Friday, November 7, 2008

In which I am not sure how I feel about Jasper Fforde.

So, I've heard a lot of good things about Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series. It's book-centric alternate reality stuff, where characters can be kidnapped out of books and killed, leaving the plot in turmoil, and drug smuggling has been replaced by a trade in counterfeit Samuel Johnson first editions. It's supposed to be quirky and zany and fun, ringing a lot of my chimes, and I had every expectation of him becoming a new favorite author.

I'm halfway though The Eyre Affair though and just have to say: meh. I don't know. I was just expecting it to be ... better. I bought this copy during my book-buying binge in Seattle this summer and, honestly, if I didn't have actual money invested in it, I probably wouldn't bother to finish. That's why I love the library. You can take a chance on books that you've heard buzz about or are curious about or what have you and if it doesn't work out, you're out nothing.

I am enjoying the villain though. One of the elements I really like in books/movies/tv, in addition to sassy chicks who fight crime and real-life characters making cameo appearances, particularly in a historical setting, is the Cheerfully Evil and Witty Villain. (see: Spike before that whole neutered-by-a-brain-chip debacle) The villain in this case is one Acheron Hades, in a character-naming move so very on the nose that it runs straight past ham-fisted and heavy handed and comes back around to awesome. He loves being eeeeeevil. And I love him for it.

To wit:
[speaking to one of his henchmen] " … Mr. Delamare, my friend, have you committed your wicked act today?"
"Yes, Mr. Hades, I drove at seventy-three miles per hour."*
Hades frowned.
"That doesn't sound very wicked."
Delamare chuckled.
"Through a mall."
Hades wagged an approving finger and smiled a wicked smile.
"Very good."

"Shall we get to work? I haven't committed a singularly debauched act in almost an hour."

"Besides, killing civilians is never any real fun. It's a bit like shooting rabbits that have been pegged to the ground."

So, yeah. Entertaining villain, interesting world-building, but not enough there there. I think that I might find Thursday a bit hard to care about, so that might be some of it. One of my co-workers said she read the third book first and really liked it, then went back and found the first couple of books to be much slower. I don't know. I'll reserve (most of) my judgment until after I'm done.

*Never mind that they're supposed to be in WALES. Where they do not talk in terms of MILES. I hate when they dumb this stuff down for the American release of foreign books.


Michelle said...

I feel somewhat responsible and guilty now, since I've raved about his books to you. Ah, well.

The Rocky Horror-esque Richard III was what hooked me.

Joan said...

The Eyre Affair was kind of slow - but the books got better and better (I also didn't read them in order). They are some of the best things I have ever read in the alternate universe genre. I am always waiting with bated breath (is that baited breath? I'm never sure) for new ones to come out. So, I would say, stick with it and try the next one in the series - though a person in my office that I recommended him to also thought "meh", and didn't read past the first one.

Juno said...

I'm ambivalent myself - it's the kind of lit trick that appeals to me and the details are dead on and I keep reading them, but I am not quite sure WHY. And have no impulse to reread ever. And yet, I keep going.

Juno said...
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Anonymous said...

I happen to be reading the same book and it took me forevah! to get into it. But now I'm hooked. And like Michelle, I thoroughly enjoyed the Richard III/Rocky Horror scene. I was rocking w/laughter on the subway, grabbing the boyfren's sleeve and telling him about it. Also: jack schitt, hee! the 10-y.o. boy inside my head sniggers every time that character makes an appearance.