Jasper Fforde could not disappoint any of his devoted readers, not even in the bleakest of circumstances.
I wasn't in the mood for One of Our Thursdays is Missing, the latest installment of the Thursday Next series. That, of course, is when it's needed most — so I soldiered on.
I am glad I did.
As the novel opens, we find ourselves in Book World with Thursday. Well, it's Thursday, but the Written Thursday. Important distinction, and one that the Written Thursday never forgets. She's in charge of her series, keeping the characters ready for the next reader.
Characters perform only when there's a reader; otherwise, they keep their own personal lives rather busy (and, in some cases, steeped in tawdry.) The Written Pickwick is played by a very snooty Dodo and Thursday has an understudy who, rumor has it, enacted the "snooze" button once, in a panic. (If you read this book for only one reason, you must read it to learn about Book World's snooze button.)
The Written Thursday is a very good Thursday, one who seems to be most like her Real World counterpart. That, of course, is what someone is hoping. You see, one of our Thursdays is missing — and it's one that everyone will miss.
Only Fforde could create a reboot of Book World so amazing, so believable, that readers suddenly wonder what happens when they pick up and thumb through a tome. Who's between the lines? What does it take for us to enjoy what we read: us or them?
This is a fabulous installment — and, if you're new to the series, one that serve as a good introduction. However, after reading this one, you will want to go back and read every other book in this series. (You could save yourself the time and just start at the beginning with The Eyre Affair. This one will be waiting for you when you get back.)
But be forewarned: Fforde is a way of life. Once you go Fforde, you'll never go back.