First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde (2007)

Book review: Thursday Next #5: First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde (Hodder & Stoughton, 2008 [2007])

firstamongsequelsThursday Next is back. And this time it’s personal …

Literary Detective Thursday Next is officially off the case. Once a key figure in the BookWorld police force, she is concentrating on her duties as a wife and mother. Or so her husband thinks …

Unofficially, Thursday is working as hard as ever – and in this world of dangerously short attention spans, there’s no rest for the literate.

Can Thursday stop Pride and Prejudice being turned into a vote-em-off reality book? Who killed Sherlock Holmes? And will Thursday get her teenage son out of bed in time for him to save the world?

The world has moved on since we last saw Thursday. We’re now in 2002, and Friday is a lazy teenager. Problem being that he was supposed to have joined the ChronoGuard as a trainee a few years back – according to the Friday previously visiting from the future – but Friday just can’t be bothered. At least Thursday and Landen’s two daughters are okay, and the nefarious Aornis Hades is still locked up safely in a time loop. Or is she?

Outside the home, SpecOps has been disbanded, and Thursday is working with her former colleagues as carpet installers. At least they get around to installing carpets every now and again, when they’re not busy dealing with the same sort of things they used to deal with as SpecOps agents. Thursday also manages to pop into the BookWorld every now and again and do her duties there.

One of said duties is to look after JurisFiction cadets. Someone who shouldn’t really be an agent gets assigned to her, much to Thursday’s chagrin: Thursday Next from The Great Samuel Pepys Fiasco, or Thursday 5 as she’s also known, as The Great Samuel Pepys Fiasco is the fifth book in the series. Thursday 5 is a hippie who prefers talking to grammasites because killing them is really unkind. She’s a dreadful milksop, but I love her as a character! She drives the original Thursday nuts, not even willing to fetch her a bacon sandwich. Then she gets yet another cadet assigned to her, an impossible case, who turns out to be quite a handful: Thursday Next 1-4.

In original Thursday’s world, she sold the book rights to people who wrote her as a sort of female James Bond character – all about action and sex, basically – and she sure has a mind of her own. Because she’s so far removed from the original, for the 5th book, Thursday wanted them to make the character more like her, but they went too far the other way instead – thus, Thursday 5.

Anyway. Together, the trio of Thursdays have to try and navigate the BookWorld to try to stop the brilliantly stupid idea of making Pride & Prejudice into a Big Brother style reality TV show. There’s a stupidity surplus in the country, and what better way to try getting rid of it? Then there’s the issue of time running out – quite literally – because the ChronoGuard and their playing with time is finally catching up with them.

I liked the fact that times have moved on, and we’re in more familiar territory. 2002 was only ten years ago, and even I can remember bits about those days, unlike the mid-1980s, when I was too young. It’s also good from the perspective that it drives the story forward, and there are new things to read about. Friday isn’t a Lorem Ipsum-speaking toddler anymore, he’s a stereotypical teenager.

Wondering if the author possibly got a bit fed up with the time travelling and the paradoxes it creates (that I bet some fans love to point out at any given opportunity) and that’s what sparked the events of this novel. That, and a bitterness that readership numbers were falling … which is a very real threat in the BookWorld!

One of my favourite parts of First Among Sequels is to see the excitement the possibility of Harry Potter showing up at a Council of Genres meeting – and that in the end, he couldn’t make it because of copyright issues. Good giggle there.

In retrospect, perhaps it’s not quite as amazing as some of the best novels in the series, but on the other hand, I remember really enjoying this one anyway. It’s good, it’s still insanely clever and I really love the series and Fforde as an author. Now that I’ve finally got the 6th book in the series (released in 2011) in my possession, I can’t wait to read it. That’s got to count for something, right? Even if some puns are a bit thin.

4.8 out of 5 guitar solos, because I loved it, but it took a little time to get into it properly.

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