Stupidity Surplus. Too Many Thursdays. The Recipe to Unscramble Eggs. Long Now. Dirty Bomb. Difficult Teenagers.
First Among Sequels, the fifth book in Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next Series, is fun and fast-paced. Thursday is now the mother of three children–I think. Mycroft has passed away. Pickwick has some feather issues. Most of the Special Operations divisions have been disbanded, including Literary Detectives. And the Common Sense Party is now in power. Fforde has major and minor story threads woven throughout the story; a reader new to the series would have no clue what was going on.
Briefly, Thursday and friends are secretly continuing to run SpecOps divisions under the guise of a carpeting store. Thursday also continues to be heavily involved with Jurisfiction, keeping the fact from her husband, Landen. Thursday finds herself in charge of two apprentices: a granola munching Thursday 5 from the last Thursday Next book; and an oversexed, violent Thursday 1-4 from the earlier Thursday Next books. Among the numerous other problems that the Bookworld is dealing with, book readership is in sharp decline and Speedy Muffler threatens to release a dirty—think smut—bomb. Back in the real world, Friday refuses to fulfill his destiny of becoming a luminary in the ChronoGuard; and they plan to replace him with a potential Friday. Late in the story Thursday joins forces with Goliath Corporation to help save the Classics. Oh, and someone is trying to kill Thursday. By the end of the book, the Thursday Next series undergoes a radical change.
I enjoy First Among Sequels for all the reasons that I have enjoyed the previous books in the series. Most notably, it is silly while still being intelligent. It speaks to those of us who like to read books. It makes me think, not necessarily in deep philosophical ways, but in intelligent ways. For example, at one point a character offers proof that Speedy has released a dirty bomb in a classic by citing the word “ejaculated.” Yesterday, I did indeed find the word in His Family, a 1918 novel that I am reading. Fforde talks about ways of making novels more appealing to the masses with interactivity, and in fact Fforde has practiced some of that with his own books, offering additional content on his website. He also listed the major components of fiction, and you better believe I am going to write that down in my notes for further reference when I discuss novels. After I finish reading a Thursday Next book, I feel like a puppy that has just had a good romp in a dog park. Oh, the fun!