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This series is one of those unfortunate ones that is so, SO good that I want to pass them along to everyone I meet (I buy every used copy of the first one I can find, to give them away!), but when you try and tell people what the books are all about, you get blank stares - it all just sounds too odd.

This latest in the series is no exception - clever, laugh out loud funny, and so fantastic that explaining it just doesn't do it justice. The literary humor is still hilarious (and explained well enough that those who haven't read the classics that the jokes come from can still get the jokes!) and Thursday's personal life and literary adventures are both well-written and enjoyable.

I had found the last Thursday book, Something Rotten, a bit duller than the first three, and so was delighted to begin reading and see how good this one is. Fforde is back on form!

Thursday's grumpy teenage son Friday, who speaks in teenage grunts, is destined sometime in the future to save humanity from extinction some 700 times, but right now is causing his parents to tear their hair out over his stereotypical teen behavior - sleeping late, listening to loud music, and being monumentally lazy.

Thursday has a new apprentice, Thursday Five, who comes from one of Thursday's poorer selling books in which the author substituted her usual crime-solving and bacon-sandwich eating demeanor for one of a yoga-doing, lentil-eating peacenik who tries to set unruly and murderous literature-dwellers down for a nice cup of tea to talk things over.

What will become of the lowered reading rates, and the government's dangerous surplus of stupidity, which must, somehow, be discharged? Will the Goliath Corporation, up to its old tricks, succeed in killing Thursday? Read this latest and find out.
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The brilliant Jasper Fforde's "Thursday Next--First Among Sequels" is the latest zany installment in a highly original and imaginative series. Fforde's intrepid fifty-two year old heroine is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. She is still madly in love with her writer husband, Landen Parke-Laine (who, fortunately, is fully restored after his two-year eradication by the fearsome Goliath Corporation) and their three children, one of whom may not really exist. The oldest, Friday, is sixteen, and he has turned out to be something of a slug who grunts, plays in a heavy metal band, and sleeps well into the day. Although Thursday pretends that she spends her time peddling and installing floor coverings for Acme Carpets, she is actually still very much involved in the Special Operations Network, working unofficially and under cover. She has never broken her strong ties to Jurisfiction, the policing agency within books, a job which earns her no money and is dangerous to boot. However, Thursday loves stories and she cannot resist using her considerable skills to help "maintain the continuity of the narrative within the pages of all the books ever written." Using her trusty Travelbook, she jumps into and out of the world of the printed word to hunt down malefactors.

Strange things have been happening lately. Thursday has a surreal conversation with her Uncle Mycroft, a brilliant inventor who has been dead for six years. He has no idea why he has reappeared as a ghost, but Thursday suspects that he has some unfinished business that involves her. Next, Thursday has to cope with two clones of herself who are cadets in training: one, Thursday 5, is a touchy-feely version who eats natural foods, believes in peace and love, and is so timid and nerdy that she is bound to get herself killed in short order. The other is a foul-mouthed, nasty, gun-toting version named Thursday 1-4, who is ruthless, violent, and intent on eradicating Thursday Next and taking her place. Looming over everyone in Jurisfiction is the specter of the dropping Outlander Reading Index. It seems that people in the real world (the Outland) no longer enjoy stories as they once did and the Bookworld is in danger of imminent collapse. This would be an incalculable loss for humankind.

"First Among Sequels" is filled with Jasper Fforde's trademark wit and innumerable puns. He gleefully takes potshots at reality television, trendy and annoying fads, inefficient bureaucrats, lying politicians, and many more worthy targets. Fforde's narrative includes everything from philosophical speculation about literature and the nature of time to mind-bending flights of fancy and lowbrow scenes of slapstick and mayhem. There are even a few touching romantic interludes thrown in for a bit of variety. The plot is so complex that it defies description. Suffice it to say that the Thursday Next books are as challenging as they are entertaining and satirical. Consider yourself lucky if you don't get a headache as you try to keep track of the many seemingly unrelated threads that somehow all tie together in the end. The patient reader will be exhilarated and rewarded, however, since "First Among Sequels" is a treat for literature lovers with a wacky sense of fun.
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It's a darned good thing that Thursday Next isn't showing any signs of wanting to slow down, because her life seems to get more and more complicated with each eagerly awaited installment of this brilliant series.

First of all, the Special Operations Network has been disbanded, but that minor detail hasn't stopped Thursday and her colleagues from doing what they do best. Under the cover of a flourishing carpeting company, business continues as usual, except now it's strictly hush-hush. Thursday is also secretly working at Jurisfiction, and a large portion of this book deals with her exploits in the BookWorld.

In the real world, Thursday hasn't yet told her husband that she does more than sell carpets. Her son Friday is a typical rebellious teenager, who flat out refuses to join the ChronoGuard, plays rock guitar and never, ever appears before lunchtime, his sister Tuesday is a math genius, and the other sibling Jenny promises to be the most normal of the lot.

Between training un-trainable apprentices, wheeling and dealing with the Cheese mafia, sorting out the Moral Dilemma, finding the missing comedy from the Thomas Hardy novels and vanquishing demons, time is running out for Thursday to figure out how to save the world, with or without the help of lazy Friday. Add the Minotaur, Aornis Hades, Goliath's latest project, and ghostly visitations from her Uncle Mycroft, and you get an idea of the roller coaster ride that is "First Among Sequels".

The unkindest cut of all however, is the plan to remake classic works into interactive novels, similar in principle to the dreaded Reality TV. It's all up to Thursday Next, and if she fails, you'll soon be glued to your television watching a Bennet sister getting voted out of Pride and Prejudice.

A final warning to fans of this series - after reading this you may suffer acute withdrawal symptoms while waiting for the next installment.

Rated: 4.5 stars

Amanda Richards, September 3, 2007
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on August 10, 2007
I was in London a few weeks ago and purchased a British edition signed by the author. I really like all the books in the series but I found this one the most compelling to read since I first happened upon Thursday Next for the first time in The Eyre Affair. All the clever wordplay and suspenseful scenes have been carried over from the previous books, but I particularly liked the development of Thursday's relationships with her husband and son. And the problems that arise from multiple Thursdays. Fforde has such a fantastic imagination. The ending is a bit cruel...how long do we have to wait for the next installment?
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VINE VOICEon October 22, 2007
Jasper Fforde clearly solidified his position in the literary world with "The Eyre Affair" the first novel in the Thursday Next series which was a wild and imaginative blend of pure literary love and comic genius. Each novel that followed was just as imaginative, if not even more far-fetched, but always as enjoyable as the first one. Sometimes authors can drag a series down when it continues on too far, but Fforde has done his series justice with each and every installment, especially "First Among Sequels".

The fifth book in the series, "First Among Sequels" takes place fourteen years after "Something Rotten", with our heroine settled into domestic life that includes an idle sixteen-year old son who won't assume his destiny with the Chronoguard, two daughters (one of which doesn't exist), and a job at Acme Carpets that is just a front for her old job as a literary detective still working with Jurisfiction (but of course, her husband doesn't know that). Tuesday finds herself drawn into another literary mystery while training two fictional and highly inadequate versions of herself to become Jurisfiction agents. When Britain's stupidity surplus reaches an all time high, a plan to make reality book shows promises to destroy all of classic literature as we know it, and Thursday is the only woman for the job.

Jasper Fforde is a sheer delight to read for anyone who truly loves literature. His novels are full of allusions and characters from great (and small) literary works, and represent a truly inspired take upon how stories come to life. "First Among Sequels" is a fast-paced romp through literature and back, with many twists and convoluted subplots that may or may not go anywhere thrown in between. Fforde knows how to leave his fans hungry for more, offering up tempting bait at the end of the novel that Thursday Next certainly isn't finished with the Book World, and neither is Jasper Fforde.
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on September 2, 2012
I thought the first of Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next novels, The Eyre Affair, was fantastic. Funny, literate, clever - a wonderful book, especially for voracious readers. I recommended it to others, bought it for them, and just generally enjoyed it. While the next three books in the series weren't quite as magical, they were also a lot of fun.

By the time I reached the end of Something Rotten, though, I felt the joke had run its course. Not that there's not a lot more material to be used - there is - it just seemed that Fforde's particular approach to was losing its edge. Fforde may have felt the same, since the series paused for several years.

I think both he and I were right. First Among Sequels, while showing all the same cleverness and literary in-jokes as the earlier books, feels forced. It's clever, but it's just not as funny as it should be.

I felt somewhat the same about the first book of the Nursery Crime series - more clever than funny. I still think Fforde has a lot going for him; I expect to pick up the first books of some of his (many) other series. And I very strongly recommend the first Thursday Next quartet. This book, however, I think is best suited to true aficionados or to newcomers.
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on April 7, 2016
These books are pure entertainment. If there are any flaws (and I've caught a few) they are totally forgivable because these books are like chamomile for me. I've been reading the series before bed and it's the best! The chapters stand alone as entertaining but I don't feel compelled to stay up all night reading more. By the next day, I'm looking forward to finding out what happens next. Pro tip: check these out from your local library in book format, not eBook format (or buy the book if you prefer). The formatting is a key part of the experience and it gets really sloppy and confusing in the kindle edition.
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on April 2, 2015
Great Fun for the literate. So many references to literature that you may lose a lot if you are not familiar with Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Mellvile, etc. But just hilarious. And, like 'The Odyssey', it is just one damned thing after another. All these books are delightful.

And definately mind twisters.
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on November 1, 2014
Wow, weird. Clever author and fantastic, funny, satirical plot. The only down side is that I thought this was the first in the series. Wonder how I got that idea? Anyway, so now I have to decide if I want to read the preceding books. It was fun, but I had trouble finishing. Lost my interest. Maybe I'll try another of his books in the future. Undecided.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon December 26, 2009
"Boy, was this book ever crap." - In FIRST AMONG SEQUELS, Thursday Next's judgment upon the first book in the series, THE EYRE AFFAIR

The Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde must rank as one of the greatest flights of imagination in the annals of fiction. For the bibliophile, the imagery contained in the narratives is mind-boggling and addictive.

Next lives in the English town of Swindon. In the first four volumes of the series (The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel,Lost in a Good Book (A Thursday Next Novel),The Well of Lost Plots (Thursday Next Series), and Something Rotten (Thursday Next Novels)), it's the mid-1980s. In FIRST AMONG SEQUELS, it's 2002. But Fforde's United Kingdom isn't the one we know; mammoth herds roam the island, cloned Neanderthals comprise a subclass, Thursday has a pet dodo bird, and long distance travel is by Gravitube.

But the author's most ambitious imaginative construct is Bookworld. Existing in an alternate universe, it's where books exist as physical entities, where the plots - and, most importantly in the Next series, the fictional plots - exist as something akin to stage sets on which the literary characters are actors that play their roles when the book is read by someone in Outland, i.e. Thursday's "real" world. You can get a sense of the place from a description of Hanger Eight in Bookworld's Book Maintenance Facility:

"... there was room on the hanger floor for not only Darcy's country home of Pemberly but also Rosings, Netherfield and Longbourn as well. They had all been hoisted from (Pride and Prejudice (Penguin Classics)) by a massive overhead crane so the empty husk of the novel could be checked for fatigue cracks before being fumigated for nesting grammasites and then repainted. At the same time, an army of technicians, plasterers, painters, carpenters and so forth were crawling over the houses, locations, props, furnishings and costumes, all of which had been removed for checking and maintenance."

Next has the capability, unique among Outlanders, to travel between her world and Bookworld. As such, she's the super-agent of Jurisfiction, Bookworld's enforcement agency tasked with keeping order within the fiction genre. Disorder includes such things as book characters attempting to escape to Outland, the inexplicable seepage of humor from comedic novels, improvised and unauthorized dialogue by mischievous character understudies, outbreaks of the MAWk-I5H virus in works by Dickens, the buildup of irony on dialogue injectors, malicious narrative corruption, and plot disruptions caused by a shortage of the pianos used as props.

Thursday also smuggles Welsh cheese; an underground cheese market rose in response to the England's hated Cheese Duty which levies taxes ranging from 1300 to 1500 percent on the smelly foodstuff. Personally, I'd like to see Machynlleth Wedi Marw, a "really strong cheese", stocked in my local supermarket.

"It'll bring you up in a rash just by looking at it. Denser than enriched plutonium, two grams can season enough macaroni and cheese for eight hundred men. The smell alone will corrode iron. A concentration in air of only seventeen parts per million will bring on nausea and unconsciousness within twenty seconds ... Open only out of doors, and even then only with a doctor's certificate and well away from populated areas."

FIRST AMONG SEQUELS is the best yet of the Next series. It compels me to suspect that the author is on some mind-expanding substance; it's that inspired. A brilliant plot development is Thursday's encounter with Thursday 1-4 and Thursday 5, the former being the lead character in the first four installments of the series (described as being "the violent ones, full of death and gratuitous sex"), and the latter the timid and yogurt-loving Next of THE GREAT SAMUEL PEPYS FIASCO. (Am I confusing you? Never mind; it makes perfect sense within the pages, just as will the part played by the recipe for unscrambled scrambled eggs in the prevention of the End of Time as we know it.)

I've always considered myself a linear-thinking, down-to-earth kind of guy. But the tremendous appeal of the Thursday Next series to my reader's appreciation has challenged that self-assessment. If you're a book-lover like me determined to read until the last gasp, do yourself the great favor of devouring FIRST AMONG SEQUELS, and indeed the entire series if you haven't yet done so. Lose yourself in a good book.
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