Book 409: Something Rotten (Thursday Next #4) – Jasper Fforde

Fforde, Jasper - Something Rotten (Thursay Next #4)Just when you think it can’t get any stranger, Jasper Fforde makes sure to let you know it can and it will:

“The fate of all life on this beautiful planet decided on the swing of a croquet mallet.” (351)

I mean COME ON! Anyone who can turn croquet into a full-contact sport and make me want to watch it has to be a genius right?

I also can’t believe it took me until almost 12 hours later to finally connect the title to most of the story, as in hey this story has a lot about Hamlet in it and the quote “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” even appears! Thanks Fforde for reminding me I’m just another cog in the human machine. Epic fail on my part.

When you add in that I also just discovered that the first four books are considered a series and then the next three books (First Among SequelsOne of Our Thursdays Is Missing, and The Woman Who Died a Lot) make up a different series has made my reading of what I assumed was book five in a single series a lot different. More on that next week though.

With Something Rotten, Fforde once again shows off his talent as a writer and a humorist. He continues to play with his readers in dropping so many hints (I know I’ve missed a bunch) about other characters that you’ve seen and heard about but haven’t quite made the connection to yet. One of the first characters Next meets when she returns to the real world (this whole book is set in the Outside and not the Book World) is Millon de Floss and I immediately recognized the name, but couldn’t remember why. He’s been providing blurbs in each of the previous books because he’s an author in the Next-iverse who writes the history of SpecOps and he’s Next’s official biographer AND licensed stalker! It’s crazy how connected everything is.

I particularly enjoyed Fforde and Next breaking the third wall yet again with the following passage:

“‘Wait!’ I cried out.
‘I can’t concentrate with all those people!’
Landen looked around the empty bedroom. ‘What people?’
‘Those people,’ I repeated, waving a hand in the general direction of everywhere, ‘the ones reading us.’
Landen stared at me and raised an eyebrow. I felt stupid, then relaxed and gave out a nervous giggle.
‘Sorry. I’ve been living inside fiction for too long; sometimes I get this weird feeling that you, me and everything else are just . . . well, characters in a book or something.’
‘Plainly, that is ridiculous.’ ‘
I know, I know. I’m sorry. Where were we?’
‘Just here.'” (279)

So. Many. Levels. And then when you add in certain facts we learn about Granny Next and the one scene Fforde had me crying as I read out of both humor and sad-happyness. Seriously though have tissues ready for this book!

I think the other highlight of the book, and really the series, is the extremes to which Fforde is taking both politics and business. He has exaggerated them both so much they appear farcical, but then I look at who is running for President in the US now and I’m thinking well we’re really not that far off. I particularly enjoyed the dig at Question Time (Wikipedia Link) with Evade the Question and the seemingly ridiculous, and yet somewhat logical, reasoning behind Goliath Corporations actions:

“We have thirty-eight million employees at present; it isn’t difficult to see the benefit of having three billion. Imagine everyone on the planet working towards a single goal–the banishment of all governments and the creation of one business whose sole function it is to run the planet for the people on the planet, equally and sustainably for all–not Goliath, but Earth, Inc. A company with every member of the world holding a single, equal share.” (148-149)

Like I said, scary logical right!? It makes sense in a way, it’s just HOW they’re going about doing it that has some major issues.

Recommendation: These first for are WELL worth the read! I enjoyed them thoroughly and they’ve only gotten better as I moved forward. I’m glad a lot was sorted out, but if I stopped here there would be quite a few un-answered questions.

Opening Line: “The Minotaur had been causing trouble far in excess of his literary importance–first by escaping from the fantasy-genre prison book Sword of the Zenobians, then by leading us on a merry chase across most of fiction and thwarting all attempts to recapture him.”

Closing Line: “‘If I’m with you,’ I told him tenderly, ‘SmileyBurger is the Ritz.'” (Whited out to avoid spoilers, highlight to read.)

Additional Quotes from Something Rotten
“‘Oh, that’s just him jabbering away in Lorem Ipsum. He speaks nothing else.’
‘Lorem Ipsum. It’s dummy text used by the printing and typesetting industry to demonstrate layout. I don’t know where he picked it up. Comes from living inside books, I should imagine.'” (31)

“You’d be surprised what I can believe. Aside from stalking I’ve just finished my new book, A Short History of the Special Operations Network. I’m also editor of Conspiracy Theorist magazine. In between Goliath and Yorrick Kaine and the existence of a mysterious beast known only as Guinzilla, we’ve run several articles devoted entirely to you and that Jane Eyre thing. We’d love to do a piece on your uncle Mycroft’s work, too. Even though we know almost nothing, the conspiracy network is alive with healthy half-truths, lies and supposition.” (42)


15 thoughts on “Book 409: Something Rotten (Thursday Next #4) – Jasper Fforde”

  1. These sound like a lot of fun. I’ve added them to my wishlist to pick up after I eventually read Jane Eyre.

    That quote where he breaks the fourth wall reminds me of the single-act Woody Allen play I read last month, God. Just a fun mess of meta.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha! I haven’t noticed a difference, but I’ll keep an eye on it. And I would definitely wait until after Jane Eyre, but maybe read the first one not long after. I kept wondering which Eyre was our Eyre and I was like well I think this happened. I made it more confusing than it was.


  2. You’re just flying through this series! My family loves these books too. I wasn’t as enthusiastic. Maybe it’s like Terry Pratchett that the rest of my family also loves, but I’m not that into. Both sets of books that I’d expect to love. Oh, well. I’m glad you’re having so much fun with them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haahaa yeah I am! I think the second one really got me and the constant Brontë and Austen references don’t hurt 🙂 I’m taking a break (already reading something else) before I finish out the series.


Let me know your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.