Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Review - Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde
Summary (via Goodreads): "If Thursday thought she could avoid the spotlight after her heroic escapades in the pages of Jane Eyre, she was sorely mistaken. The unforgettable literary detective has another think coming." The love of her life has been eradicated by the corrupt multinational Goliath, and to rescue him Thursday must retrieve a supposedly vanquished enemy from the pages of "The Raven." But Poe is off-limits to even the most seasoned literary interloper. Enter a professional: the man-hating Miss Havisham from Dickens's Great Expectations. As Miss H's new apprentice, Thursday keeps her motives secret as she learns the ropes of Jurisfiction, where she moonlights as a Prose Resource Operative inside books. As if jumping into the works of Kafka and Austen, and even Beatrix Potter's Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies, weren't enough, Thursday finds herself the target of a series of potentially lethal coincidences, the authenticator of a newly discovered play by the Bard himself and the only one who can prevent an unidentifiable pink sludge from engulfing all life on Earth.
Review: I've heard a lot of good things about Jasper Fforde over the years, so about three years ago I finally got around to reading first book in the Thursday Next series, The Eyre Affair, and, to be honest, found it a bit difficult to get through. I liked the book enough; it was fun, imaginative, and quirky, but I just felt derailed by not being able to keep track of all the elements of Fforde’s world. I just felt like I’d been dropped into this strange world with no preparation. And I couldn’t really emotionally connect with Thursday. She just left me a little cold.
So when I saw Lost in a Good Book at the library I was hesitant to pick it up, but remembered all the good things I heard and thought I'd give it another try. I’m happy to say that the second book was much more enjoyable and I flew through it. This time things like book jumping, time paradoxes, and mammoth (yes, as in woolly) migrations barely made me bat an eye. This book is much more emotionally driven and allows Thursday to become a much more sympathetic character. I felt like I could understand Thursday's motivations a little better and understood where her initial distance came from. She actually reminded me a bit of Olivia from the show Fringe. At first they were both a bit matter-of-fact and business-like, but once I saw how committed they both are to the people they love, both became two of my favorite female protagonists. I couldn't help shed a tear or two at Thursday despairs over the loss of Landen and admire her determination to get him back, no matter the consequence. I also loved the addition of Miss Havisham as Thursday’s Jurisfiction mentor. She’s hilarious and sad, yet a little badass. I hope she’ll be in more of the series.
Lost in a Good Book is fast-paced and full of one brilliantly irreverent literary reference after another. I definitely became much more immersed in the world this time around. I found myself trying to decide what branch of Spec-Ops I’d want to work in and wanting a dodo as a pet like Thursday. Fforde’s Next series is hard to describe and even harder to encapsulate in one or two words, so let me just say that Lost in a Good Book was absurd, thrilling, hilarious, and a joy to read. I've already ordered The Well of Lost Plots and can't wait to get started.
Lit Snit Verdit: B+