Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
The Well of Lost Plots: Jasper Fforde, July 8—10, 2016
My rating: ♦♦◊◊◊
Oh dear. ‘Lost plots’ seems an apt description for the latest in the Thursday Next series. The wheels have most definitely come off.
Fforde’s universe is wonderful, let’s be fair. It’s very well thought out and it’s always been the strongest element of the series. Here, we delve into another aspect of it. Next joins the Character Exchange Programme, entitling her a short-term say inside a book playing a minor character. A whole host of new information comes our way about how characters are trained to star in books, and the casting process, mandatory Raymond Chandler excursions and all. Next even tries to inject personality into a couple of extras who are specifically designed to have no such thing.
I won’t deny being impressed with Fforde’s world, but sadly that’s where the brilliance ends. There’s no actual story. We recap Landers’ retroactive removal from existence in Lost in a Good Book but since Next is now in hiding, not an awful lot is done about it. Instead, she follows a few one-note characters around and witnesses the bureaucracy and bumbledom they have to deal with. Convincing and detailed, yes, but a believable world has to be the infrastructure for a story – not the story itself.
Pretty much nobody has any personality to speak of. They all fill a role in this great literature-enamoured world, but none of them are in any way individual. Fforde seems to present them, though, like they are the cleverest chaps to ever grace the page.
Fforde has failed to devise characters or plotlines worthy of his rich setting, which is a great shame and a terrible waste.