Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde. This is the sequel to The Eyre Affair, continuing the adventures of Thursday Next, LiteraTec extraordinaire.
The Eyre Affair was a real delight to read, in part because it was so strikingly different from anything else I'd read recently. The sequel, predictably enough, fares slightly less well, in part because the novelty has worn off to some degree. Thursday's world is still the same dazzlingly improbable place, but it's not a surprise this time around, which weakens the effect. (Being without power over the weekend didn't really help, either...)
Still, the book has much of the same manic energy as its predecessor, and some wonderful set-piece scenes, such as Thursday's trial before the Examining Magistrate from Kafka:
The Magistrate looked at me, took out his watch, and said: "You should have been here an hour and five minutes ago."
There was an excited murmur from the crowd. Snell opened his mouth to say something, but it was I that answered.
"I know," I said, having read a bit of Kafka in my youth and attempting a radical approach to the proceedings, "I am to blame. I beg the court's pardon."
At first the Magistrate didn't hear me and he began to repeat himself for the benefit of the crowd: "You should have been here an hour and-- What did you say?"
"I said I was sorry and begged your pardon, sir," I repeated.
"Oh," said the Examining Magistrate as a hush fell upon the room. "In that case, would you like to go away and come back in, say, an hour and five minutes' time, when you will be late through no fault of your own?"
The plot, as usual, defies description-- Thursday's husband is eradicated by the ChronoGuard, and she embarks on a series of odd adventures in an attempt to get him back. Oh, yeah-- she also needs to find a way to prevent the entire world from being turned into pink goo starting on the twelfth of December, 1985. No, this doesn't make much sense, but then, it doesn't really have to.
Annoyingly, this book is much less self-contained than The Eyre Affair-- it reads almost like the success of the first book has provided some series security for Fforde, who decided to give the subsequent books an overall plot arc. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it did catch me a bit off guard when the plot didn't resolve itself completely at the end. You have been warned.
Anyway, while it isn't quite as much fun as the original, that's not really the fault of this book. As the series continues, it may start to get overly cute, but that hasn't really happened yet. This is still a fun read, and I definitely recommend it.
(Originally posted to The Library of Babel.)