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Thursday, April 23, 2009

cover of 'Lost in a Good Book'

This book picks up pretty much where The Eyre Affair left off. It's still funny and entertaining, but I found it less engaging than the first book-- I think because it is a bit more fragmented and has too much going on. Thursday is being forced into doing PR for Spec-Ops because of her popularity after the events of the last book, but she isn't allowed to say anything that will make the Goliath corporation, the government, or Spec-Ops look bad, or that will offend the Bronte foundation-- which pretty much covers all the interesting parts of the story. In the meantime, someone is trying to kill her with coincidence, her husband Landen has been eradicated by the chronoguard and Goliath to force her to retrieve Jack Schitt (one of the villains from the last book) from the copy of Poe's The Raven that he was trapped in, and Thursday had been recruited to work for Jurisfiction (the enforcement group within books) and apprenticed to Miss Havisham (of Dicken's Great Expectations) to learn how to travel between books. Oh, and her father has warned her that in a few days everything is going to turn to pink goo and the world is going to end.

Lots (too many) of fascinating bits. There's a whole sub-subplot about neanderthal liberation-- they were resequenced from DNA, a bit like Thursday's pet dodo, but there is no place where they really fit into human society. This only comes into the story in a few places, and we learn a bit about how expressive their faces are, and their art perception-- but it doesn't go any further.

Another delightful detail is the "footnoterphone" which the Jurisfiction people use to communicate with each other-- Thursday keeps hearing voices that no one else hears, and they are presented to the reader as footnotes, which is humorous and a bit mind-bending. Thursday is also on trial within the world of Jurisfiction for changing the ending of Jane Eyre-- her lawyer contacts her via footnoterphone, and eventually the trial is held in the world of Kafka's The Trial, and Thursday makes use of her familiarity with Kafka to come through the bizarre, nonsensical trial just fine.

The repeated bouts of strange and deadly coincidences that keep happening to Thursday give Fforde the chance for some entertaining wordplay (e.g., a sequence of ordinary names that all sound like different ways to say goodbye). Thursday's uncle Mycroft theorizes that when a greater number of coincidences are happening, there is a local area of decreased entropy. As protection, he gives her an "entroposcope"-- a jar with rice and lentils mixed together, and when she shakes it and they start swirling or separating out, she's in danger. Sounds fun and plausible, and simple enough that I could build my own (not that I expect to be any danger of overpowering coincidences).

Entertaining and delightful characters, humor, wordplay-- but a little disappointing as a novel.

Title:Lost in a Good Book
Author:Jasper Fforde
Date published:2002
Series:Thursday Next
Number of pages:399


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