One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde
Thursday Next # 6
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Number of pages: 416
My copy: trade paperback, bought from National Bookstore
It is a time of unrest in the BookWorld.
Only the diplomatic skills of ace literary detective Thursday Next can avert a devastating genre war. But a week before the peace talks, Thursday vanishes. Has she simply returned home to the RealWorld or is this something more sinister?
All is not yet lost. Living at the quiet end of speculative fiction is the written Thursday Next, eager to prove herself worthy of her illustrious namesake.
The fictional Thursday is soon hot on the trail of her factual alter-ego, and quickly stumbles upon a plot so fiendish that it threatens the very BookWorld itself.
* * *
I was planning to put off reading Jasper Fforde’s latest Thursday Next book until I found the time to reread the first five books. It’s been years since I last read any of them, so I thought I’d appreciate reading this latest one better if I read the first ones again. Never mind that there are five of them and it would take significant time off my real TBR. But then I got sick a few weeks before I had to fly to Europe, which got me worried about all kinds of things especially because of that trip to Europe. I needed a book to get my mind off the possibilities that my 48-hour on/off fever could mean, so I finally decided to unearth TN #6 out of the TBR pile. If there was an ultimate escape novel, I figured Thursday Next should be one.
Some spoilers for the first five books — be warned!
So the last time Thursday Next was in the Book World, she ended up looking for a replacement for her character in her series because the original fictional Thursday Next was too violent to be her. One of Our Thursdays is Missing is told from this new fictional Thursday’s point of view — a gentler, bohemian character who never tries to make waves even if it means being the boring Thursday Next that no one likes. But when she gets called by the Jurisfiction to investigate a crashed TransGenre Taxi. Fictional Thursday Next finds herself in the middle of a mystery that gets her involved in all sorts of fictional drama, and a robot butler to boot. With the real Thursday Next missing, it’s up to fictional Thursday Next to save the day.
I think it was Aaron who mentioned the perfect word to describe the Thursday Next series: it’s so meta. The first five Thursday Next books are pretty much meta-fiction – fiction about fiction. It’s what makes all the books so much fun to read especially for book-lovers, because we’re basically reading about books that we may or may not have read. And just as when you think that Jasper Fforde has no way to impress longtime fans of the series, he does something completely surprising and makes it work. If the first five books were meta-fiction, the sixth book is meta-Thursday Next. Meta-meta-fiction – that’s what this is. Kind of hard to wrap my mind around it, but it still works. One of Our Thursdays is Missing has all elements of a Fforde novel: seemingly random characters, odd accidents, mystery, murder, all wrapped in a fun, seemingly absurd package. Jasper Fforde is a genius, I tell you. :)
This book cheered me up so much while I was sick, especially after reading lines like these:
The Snooze button was reserved only for dire emergencies. Once utilised, a reverse throughput capacitor on the ImaginoTransference engines would cause the reader instantaneous yawning, drowsiness and then sleep…To discourage misuse, every time the button was pressed one or more kittens were put to death somewhere in the Book World. (p. 26-27)
I fell asleep several times while I was reading this. I wonder who was hitting the Snooze button.
Harry Potter was seriously pissed off that he’d have to spend the rest of his life looking like Daniel Radcliffe. (p. 75)
“The Great Gatsby drives taxis in his spare time?”
“No, his younger and less handsome or less intelligent brother — the Mediocre Gatsby.” (p. 273)
I was a bit afraid that it would be hard to get back into the series again especially since it’s been so long since I read the first five books, but given that this book is narrated by the fictional Thursday Next, I didn’t have such a hard time. I don’t recommend starting the series with this book, though, but there is no need to reread the other books to make sense of this one.
One of Our Thursdays is Missing probably isn’t as witty as the first four books (best one for me is still Something Rotten), but it’s a good and fun addition to an already awesome series. :) The question is: will there be a next Thursday Next book? I sure hope so! :)