In the Nextian Universe there are, basically, two worlds. In the RealWorld, dodos are household pets and Neanderthals productive members of society, there is an active black market for cheese and a Socialist Republic of Wales (where, its tourism board proclaims, it's "Not always raining). There is also a BookWorld, in which the genres vie for domination, characters from books are ranked socially according to how often their books are read, and raw metaphor is one of the hottest commodities around.
One of Our Thursdays is Missing is the sixth of Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next books (or the seventh, if you count the no longer available The Great Samual Pepys Affair). As it opens, the BookWorld has been remade into an inverted globe (just go with it), making it no longer necessary to jump from book to book to travel there. The Thursday Next featured in this installment, we quickly learn (although it took this dense reader somewhat longer to figure it out and then make sense of it) is the written version, the somewhat more accessible, kinder gentler version that the real Thursday Next thinks she would like to be. The real Thursday, it turns out, has gone missing...just as she's about to attend the peace talks between Racy Novel and the rest of the genres.
It becomes the written Thursday's assignment to take on a mission for which she's not been trained, namely, to find the real Thursday and ensure that the peace talks go as scheduled. But she has to do so while juggling a would-be boyfriend with a dark backstory, a crush on the real Thursday's husband (who was never written into the books and so exists only in the RealWorld), and dissent among the ranks of the characters in her series. Good thing early in her narrative she rescues a mechanical man about to be stoned to pieces by some particularly paranoid inhabitants of Conspiracy, a sub-genre of Thriller, thereby gaining a sidekick who mixes a mean cocktail and thinks deep thoughts. He needs to be wound every once in a while to keep him going, but well, really, when you think about it, who doesn't?
The reader must let go and comes to term with the fact that the antic, madcap, and bizarrely violent action may never make perfect sense. Once she accomplishes this, One of Our Thursdays is Missing reveals itself to be fun, clever, mind--and genre--twisting fun.
2 months ago