Review: First Among Sequels

Review: First Among SequelsFirst Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
Series: Thursday Next #5
Published by Viking Adult on July 24, 2007
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Humor, Mystery
Pages: 363
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

Literary sleuth Thursday Next is out to save literature in the fifth installment of Jasper Fforde's wildly popular series

Beloved for his prodigious imagination, his satirical gifts, his literate humor, and sheer silliness, Jasper Fforde has delighted book lovers since Thursday Next first appeared in The Eyre Affair, a genre send-up hailed as an instant classic. Since the no-nonsense literary detective from Swindon made her debut, literature has never been quite the same. Neither have nursery rhymes, for that matter. With two successful books of the Nursery Crime series under his belt, Fforde takes up once again the brilliant adventures of his signature creation in the highly anticipated fifth installment of the Thursday Next series. And it's better than ever.

It's been fourteen years since Thursday pegged out at the 1988 SuperHoop, and Friday is now a difficult sixteen year old. However, Thursday's got bigger problems. Sherlock Holmes is killed at the Reichenbach Falls and his series is stopped in its tracks. And before this can be corrected, Miss Marple dies suddenly in a car accident, bringing her series to a close as well. When Thursday receives a death threat clearly intended for her written self, she realizes what's going on: there is a serial killer on the loose in the Bookworld. And that's not all--The Goliath Corporation is trying to deregulate book travel. Naturally, Thursday must travel to the outer limits of acceptable narrative possibilities to triumph against increasing odds.

Packed with word play, bizarre and entertaining subplots, and old-fashioned suspense, Thursday's return is sure to be celebrated by Jasper's fanatical fans and the critics who have loved him since the beginning

First Sentence: “The dangerously high level of the stupidity surplus was once again the lead story in The Owl that morning.”

I freaking love the idea of the Thursday Next books. Conceptually, they are perhaps my favorite books out there. They are highly unique, humorous and endlessly tongue-in-cheek. The individual books vary a lot in quality, though, some of which I loved and some of which I’ve really not liked. First Among Sequels falls somewhere in the middle for me, amusing but still kind of meh in the end.

I love Thursday Next as a character. How often do you have a bookish heroine in her 50s who’s still totally a sexy badass? Not that often. I love that. You don’t want to mess with Thursday. Despite that, though, she’s also loving and silly, a devoted mother and wife. She refuses to call her son, Friday, much to his chagrin, anything but Sweetpea. Thursday is just a complex and illogical as most humans, and I think she shows that you can make an older heroine work. Though Thursday’s slowing down a bit, she’s still not going to be stopping with her adventures any time soon.

My favorite of the Thursday Next books are The Eyre Affair and Something Rotten. What these two have that the others do not is a tie to a specific piece of literature. Of course, throughout the series, literary references abound. However, both of those focus on one work in particular: Jane Eyre and Hamlet respectively. None of the other books have done so, and I’ve found them much weaker as a result.

First Among Sequels, like all of Fforde’s books, has a lot of humor. I snickered at many things, though I did find the jokes a bit more repetitive in this installment than in others. The stupidity deficit was hilarious at first but was wearing thin by the end. Fforde’s humor tends to the absurd, so will not be for everyone, though, to me, it’s a big reason to read the books.

I just felt like this book lacked a narrative push. There are a couple of overarching plot lines, but they just didn’t seem to propel the story forward or, at least, to compel me to move along at a brisk pace. I spent a fair amount of time a bit bored. Rather than having one large, serious issue, there were a number of little things, which just didn’t add up for as satisfactory of an experience, in much the way that the third season of Veronica Mars pales in comparison to the first two.

I will admit, however, that I did get very concerned about the falling ReadRates and the lack of books in bookstores in one of the major plot lines. At one point, Thursday goes to a book store to discover that it now vends movies and coffees (from four different shops), not books. Even though I knew it wasn’t real, I was still nervous. Even more upsetting was the possibility of Pride & Prejudice forever being rewritten as a reality show. *cringes*

Also entertaining and typically Fforde-ian was the abundance of Thursdays. In First Among Sequels, there are three different Thursdays, the real Outlander one, the one from books 1-4 in the series and the one from book 5, but not this book 5 – a book 5 that doesn’t exist in our world. Basically, if you think about this too hard, it will give you a headache. However, Thursday getting stuck training Thursday1-4 and Thursday5 is rife with comedic possibility. However, there is one chapter where the perspective switches, entirely without warning to Thursday1-4. This was seriously confusing and added nothing to the story. Poorly done, that.

While I am not the sort to skip around within a series, I would recommend for those of you who have that ability that this is a good one to do so in. Or, perhaps, this might be more fun read in small doses, with each chapter as its own island of sorts. Basically, this has charming moments, but I don’t think it will stick with me and I was bored sometimes. I do love Pickwick and her plocking, though.

Favorite Quote:

“‘Humans like stories. Humans need stories. Stories are good. Stories work. Story clarifies and captures the essence of the human spirit. Story, in all its forms—of life, of love, of knowledge—has traced the upward surge of mankind. And story, you mark my words, will be with the last human to draw breath.'”

6 responses to “Review: First Among Sequels”

  1. Bookish heroine in her 50s who’s still a sexy badass? Where do I sign up! Wow that part about the book store no longer selling books is definitely creepy and concerning. It’s too bad this one didn’t quite live up to the others in the series for you. It sounds like it was a bit all of the place, great review!

    • Christina says:

      Right? Isn’t that awesome? I can’t think of like any other books where that’s the case. The series is a bit over the place, but I stick it out for the concept.

  2. We read The Eyre Affair for book club and I just couldn’t make it through it. Great concept, but it was just too confusing for me.

    I do love that quote though!

  3. Shane says:

    never heard of this series good review though, very honest.

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