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Book DetailsISBN: 9781444763591
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Book Review: Early Riser by Jasper Fforde - Reviewed by CloggieA (13 Sep 2018)
5 stars Early Riser is the fourteenth novel by Welsh author, Jasper Fforde. Twenty-two-year-old Charlie Worthing gladly deserts his Assistant House Manager job at St Granata’s Pooled Parentage Station in Cardiff when the opportunity to become a Winter Consul presents. With a bare minimum of training, he starts as the new Novice for the famous Jack Logan. With Slumberdown (for Winter) mere days away, their first assignment is, ostensibly, to deliver a Night Walker to the Hiber-Tech HQ in the often-dangerous Sector Twelve.
He’s already not doing too well at this when his mentor is killed, and Charlie has to make the delivery on his own. He also intends to fulfil Logan’s intention to speak to the Sector Chief Consul about the recently reported spate of viral dreams involving a blue Buick, an oak tree, boulders and grabbing hands, and ending in psychotic episodes. Accidentally(?) stranded in the Sector, Charlie wakes up to realise that he, too, has had this dream.
The world that Fforde builds is certainly different. This is Wales, but not as we know it: it gets very cold in Winter; a mere 0.01% of the population (Winter Consuls, winsomniacs, Villains, Wintervolk and the mythical Gronk) does not spend the eight months of Winter in Hibernation; everyone spends the eight weeks before Slumberdown prodigiously eating, putting on enough weight to see them through; the lucky ones get to use Morphenox which stops them spending their energy reserves by dreaming; population numbers reduce each winter because of the cold, so there is compulsory child-bearing legislation.
His fourteenth novel bears all the usual Jasper Fforde trademarks: amusing names (of people, organisations, publications, drugs); chapters prefaced by quotes from (sometimes bizarrely titled but always relevant) books, articles, press releases, a dictionary, magazines and, of course, from many of the ten editions of the Handbook of Winterology (Hodder & Stoughton); numerous footnotes that are occasionally humorous but always informative and therefore, ignored at the reader’s peril.
Fforde’s plot is original, as always, and there are plenty of twists and red herrings, and most of the characters are not quite what they first seem to be. There’s plenty of humour, but also some thought-provoking observations about sleep and dreaming. A little bonus for those who read past the acknowledgements, are some clever fliers and posters in Fforde’s latest creation. Very entertaining!
Jasper Fforde traded a varied career in the film industry for staring out of the window and chewing the end of a pencil. He lives and works in Wales and has a passion for aviation.
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