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Jasper Fforde's unique brand of inspired insanity makes "Something Rotten" a welcome addition to his enormously entertaining and often hilarious Thursday Next series. Thursday is the head of Jurisfiction, the policing agency that "safeguards the stability of the written word" in literature. However, she is tiring of her hectic, stressful, and often dangerous job and she needs a break. Thursday takes her two-year-old son, Friday, and decides to head for the Outland. She returns to her home town of Swindon, England, determined to bring back her "eradicated" husband, Landen Parke-Lane.

Thursday's return home, unfortunately, brings a new set of problems to plague this beleaguered heroine. She is saddled with Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark, who is unhappy with the indecisive manner in which he has been portrayed by actors. In addition, the Council of Genres wants Thursday to do something about the dictatorial and ruthless Yorrick Kaine, an escaped fictionaut who is planning to dominate the world. To make matters worse, a mysterious and deadly assassin is out to get Thursday, and she has to watch her back constantly.

"Something Rotten" is filled with puns, literary allusions, slapstick, dizzying time travel, ribald humor, naughty words, brilliant satire, and non-stop action. Often, the wacky plot makes little sense, and the many characters enter and exit so often that the unprepared reader may be left with a migraine. However, Fforde rewards the patient reader in many ways. The author entertains us with his large cast of colorful and varied characters. Thursday Next is an appealing heroine who is smart, courageous, warmhearted, determined, and resourceful. Melanie Bradshaw, the gorilla wife of Commander Bradshaw, provides Friday with much-needed child care in a pinch. Yorrick Kaine is Thursday's fearsome and frightening opponent, and his backers, the men behind the colossal Goliath Corporation, represent all of those reprehensible conglomerates that gleefully and heartlessly trample on human rights. Lady Emma Hamilton is a boarder who stays with Thursday's mom, and she proves to be a handful. Emma is a lush who has the hots for Hamlet. Colonel Next is Thursday's dad, and he travels through time, meeting up with and helping his daughter now and then. It is no accident that several characters from "Alice in Wonderland" also make key appearances in this whimsical and imaginative novel.

Thursday's adventures are funny, poignant, and sometimes dazzling in their complexity. There is even a no-holds-barred "SuperHoop" croquet match that is as wild and unpredictable as the Quidditch matches in the Harry Potter novels. "Something Rotten" may confuse devotees of linear literature. However, if you like a creative and daring author who loves wordplay, creates timebending and mindbending escapades, and who inserts timely and pointed social commentary into his narrative, then you will find Jasper Fforde's "Something Rotten" as delightful as I did.
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The latest Thursday Next saga is certainly the best, providing that you've read the rest of the series. If you haven't, you'll find it difficult to follow the exciting adventures of Thursday in the Outerworld, as she fights to save her eradicated husband, raise their paradoxical son Friday, stop Yorrick Kaine and the dastardly Goliath Corporation, foil an assassin, capture the Minotaur, bring about world peace, and win an un-winnable croquet match in the process.

Taking a leave of absence from the Bookworld, Thursday reappears in the real world to find that the Goliath Corporation has ascended to new heights of mind control, Yorrick Kaine has inexplicably risen to power, her bosses are not particularly happy about her unauthorized 2 1/2 year absence, and she's got a downtrodden Hamlet, an amorous Emma Hamilton and a dashing Otto Bismarck to contend with.

More than up to the task, but not quite sure how to sort anything out, she makes a deal with Goliath, visits the netherworld with vampire hunter Spike, and somehow ends up managing the local croquet team in an all-important championship match.

One of Fforde's most imaginative novels, this one is highly recommended for fans of the Thursday Next series.

Amanda Richards, August 20, 2005
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VINE VOICEon August 14, 2004
Fforde's brilliant detective series continues in the fourth installment, 'Something Rotten', which ties in all the classic elements of his beloved stories. His wit is as sharp as ever and he continues to cleverly tie in various characters/scenarios from several works of literature. The world he has created for Thursday Next is a treat for any bibliophile who has ever dreamed of being able to enter their favorite work of literature.

'Something Rotten' finds Thursday Next tired of hiding out in the Book World, so she returns home in order to have her erradicated husband un-erradicated. This isn't as simple as it may seem, and Thursday is forced with defending herself from various attempts on her life, resolving a coup in 'Hamlet', and stopping the ruthless Yorrick Kaine, a fictional character, from becoming a vicious dictator in the real world (well, a Nextian world). She also has to take care of her two-year-old son Friday, get her job back at SpecOps, and most importantly of all, prevent an armageddon from destroying the world. These might seem like insurmountable tasks for the ordinary detective; but as a literary detective, Next is more than equipped for whatever comes her way, real or imagined.

Fforde has created an entire world for Thursday Next and is comfortable in her shoes. As she travels between the real and the written world, Fforde's imagination is vibrant and alive, painting an unusual depiction of what really goes on in the books we read. He has given new voices and perspectives to beloved literary characters and has established himself as a force to be reckoned with, in both the literary and 'real' worlds.
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on August 16, 2004
Thursday Next is back again at last, and her hands are fuller than ever. The story begins 2 years after her last adventure ended, and she is weary of her time as the head of Jurisfiction. She decides to take a leave of absence from Bookworld and return to Swindon and a job at SpecOps. Accompanying her are her young son Friday and Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark. Thursday's trip out of Jurisfiction leaves her little time for relaxation, however. She tries to get her husband Landon uneradicated. She searches for a Shakespeare clone to save the play "Hamlet" from a hostile takeover. She must ensure that the Swindon Mallets win the SuperHoop-88 World League Croquet tournament to keep the world from imminent Armageddon, as is prophesied by 13th-century Saint Zvlkx, whose revealments always come true. She must find a way to thwart an anti-Danish book-burning by smuggling books across the border into Wales. Needless to say she must also battle the evil Goliath Corporation, along with the fictional Yorrick Caine, now Chancellor of England, who wants to become world dictator. Then there's the assassin who is repeatedly attempting to do away with Thursday. The reader can never say that Thursday's life is boring!

There are many interesting and amusing details in the book, including the finer points of croquet law, a closer look at Neanderthals and Chimeras, the problems inherent with uneradication, the reasons behind Hamlet's dithering, and Friday's use of Lorem Ipsum, a typesetter's dummy language. Many characters from previous books make their appearance here, including the Minotaur, the Cheshire Cat, the Jurisfiction operatives, and Thursday's coworkers from SpecOps. There are plenty of chases, close calls, and time travel paradoxes. There is even a touching scene with Granny Next that might have you wiping away a tear or two. Unlike with the previous books, all the loose ends have been neatly tied up in this one. Author Jasper Fforde himself admits that the interconnectivity of the first four books can be a bit frustrating, but that he plans his future books to be more "stand alone."

"Something Rotten" has all the typical Fforde trademarks, including abundant literary references, satire, and silliness. This book did not have quite the impact on me as previous books in the series. Perhaps this is because the uniqueness of Thursday's alternate universe has lost its novelty, or perhaps this is because Fforde is beginning to rehash a few older gags and concepts. But I still enjoyed the story very much and recommend it to all Thursday Next fans. Besides the book itself, the author also provides a link to a web site with special features on this title and the series in general. By answering a question about a detail from the book, you can enter the site and find additional background material. There's a lot to keep you entertained and laughing here!

Eileen Rieback
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on October 18, 2004
In "Something Rotten," Literary detective Thursday Next finally returns from two volumes taking place almost entirely outside the "real world" of Fforde's imagination, during which Thursday policed the world of fiction (running interference in Wuthering Heights, for example). Here, Fforde again shows his comedic knack for throwing together anomalous characters from history and fiction and letting them play off each other. Thursday's Mom has become landlady to Otto von Bismarck (19th-century Chancellor of Germany), Lady Emma Hamilton (the often-inebriated paramour of Lord Nelson), and Hamlet himself. Several flirtations ensue, with riotous consequences.

The main plot again involves Thursday trying to avoid a certain Armageddon by outwitting her corporate foes. While trying to prevent the end of the universe, Thursday tracks the Minotaur through trashy wild-west fiction, having scented him with Slapstick; the sporadic appearance of banana peels and falling pianos in the plot prove it.

There's also a delicious undercurrent of modern cultural references; for example, Thursday's hunt for a secret producer of Will Shakespeare clones eventually leads her to a distant walled-in enclosure straight out of "Jurassic Park," only populated by rampaging herds of Napoleon clones. Thursday must also temporarily become a champion player of "Superhoop," a kind of violent croquet-like sport with rules that are surely meant to parody Harry Potter's quidditch scenes.

In the previous two volumes of the series, a lot of things were on frustrating hold: Thursday's husband Landon had been "eradicated" (someone went back in time and worked it so he'd never been born) and, although she was pregnant, almost two volumes of the series had passed without the appearance of her child. In this volume, Fforde ties up these loose ends in brilliant style. All is resolved happily (I find Fforde is quite good at writing the romantic passages as well), but so neatly that I fear we won't hear from Thursday again.

Perhaps we can convince Fforde to go back in time to give Thursday a 2nd (or is it a fifth?) chance.
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VINE VOICEon September 16, 2004
Thursday Next is back! Huzzah! In this, her fourth adventure, she tires of hiding out in the book world and longs for reality again. Her son, Friday, is two now and speaks only Lorem Ipsum and can peel bananas with his feet, thanks to his beloved babysitter Mrs. Bradshaw. Thursday’s job as Bellman for Jurisfiction has become a bit much, what with the Minotaur still on the loose, Emperor Zhark still being overly dramatic and having to fill in for Joan of Arc.

Besides all that, she can only get her husband un-eradicated if she’s in the same world with Goliath Corporation, her enemy and the eradicator of Landon.

If you are reading this with a big question mark over your head, you obviously have not read the first three books. I simply can’t stress enough the importance of reading these books in order! How else with you know to like and sympathize with Spike the vampire slayer, or to hate and fear Yorrick Kane, or to revere the memory of Miss Havisham, or to realize that a mention of Lola Vavoom is a necessity?

But, back to the book. . . So, Thursday (along with Friday, the dodo Pickwick and her difficult son, Alan), returns to the real world, Hamlet in tow, and tries desperately to defeat Kaine, out maneuver Goliath and the save the world by leading the Swindon Mallets to victory in the SuperHoop. (Of course, we assume that the Mallets will win, because their victory was prophesied by St. Zvlkx and all of his prophecies have come through thus far, but, sheesh, even a resurrected saint could be wrong.)

Add to that, a dangerous hit-woman called the Windowmaker, a couple of trips to the Underworld, trouble with the Danes, mutiny in the play Hamlet, Neanderthals, chimeras and more stuff that you wouldn’t believe if I told you and what you get is Fforde’s best book to date.

With Something Rotten, he has created yet another hard to put down novel with multi-laughs per page and one outlandish situation after another. I love Thursday, the Book World and Fforde’s alternate universe and sincerely hope that there are more Thursday Next adventures to come!
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VINE VOICEon August 9, 2004
Thursday Next is back, in her fourth adventure. After my rant review of The Well of Lost Plots, my review of Something Rotten is somewhat better. The time is 1988; Thursday retires from her job at Swindon SpecOps in order to take care of her son Friday and find her husband, Landon Parke-Laine, who was Eradicated in the second book in the series.

In the previous three books, Thursday dealt with characters from Jane Eyre, Great Expectations, Alice in Wonderland, and the Beatrix Potter books. This time Shakespeare's Hamlet makes an appearance- he has somehow left his book and is now living at Thursday's mother's house, romancing Emma Hamilton.

With a variety of, shall I say, bizarre characters, (a Neanderthal; a 13th-century saint whose predictions prove to be true, and whose name is comprised entirely of consonants; a Croquet team with an infamous losing streak; and a chimera, just to name a few), Thursday once again battles the all-encompassing Goliath Corporation (who has now created a religion on top of everything else they do). Thrown in there is a hefty amount of anti-Danish sentiment from the English, in which Hans Christian Andersen and Karen Blixen books are destroyed (needless to say, this is not a good time for our friend Hamlet). Will Thursday get her husband un-Eradicated? What happens to Hamlet? The answer to these questions and more are answered in Something Rotten. A must for all Thursday fans; a great summer read regardless.
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on August 9, 2004
I simply couldn't wait the extra two weeks or so for this book to come outin the U.S., and so I purchased it on where it was already out. Let me tell you, the extra shipping fee etc... was worth it! Fforde has done it again by writing a completely unique and clever novel.

Something Rotten finds Thursday about to leave the book world and go back to reality with her two year old son, Friday, and Shakespear's Hamlet in tow. When she arrives she finds that England is slowly being taken over by Yorrick Kaine and the Goliath Company, who is trying to branch into religion by making up one of its own. Not to mention the people of England are considerably hostile towards the Danish people, making Hamlet's visit to reality a tough one.

Over the four hundred pages that this book is made up of, Thursday encounters a 13th century saint, the Windowmaker, the Swindon Mallets-the town's croquet team-and the other-world. She also must figure out how to get Danish books over to Wales because they're being burned in a anti-Danish stance and she has to figure out the answer to this burning question: What the heck is an Ovinator?

All in all this is a FANTASTIC book, Fforde fans will be pleased, although a word of advice...towards the end of the book you might want The Well of Lost Plots handy because a revalation is made and you might want to look things up in TN3...but that's just a suggestion.
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"This is fiction. Odd things are MEANT to happen." That remark, coming from galactic tyrant Emperor Zhark, sets the tone for Jasper Fforde's fourth book in the still-fresh Thursday Next series, "Something Rotten." Funny, literate, and sometimes quite poignant, this proves that Fforde still has the spark.

After a disastrous incident in the Wild West, Thursday Next decides to leave Jurisfiction, and goes home with her two-year-old son Friday. But things aren't more peaceful in the real world: The Goliath Corporation has become a religion, there's a politician named Yorrick Kaine blaming the Danes for everything, and a croquet match is set to determine the fate of the world. If they win, the Goliath Corporation (and Kaine) are finished. If they lose, the world has a 22% chance of Armageddon.

Thursday's personal life is no easier. Her husband has been "eradicated," and her mom's house is full of guests from Hamlet to a 13th-century seer. Now her only hope lies in somehow getting the Goliath Corporation to give her husband back, and in winning the cricket match (with the help of Hamlet and a bunch of Neanderthals). But Kaine and the Corporation aren't about to go down without a fight... and they might take Thursday down with them.

Jasper Fforde won readers' hearts with the comedy/mystery/fantasy/satire "The Eyre Affair," and kept winning them with the two sequels. Though "Well of Lost Books" was a bit shaky, "Rotten" gets its footing quickly. Any book that has Ophelia staging a coup and taking over the play must be a winner. But Fforde also wraps up some threads from the earlier books, such as Landen's eradication. The question of Thursday's punishment (for changing the end of "Jane Eyre") is also dealt with, in a poignant and unexpected twist.

Fforde seems more comfortable than ever in his literate-spoof world. His writing is assured and detailed, with a few dizzy puns and plenty of English-major humor, like Hamlet being a Mel Gibson fan. He wraps dozens of seemingly random threads together, tying them off neatly at the end. The climactic fight between Thursday and Kaine is both funny and brilliant, as they set one literary creation against another, including Beowulf and the Jabberwock.

The smart, tough-yet-loving Thursday is joined by a bunch of characters both lovable and infuriating, including her Latin-spouting tot Friday and a bunch of Neanderthals. Gran Next has a secret identity revealed, and Landen returns... spasmodically, on and off. Most winning are the exuberant Hamlet and Thursday's brother, the Irreverend Joffy. Oddly enough, the villains -- such as Mr. Goliath and hit woman Cindy -- tend to be two-dimensional, but fictional ones (like Emperor Zhark) are enormous fun. Oh, the irony.

Jasper Fforde returns with "Something Rotten," a solid entry in the ongoing fantasy-detective series. For people who don't mind a spoonful of satire with their classic literature, this is a must have.
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If you are like me, you've followed Mr. Fforde through the unexpected tumults of The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book and The Well of Lost Plots. In each of the three prior books in the Thursday Next series, we readers were treated to unexpected dimensions of what life can be about (readers literally entering books to live there, characters moving around from book to book in search of a change, vast pools from which plots are developed, and the people and characters in charge who try to keep order). We also learned new forms of crime (destroying stories by changing the original manuscript) and new types of criminals (characters who join the real world and manipulate people in unfair ways). We've also found out about some of the potential ethical issues of cloning and the drawbacks of having too many police. It's been a great ride.

In Something Rotten, Mr. Fforde shakes all those elements up and creates a story that uses every aspect that I can remember of the first three novels to pull your mind out of your own life so that you soar unexpectedly and delightfully along with the gossamer breezes of Mr. Fforde's inspired imagination. I pride myself on seeing plot twists coming, but this book continually surprised me in rewarding ways.

As the book opens, Thursday Next continues as the Bellman in Jurisfiction where she is trying to round up the Minotaur who has escaped from his fantasy prison and is running from book to book creating havoc. Thursday is just a little tired of it all, and decides to go back to the real world. Her sentence for changing Jane Eyre is still to be passed. Her son, Friday, is two years old and speaks in the nonsense text that typesetters use to create dummies.

Back in Swindon, she finds herself surrounded by characters (the literary type) including a very muddled Hamlet who doesn't like seeing others portray him, historical figures (Lady Hamilton and Bismarck) and cloned creatures (dodos and Neanderthals). Soon, her father swoops in from another time to lay an important challenge on her plate.

Naturally, she's mostly sad about having lost her husband Landen to eradication by the Goliath Corporation, and her mother encourages her to get counseling in a group of other women who have also had loved ones eradicated.

In the background, Yorrick Kaine and Goliath are up to no good.

Thursday is able to get her old job back at SpecOps, but soon she's finding it hard to get her work done and still keep an eye on Friday (who's a very active lad).

Part of her work doesn't please her. Kaine is trying to claim that all problems are caused by Danes, and she's expected to help round up Danish books for burning.

Before the book ends, you will find yourself in the middle of the most remarkable croquet match since Alice in Wonderland and on a trip into the nether world that Dante could have imagined.

The book is also filled with very amusing drawings of some of the most unusual moments.

I constantly underestimated this book. By the time I was done, I was smiling with pleasure because of how well everything ties together.

It's brilliant!
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