Title: The Eyre Affair
Author: Jasper Fforde
Review Summary: There aren’t many books out there which remind me of Catch-22 or Douglas Adam’s novels, but this is one of them and it’s hilarious. Witty, fun, a great plot, and a happy ending – I loved it.
In The Eyre Affair, in an alternate reality London, Thursday Next works for a special operatives group devoted to literary crimes. Theft, forgery, and violence related to great literary works is becoming more common in a world including a cult devoted to proving Francis Bacon wrote the works of Shakespeare and kids playing collectible card games based on obscure authors. And things are only going to get more exciting as the evil-for-evil’s-sake Acheron Hades begins kidnapping fictional characters from original works, threatening to re-write the classics if Thursday doesn’t stop him.
Everything about this book is absurdly clever and cleverly absurd. Any time tangential information is given, it’s just another opportunity for something quirky or insane to happen. Although this isn’t an original observation, I think the best way of describing the author’s style is a comparison to Douglas Adams, especially Dirk Gently’y Holisitic Detective Agency, and to Catch-22. In addition to the bizarre but awesome humor, both of these books share The Eyre Affairs’ unimpressed view of society. I laughed a lot reading this book and I particularly appreciated all the fun literary references scattered throughout.
Although this isn’t the sort of book that ever explains how things work (particularly the bad guy’s powers), the book doesn’t suffer for it. First, the absurd is really just accepted as reality in this book. Second, the author does a great job of creating a cohesive alternate history anyway. I loved the little snippets of imaginary books at the beginning of each chapter, which always introduced a little more information about the world or helped get me into the upcoming chapter. In addition to the book snippets, conversations, memories, and newscasts also help flesh out the political and technological state of the world without interrupting the narrative.
Best of all, the world and the humor are really just the icing on the cake, with the cake being a novel plot with a great heroine and a bad guy you’ll love to hate. The concept of having to dive into the world of a book to rescue the story is a lot of fun, especially since I expect most of us who read a lot would love to have a similar experience. The bad guy is very purely evil just because he can be which makes him a very hate-able villain. And our protagonist is an exciting, independent, rule-breaker who is always willing to put her own safety second to the greater good. So while some of you might
be totally insane not like this kind of humor, I liked this enough that I really want to recommend it to everybody. However, if you’re a Douglas Adams or Joseph Heller fan, I must insist – this is a book for you.
Whether you’re interested in the book or still undecided, more reviews are available here, where Jessica of Quirky Bookworm is hosting a summer book club this month through August 🙂