Monday, June 20, 2011

Book Review: One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde

This is the 6th book in Fforde's Thursday Next series. Have you read them? No? Are you an English major? Are you crazy? Then get yourself to a bookstore or library TODAY to get The Eyre Affair, and 6 books later you will thank me. This series are hands-down the funniest books I've ever read (and yes, that includes David Sedaris). But the one down side to them is that you really need to have been an English major to get even half the jokes. (If you are intrigued but worry you won't get the jokes, try Fforde's The Big Over Easy, which starts another mystery series, these based on nursery rhymes. Detectives Jack Spratt and Mary Mary are looking into the murder of Humpty Dumpty.)

In The Eyre Affair, we are introduced to Thursday Next, a detective in Swindon's literatec division in 1985, where she has a pet dodo, Pickwick, and where the Boer war is still being fought (yes, for over 100 years). Her uncle Mycroft has invented a machine that allows readers to go into a book, literally, so you can hang out with Elizabeth Bennet, or go down the rabbit hole, or debate with Yossarian. But then resident baddie, Acheron, angry about his brother Hades's recent capture, steals the invention. He also steals the original manuscript of Jane Eyre, and kidnaps Ms. Eyre right out of the book. When you use Mycroft's invention on a manuscript, you change everyone's books. Now Jane Eyre ends on page 30. Thursday has to get her back and capture Acheron and recover the invention.

But wait, isn't this supposed to be a review of One of Our Thursdays is Missing? Yes, but I had to set it up since this is the 6th book in the series. Luckily, the way this book is written, there aren't really any spoilers that will ruin the other books for you. Because this book is told from the point of view of the written Thursday Next. Not the real one. So when you are reading any of the books, the written Thursday is who you are interacting with along the way. And when no one is reading, or when she has an understudy to stand in for her, the written Thursday can explore the rest of Fiction Island, and also perform her duties in JAID, the Jurisfiction's Accident Investigation Division (unlike her real counterpart, the written Thursday flunked out of Jurisfiction Training School.) And in investigating an apparent accident, the written Thursday discovers not only was it no accident, but hey, is someone trying to kill her? And why? (And I suppose there is now a written version of the written version of Thursday in the Fiction world for this book!)

I swear you will laugh throughout these novels, you will want to read the funny bits aloud to whoever you are near (which will only work if they are also English majors or else they'll think you are slightly off your rocker.) They are erudite, literary, clever, and also hard to put down. You might think that with so many literary allusions and such smart literary plotting that the story would get bogged down in showing off how brilliant it is, but it doesn't. You really do care for Thursday (and Pickwick - I want a dodo that says "Plock plock"!) and it's exciting and the action moves forward at a pretty breakneck speed. If I remember correctly, no less than Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times called Thursday a cross between Nancy Drew and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Please read them. Now.

I borrowed this book from the library.


Judy said...

Oh thank you for such a great review about this series! I too love it and am in the midst of One of Our Thursday is Missing. And I was a History major! I'm sure I miss some of the jokes but hey! It's still great reading.

Anonymous said...

Though a major in nothing, which is a minor point, I find Fforde's fiction fascinating and an absolutely amusing amalgam of literary libres. In other words, I really like his stuff!