I didn't post about The Eyre Affair a couple of months ago when I listened to it, because I just didn't know what to say about it. I was hoping that a second book would help. I'm not sure it did.
Let's just start with the Publisher's Summary (because there's just no way I could do justice to this book):
The second installment in Jasper Fforde’s New York Times bestselling series follows literary detective Thursday Next on another adventure in her alternate reality of literature-obsessed England—from the author of Early Riser.
The inventive, exuberant, and totally original literary fun that began with The Eyre Affair continues with New York Times bestselling author Jasper Fforde’s magnificent second adventure starring the resourceful, fearless literary sleuth Thursday Next. When Landen, the love of her life, is eradicated by the corrupt multinational Goliath Corporation, Thursday must moonlight as a Prose Resource Operative of Jurisfiction—the police force inside the BookWorld. She is apprenticed to the man-hating Miss Havisham from Dickens’s Great Expectations, who grudgingly shows Thursday the ropes. And she gains just enough skill to get herself in a real mess entering the pages of Poe’s “The Raven.” What she really wants is to get Landen back. But this latest mission is not without further complications.
Along with jumping into the works of Kafka and Austen, and even Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies, Thursday finds herself the target of a series of potentially lethal coincidences, the authenticator of a newly discovered play by the Bard himself, and the only one who can prevent an unidentifiable pink sludge from engulfing all life on Earth. It’s another genre-bending blend of crime fiction, fantasy, and top-drawer literary entertainment for fans of Douglas Adams and P. G. Wodehouse.
There's simply too much going on. This is Douglas Adams (mostly the Dirk Gentley novels) meets Terry Pratchett meets Doctor Who meets . . . something else, but it's not just those elements -- it's those influences without restraint (not that any of those are known for their restraint). It's just too zany ,too strange, too unmoored from reality.
There's cloning to bring back extinct species, time travel, vampires, werewolves, interacting with fictional characters, rabid literary fans, characters walking into novels/other written materials to rewrite them, travel, or just to meet with someone else -- and that's just scratching the surface.
I realize that this is tantamount to complaining that there's too much of a good thing, and I recently talked about what a foolish complaint that is. But this is different, somehow. The sheer amount of ways that reality can be rewritten/rebooted/changed in this series is hard to contemplate, and seems like too easy for a writer to use to get out of whatever corner they paint themselves into. One of the best emotional moments of this book -- is ruined, simply ruined by time travel unmaking it just a few minutes later.
Emily Gray's narration is probably the saving grace of this audiobook -- I'm not sure I'd have rated this as high as I did without it. Her ability to sound sane when delivering this ridiculous text (I mean that as a compliment) makes it all seem plausible.
I enjoyed it -- but almost in spite of itself. I can't see me coming back for more. I do see why these books have a following -- sort of. But I've got to bail.