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#9 – First Among Sequels

June 8, 2008

First Among Sequels is Jasper Fforde’s seventh book, and fifth in the exceptional Thursday Next series. The last two things I read by him were the comparatively inferior spin-offs The Big Over Easy and The Fourth Bear, so I think I had forgotten just how great Fforde is when he’s at the top of his game. Therefore, reading this one never ceased to impress and surprise me. Jasper Fforde has such an affinity for insane concepts and stupid jokes that he lulls you into a false sense of – I’m not sure what. Thinking you’re reading a less powerful book than you actually are, I guess. Because when he starts bringing all of his ridiculous plots together, all of a sudden you find yourself completely absorbed by the story, regardless of how weird it seemed at first.

It’s hard to compare the five Thursday Next books to one another, because they kind of go over the same material every time. The same usual crew is here: BookWorld, Goliath, Jurisfiction, the Chronoguard, and the characters of dozens of British novels. However, Fforde always puts an interesting enough twist on his familiar themes that you never find it derivative. I would compare it, if you can forgive me for doing so, to the Metroid series of Nintendo games: you go through the same basic areas in the games over and over agin, but every time you backtrack through them you understand better how things work, and you interact with them a bit differently, and you never feel like you’re repeating yourself. Here, like always, we get to learn a bit more about how the BookWorld works, we get all kinds of geeky literary jokes, and we see some kind of ludicrous imminent peril the world is facing, and it all manages to shed new light on everything that happened before. Every time I finish a Thursday Next book, I want to start the whole series over again from the beginning, just to pick up all the little nuances along the way. I half expect the old books to have physically changed when I go back to them.

There’s no point in my recommending First Among Sequels to you. If you haven’t read the first four books in the series, you would be hopelessly lost starting here. And if you have read them, then you’re obviously a big enough fan that there’s no reason to not pick up this one too. As an added bonus, it ends on an awesome cliffhanger, with a promise that “Thursday Next will return” in the yet-untitled sequel, with eight potential titles given. My vote is on Paragraph Lost, but I’m mostly just looking forward to another brilliant book. My apologies for underestimating you, Mr. Fforde, and keep up the good work.

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2 comments

  1. Nice metroid reference…


  2. Thanks, James! I was worried referencing Metroid while talking about a book like this would be just TOO geeky, and my whole site would collapse.



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