Monday, 31 October 2016

Book Review: Lost in a Good Book, by Jasper Fforde

Lost in a Good Book (Thursday Next, #2)Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I found this book very hard to judge. There's a lot going on and it's difficult to summarise when my feelings towards the book are quite mixed.

Essentially, this is the second book in a series about Thursday Next, a Literary Detective in some parallel universe where people have dodos for pets, whose job seems to be investigating crimes or events of any sort of literary nature. She investigates claims of plagiarism and interviews collectors claiming to have found lost Shakespeare manuscripts in her real world, but then also imagines herself into stories and traps villains there, and has a rogue time-traveller for a dad. Following the events of the first book, she's something of a celebrity, and is frustrated by the political gag that prevents her from telling the true story of what happened. As I said, there's a lot going on, and for me it wasn't often clear why the character was doing what she was doing. Roughly halfway through the book, her husband is deleted from the timeline as a means of blackmailing her, and then her motive clears up and the story starts to move forward.

There's a deliberate stab at random wit that is distinctly Douglas-Adams-esque, and around the middle of the book when some of these disjointed ideas started to piece together I truly appreciated this playfulness. Funny character names signal what plot device that character serves. The book-jumping is also good fun, for instance when Thursday appears at court inside a book and has to wait for a scene to play out and a chapter to end before stepping in to meet the judge, or when the characters from Great Expectations dramatically play out their dialogue and then kick off their shoes and slump into chairs like actors after a hard day on stage. These parts, I liked, but it took quite a long time to reach this point.

The bookseller who sold me this book insisted the series could be read out of order but I spent the majority of the read very, very confused. Some backstory is related through Thursday's narration but it seems to be mostly irrelevant detail like the death of her brother and a foreign war, neither of which have any bearing on the actual tale. I didn't dislike the book by any means, but found it hard to keep returning to, and felt kind of relieved when it was done and I understood better what it was actually about. I recommend reading books in order.

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