Book review: Thursday Next #6: One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde (Hodder & Stoughton, 2011)
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?
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.
The peculiar thing about the BookWorld books is that while the books are similarly themed, they evolve. The world you start out with in The Eyre Affair changes completely in the subsequent books. It’s all a bit marvellous, really. So it should come as no surprise that the latest instalment in the series changes things around again. For one thing, in One of Our Thursdays is Missing, Thursday isn’t the narrator. Or, well, she is, but it’s not the real Thursday – it’s the fictional one introduced in the previous book.
The problem facing Fictional Thursday is that her books are hardly ever read, especially since she took over and tried to make Real Thursday proud by making the books more like what actually happened, instead of the highly sexualised, violent drivel that made them so popular in the first place. Being unread carries a big stigma in the BookWorld. On the other hand, as no one hardly reads her, Fictional Thursday can go about doing her changes with Jurisfiction not getting too involved.
That is, until Real Thursday goes missing.
No one has seen her in the BookWorld, and Landen and the kids miss her in the RealWorld, but figure she’s away on Jurisfiction business or something. Fictional Thursday needs to find her, because she’s due to help in the peace talks and stop a genre war breaking out over at Racy Novel. Oh, and the BookWorld has had a makeover. The Great Library now features less, and instead, they’ve gone over to a geographical system. There’s a map and everything.
In the re-made BookWorld, you travel by means that are familiar to us Outlanders, meaning they have taxis and buses and trains and things. Thursday gets to investigate debris from a book that crashed. Could it have a connection to the missing Thursday? Together with a mechanical butler (“everyone needs a butler”) called Sprocket, Fictional Thursday sets out investigating.
There’s not much I can say without gushing, because I love these books, and I was certainly not disappointed by this one. Sprocket, I hope we’ll see more of. Loved how the other characters in Thursday’s books were unhappy with the changes she’s made, and how different they were. Sweet, plocking Pickwick, for instance, played by the dodo in Alice in Wonderland, turns out to have serious attitude issues.
We also get an insight into how self-publishing is received in the BookWorld, as well as that of fanfiction. From what I’ve read in his FAQ section, Jasper Fforde was against fanfiction to begin with, but has since realised that it doesn’t necessarily suck. Good for him.
As the book doesn’t feature the real Thursday (much), there’s not a lot of Jurisfiction involved, but there is some, at least. Also like to find out more about the BookWorld and how it came to be. The constant evolving means it’s a little difficult to follow when it comes to making roleplaying adventures in that world, but what does it matter? One of Our Thursdays is Missing is not just fun, but funny, innovative and delightful. Can’t wait for the next one to come out!
5 out of 5 mime fields.