>> Wednesday, November 07, 2012
TITLE: One Of Our Thursdays Is Missing
AUTHOR: Jasper Fforde
PUBLISHER: Hodden & Stoughton
SETTING: The Bookworld, and an alternate version of our world
SERIES: 6th entry in the Thursday Next series
It is a time of unrest in the BookWorld. Only the diplomatic skills of ace literary detective Thursday Next can avert a devastating genre war. But a week before the peace talks, Thursday vanishes. Has she simply returned home to the RealWorld or is this something more sinister?It took me a while to pick up this book after reading the fifth one in the series. Even though I quite liked First Among Sequels, parts of the plot felt a bit tired, as if Fforde didn't know quite where to take Thursday's story and had reached the end of that road. There was a definite whiff of staleness there.
All is not yet lost. Living at the quiet end of speculative fiction is the written Thursday Next, eager to prove herself worthy of her illustrious namesake.
The fictional Thursday is soon hot on the trail of her factual alter-ego, and quickly stumbles upon a plot so fiendish that it threatens the very BookWorld itself.
One Of Our Thursdays Is Missing gets around this issue by moving the focus from the real Thursday to her written version, the Thursday who lives in the Bookworld and plays that character in the books written about her adventures.
The Bookworld is on the verge of a very damaging conflict, as hostilities between Racy Novel and Women's Fiction and Feminism increase. Speedy Muffler, Racy Novel's leader is threatening to unleash a dirty bomb (of badly written sex scenes, of course, which would then spread to other genres). Peace talks are coming up soon and Thursday Next is supposed to lead them. She's the only person who's got a hope of getting all parties to stand down. Except, the real-life Thursday is missing.
OOOTIM was loads of fun. Much as I enjoy the usual Thursday, I loved spending some time with the written one. With a very different personality to that of her real-life counterpart, Written!Thursday strives to play her character as Real!Thursday wishes to be played (more tree-hugging, less sex and violence, basically). This has meant a precipitous decline in readers, something she pretends she isn't concerned about. Real!Thursday could sometimes feel a bit cold and mechanical, in the last books, but Written!Thursday never does. In some ways, she feels more real than the real one. I also was very intrigued by how she had her own personality, but playing Thursday influenced how she felt and reacted as well.
I also thought the move back into the Bookworld was a good one. The outside world in this series is an interesting one, but it can't really compare with the stuff Fforde comes up with when he's describing what goes on iside books. I just loved to read about the detail of the whole thing: the way things work, the different genre districts and areas and what's in them (the dangerous mimefield in Comedy was priceless), the zones between them and the intergenre politics. Fforde is a brilliant satirist, and he had me laughing out loud as I recognised the reality behind his exaggeration. There was something completely new as well: the detail of what it means to be read, and what the characters need to do when that happens. Best of all, while the last book was a bit pseudo-jargon heavy and the technical details got a bit boring, that's never the case here.
Best of all: Fforde combines his brilliant world-building with a good, solid whodunnit, and that makes the whole work perfectly.
MY GRADE: A B.