Title: Thursday Next: First Among Sequels
Author: Jasper Fforde
Narrator: Emily Gray
Audiobook Length: 12 hours, 32 minutes, 32 seconds
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
“With Thursday Next: First Among Sequels, Jasper Fforde’s famous literary detective is once again ready to make the world safe for fiction. Thursday Next is grappling with a host of problems in BookWorld: a recalcitrant new apprentice, the death of Sherlock Holmes, and the inexplicable departure of comedy from the once-hilarious Thomas Hardy novels, to name just a few – all while captaining the ship Moral Dilemma and facing down her most vicious enemy yet: herself.”
Thoughts: When last readers left Thursday Next, she had succeeded in saving the world…again…while finding her happily ever after with Landon, Friday, and the rest of her family and friends. First Among Sequels begins over a decade later, as readers discover the changes that have occurred since the Superhoop Championship which made Thursday a minor celebrity throughout the world. As in stories past, she is once again forced to defend her life against malevolent, shadowy figures about whom she must solve the mystery to save her own life and that of the rest of the world.
First Among Sequels is slow to start, as it tries to find its stride against the large amount of backstory necessary to bring the reader up-to-date on the characters’ lives after such a long elapse of time. Unfortunately, it never really succeeds in picking up as in past stories and remains a lukewarm mystery with a recycled air about the entire plot. The ne’er-do-wells in this novel are not as clear-cut, proving it difficult for readers to support Thursday or even feel much anxiety about her fate.
Even the gags, the asides, and the literary references seem dull and uninspired this time. In fact, for the first time, some of the ridiculous scenarios in which Thursday finds herself are just that – ridiculous and worthy of multiple eye rolls. There is still some hilarity to be found – the references to Thomas Hardy writing funny novels are particularly inspired – but it does not have that spark which readers have come to expect from Fforde and Thursday Next.
Emily Gray remains an adequate narrator for the Thursday Next series. Her voice is in fact extremely suitable for Thursday’s character with her wryness and wit that she portrays so easily to listeners. The continued issue with Ms. Gray as a narrator for this series is her poor performance of other characters, especially the males. She continues to struggle with the male voice, succeeding more in making them come across as a dopey facsimile of men than of something remotely accurate and somewhat realistic. Considering that Thursday is the type of character that surrounds herself with male figures rather than girlfriends, the number of male voices Ms. Gray is forced to portray is torturous and detracts from a listener’s overall enjoyment of a normally delightful series.
First Among Sequels is not the strongest in the Thursday Next series from a story’s perspective, but in true Fforde fashion, it retains the sense of comedic irony and tongue-in-cheek history for which he is known. The plot, unfortunately, remains stale, while the gags, while there, are for the most part lackluster and uninspired. Fans of the series will enjoy this return to Thusday’s world but should enter into reading it with lower expectations than one might have previously held.
Acknowledgments: Mine. All mine.