Friday, May 23, 2008

Book Review - The Eyre Affair

I am absolutely thrilled with the world of Thursday Next as created by Fforde. At first, I thought it was odd that he planned to take us a mere ~20 years into the past when creating this world. But as I continued into the story, I was entranced by the intricate world that had been created by Fforde's wonderful brush strokes. This definitely isn't the 1985 I grew up in.

There are so many intricacies that make this world great, it's hard to pinpoint just one or two favorites. As a fan of "conspiracies" and "secret police" and other "above the law" organizations, I really enjoyed the SpecOps and Goliath organizations, the first being government sanctioned and the other being a corporate entity with a stranglehold on the government. I loved that SpecOps was more than just a "police" force, but rather dealt with intriguing and fantastical ideas like time travel, supernatural creatures and, of course, literary crimes.

The idea of "crimes of literature" was actually part of what attracted me to this novel in the first place. I've been a fan of books and literature for as long as I can really remember. I remember being outraged while reading Fahrenheit 451. This world is sort of the antithesis of the 451 world. In the world of Thursday Next, books and literature are vitally important to the world.

I loved picturing rabid fans of Shakespeare having riots over the authorship of the Bard's plays (I really loved the "resolution" provided at the end of the book). I found it fascinating to think of there being uprisings at slight textual changes in books or at disappearances of very minor characters in other books. The idea of actually stepping into a novel was by far the most exciting literary concept presented.

Imagine, being able to step inside a favorite novel or poem and actually experience it first hand! I also loved (and I won't "spoil" this for you) the idea the Goliath corp had for the technology.

Fforde's world and creativity are amazing. There were moments that I felt as though he was going too far down a path he didn't need to. But the depth and detail he gave to his interesting creations made it all worth it. And then seeing him link together seemingly innocuous events and items was all the more rewarding. (My sis-in-law mentioned that some of the innocuous actions he presented in this first book actually play into the plot of the 3rd book...awesome!).

I also loved the "excerpts" from other books (also fictionally created by our author) added at the beginning of each chapter. This was a great subtle and yet effective and intriguing touch.

Apart from the occasional moments when it felt like things were "dragging" unnecessarily (which, as I mentioned above, played themselves out), my only other real complaint was the interference from the Bookworms into the text itself. After the Bookworms ate down hyphens and ampersands, the spoken words of the characters became very annoying to read. I think that could have been a little more subtle, or ignored completely.

Otherwise, an amazingly wonderful book and I'm excited to continue in the series.

4 stars

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