Saturday, January 11, 2014

Gray hairs, grey cells

Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series is one of my favorites of all time, for its sheer and utter mind-blowing brilliance. With the first book, The Eyre Affair, Fforde completely rewrote the rules of fiction and deserves some sort of Nobel Prize.  And then he did it again and again and again and again and again.

And now, in The Woman Who Died A Lot, our book-jumping, time-traveling heroine Thursday is now in her early 50s. She's limping around from the last assassination attempt and still has to dodge clones of herself that her lifelong nemesis, an evil corporation, keeps creating to gather secrets from those close to her. Meanwhile, in the future the time police have been disbanded in the present, so her son no longer has a bright career to which he can aspire; and her genius daughter is trying to build a device that will save Swindon from a smiting by the Almighty, who is angered that Thursday's clergyman brother has resorted to collective bargaining with Him over the answer to the ultimate question of existence.

Like every other Thursday Next book, I couldn't put it down. And like every other Thursday Next book, no pithy summary can do it justice nor convey exactly how fantastically nerdy and nuanced the plot is. It's so heartening to know that an eighth book is in the works!

Though Thursday, who was the same age as me when I started reading the series (28), is now in her early 50s in the series, I feel some sort of affinity to what she and her peers might say to Jasper Fforde's two newer books for young adults: "I'm too old for this."

Fforde's Kazam series takes place in a world where magic is a bit like electricity: highly regulated and also possibly used for evil. Magicians have varying types of magical abilities; dragons and other mystical creatures co-exist with humans in an alternate-reality Ununited Kingdom, where an orphaned teenager named Jennifer holds together a magicians' nursing home of sorts.

The books are a quick read, and the magical made-up world is kindergarten stuff after eight books of having to wrap one's mind around the complexities of Thursday Next twists and turns. And while I appreciated the imagination and creativity behind the storylines, the characters and plots themselves just didn't overwhelm me.

I can recognize when I am about 20 years older than the intended audience and just can't relate to a series.

Hobbling off the lawn now...

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