"....few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into [her] heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memories to which, sooner or later - no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover or how much we learn or forget - we will return." -Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Shadow of the Wind

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Who and when is Thursday Next?

I'm not really one for Science Fiction. The only two Science Fiction books I've liked in my long reading career are The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, which is more dystopia than Science Fiction, and Kindred by Octavia Butler.  Although, come to think of it, The Handmaid's Tale is one of my all time faves.  And, now that I'm writing about it, I don't know that I've read many more Science Fiction books.  Maybe I do like Science Fiction?

Recently I jumped from two Science Fiction books under my belt to four.  It's not often a reader squares the number of books they've read in any particular genre, is it?  The verdict?  I loved my new finds.

The Eyre Affair and Lost in a Good Book are the first two in the Thursday Next Series by Jasper Fforde.  I happened upon the first book as I did a search for books about Jane Eyre.  I didn't really know anything about the book, including its genre, but if it had Jane Eyre in the title, I figured it was worth a go.  I hit the daily double when I not only loved it, but found out it was the first in a long series of books.

Thursday Next lives in London in the 1980s.  It's not immediately clear what has happened to this world of ours, but things are different.  Time travel is common, though highly illegal.  Literature is one of the most important and hotly debated social and political issues of the time.  Genetic engineering has left some strange creatures walking down the sidewalk. And, England has been engaged in a land dispute over the Crimea with Russia for the last hundred years.

Our girl, Thursday, is a veteran of the war and is now a Literary Detective.  In the first installment, she is on a hot case that brings her face to face with her mortal enemy, Archeron Hades.  This guy is sick.  He possesses the power to change anyone's mind, he can't be captured on film and he delights in supremely evil acts. 

He has stolen a rare first edition and Thursday must get it back.  Their game of cat and mouse leads them both into the original manuscript of Jane Eyre, where they have the power to change the plot, based on their actions and interactions with the characters. I loved getting to know Mr. Rochester off script.

A few subplots play themselves out as we progress: Thursday's long lost love reappears; we encounter her father (whose name she has never known) who is on the run from the ChronoGuard and keeps one step ahead of them through constant time travel; and Thursday must make some big life decisions, like stay in the big city or move back home to Swindon.

There are instances when the Science Fictiony parts of the story are tedious for me, and a few bits about the time travel and politics get confusing to the point that I began to skim.  On the whole, though, it had everything I look for in a book: Jane Eyre, a strong female lead character, London and time travel.  I can't wait to get the next  Thursday Next from the library!

Do you have a favorite Science Fiction Book?

Photo credit: miss_leslie

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