This is the first novel in Jasper Fforde’s science-fiction/detective series featuring a smart, gun-toting heroine named Thursday Next. In Thursday’s world, an alternate version of 1985, popular culture is ruled by literature. Coin operated “Will-Speak” machines quote Hamlet in bus stations, visitors make pilgrimages to view original manuscripts, and school children collect Johnathan Swift trading cards. Thursday leads a quiet life as a detective in the literary division of the Special Operations Network, investigating forgeries and thefts. When Thursday’s Uncle and Aunt are kidnapped, SpecOps uncovers a plot to kidnap and murder characters from everyone’s favorite novels. And when the perpetrators dare to steal the original Jane Eyre, Thursday must race to save one of the most beloved characters in English Literature from eradication.
What the Armchair Critics Thought:
Although Fforde employs time travel and alternate reality, his books are not easily classified as science fiction. Several Armchair Critics who usually dislike sci-fi were drawn into the world of Thursday Next and enjoyed the word-play and adventure. We liked all the literary inside jokes and found the book highly entertaining. We had a good discussion about which literary characters we would like to meet, and heard a bit about the continuing adventures of Thursday in the next three Fforde books.