Thursday, June 28, 2007

Guest Blog--Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde

For those of you not yet familiar with Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, you're in for a treat. Well, a treat if you love literature and like (or at least can handle) science fiction. Fforde's incredibly creative books take place in an alternate 1980s England where time travel, grativtubes, and cloned pets and coworkers are the norm. However, these are NOT your typical sci-fi books, and I am not a sci-fi fan. These books are also police novels of the literary genre.

The main character, Spec-Ops Agent Thursday Next, works as a literary detective. Her job leads to endless encounters of the literary kind--from her interference in the classic Jane Eyre to an appearance before Kafka's court to working out of an office set in Sense and Sensibility. Granted, the literary adventures are much more enjoyable if you have read the book, but even those unfamiliar to you are enjoyable. Even Fforde's witty character names--like Million de Floss (from The Mill on the Floss) or Braxton Hicks (the term for prelabor contractions) invoke chuckles. (I acknowledge that I probably miss a lot of the name puns as I have much yet to learn about literature.)

Fforde's latest novel, Something Rotten, is enjoyable but probably my least favorite of the four novels so far. If you haven't read the previous three, I won't give away anything. Just know that Thursday Next returns to live with her mother with Hamlet in tow. The usual crazy situations ensue--like trying to reverse an "eradicated" person, finding a way to untangle a rewritten Hamlet where Polonius and family take over, and retrieving the English "president" from Hades. Some elements aren't sufficiently explained for my liking, but overall enjoyable as usual.

One warning--Fforde writes for intelligent readers with good memories. He brings elements from the first book into this fourth installation, and he doesn't take much time to explain for the forgetful.


Nan said...

I also really enjoy these books. I do wonder, though, how many references and allusions I'm missing along the way. I still haven't cracked the Nursery Crimes series. How do they compare in tone and style?

Wanna-Be Lit said...

I KNOW I miss a lot of Fforde's allusions; I just can't count them since I don't know I'm missing them.

The Nursery Crime books (well, the one I've read) are not as good as the Thursday Next series, but they are still worth a read. They are more in the traditional detective fiction style, but you will still find interesting characters popping up. I'm also very intrigued as Fforde has traces of the Nursery Crime series in books three and four of Thursday Next series.

Blogger said...

By the way, the fifth in the Thursday Next series comes out July 24.

Wanna-Be Lit said...

Will you be able to secure a copy at the library? Or do I need to order it?

Also, I purchased the new Harry Potter. However, I opted for the free shipping, so it won't arrive the day it's released. Hope that's okay.