Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde
By Tyler DFC | Books | August 24, 2009 |
By Tyler DFC | Books | August 24, 2009 |
It is difficult to explain a Thursday Next novel without sounding like a goddamn lunatic so I’m going to let the Amazon description of Something Rotten do the heavy lifting. Seriously, I’ve sat here for 20 minutes and tried to write this 5 different ways and it always is as clear as mud in a dark closet. Admittedly, I’m cheating a bit. Deal with it.
(5 MINUTES LATER)
Well, that didn’t work at all. Their description is worse than what I was trying to write. Let’s see what else I can find.
(10 FRUITLESS MINUTES OF GOOGLING LATER)
Nothing. Great. OK, fuck it.
Something Rotten finds Spec Ops Literary Detective Thursday Next and her 2-year-old son Friday still living in the Bookworld. Thursday has been working as the Jurisfiction Bellman (a policing agency inside the realm of books) for the last couple of years, but decides to return to the real world and try to un-eradicate her husband, Landen. She finds things are less than ideal in her real world (an alternate universe 1985 England) as the evil multi-megacorporation Goliath (responsible for Landen’s eradication in the first place) is attempting to become a Church to loophole its way out of a prophecy predicting the corporation’s demise, and the megalomaniacal fiction escapee Yorrick Kaine may be inadvertently going to cause Armageddon because if Swindon fails to win the World Croquet Championship it will set in motion a series of events that will see Kaine become President of England.
Hamlet (yes, THAT Hamlet) accompanies Thursday into the real world to see how he is viewed by readers and his absence causes irrevocable damage to his play, as in Hamlet’s absence Ophelia decides to merge Hamlet with The Merry Wives of Windsor . The only way out of that mess is to re-write the play into its original version, but where is Thursday going to find William Shakespeare in 1985? How will she deal with the attempts on her life from the Windowmaker, a lethal assassin (and wife) of her friend Agent Stoker? And somehow she still has to find time to locate an on-the-run Minotaur and figure out just what the hell an Obvinator does.
Still with me?
OK, enough of the plot synopsis. Let’s get this straight. If nothing above made any sense to you, stop reading and go get The Eyre Affair to see where it all began. I promise it makes sense in context but when reading a Thursday Next novel you are taking an E-train to Lunacy Town. Either you are with the madcap insanity or it just ain’t your thing. I loved the series and was rather shocked by Something Rotten’s outcome. I had no idea this was the end to the series. Yes, I am aware there is a fifth book called First Among Sequels but Something Rotten wraps up nearly all of the plot threads of the previous 3 books and does so with impeccable style.
The book is complex, but not overly confusing, and retains all of the charm of the earlier books and all major characters return at some point for the finale. There is one twist that is so good, so well done, so unexpected and so absolutely shattering that I had to read it twice. I’m not going to go into it, but I will say that if you have followed the series from the beginning you will meet this twist with confusion, dawning realization, and finally wonder as you try to piece together this final complete mindfuck. More than anything, you will want to re-read the books again to see the details you missed that possibly portended it.
I was very pleasantly surprised with Something Rotten. I have enjoyed every Thursday Next book but this is the first one since The Eyre Affair that was absolutely satisfying. I have not yet read First Among Sequels, but I know it takes place 16 years after Something Rotten. So I’m treating it as an epilogue. As a finale, Something Rotten excels and easily holds its own among the greats of the fantasy genre. As a series, the Thursday Next books should absolutely not be missed by any fans of Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams. If that describes you, you owe it to yourself to dive into this series.
This review is part of the Cannonball Read series. Check here for more of Tyler DFC’s reviews.
Also, Tyler DFC has his own pop-culture blog, RUFKM.