Deftly blending such genres as mystery, science fiction, and classic literature, Jasper Fforde’s gleefully irreverent New York Times best-selling Thursday Next novels defy categorization. In this sixth installment, the threat of all-out Genre war looms over BookWorld. But with the real Thursday Next retired in the real world, the Council of Genres has no other choice than to tap the fictional Thursday to save the day. Her mission as emissary is to prevent the brewing war—but her task is made more difficult by a hidden foe manipulating events.
Over the past decade, British novelist Jasper Fforde has established himself as the undisputed master of metafictional suspense stories. Though he is now in the middle of several completely different series of books, the original series of Thursday Next novels continues to be the crown jewel in his career. One of Our Thursdays Is Missing is the sixth book in this series as well as the second book in the sub-series known as BookWorld, a sub-series for which Fforde has said he plans to write two additional books. So this sixth effort is deeply embedded within the mythology and history of the Ffordian universe, but can also stand alone as a less than troublesome listen for those unfamiliar with the previous adventures of Thursday Next.
Emily Gray once again assumes the daunting task of Fforde’s enormous cast of well-known literary characters, and once again proves equal to such a tremendous challenge. Gray also narrated the first book in this sub-series, as well as two other Nextian Fforde novels. At this point, the Real Thursday Next has mostly retired from both literary celebrity and private investigation. When she goes missing, the Written Thursday must step up to take on the Real Thursday’s quirky assortment of obligations, from peace talks between Comedy and Romance genres to side-stepping the agents of mega-corporation Goliath, as well as quietly launch the investigation to find the Real Thursday. Only the Written Thursday is of course not as quick-witted and savvy as the Real Thursday, and mishaps abound.
The acrobatic narration required for this most recent installment is a feat that Gray accomplishes with remarkable dexterity and precision. Fforde’s broadly wicked sense of humor is not lost whatsoever in the telling, and Gray deftly lands his volley of intelligent punch lines with a loving familiarity that neither resorts to the cheesy nor beats a dead horse. Also worth paying special attention to is her interpretation of the Written Thursday’s new sidekick, Sprocket, an obsolete mechanical man who serves as her butler when they are not busy being on the run from a diverse set of mysterious enemies. Fforde is ultimately trying to address the important matter of what constitutes a happy ending, and uses all his beloved old tricks to sort out the answer. Emily Gray fortunately keeps pace with him every thrilling step of the way. Megan Volpert
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Not really a Thursday Next book
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