Thursday Next: First Among Sequels - Jasper Fforde (2007)

First Among Sequels is the fourth book in the Thursday Next series, a giant train-wreck of bilbiophilia, science-fiction, comedy and literary in-jokes. There are those of us who find that mixture to be a recipe for delicious book-geekery. If you don't like puns, complicated humorous riffs on literary genres and the like, then these books are probably not for you.

The two backgrounds which surround our heroine, Thursday Next, are the "real world" in which she lives, an alternate universe where time agents run around trying to keep all of time on track and paradox is a commonplace; and the BookWorld, a different universe where literature comes from and which bleeds into the real universe as books. Some few people can cross back and forth between the two worlds and deal with reciprocal crises. Thursday Next, naturally, is one of the few who can make this transition, which allows her to address such horrors and threats as (in this book): the disappearance of all vestiges of comedy from the books of Thomas Hardy, once famed for their hilarity; the sudden death of Sherlock Holmes in the series which the denizens of the BookWorld have been unable to penetrate, even by going in sideways through "The Lost World"; and, of course, the fact that Thursday's own literary avatars from the previous Thursday Next books are causing difficulties.

If the idea of a literary character having trouble dealing with previous literary versions of herself while in a literary BookWorld which is accessible only through a different literary construct amuses you, then this series is for you. Start with The Eyre Affair and enjoy. (I had never read Jane Eyre, but The Eyre Affair convinced me to give it at try ...) If you can't find the earlier books, then this book will do as an introduction, since it doesn't make a whole lot more sense if you've read the others - which is part of the charm, frankly.

If you are already familiar with Thursday Next, then First Among Sequels will not disappoint you; it is a worthy entry into the series.

Overall Grade: B+

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