In this fifth book about Thursday Next, Fforde's unusual heroine has seemingly retired from her busy and dangerous career as a literary detective and enforcer of justice in the Book world. Her husband thinks she's working with her former colleagues in a carpet laying business, but of course, she is just as busy as before trying to sort out the many complications and problems that occur in literary fiction.
Reading rates in Outland, as the literary denizens like to call the real world, are falling drastically. The attention span of the common man is getting shorter and shorter, only very extreme reality programming such as Celebrity Kidney Swap seem to be holding their attention, and Thursday and her fellow Jurisfiction agents are not sure what to do about it. Sherlock Holmes appears to have been murdered. Bookworld beaureucrats want to turn Pride and Prejudice into a reality reading experience, where readers can vote off characters they don't like. One of Thursday's literary counterparts is trying to take her place, and her son Friday is failing spectacularly to live up to his future potential.
I really loved Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair when I discovered it many years ago. It was original, funny, clever and made me look at Jane Eyre in a completely different light. The second and third book in the series were enjoyable too, but as the series has progressed on, I'm not sure I'm as fond of Fforde's ideas anymore. It took me nearly a week to finish First Among Sequels, which is unusual, considering it's not a very long book. It also took me a year and a half from buying the book to actually reading it, because I just wasn't that bothered about finding out what happens to Thursday. What used to be funny and clever just doesn't seem as good anymore, and while Fforde's writing is still good, I may think about giving up on the series.
The action of the book is slow at first, but picks up towards the end. I may give the sixth Thursday Next book a chance, whenever it comes out, but if it fails to live up to my now-reduced expectations.