some!

Reviewer: bobbiesue-locBobbieSue

Patricia Highsmith / Strangers on a Train

highsmith

Patricia Highsmith
Selected Novels and Short Stories

Edited with an Introduction by Joan Schenkar
W. W. Norton & Company, 2011

From the dust jacket, “Patricia Highsmith’s {1921-1995] dark talents, obsessive interest in love and murder, and macabre sensibility produced some of the most influential and deeply unsettling fiction of the twentieth century. For the reader uninitiated in the deadly world of her canon, this collection offers the first serious introduction to her remarkable range and psychological insight.

“…Even with her first novels, Highsmith tore at the very fabric of 1950s middle-class society, revealing the stark emotional brutality that lurked beneath the sunny façade of Eisenhower suburbia.

“Chosen by Joan Schenkar, the selections in this book – two iconic American novels and a trove of her most representative short stories – chart the virtuosic range of Highsmith’s voice, as she deftly leaps from suspense to horror, from biting social satire to deeply moving psychological drama. In Strangers on a Train (1950) – Highsmith’s debut novel and the inspiration for the classic Hitchcock film – a casual conversation between acquaintances devolves into a tangled web of murder, desperation, and manipulation. This thriller provides as thorough an examination of guilt and obsession as can be found in contemporary literature. Highsmith’s second novel, The Price of Salt (1952), is a seductive tale of sexual obsession that demonstrates the astounding versatility of Highsmith’s insight into human nature, and has only recently begun to receive commensurate literary recognition. Written during the intensely creative period of her late twenties, The Price of Salt blends Highsmith’s richly figured language with the then-scandalous subject of lesbian love. The accompanying thirteen short stories demonstrate Highsmith’s mastery of the short story form and reveal her to be as fine a craftsman as any American twentieth-century novelist.

“This volume introduces a new generation to the haunting fiction of one of our most underappreciated literary geniuses.”

Strangers on a Train – I saw the Hitchcock movie first, which is how I became interested in the author, and found it to be fascinating. Now, after having read the novel, the movie seems hokie. It’s certainly a product of its age (1950s) – with the hero winning in the end and having an all around positive ending. The novel, however, is dark and twisted with psychological torture and doesn’t have a nice, pat, happily-ever-after ending. The theme of ‘I-kill-for-me-you-kill-for-me’ has been used in other movies and television shows, but Highsmith did it first and best.

I didn’t finish the rest of the very large book. I wasn’t interested in reading the novel, The Price of Salt nor the author’s later short stories. I did read the earlier ones and after having read one that only alluded the sexual abuse of a child, I was sufficiently turned off to read any more.

Rating: for Strangers on a Train – 4 out of 5 paws; for the rest of the book, 2 out of 5 paws because I didn’t read all of it but the rest of what I did read was uncomfortable.
Reviewer:toby-loc Toby