What keeps this series humming is Fforde's lively engagement with books and the indefatigable woman he's created to defend them.
Richly crammed with jokes, ideas, and action. Brainier silliness is hard to find.
Playful . . . It's not hard to see what this enthusiasm is about. . . . It's easy to be delighted by a writer who loves books so madly.
The New York Times
The BookWorld seems to have encouraged Fforde's rogue imagination to escape all fetters and really go wild.
The Washington Post
Full of bizarre subplots, many of which don't go anywhere, bestseller Fforde's fifth novel to feature intrepid literary detective Thursday Next (after 2004's Something Rotten) blends elements of mystery, campy science fiction and screwball fantasy à la Terry Pratchett's Discworld. With the Stupidity Surplus reaching dangerously high levels all over England, Acme Carpets employee and undercover SpecOps investigator Next has her hands full trying to persuade her 16-year-old slacker son, Friday, to join the ChronoGuard, which deals with temporal stability; if Friday continues to sleep away his future, the end is near-for everyone. To complicate matters, a malicious apprentice begins making classic works of literature into reality book shows (Pride and Prejudice becomes The Bennets), a ruthless corporation tries to turn the Bookworld into a tourist trap, and the Cheese Enforcement Agency tries to bust Next for smuggling killer curd. The fate of the world may lie in a Longfellow poem. Fans of satiric literary humor are in for a treat. (July)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
The fifth Thursday Next adventure takes place 14 years after the events of Something Rotten, and things have changed. The literary operative's young son, Friday, has become a slacker who refuses to accept his destiny as a member of the time-manipulating Chronoguard. Jurisfiction has been disbanded, leaving Thursday to carry on her duties under the guise of operating a floor-covering business. Worst of all, people have stopped reading because of the popularity of reality TV. Unlike the other titles in the series, First Among Sequelsdoesn't concentrate on a single literary classic, adopting a more scattershot approach that teeters on the edge of a lack of focus. Emily Gray reads without the energy she has shown previously. Despite such weaknesses, Thursday titles still attract an audience. Recommended for popular collections.
Thursday Next returns in another postmodern literary detective fantasy from Fforde (The Big Over Easy, 2005, etc.). Once again, the author creates a world in which only permeable boundaries separate truth from fiction, the living from the dead (or extinct: Thursday knits a sweater for her pet dodo, Pickwick). Our heroine revisits places and people from earlier Fforde novels, as well as from an immoderate number of English and American classics-one memorable page contains allusions to The Woman in White, Robert Ludlum, Jason Bourne, Our Mutual Friend, Bleak House and The Mayor of Casterbridge. Although the Special Operations Network has nominally been shut down, in reality Thursday works undercover with Acme Carpets and on the side runs an underground cheese market, featuring such tempting morsels as Mynachlog-ddu Old Contemptible, "kept in a glass jar because it will eat through cardboard or steel." Thursday embarks on a dizzying set of adventures through fictive territory. Untoward things have been happening in the literary world. For example, the natural comedy in Thomas Hardy novels has mysteriously been removed-Jude the Obscure originally began as one of the most "rip-roaringly funny novels in the English Language"-and Thursday travels through space and time to rectify this situation. Her contemporaries are not as interested in reading as they are in watching reality TV shows like England's Funniest Chainsaw Mishaps or Samaritan Kidney Swap. Meanwhile, Thursday has to deal with Friday, her teenaged lump of a son, whose main goals in life are sleeping and forming a band called The Gobshites. While Fforde's humor can be affecting, it can also grate with its self-consciousness, as theauthor nudges readers to admire his verbal dexterity. Vertiginous cleverness here proves to be almost too much of a good thing.