Alytha's Reviews > One of Our Thursdays Is Missing

One of Our Thursdays Is Missing by Jasper Fforde
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's review
Jan 08, 2012

liked it

** spoiler alert ** (For those not familiar with the Thursday Next universe, I don't want to discourage you from reading this one, but I reall recommend starting with the first volume, The Eyre Affair, as the whole BookWorld thing is quite complex and confusing. In short: there is a fictional world, where all books ever or never written exist and live. BookWorld used to look like a huge library, but it has recently been remade to look like an archpelago with an island or part of an island for every genre. Books being transferred from one genre to another, or on their way to be scrapped because of lack of readers sail by overhead like flying cities. The BookWorld is governed by the Council of Genres, and policed by Jurisfiction, although these two entities don't always agree)

The first person narrator in this one is the second fictional Thursday, who took over as the protagonist in BookWorld after the "evil" Thursday was killed in the previous book. Although she tries to play Thursday with dignity, just like the real Thursday from the real world would wish it, reading numbers are going down, and barely reach 30 readers a day..on a good day. In addition to that, the other characters don't agree with her interpretation and constantly pick on her, and the dodo hates her.

As the lack of readers leaves her with quite a lot of free time, she also jobs for the Jurisfiction Accident Investigation Department. One day, she gets called in to have a look at what is left of a crashed book. All that is left is one room, and a few odds and ends. Suspiciously, all the ISBN numbers have been erased. As she starts investigating further, the mysterious Men in Plaid want her dead.

The real Thursday Next is supposed to lead peace talks with Speedy Muffler, the leader of the rogue Racy Novel genre, threatening to cause a genre-spanning civil war in the BookWorld. However, nobody has heard from her for weeks, and written Thursday starts to suspect that something is wrong. Through her contacts with Jurisfiction, she manages to be sent to the real world for a day. After learning to cope with breathing, gravity, and walking, she visits the real Thursday's family and finds out that Thursday has been missing for four weeks, and all the real world organisations that might be out to get her don't know what happened either. And suddenly, Thursday starts doubting that she is in fact fictional...

Back in BookWorld, she finds more and more clues that Thursday was caught in a vast conspiracy, and that there is a connection to the crashed book that might well mean that the real Thursday is dead.

This is a book in good Jasper Fforde tradition. It goes so far into the territory of metafiction that you'll get a headache if you try to think it through, so it's better to just accept it and go with the flow. The usual insanity, literary allusions, terrible puns and play with tropes is present, but in comparison to his other books, I had a bit of a feeling that there was less going on than usual, and it was less funny. Don't get me wrong, this is a really good novel, with good pacing and an engaging story with interesting twists and turns and whole shoal of red herrings that I won't go into in order not to spoil you, but in general maybe a bit more dark and serious than the other volumes, and not packed 200% full of insanity. Fictional Thursday as a first person narrator is so close to real Thursday, that her confusion about her fictionality are quite believable. The supporting characters are interesting, especially her new side-kick, the clockwork robot Sprokett, who believably displays the struggle of a mechanic being to comprehend humanity. Not a new concept, but well executed.

In conclusion, I really liked this novel, although it didn't leave as much of an impression as the other ones.

PS: one riddle I haven't been able to figure out:
The bridge to Fanfiction island is guarded by two game show hosts, who prevent anyone from leaving it (can't have thousands of hobbits and vampires running around, after all).
They kill anyone they see coming towards them. The only way back is over the bridge, you can't swim across. It takes 4 minutes to cross the bridge, and they check every 30 seconds. However, Thursday gets back without any trouble, and just says the solution was obvious...not to me, unfortunately. Any ideas?

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