Saturday, January 2, 2010
The Fourth Bear
The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde is the second in his nursery crimes series. Although I prefer his Thursday Next series, I enjoyed this book a lot, and thought it was better than The Big Over Easy, the first nursery crimes book. I read recently that was actually his first book, it just didn't get published until after the Thursday Next books, which explains a lot. He rewrote most of it before it was published, but you can still tell it's not as polished as the Thursday Next series.
Anyway, The Fourth Bear has anthropomorphized bears, Goldilocks, Dorian Gray the car salesman, the Gingerbreadman serial killer (literally a gingerbread man), and nuclear cucumbers. Yeah, it was awesome. Fforde's books are just so fun to read because you never know what's going to happen or who might appear. I'll never look at gingerbread the same way again.
As for the nuclear cucumbers, Fforde got his inspiration for that from Jonathan Swift! I did a lot of research on Swift when I was working on my thesis for my master's of arts in English, but then I decided to just do the test option instead since I was working full-time at a job that required a lot of writing and I'd already written one thesis for my undergrad degree. Anyway, I have a softspot for all things Swift. In Gulliver's Travels, on Laputa, Gulliver meets someone who has been working to extract sunbeams from cucumbers, which sparked Fforde's idea for the plot. It made me want to reread Gulliver's Travels again, so I may have to add that to my Flashback challenge reading list.
This was a good pick for my first book of the new year. It's fun, eccentric, a fast-read, and entertaining. As long as you like quirky books, I recommend giving this one a try.