THE NEXT NEXT
Maybe that should be "The New Next." Either way, I'm talking about the latest Jasper Fforde novel, Thursday Next: First Among Sequels. This is the fifth novel in the series and the first in a couple years, as Fforde put out two books about Jack Spratt after the fourth Next novel. I liked those books quite a bit but I've been waiting for more adventures featuring my favorite literary detective.
The new novel opens 14 years after the events of Something Rotten. Thursday is fully settled into life as a wife (to Landen) and mother (to Friday, Tuesday, and Jenny) and works for Acme Carpets. It's a nice quiet life...or so she wants her family to believe. Acme is just a front for her continuing activities as a literary detective (even though Spec-Ops has been disbanded) and as an agent of the Jurisfiction, the force that polices life inside of books. That's where all the fun is.
As usual, there is a lot going on in this novel both plotwise and ideawise. We have dead people reappearing; an assassination attempt by the Minotaur, two versions of Thursday from within the books written about her adventures (yes, versions of earlier books in the series and one that we never read); Mycroft returning as a ghost; Friday's refusal to join the ChronoGuard; the possibility of the end of time; a recipe for unscrambled eggs; books turned into reality shows; clones; and an ending that makes what just came look like small potatoes. It's silly and serious and full of wonderful touches about books and the characters who populate those books. It doesn't make much sense at points but that's part of the fun. I really enjoy these books and highly recommend them; however, I would go back and start with The Eyre Affair or you'll be more lost than the rest of us who have read the previous books. But either way, get reading.