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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

     

First Among Sequels

by
Jasper Fforde


general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase First Among Sequels



Title: First Among Sequels
Author: Jasper Fforde
Genre: Novel
Written: 2007
Length: 376 pages
Availability: First Among Sequels - US
First Among Sequels - UK
First Among Sequels - Canada
First Among Sequels - India
Le début de la fin - France
Irgendwo ganz anders - Deutschland
  • A Thursday Next Novel

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Our Assessment:

B+ : inventive and entertaining, as usual

See our review for fuller assessment.




Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Entertainment Weekly B+ 17/7/2007 Jeff Jensen
New Statesman . 9/8/2007 Jean Edelstein
Newsday . 29/7/2007 John Freeman
San Francisco Chronicle . 30/9/2007 Michael Berry
Sunday Times . 14/10/2007 Hugo Barnacle


  From the Reviews:
  • "Yep: It's gonzo. Wonderfully, brain-bustingly, sometimes overwhelmingly gonzo." - Jeff Jensen, Entertainment Weekly

  • "First Among Sequels is for adults who want sophisticated wit with their fantasy, but who still possess an appreciation for the intricate world-building of a well-imagined children’s novel. Canonical in-jokes abound, possibly rendering the book a challenge for anyone without an A-level in English literature." - Jean Edelstein, New Statesman

  • "Indeed, what captivates here is something that will appeal to any reader -- and that's the feeling that there's something at stake in fiction, that characters created in books are every bit as real as the memory of a person. Of all the Thursday books, this one is by far the most busily plotted, but Fforde's greatest gift is on display. He beautifully captures that sense of embattlement which hovers over readers today in a world crowded with other forms of entertainment." - John Freeman, Newsday

  • "I appreciate Fforde's depth of imagination, his heartfelt defense of the art of reading and the cleverness of this series' central conceit. And yet I always feel like a dead ringer in a Buster Keaton look-alike contest whenever I read one of his books. Stone-faced, I soldier on and think, "I know other readers find this hilarious, but why is the ending still 200 pages away ?" Does the problem lie with me or with the novels ? In the case of Thursday Next, the text certainly bears much of the responsibility. There are too many plotlines, and the exposition of how the BookWorld operates too often slams the brakes on the narrative. Jokes that weren't particularly amusing in The Eyre Affair, such as the illegal trafficking in cheese, have not improved with age." - Michael Berry, San Francisco Chronicle

  • "Fforde is highly inventive. (...) All the same, I would have thought the whole thing was too arch, airless and artificial to succeed. In fact, the series sells well, which shows what I know. But I’d rather get my comic female-private-eye action from the excellent Janet Evanovich." - Hugo Barnacle, The Sunday Times

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       First Among Sequels is the fifth instalment in the Thursday Next series, set now in 2002. "Life is beginning to get back to normal" an Author's Note suggests, but one can only expect so much normality in Thursday's world, one in which, besides the real world (similar if not exactly like contemporary England -- Thursday does have that pet cloned dodo ...) there's a whole world of fiction -- one that is very much alive, and where the books require constant upkeep and policing to remain as they should (which doesn't always happen: they still don't know what happened to all the humour in that great comic writer Thomas Hardy's works ...). Thursday is one of the few cross-over characters, able (most of the time) to work in both worlds -- and she won't give up her SpecOps duties, dealing with all that can happen in the world of fiction. Her work is unofficial now -- everyone is supposed to think that she runs Acme Carpets, but that's just a front for SpecOps -- but otherwise there's as much to do as ever.
       Thursday is something of a celebrity, the first four Thursday Next-novels having been notable successes in this alternate reality, too -- though Thursday herself isn't too pleased with them, and especially the way she is portrayed. She demanded a more sensitive version of herself for the fifth instalment -- not First Among Sequels, but The Great Samuel Pepys Fiasco -- but that didn't work out too well either, and the book was soon remaindered. Now Thursday5 (the fictional one from The Great Samuel Pepys Fiasco) wants to join Jurisfiction, and Thursday has to deal with her -- and, eventually, her other alter ego, Thursday1-4, too.
       There's all sorts of trouble in the world of fiction, beyond the usual ones (though those keep everyone busy too -- like the constant shifting around from book to book of the very few pianos at their disposal ...). Disturbingly, there's less and less interest in books and reading. Reality TV is all the rage -- and it looks to take over literature is well, as Reality Book Shows are proposed which would completely undermine and destroy the classics. There's also a problem with Thursday's teenage son, Friday: this is a world in which some time-travel is possible, and in the future Friday is supposed to be an important part of Chronoguard -- but he's refusing to meet his destiny, lazing in bed instead. What's a mother to do ?
       First Among Sequels realistically (well, at least in this regard) moves forward, Thursday constantly distracted by all sorts of problems and events that also obscure some of the bigger problems. It's hard to concentrate on the job at hand, especially as other problems continue cropping up. The detested Goliath corporation seems suspiciously benign (and she even has to turn to them for help), and her fictional counterparts certainly don't make life easier either.
       The adventures, big and small, are amusing and clever, and Fforde packs in many enjoyable literary asides. As usual, the pleasure isn't so much in the resolution (though Fforde handles this one better than in most of the previous volumes) as in the journey. These are adventure-novels, but much of the fun is in the inventive details. There are a few particularly nice touches -- daughter Jenny, for example -- and few lulls. And not everything is resolved: "I think we've got a situation ..." Thursday realises right at the end -- leaving readers to look forward to the next Next instalment.
       Very good fun, enjoyable both for lovers of literature and those who simply like good, creative adventure.
       (Note that while it is a series that is best read in order, even those new to Thursday next should be able to catch onto most of the unique characteristics of this world quickly enough. But it is more fun if you know the whole story (i.e. have followed it from The Eyre Affair on).)

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Links:

First Among Sequels: Reviews: Jasper Fforde: Other books by Jasper Fforde under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Jasper Fforde lives in Wales.

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© 2007-2012 the complete review

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