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Thursday Next #5

First Among Sequels

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It's been fourteen years since Thursday pegged out at the 1988 SuperHoop, and Friday is now a difficult sixteen year old. However, Thursday's got bigger problems. Sherlock Holmes is killed at the Reichenbach Falls and his series is stopped in its tracks. And before this can be corrected, Miss Marple dies suddenly in a car accident, bringing her series to a close as well. When Thursday receives a death threat clearly intended for her written self, she realizes what's going on: there is a serial killer on the loose in the Bookworld. And that's not all--The Goliath Corporation is trying to deregulate book travel. Naturally, Thursday must travel to the outer limits of acceptable narrative possibilities to triumph against increasing odds.

363 pages, Hardcover

First published July 24, 2007

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About the author

Jasper Fforde

39 books11.6k followers
Fforde began his career in the film industry, and for nineteen years held a variety of posts on such movies as Goldeneye, The Mask of Zorro and Entrapment. Secretly harbouring a desire to tell his own stories rather than help other people tell their's, Jasper started writing in 1988, and spent eleven years secretly writing novel after novel as he strove to find a style of his own that was a no-mans-land somewhere between the warring factions of Literary and Absurd.

After receiving 76 rejection letters from publishers, Jasper's first novel The Eyre Affair was taken on by Hodder & Stoughton and published in July 2001. Set in 1985 in a world that is similar to our own, but with a few crucial - and bizarre - differences (Wales is a socialist republic, the Crimean War is still ongoing and the most popular pets are home-cloned dodos), The Eyre Affair introduces literary detective named 'Thursday Next'. Thursday's job includes spotting forgeries of Shakespeare's lost plays, mending holes in narrative plot lines, and rescuing characters who have been kidnapped from literary masterpieces.

Luckily for Jasper, the novel garnered dozens of effusive reviews, and received high praise from the press, from booksellers and readers throughout the UK. In the US The Eyre Affair was also an instant hit, entering the New York Times Bestseller List in its first week of publication.

Since then, Jasper has added another six to the Thursday Next series and has also begun a second series that he calls 'Nursery Crime', featuring Jack Spratt of The Nursery Crime Division. In the first book, 'The Big Over Easy', Humpty Dumpty is the victim in a whodunnit, and in the second, 'The Fourth Bear', the Three Bear's connection to Goldilocks disappearance can finally be revealed.

In January 2010 Fforde published 'Shades of Grey', in which a fragmented society struggle to survive in a colour-obsessed post-apocalyptic landscape.

His latest series is for Young Adults and include 'The Last Dragonslayer' (2010), 'Song of the Quarkbeast' (2011) and 'The Eye of Zoltar' (2013). All the books centre around Jennifer Strange, who manages a company of magicians named 'Kazam', and her attempts to keep the noble arts from the clutches of big business and property tycoons.

Jasper's 14th Book, 'Early Riser', a thriller set in a world in which humans have always hibernated, is due out in the UK in August 2018, and in the US in 2019.

Fforde failed his Welsh Nationality Test by erroneously identifying Gavin Henson as a TV chef, but continues to live and work in his adopted nation despite this setback. He has a Welsh wife, two welsh daughters and a welsh dog, who is mad but not because he's Welsh. He has a passion for movies, photographs, and aviation. (Jasper, not the dog)

* Thursday Next
* Nursery Crime
* Shades of Grey

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5 stars
8,385 (31%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,707 reviews
Profile Image for Brownbetty.
342 reviews163 followers
May 10, 2008
Jasper Fforde reminds me of a Douglas Adams who came from a happier home. (I have no idea what Adams' home life was like, but for the sake of analogy, humour me.) His humour is less biting, but just as madcap, his characters are kinder, and easier to like, but the surreality is, I think, just as strong, and listen to this nice bit of language on pianos: "Composed of 550lbs of iron, wood, strings, and felt, the 88-key instrument is capable of the most subtle of melodies, yet stored up in the tensioned strings is the destructive force of a family saloon moving at 20 miles per hour."

If you read for plot, you're not going to like this book. In fact, if you read for narrative, you may not like it either: at one point, with the future of the time-stream in the balance, a chapter is taken off for an adventure in laying carpet. This interlude has no connection whatsoever to anything happening before or after; you either embrace this sort of thing, or go mad.

I can't remember if I've enthused about Thursday as a heroine, but really, she just keeps on getting better. She's an action heroine who doesn't carry a gun, (mostly), she's middle-aged, happily married with children, and not terribly good at communicating with her loved ones. She's female, but not highly gendered, and I think her hair colour may be mentioned once but I don't recall at the moment what it is.

This book is fairly standard for Fford, but he does two interesting things with the first-person narrator, neither of which I wish to spoil for you, so go read it yourself.
October 4, 2021
And the moral of this rereread is: reingeneered neanderthals + the Stupidity Surplus + cheese as a multipurpose tool/lethal weapon + Thomas Hardy's rip-roaringly funny tales + Hypothetical Oceans and Moral Dilemnas + the recipe for unscrambled eggs + Stiltonistas and the Old Town Cheese Mafia + fictional Thursdays, aka Thursday5 and Thursday1-4 + Bertha Rochester being abducted by aliens + the Pride and Prejudice refit + Nonrecurring Informative Phantasm, aka Speak Up and Shut Down + the Schrödinger Night Fever Principle + Fermat's Last Theorem + Dirty bombs and the Racy Novel vs. Feminist vs. Ecclesisatical border wars + the Mispeling Vyrus Farst Respons Groop + the Schrödinger Night Fever Principle =

👋 To be continued and stuff

· Book 1: The Eyre Affair ★★★★★
· Book 2: Lost in a Good Book ★★★★★
· Book 3: The Well of Lost Plots ★★★★★
· Book 4: Something Rotten ★★★★★
· Book 6: One of Our Thursdays is Missing ★★★
· Book 7: The Woman Who Died a Lot ★★★★
· Book 8: Dark Reading Matter - to be published

[September 2013]

I recently decided to read the whole Thursday Next series again to refresh my memory before reading its most recent installment, The Woman Who Died a Lot.

Reading my original review for this book, it seems I hadn't enjoyed it as much as I did the other installments because Thursday was suddenly much older and the story was mainly set in the real world. This sounds very strange to me now as I absolutely loved the book the second time around!

Granted, the book is not as funny as the previous ones but I loved the story, plots, and intricate sub-plots. I simply can't get enough of Fforde's alternate UK and can't wait to read The Woman Who Died a Lot!

[July 2007]

Well I have to say that this is probably my least favorite book in the Thursday Next series. I guess I had a hard time getting used to the fact that 14 years had passed since "Something Rotten" and that Thursday was now 52. It just felt really strange. This installment wasn't as funny as the previous ones and to be honest, a bit boring... I think the biggest disappointment for me came from the fact that most of the action took place in the 'real world' as opposed to the 'Book World'. I did enjoy reading about the 'refitting' of Pride and Prejudice though:)

I hope Jasper Fforde gets more inspired before writing the next installment in the series!
Profile Image for BrokenTune.
750 reviews202 followers
November 6, 2016

‘Incredibly enough, reality TV has just got worse.’ ‘Is that possible?’ I asked. ‘Wasn’t Celebrity Trainee Pathologist the pits?’ I thought for a moment. ‘Actually, Whose Life Support Do We Switch Off ? was worse. Or maybe Sell Your Granny. Wow, the choice these days makes it all so tricky to decide.’
Bowden laughed. ‘I’ll agree that Granny lowered the bar for distasteful programme makers everywhere, but RTA-TV, never one to shirk from a challenge, have devised Samaritan Kidney Swap. Ten renal failure patients take it in turns to convince a tissue-typed donor – and the voting viewers – which one should have his spare kidney.’
I groaned. Reality TV was to me the worst form of entertainment – the modern equivalent of paying sixpence to watch lunatics howling at the walls down at the local madhouse. I shook my head sadly. ‘What’s wrong with a good book?’ I asked.

Indeed. What is wrong with a good book? This question goes to the heart of the plot of First Among Sequels. A plot, I should add, that doesn't actually become clear until well into the second third of the book, which for an impatient and plot-loving reader like me, made for rather frustrating reading of most of the book.

Multiple storylines were hinted at throughout the book, but only a few, were actually followed through with in this installment of the Thursday Next series, and one that grabbed my interest in particular was revealed to be addressed only in the next book. That is, maybe. If the author can be bothered to remember.

It's the same situation again as with one of the main twists (the one relating to Pickwick) in Lost in a Good Book (book # 2 in the series), which is not actually addressed again until Something Rotten (book # 4). I understand that this structuring of the story is supposed to keep the series alive, but it makes for a rather unsatisfying reading experience, especially so when most of the book just feels like a filler until the next installment.

What adds to my disappointment with the book is that Fforde changed some of the characters, and it is not clear if this was by design so it fits with the amended backstory , or whether the continuity errors are simply because neither author nor editor could be bothered.

For example, we have Stig's attitude towards chimera's described as follows:

‘Don’t move,’ said Stig in a low rumble, ‘we don’t want to hurt it.’ He never did. Stig saw any renegade unextinctee as something akin to family, and always caught them alive, if possible. On the other hand, chimeras, a hotchpotch of the hobby sequencer’s art, were another matter – he dispatched them without mercy, and without pain.

However, one of the most poignant scenes of the previous book, describes Stig as far more complex and contradicts the statement that Stig did not care for chimera:

The Neanderthal moved closer and held the creature’s grubby hand as its life ebbed away. ‘Sometimes,’ said the Neanderthal softly, ‘sometimes, the innocent must suffer.’
‘Every time we do this it’s like killing one of our own,’ said Stiggins softly.

This is only one example of the changes, but a poignant one. Others would provide spoilers for the previous books, but suffice it to say that Thursday's attitude towards Pickwick and other characters is far from what I would expect from the Thursday of books #1 through #4.

I got the impression that by one of the plot twists, Fforde tried to explain some of the break with the previous books by justifying the existence of books #1 through #4, but he does it in such a convoluted way, that it makes it difficult to follow.

"I wanted the series to be a thought-provoking romp around literature; books for people who like stories or stories for people who like books. It wasn’t to be. The first four in the series had been less light-hearted chroniclings of my adventures and more ‘Dirty Harry meets Fanny Hill’, but with a good deal more sex and violence."

It also does not answer the more fundamental question of why he includes this plot twist in the first place.
Again, the plotting of this book just really did not work for me. Nor did some of the characters, especially Thursday1-4. The break with the previous books just does not work, and there is not enough explanation of why Thursday1-4 is the way she is. The whole concept of each version of Thursday being a part of each other version just does not work if each version is not given the capability to act like another version. Fforde tried to do it, but not convincingly - a case of too little too late.

Which leaves me with the one redeeming point of the book: the writing. As much as the plot and characters irked me, it is difficult to put a Thursday book down. The story may be convoluted and the characters confused, but in the end, Fforde's imaginative plea for the celebration of literature and his expressions of love for the written and spoken word are nothing but awesome:

The book may be the delivery medium but what we’re actually peddling here is story. Humans like stories. Humans need stories. Stories are good. Stories work. Story clarifies and captures the essence of the human spirit. Story, in all its forms – of life, of love, of knowledge – has marked the upward surge of mankind. And story, you mark my words, will be with the last human to draw breath, and we should be there, supporting that one last person.
Profile Image for Jack.
8 reviews10 followers
July 23, 2007
Thursday's back, in the first installment of her second four-book series; how I'd missed her.

Familiar ground is less familiar than I might have expected. It's 14 years later, SpecOps has been disbanded, and Thursday is working at a carpet company while England's love of reading (so prominent and charming in the world of the first series) has plummeted so far that bookstores no longer sell books and reality TV has resorted to titles like Samaritan Kidney Swap. It takes a couple of chapters for one to get a footing.

All the old characters make an appearance, though, albeit usually brief ones, and the new characters (in particular, Thursday's kids) are engaging. Probably the ones with the most page-time are still Thursday... but the fictional Thursdays from the books written based on her experiences. This, you might imagine, gets even more meta than usual, as Thursday in the Bookworld mucks about with the first four books we've already read (and one we haven't).

As usual, the plot threads are myriad. The main plot involves a drastic plan to raise Outlander reading rates by turning the classics into interactive reality TV, but there are also bits about Felix8's return, Aornis's imprisonment, the evaluation and training of potential new Jurisfiction agents, and a really dangerous cheese.

Still, it's not my favorite Thursday book by a long shot. For one thing, it feels rushed (as it probably should, since it was written in seven months), which might explain why the Hodder first edition is missing all footnotes; in another book, that might not necessarily be a real problem, narrative-wise, but when Next communicates with Bookworld inhabititants via footnoterphone, we're literally missing half the conversation. For another, the dangling plot points feel more dangly than in previous books, probably because Fforde knows he has three more books in which to tie them to something, but it does hurt the novel's feel as a finished work unto itself.

Overall, I enjoyed it, but it's clearly not Fforde's best. And now that he's apparently committed to Thursday for his next three novels, I find myself craving another Nursery Crime book.
Profile Image for Esther.
26 reviews11 followers
February 26, 2009
Actually, more like 1.5 stars -- somewhere between "didn't like it" and "OK". I certainly didn't hate it, but I didn't derive much pleasure from reading it, either.

While I enjoyed the prior four books in this series, this one fell short. Much of the cleverness that made Fforde's other books so delightful has been sucked out of this book.

The "that that that that" bit in Well of Lost Plots was a bit of brilliance. This book's brilliance, unfortunately, has been reduced to something comparable to an old, buzzing, fluorescent tube; it's just kind of dreary.

If you were to pick up this book without having read the prior ones in the series, you'd be really lost. If you are a Fforde junkie, and have read all his prior Thursday Next books and need a fix, well, go ahead and read it. The joy of connecting with your favorite characters may be enough to carry you through. But really, that's where the joy is in this book -- derived from the prior ones in the series. This is certainly not a stand-alone book. And from the number of loose ends left hanging at the end, I'm supposing there are more coming.
Profile Image for inciminci.
328 reviews24 followers
May 13, 2022
This was so much fun!
I had read the first quartet a couple of years ago and then gave it a rest. I think I'm ready now to finish the complete series, I really burst out laughing more than a few times. This is also the first among the series that I listened to in audio book and a great praise to narrator Emily Gray, who's just fantastic!
Profile Image for Lisa Vegan.
2,748 reviews1,214 followers
May 20, 2009
I was really scared to read this one because so many readers seem to dislike it, even those people who enjoyed the first four books in the series, and I didn’t want to feel disappointed. I’m not sure why so many readers don’t like this one. I was into it right from the start.

So what if this book isn’t plot heavy (but there is a story/plot!) – I love hanging out in this alternative world with Thursday and the other characters – I especially enjoyed the parts about the kids.

Fforde is unbelievably witty, smart, imaginative, subversive, astute, perspicacious; I could go on and on and on.

Just about every page had something that tickled my funny bone.

I got a huge kick out of what he says about the roles readers play; I just loved it.

I loved all the digs about modern life and trends and pop culture. The material about reality shows & reduction in reading rates were so spot on. And, The Sound of Music movie reference I found amusing because it is my favorite movie. And, for probably the first time I was glad that I’d read Cold Comfort Farm. The Pride and Prejudice stuff was great as well.

There were a couple of ingenious twists that made me go back and reread sections which I decided to do while I was still reading the book, and I’m glad that I did.

Fforde makes great use of the previous books in the series as a part of this book.

As usual, I think it’s imperative to read series books in order so I would definitely recommend reading the first four before this one. I’m really looking forward to book six.

I’m also really looking forward to his upcoming book Shades of Grey but I’m not that compelled to start the nursery crime series, but I might give those books a try too.
90 reviews
May 25, 2008
Probably my least favorite of the Thursday Next series so far. It seemed less coherent and more bogged down with explanation than the rest. While there were a few exciting parts near the end, I did not enjoy it as much as The Eyre Affair and others in the series.
Profile Image for Megan Baxter.
985 reviews658 followers
May 19, 2014
I have to say, I still enjoy these. I don't know that they are as shiny and new as when Jasper Fforde was a discovery, but I do enjoy them. I felt like the one before this was a bit muddy, if I remember correctly (it was a while ago), but First Among Sequels is a thoroughly fun addition to the Thursday Next series. I really never get tired of Fforde's voice. That's what it comes down to, in the end.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Profile Image for Carmen.
2,050 reviews1,834 followers
March 29, 2016
This book is #5 in the Thursday Next series. Read the other books first! Not a stand-alone.

Thursday Next is retired from Special Ops. Now 52, married with three children: Friday, Tuesday, and Jenny, Thursday Next is working for Acme Carpets.

Except she's really not. Unknown to her darling husband, Thursday has not really given up her dangerous job of keeping the fictional world in order. Blessed with the rare ability to travel in and out of books, Thursday and the other agents of Jurisfiction keep BookWorld running.

There's not much I can say in this review that will make sense to people who haven't read the book. I will say this: the Thursday Next series is incredibly smart and funny. But the best thing is that it's not a big joke (like HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE), these books actually play for high stakes and make you feel anxious about the characters and what happens to them.

Another thing I like is Fforde's portrayal of Thursday Next - one of my favorite female protagonists. Smart, witty, world-weary, practical, with normal-looks and a normal body. She loves her husband and her kids, and she is pretty kick-ass - but in a realistic way, not like...you know...Anita Blake or something.

I highly recommend this series to any book-lover.

P.S. The fact that Thursday Next starts off as a 36-year-old in the Eyre Affair and now, in installment 5, is 52 - really tickles me pink. So many authors of a series don't allow their heroes/heroines to age. Great job, Fforde. Keep up the good work!
Profile Image for Jenny.
768 reviews
February 24, 2008
I have loved this quirky series, but in all honesty, I think this book had too many subplots and not enough plot to sustain the interest of anyone but a fan. Some great satire, though--I loved the reality TV shows made out of books.
Profile Image for Rachel C..
1,809 reviews4 followers
May 19, 2008
Maybe it's because I haven't seen Thursday Next in a long time, but I really enjoyed this book!

I loved the scenes with her family - seeing son Friday as a grunty teenager whose only interest is playing guitar for his garage band, The Gobshites. (His parents are worried because he's slated to save the world 756 times, but is already three years behind schedule on his ChronoGuard career.) The scene about Thursday's daughter Jenny almost made me cry.

The plot is intricate and hard to follow, but if you just go with it in a down-the-rabbit-hole kind of way, it's quite a ride. That Thursday has her own fictional self (Thursday5 from "The Great Samuel Pepys Fiasco") as a cadet trainee is awesome.

I still think "Eyre Affair" stands alone at the pinnacle of Fforde's work, but I was glad to be once again immersed in Thursday Next's world. Fforde just plain loves books and it's infectious.

Some favorite passages below:

A "dirty" bomb:
It's a tightly packed mass of inappropriate plot devices, explicit suggestions and sexual scenes of an expressly gratuitous nature. The 'dirty' elements of the bomb fly apart at a preset time and attach themselves to any unshielded prose. Given the target, it has the potential for untold damage. A well-placed dirty bomb could scatter poorly described fornication all across drab theological debate or drop a wholly unwarranted scene of a sexually exploitative nature right into the middle of 'Mrs. Dalloway.'

A strong cheese:
Machynlleth Wedi Marw... It'll bring you up in a rash just by looking at it. Denser than enriched plutonium, two grams can season enough macaroni and cheese for eight hundred men. The smell alone will corrode iron. A concentration of only seventeen parts per million will bring on nausea and unconsciousness within twenty seconds. Our chief taster ate a half ounce by accident and was dead to the world for six hours. Open only out of doors, and even then only with a doctor's certificate and well away from populated areas. It's not really a cheese for eating - it's more for encasing in concrete and dumping in the ocean a long way from civilization.

Schrodinger's Night Fever principle:
F: "It's simple. If you go to see 'Saturday Night Fever' expecting it to be good, it's a corker. However, if you go expecting it to be a crock of shit, it's that, too. Thus 'Saturday Night Fever' can exist in two mutually opposing states at the very same time, yet only by the weight of our expectations. From this principle we can deduce that any opposing states can be governed by human expectation - even, as in the case of retro-deficit-engineering, the present use of a future technology."
L: "I think I understand that. Does it work with any John Travolta movie?"
F: "Only the artistically ambiguous ones such as 'Pulp Fiction' or 'Face/Off.' 'Battlefield Earth' doesn't work, because it's a stinker no matter how much you think you're going to like it, and 'Get Shorty' doesn't work either, because you'd be hard-pressed not to enjoy it, irrespective of any preconceived notions."

568 reviews17 followers
July 24, 2008
If I have ever read a more raucous and joyful ode to reading than Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, then I have long forgotten it. Set in a fantastical alternate Britain, the series heroine is the titular Next who is a member of the Literary Detectives, a government organization that combats book crime, such as, say, the unlawful editing of books. How can such events occur? Well as it happens, what is written in books exists in it own dimension and if you were to enter that dimension, you could say, leech all the comedy out of the Thomas Hardy books and make them terrible tragedies, as some nasty did in these books.

Did that last bit make you chuckle or leave you confused? If it is the former, these books are for you. In addition to being entirely about books and reading, these stories are marked by an unrelenting tide of jokes. I can think of few books that I want to read that I can also call "madcap," but this is certainly one. One scene features a Beatrix Potter character conversing with a Ming the Merciless clone, over tea. It is a mark of Fforde's skill as a writer in that he can be so incredibly silly, while also sucking you into the (often nonsensical) story.

His latest book in the series, Thursday Next, First Among Sequels, may be his most enjoyable yet. Flinging from one crisis to another, Next deals with (as usual) threats to the BookWorld, the universe, declining read rates, her family and to her pet Dodo (genetically re-engineered, wouldn't you know). The pacing is among the most relentless in this volume, so that if one joke or encounter leaves you a bit dry, you will soon find another.

While I won't stoop to spoiling, I will say that this is a series that can read out of order if you so chose. Yes, certain personages fates will be known to you, but like as not, they have changed in bizarre ways, so that you will be surprised nonetheless. The fun here is in Fforde's seemingly bottomless invention and literary referencing. If you are an inveterate reader, then you need to try these books.
Profile Image for Sandi.
510 reviews276 followers
February 26, 2009
According to the little pop-up under each star, two stars means "it was okay". And, that's about all I can say about this 5th installment in Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series. It was in serious trouble when 75 of the first 100 pages were spent in a pointless jaunt through Book World that seemed to be there only to provide exposition that fans of the series don't really need. Fforde throws out a lot of potential story lines and doesn't follow through with most of them. Absolutely nothing comes of the super reader phenomenon. That could have been interesting. The bad guys aren't bad enough and don't show up enough. It just wasn't a cohesive narrative. I was very disappointed.
Profile Image for Stephen Richter.
753 reviews22 followers
October 17, 2018
Thursday Next is now in her 40s, has a slacker son named Friday who sleeps until noon is and is suppose to save the world in the future. Plus she is tasked to train Thursday 5 and Thursday 1-4, literary versions of herself all the while working for Acme Carpet Company, now a cover for Spec Ops. Jasper Fforde once again invents a wild tale of the literary world.
Profile Image for Julie.
432 reviews12 followers
January 31, 2010
Love it. Love the whole series. Love the author. It's literary sci-fi, literary mystery, just plain literary at it's best. Awesomely clever. Time travel, ghosts, the end of the world (caused by the end of Time), a demon, Danverclones (creepy Mrs. Danvers from du Maurier's Rebecca, cloned into an army of thousands), a "dirty bomb" that if unleashed in an inter-genre war between Racy Novel and Feminist Literature, could "scatter poorly described fornication all across drab theological debate or drop a wholly unwarranted scene of a sexually exploitative nature right into the middle of 'Mrs. Dalloway.'" We also get to see Aornis again, and discover just exactly how evil she is. (Very. The part about Jenny is painful.)

As a bonus, I got to read the best explanation of "Schrodinger's Cat*," re-couched into what is called "Schrodingers Saturday Night Fever Principle."

Friday explains it thusly: "It's simple. If you go to see 'Saturday Night Fever' expecting it to be good, it's a corker. However, if you go expecting it to be a crock of sh**, it's that, too. Thus 'Saturday Night Fever' can exist in two mutually opposing states at the very same time, yet only by the weight of our expectations. From this principle we can deduce that any opposing states can be governed by human expectation - even, as in the case of retro-deficit-engineering, the present use of a future technology."

L: "I think I understand that. Does it work with any John Travolta movie?"

F: "Only the artistically ambiguous ones such as 'Pulp Fiction' or 'Face/Off.' 'Battlefield Earth' doesn't work, because it's a stinker no matter how much you think you're going to like it, and 'Get Shorty' doesn't work either, because you'd be hard-pressed not to enjoy it, irrespective of any preconceived notions."

See? What kind of brain thinks of these things? I love these books.

* Schrodingers Cat, a thought experiment in quantum mechanics, about a cat being simultaneously alive and dead. Google it.
Profile Image for Oriana.
Author 2 books3,262 followers
August 8, 2008
One of the endorsements on the back of this book reads, Brainier silliness is hard to find, and I think that's the best encapsulation of Jasper Fforde I've yet to find. He really is the smart person's beach read, or some other such epithet.

This book made me think, though, that really really original artists can sometimes suffer for their singularity. I remember thinking this about Tom Robbins years ago, and it happens with visual artists and musicians too, I'd say. What I mean is that when someone is totally, utterly unique, and persists in creating work after work which are all in the same totally, utterly unique vein, a certain sameness begins to creep in. You know? Hearing the next Devendra Banhart album is really going to be a lot like hearing the previous one, and reading the next Thursday Next novel is honestly going to be rather similar to reading the last one. I haven't got any striking conclusion to draw about this, but my nearly worshipful love for Jasper and Thursday is beginning to... if not wane, exactly, then at least shift, from idolatry to merely very-impressed-ness.

But look, he really is endlessly creative, he has an immense arsenal of trickery and absurdism and silliness and twisty-turny prose. His ideas really are just amazing and crazy and lots and lots of fun. But by the fifth book, it's just not as jaw-droppingly new as it was when I read The Eyre Affair. I also think that despite his clear success (or, obvs, maybe because of it), he may be getting a smidge sloppy at times. Some of the jokes here are really forced, some of the plot twists are visible pages and pages before they happen, and some of the stuff has crossed the line between silly-stupid and just dumb.

Anyway, it's still a super-great book, and of course I will continue reading whatever he puts out, but I guess it's become a little less phenomenal. That's all.
August 31, 2007
Seriously, Jasper Fforde. This has gone far enough.

I thought The Eyre Affair was pretty ingenious. As the series continued, the books seemed to start to fall into a hole, but as the holder of an English B.A. and M.A., I was sticking with Fforde for his clever puns, literary allusions, Shakespeare references, and other literature-related nonsense. I was particularly fond of The Well of Lost Plots, not because it was terribly good, but as a writer I appreciated the fantasy of Bookworld and how stories are created (it's a big machine, people have nothing to do with it, we're "inspired" by what the machine creates, it's complicated). Books two through four were too much, but this was really too much.

Fforde has clearly become so entrenched and obsessed with his fantasy world, he doesn't bother trying to explain anything anymore. If you hadn't read the first four books, you'd be lost on page one. It really seems like a private little joke. All of us could write novel after novel based on our own knowledge and inside jokes. We wouldn't get published, though. Fforde has lucked out, but he isn't at all thinking about his readers anymore. This is sort of ironic, considering how important readers are in this book.

My advice? If you studied English in college or you're sort of a literophile (I made that word up, in the spirt of Fforde), read The Eyre Affair and stop. If you have neither of those things going for you, well, you're lucky, but you shouldn't bother with this series.

Profile Image for K..
3,595 reviews1,001 followers
April 19, 2016
Look, I like this series a lot. But there's a lot in this one that I find frustrating.
1. The fourteen year time skip between books. I'm really not a fan of time skips as a plot device, and jumping THAT FAR? No thank you.
3. Multiples of the same character.
3a. I mean, we have three different versions of the protagonist - Actual Thursday Next, Thursday Next from books 1-4 of the in-universe books about Actual Thursday Next, and Thursday Next from book 5 of the in-universe books about Actual Thursday Next. It gets ridiculously confusing. .
3b. Seriously, there were so many versions of Friday. And I didn't care about any of them.
4. I like the Bookworld far more than the actual world, and this one fell flat on both counts.
5. It was just really long and dry a lot of the time.

That said, it definitely had some fun moments. Like Mrs Bennet having a meltdown over Pride and Prejudice being refurbished. And Thursday 1-4 dropping a piano into Emma and thus creating the whole debate over who sent the piano to Jane Fairfax. And William Dobbin turning up, because I have a ridiculous soft spot for Vanity Fair. Plus, Spike's involved and he's always good value.

So there were definitely good things about this book. But on the whole? It was a bit meh.
Profile Image for Joanna Compton-Mys.
60 reviews22 followers
March 26, 2009
All I can say is that half the pleasure of reading Fforde's Thursday Next series is in ferreting out the myriad literary references slipped into the work. The fifth book in the series was no different in this respect, playing in fiction, poetry and the oral tradition.

This was a really fun read that plays with Thursday as both an "outlander" and a member of Jurisfiction, the fictional version of Spec Ops (So27) policing the fictional world's woes, uncannily like and unlike the real world. Set 14 years after the last novel, we find Spec Ops disbanded, the England in a stupidity surplus, and Thursday's young son Friday the typical petulant teenager.

In addition to the swirl of messiness in the outside world Thursday is dealing with her fictional selves... with Thursday 1-4 being the gun toting, swearing, sarcastic and sex loving version while Thursday 5 is the flower child worried more about her chakkras than learning the ropes at Jurisfiction.

Add in the mega corporation Goliath's ever present meddling, buracratic nonsense in the book world, and the usual attempts on (the real) Thursday's life, and you have another highly readable, addictive book from Jasper Fforde.
November 5, 2022
27/3 - Actually 4.5 stars. I really enjoyed it but it lost that ½ a star because it wasn’t quite as funny as the first four books in the Thursday Next series. This is the only book that has really had a cliffhanger so I know that he’s going to write another one. I was a little disappointed that he got rid of the “Friday’s going to be a time traveling hero” storyline because I really liked that idea. It was a bit weird reading Thursday as a 50 year old - maybe that was why I didn’t find it quite as funny as the previous books. I did finally get one of the jokes from the previous books – Millon De Floss’ name is a pun on George Eliot’s book Mill On The Floss, which, because I had never heard of any of Eliot’s books I didn’t get, but since I started reading Middlemarch and found out that we actually have a copy of Mill On The Floss I now get the joke.
Profile Image for Louize.
424 reviews43 followers
October 29, 2012

I love how Jasper Fforde stitched things together without a flaw.
It's just cockily satisfying how each question was answered in the most unexpected manner and timing. And his name choices were impeccable as ever.
Profile Image for Aphelia.
341 reviews43 followers
April 7, 2020
This is a diabolically tricksy book. When I first opened my copy and saw the book list, I panicked. I've spent over 10 years collecting my copies so I could read them in order, and I was astounded to find a crossed out title on the list: "The Great Samuel Pepys Fiasco", listed as TN #5. Did I miss one? Was it a special limited edition or charity project? Nope. This is a fictional book which doesn't exist in our world, but that makes this book (First Among Sequels) officially Thursday Next #6, not #5.

"Audacious" is the best word I think of to describe this book! What do you do when you're midway through a successfully established, highly creative, wackily wonderful series? Why, you blow it up! I don't know why I was so surprised, the exploding book on the cover really should have clued me in LOL

I was very confused and downright baffled and bewildered for the first 3/4 of the book but by the end I was able to grasp the gist of things. I think. It's like happily playing checkers only to find out that all along you were actually playing chess - and fiendishly complicated fourth-dimensional chess at that! Perhaps this is an example of Nextian Geometry applied to narrative?!

Either way, it's best going into this book knowing as little about it as possible (as I did) - you just have to trust Fforde and go along for the ride. Even the informational chapter headings have no attributions for the first time - the confusion, I'm convinced, is deliberate. It's just the type of manically clever writing Fforde excels at. There's even a very interesting passage (where Thursday is adrift between books in BookSpace, in the intergenre Nothing) where he pushes the textual limits of narrative and suspends text entirely in favour of telling the story in graphic panels instead.

Jasper Fforde really loves books, and writing, and word play. If this is your type of thing, you'll love this too - but make sure to read the series in order, starting with the first The Eyre Affair!

For readers wanting a little more information:

All in all, KAPOW. Mind blown.

Because I was so confused throughout I was thinking of rating this one at 4 stars. But the way it all came together in the end and the sheer authorial daring upped my rating. I've never read anything like this series and I can't wait to see where Fforde takes it from here!
Profile Image for Ben.
968 reviews84 followers
December 27, 2020
I think that at book five in this series, Fforde is running a little low on novel elaborations of the theme and on targets for satire. He broadens the scope here, from the plot—the (real) UK government tries to unload a stupidity surplus—to the book- and time-travel concepts—Fforde goes meta! I found it fun, if occasionally confused and inane. The plot isn't very cohesive. Perhaps Fforde's first idea ran flat, so he had to add in another plot line.
Profile Image for Melissa.
670 reviews155 followers
January 24, 2013
I love this series so much. I’ve shamefully waited almost three year to read the fifth book, but luckily I wasn’t disappointed. Fourteen years have passed since the end of the 4th book and Thursday has adjusted to her life as a wife and mother, though she may not have given up her work as a literary detective quite as completely as she led her husband to believe. Thursday Next, a literary detective, lives with her husband and kids, Friday, Tuesday and Jenny.

I am constantly astounded by Fforde’s cleverness. He must have such a brilliant mind. His plots are so complex and he always manages to tie everything together beautifully. He’s like the strange literary child of Douglas Adams and P.G. Wodehouse. My favorite part of his books is always the humor and the fantastic literary jokes. For example in one scene Next is talking about a new cadet being inexperienced and said …

“This one was as green as Brighton Rock.”

I know that it’s this very cleverness that is what some readers don’t like and I think he’s one of those authors you either adore or just don’t like. One thing I’ve discovered is that I appreciate these books more now that I’ve had a chance to dig farther into the classics. I get more of the references and humor.

In this Thursday Next book there’s a strange paradox of the other Thursday Next books being referenced within the book. They are part of Book World, just like any book, but it’s odd to wrap your head around. There is Book World, the land inside of books and there is “Outland” the real world. There’s a great explanation about why Outland is so wonderful. There’s a richness in detail in Outland that can’t be matched in the Book World, because in books things like carrots are described simply as a rods of orange, there’s no detail or difference from one carrot to another. Thursday describes it as “living in Lego Land.”

Just a few fantastic bits that I enjoyed:

1) At one meeting in the Book World Harry Potter is unable to attend because of copyright restrictions.

2) There’s an illegal cheese market, because seriously guys, good cheese is worth buying illegally, it just is.

3) There’s a terrorist threat from the Racy Novels genre, they threaten to drop a “dirty bomb” into serious book. Imagine a sex scene popping up in the middle of a scientific text book or something, hilarious!

4) A serial killer, like a book series… get it. Bahahaha.

5) Generic characters in books often assimilate to the strongest personality, so there are armies of Danverclones, Generics who became Miss Danvers from Rebecca.

BOTTOM LINE: Start with The Eyre Affair, if you like it then keep going with the series because it just gets better. If you don’t like the first one then it’s probably not for you.

"She was the sort of parent you would want to have living close by, but only on the grounds that she would then never come to stay."

“Reading, I had learned, was as creative a process as writing, sometimes more so."
Profile Image for Paul.
2,116 reviews
October 10, 2014
Fourteen years have passed since the last book, and Thursday Next now has a teenage son, now works for a carpet company and has a side income smuggling cheese in from Wales. But all is not right in the world of books. reading rates are falling, Sherlock Holmes has and others have been killed, and they start to think that there is a serial killer loose in bookworld.

On top of that the Goliath corporation is trying to muscle in on travel to bookworld. The carpet company is a front for the real works of Spec-Ops, now working undercover, and Thursday is thrust back into the action by having to train two clones of herself and find the serial killer who wishes to stop all book series. And the icing the the cake is her son, Friday, keeps coming back in time to her to ensure that he joins Chronoguard, the time travelling organisation, who need him to join to enable him to invent time travel.

Much preferred this one to the previous book in the series. I like the way that Fforde gets the main character to flip between the real world and the bookworld. The plot is good too, with a nice amount of twists and turns, as Thursday tracks the serial killer and tries to hold family life together whilst training her clones. The literary references abound, and Fforde takes great pleasure in taking a very different perspective on the normal story line. Nearer 3.5 stars, and I think that reading this series has been worthwhile so far.
Profile Image for Neil.
543 reviews47 followers
November 4, 2015
Whilst this book might be listed as №5 in the Thursday Next series, it is set 14 years after the previous book, so it is almost like a brand new series. The only trouble with that is that so much time is spent filling in the intervening happenings, and scene setting that the first half of the book is quite a slog of a read. There is a fair amount of repetition too.
So things have changed in this fictitious corner of England. Much of SpecOps has been disbanded, and Thursday now finds herself working for a carpet warehouse, along with some of her former colleagues. Allowing for the time which has passed the reader now has to be reintroduced to the characters which they had come to know in the previous books.
There are plenty of ideas rattling around in this offering, but perhaps too many sub-plots as things can get a bit confusing. The same can be said for the additional characters. Some of the political satire comes over as a bit heavy handed too. I did enjoy some of the ideas behind the mindless TV reality shows.
For me this book was just about OK, and certainly seemed to be missing something which the previous books had.
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