Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Review: The Eyre Affair

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Pages: 373, paperback

ISBN: 9780340733561

Publisher: Hodder

Date Released:July 19th, 2001

Genre: literary fiction / satire / mystery / sci-fi


Available from The Book Depository

There is another 1985, where London's criminal gangs have moved into the lucrative literary market, and Thursday Next is on the trail of the new crime wave's Mr Big.

Acheron Hades has been kidnapping characters from works of fiction and holding them to ransom. Jane Eyre is gone. Missing.

Thursday sets out to find a way into the book to repair the damage. But solving crimes against literature isn't easy when you also have to find time to halt the Crimean War, persuade the man you love to marry you, and figure out who really wrote Shakespeare's plays.

Perhaps today just isn't going to be Thursday's day. Join her on a truly breathtaking adventure, and find out for yourself. Fiction will never be the same again... (Taken from Goodreads)

It took me a while to get into this book, and to understand what the hell was going on. What I found out was that unless you're either British, know about British history, or are a classical literary student, then you'll have a hard time understanding just how witty the author is being in making the Crimean war (go on, Google it. I did) last 130 years, and other obscure British history references.

It takes a while to understand that this is a sort of parallel universe, set in 1985, where technology is amazing (to the point where dodos have been genetically brought out of extinction) and time travel is possible. When you discover these abstract things, it really feels like being hit in the face. I found myself crying out "why? WHY?" often.

The writing reads almost as if Douglas Adams were a pompous literature student sitting on his Macbook in Starbucks. When I read this, I couldn't help but compare the weirdness of this to that of Hitchhikers. But of course, this is much different, mainly because Hitchhikers was fun, and this is forced, and almost as if Fforde was so impressed by his knowledge of obscure literature, and wants his readers to be impressed too.

It's written in first person, but is badly done, as a lot of the time, things that Thursday Next, the main character, shouldn't know are narrated to us. For example:
"My room was exactly like all the other rooms in the hotel." -pg 119
Now, I have a few issues with that sentence. First off, how does she know what all the other rooms in the hotel look like, especially when this is her first time at this particular hotel? Secondly, how is it relevant? It isn't, and it just clutters the story with unnecessary details. Sadly, the novel is littered with things like this, and it gets fairly distracting after a while.
Also, pretty much all of chapter 11, and quite a few parts near the end of the novel are written in 3rd person. Now, this awkward, random jump from 1st to 3rd person pov is tacky and needs to be heavily edited. If you're going to have a book written in 1st person pov, the person telling it needs to actually be present during all of those scenes.

Also, I really wanted to know why this world is so immersed in literature. There's no reason, no explanation, no background. We're just led to believe that it's normal for people to be selling bootleg first editions of books on the black market, and it's totally normal for there to be vending machines that only exist to quote Shakespeare. While I have no issue with a world such as this, and I wish I lived in it, I still want to know WHY they love literature so much that there's a police force dedicated to it. It's such a big thing and surely needs explanation.

The villain wasn't much of a villain. His motives were all over the place, and he seems to only be evil for the sake of being evil. Plus, he's a bit of a Gary Stu with his invincibility and vast intelligence and whatnot.

And finally, the romance: I thought it was a bit shoddy. In the beginning, Thursday is pretty much obsessed with the man she dated 10 years ago, and when they end up going out again (y'know, 10 years later, and he's engaged to someone else. No biggie), it's fairly unimpressive. That Thursday Next steals someone else's man infuriates me, and does not at all seem endearing or strong. It makes her look desperate, and bitchy.

I had a lot of issues with this book, as you can see. I dunno, if you're into witty and satirical stories that try to be sarcastic and play with classical literature,, then you might like it.

Cover Art: 4
Plot: 2
Characters: 1
Writing: 2
Level of Interest: 2

Total Rating: 2/5 stars

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