One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde
With every book in the Thursday Next series, I imagine that they couldn’t get any more silly and meta; Jasper Fforde simply laughs, shakes his head, and proffers up his next book. One of Our Thursdays is Missing is a hoot, and just as much of a blast as the rest of the books. Ok, these books are feeling more and more lightweight with every instalment, but I can’t deny just how much I enjoy the ride.
One of Our Thursdays is Missing steps in quite a different direction to the rest of the series, providing a change that’s been a while coming. The first big change is the protagonist; the Thursday Next that we’ve been following for the previous books is not the protagonist, with that role instead taken by the fictional Thursday Next from the in-universe version of the first four Thursday Next books…yeah. The second major change is that the BookWorld has been remade as a physical location with real geography, rather than the scattered realms that it was in earlier books. There’s a map and everything! I’m a sucker for a good map.
Thursday, the real Thursday, has gone missing, on the eve of peace talks between the genres of Women’s Literature and Speedy Muffler, the leader of the genre ‘Racy Novel’ who has been threatening to detonate a ‘dirty bomb’, which would spread badly written graphic sex scenes throughout fiction. The fictional Thursday, who spends most of her days enacting the fictionalised version of the ‘real’ Thursday’s life, is drawn into the investigation, and uncovers a wider conspiracy which spreads as far as the ‘real’ world.
For all their wackiness, the Thursday Next books could get a bit…formulaic, and although a lot of the predictable beats are still here, the change in protagonist and setting shake things up nicely. With every successive book, I focus less and less on trying to follow the plot and simply slip my mind into ‘receptive’ mode and let the story do its thing. The geographical BookWorld allows some interesting and funny new situations, and Fforde shows himself willing to look at modern phenomena too, such as eBooks and FanFiction. The actual mystery didn’t make a huge amount of sense, but I can’t claim to have been too bothered.
One of the nice things about One of Our Thursdays is Missing is the lesser reliance on the same old cast of characters, who appear more in cameos than anything else. Well, actually, the new characters are generally the BookWorld actors playing the real world characters, the highlight being the imperious actor dodo playing Pickwick. I also loved Sprockett, a robot butler who teams up with fictional Thursday.
Look, at this point in these series reviewing these books feel pointless. You know what you’re going to get with a Thursday Next novel. They’re predictably unpredictable. One of Our Thursdays is Missing is another fun, silly novel in this fun, silly series.