Thursday, August 25, 2011

One of Our Thursdays Is Missing (Thursday Next, Bk 6) by Jasper Fforde

Posted by Simcha 3:42 PM, under , | 5 comments

If you've read my reviews of the other Thursday Next books  then you are aware of how much I love this series and of the great affection I feel towards its protagonist, Thursday Next. It would be hard to miss since I tend to gush in a rather embarrassing manner whenever I discuss them. So you can imagine my delight when a new Thursday Next book was released in March, and I have been impatiently waiting for months now for the chance to read it.

I have to admit, though, that my anticipation was tinged with some anxiety since- according to the book blurb- the protagonist of this book would be the fictional Thursday and not the real Thursday, who I hold in such high esteem. Plus the majority of this story would take place in the Book World, and the last book in the series which took place in the Book World, Lost in a Good Book, was my least favorite in the series.  So it was with some apprehension that I plunged into One of Our Thursdays Is Missing.

For those of you who have not read any of the other books in the series, don't bother trying to understand anything that I say here because it won't make much sense. And definitely don't try reading this book without having read any of the earlier books because it will just frustrate you and might even discourage you from giving this wonderful series a try. So just go get yourself  a copy of The Eyre Affair and settle yourself in for a wild ride, and then come back here after you've read all of the sequels.

Ok, now back to my review. (which contains some spoilers from First Among Sequels)

In the previous book, First Among Sequels, we met the two written versions of Thursday from the series of books based on her adventures. First there was the violent, sex-crazed Thursday who drew the readers but who was strongly disapproved of by the real Thursday who didn't like this portrayal of her. Eventually this written Thursday came to a bad end and was replaced by the placid, nature loving Thursday who was a bit more to the real Thursday's liking, although she was too softhearted to ever pass for the real thing.

Now in One of Our Thursdays is Missing we become reacquainted with this written Thursday who is our narrator in this story, unlike in the other books which are narrated by the “real” Thursday.

Since taking over as the protagonist in the Thursday Next series, Thursday has done her best to portray the real Thursday in the most respectful and dignified manner possible, despite that fact that everyone seemed to have preferred the other, more exciting Thursday that she had replaced. Even the real Thursday doesn't seem that interested in her written version, but Thursday won't let that get in the way of doing what she feels is right.

When the written Thursday is sent to investigate a book that has crashed she quickly realizes that something is not right. Whoever had assigned Thursday to the investigation had done so knowing how unsuited she would be for such an assignment, and so they must not want the case solved. But the real Thursday would not just let such a suspicious event go without investigating it fully, and so this Thursday won't either.

Soon Thursday is knee-deep in danger and intrigue as she dodges assassination attempts and chases down suspects, along with her new robotic sidekick, Sprockett the butler. Meanwhile the Thursday Next books are being neglected, her co-characters are revolting and the real Thursday is nowhere to be found. Plus the peace talks between Erotic Fiction and Women's Literature are fast approaching and the presence of the real Thursday is needed there in order to avert a border war. It seems like the written Thursday may be the only one who can save the BookWorld, if she can survive that long.

While I had enjoyed reading One of Our Thursdays is Missing I have to admit that this wasn't my favorite book of the series. First of all, I wanted the real Thursday. While it was kind of cool getting to know her written version better she just wasn't as interesting as the real thing. Though Thursday did improve somewhat as the story went on, as she takes on some of the qualities of the real Thursday, leading her to wonder at times if she might actually be the real Thursday under the delusion that she is only the written Thursday (the typical fun stuff you can expect from Fforde). There are also some poignant moments when we get a glimpse of the loneliness the written Thursday experiences, not being allowed to ever have Landon or a family, because it would interfere with reader ratings. Though she is allowed a Designated Romantic Interest, who shows some potential, if only he could shed his horrifying backstory.

The other reason that I didn't enjoy this book as much as some of the others is because 300 pages of literary puns and descriptions of clever book-related inventions was just too much for me. This is what I had suspected would happen in a story that takes place completely in the Book World, and it turns out I was right. The frequent explanations of the Book World mechanisms quickly began to bore me, no matter how clever they were, and I after a while I just started just skimming past them, to where the action picks up again.

That's not to say that I didn't appreciate any of the BookWorld shenanigans, because there was a lot here that was quite wonderful. Some of my favorites include:

- The appearance of three characters from Crime and Punishment at Thursday's house. When attempting to introduce themselves they all become confused as to who is who, and what their roles in the story are:

    He turned to the third Russian “Tell me Pyotr Petrovich Luzin: Who precisely is Marfa Petrovna Svidrigailova?” 
    “I'm sorry,” said the third Russian, who had been staring at her shoes absently, “but I think there has been some kind of mistake. I'm not Pyotr Petrovich Luzin. I'm Alyona Ivanovana.” 
    Razumikhin turned to Raskolnikov and lowered his voice. “Is that your landlady's servant, the one who decides to marry down to secure her future, or the one who turns to prostitution in order to prevent her family from descending into penury?” 
    Raskolnikov shrugged. “Listen,” he said, “I've been in this book for over a hundred and forty years, and even I can't figure it out.”

- The presence in the Vanity section of the less-successful siblings of famous book characters
    Sprockett and I looked at each other. We seemed to finally be getting somewhere. 
    "And the name of the driver?" 
    "The Great Gatsby drives taxis in his spare time?" 
    "No, his younger and less handsome and intelligent brother - the Mediocre Gatsby. He lives in Parody Valley over in Vanity. Here's his address."
- And my favorite line in the whole book:
      The Trip downriver was uneventful and over in only twelve words.

    One of Our Thursdays Is Missing is a book for real Thursday Next fans. If you've read through all the five other books in the series then I'm sure you'll want to read this one as well. If you haven't read the other books then you shouldn't read this one until you have. And while this wasn't my favorite of the Thursday Next books it was still a lot of fun.

    After finishing One of Our Thursdays is Missing I was suffering from a bit of Thursday withdrawal, feeling a little disappointed that she doesn't appear for long in this book, and so I emailed Fforde to ask him about the next book in the series. Within a few minutes I received a reply which reassured me that Book 7, Dark Reading Matter, will return us to the “real” Thursday who will have from Jurisfiction and will be dealing with “domestic problems in the real world.” Hopefully that book should be available sometimes in 2012. Yay! I can't wait.


    I read them out of order which confused me and the library never got more. So read like book 1 and 4, arghh

    Blodeuedd: No, you can't do that! You MUST read them in order. (as you can tell, I feel quite strongly about this ;) ) But really, the books don't make much sense if you don't read them in order. And book 3 is my favorite, so definitely don't skip that one.

    I read the first one and I'm still confused. I wish I loved this series more because it just seems like something that should speak to me. I'm impressed that Fforde replied to you so quickly!

    I've never heard of this series before and have never read your reviews on the previous books but I do know how you feel when you don't enjoy a sequel as much as you hoped you would. Though I'm glad that there are still high hopes for the next book in the series for you.

    Great review and happy reading:)

    Oh I am so far behind on this series. I think I've only read up to book 3. I have Shades of Grey on my tbr and can't wait to see how that one turns out. I'm hoping it is as good as the Thursday books. So glad he is continuing the series and I WILL pick this one up again hopefully soon!

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