Thursday, February 14, 2008

Something Rotten - Jasper Fforde

Thursday Next, Head of JurisFiction and ex-SpecOps agent, returns to her native Swindon accompanied by a child of two, a pair of dodos and Hamlet, who is on a fact-finding mission in the real world. Thursday has been despatched to capture escaped Fictioneer Yorrick Kaine but even so, now seems as good a time as any to retrieve her husband Landen from his state of eradication at the hands of the Chronoguard. It's not going to be easy. Thursday's former colleagues at the department of Literary Detectives want her to investigate a spate of cloned Shakespeares, the Goliath Corporation are planning to switch to a new Faith based corporate management system and the Neanderthals feel she might be the Chosen One who will lead them to genetic self-determination. With help from Hamlet, her uncle and time-travelling father, Thursday faces the toughest adventure of her career. Where is the missing President-for-life George Formby? Why is it imperative for the Swindon Mallets to win the World Croquet League final? And why is it so difficult to find reliable childcare?

Thursday is back from the Book World, accompanied by her two year old son Friday and her cousin Eddie (aka Hamlet, Prince of Denmark). Old foe Yorrick Kane is plotting to take over the country, Goliath is up to something major and her husband Landen is still eradicated.

Like Fforde's previous Thursday Next books, this is a wild and crazy ride through, well, pretty much anything he feels like throwing into the mix. Once again, I loved the book and devoured it at great speed. There's little I can say to capture the delightful craziness of this series beyond "read it!", and action I whole-heartedly recommend.

Like my (in the end, incorrect) rationale for not reading The Well of Lost Plots, I was worried that never having read, studied or seen Hamlet (I know, that makes me a philistine) I would get lost, but once again Fforde walks an excellent balance between literary in-jokes and staying within a range the average reader can understand. I might not have ever explored Hamlet in detail, but I know the basic plot and characters and that was quite enough to follow the goings on in Something Rotten.

The book was filled with silly moments and a few favourites included the encounter between Napoleon and Wellington clones in the forests of Wales, the very idea of croquet as a "superbowl" (or in this case "superhoop") sport and the solution to beating Yorrick Kane, as undertaken by the Cheshire Cat, was brilliant.

My only complaint is that I felt Landen's un-eradication was a bit of a let-down as it didn't result so much from Thursday's actions as from the very unreliable Goliath actually doing what they promised, something I wouldn't personally trust them to do.

All the same, this was another great read and while still working my way through it I had already put the next Thursday Next book on reserve at the library.

Something Rotten
Thursday Next, Book 4
Jasper Fforde

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