The law of diminishing returns is setting in for this series. Fforde keeps delivering his linguistic pyrotechnics, clever plot twists, and his imaginative recasting of the world of fiction. And yet I can’t deny my interest is waning, and as a result I fear I will end up focussing on minor flaws which in early books in the series – and the seventh is coming out later in the year – were more easily over-looked.
This admittedly jaundiced view is not helped by the choice of the “written” Thursday Next as the main protagonist – the real Thursday Next being missing, as the title suggests. Even writing that, and considering trying to draw a distinction between two different flavours of literary character being used here emphasises just how nonsensical that would be. The power of fiction is such that when we identify with a character, and that character is replaced, even if the replacement is a carbon copy of the original, we feel the loss. In any event the primary Thursday in this novel is not a carbon copy of the original, and we are constantly reminded of the fact – she is a more timid, reserved, version. Because the action of the book takes place almost exclusively within BookWorld, we are deprived of most if not all of the characters that have grown over the series.
One other gripe – there are some jumps in the narrative, almost as if some paragraphs or pages are missing. One example where a puzzle is set – Thursday has to work it out to escape from an island of fan-fiction – and we are not given the answer. I understand this is because Fforde set his fans a series of puzzles on his website, which is where the answer to this and the other narrative discongruities can be found (such as who gives Thursday her Jurisfiction badge?) In the edition I read there was no signposting of this which meant that the book read as rushed and incomplete. Disappointing, but I don’t don’t I will be coming back for more with TN7.
P.S. Just one more moan – why the silly book titles? I was going to say puns, but there’s no punning going on, just the simple insertion of one word for the original. Doing this to a Jeffrey Archer was bad enough, but One of our Dinosaurs is Missing – really?