I have to say, I still enjoy these. I don't know that they are as shiny and new as when Jasper Fforde was a discovery, but I do enjoy them. I felt like the one before this was a bit muddy, if I remember correctly (it was a while ago), but First Among Sequels is a thoroughly fun addition to the Thursday Next series. I really never get tired of Fforde's voice. That's what it comes down to, in the end.
In this one, we jump forward more than 10 years, to a point where Thursday is still working for Jurisfiction, but her position in the real world is, ostensibly, carpet fitter. At least, that's what her husband thinks she does. And the cover office does seem to be doing a roaring business. You know, in between killing vampires and solving literary crimes. Of which there are fewer and fewer, as books go unread, under the spectre of reality TV. And then the horrific prospect of book-based reality TV that will change literary classics forever! Ghastly!
Meanwhile, her son Friday is steadfastly refusing to grow up into a responsible young man who will head the ChronoGuard, and is instead sleeping in till the afternoon, refusing to cut his hair, and playing rock music. Since the end of time is fast approaching, the ChronoGuard is understandably concerned about this.
And Goliath Corporation is being strangely helpful. That can't be good.
In the middle of all this, Thursday Next is training two new Jurisfiction candidates - Thursday Next and Thursday Next. Thursday Next 1-4 comes from the previous four books, and those books, this time, are rife with attitude and guns. Thursday5 is from the completely unread fifth book, an attempt to course correct that ended up with a New Age attitude and an obsession with being nice. Our Thursday isn't too happy about any of them.
And the little tweaks to classic literature, changing thing to the way I know them, such as the piano in Emma still crop up every once in a while, and they're delightful. There is also a visit to the sea of Moral Dilemmas and another Minotaur attack.
Underlying the whole book are the twin worries of people not reading anymore, and the emphasis on the near future. Both the worries of the literary world and the ChronoGuard turn out to be intertwined, and Thursday must help try to find a way to get back a Longer Now than her world currently embraces.
It has all the love for and irreverence towards literature that I've always loved about these books. It's not quite as fresh as when I first read it, but this is a fun entry into the series.