Monday, January 21, 2019

Early Riser by Jasper Fforde

The latest book by Jasper Fforde, whose specialty lies in creating very extraordinary settings in his books. That is true for this book as well. It starts with the premise that humans are hibernating animals – they have always been. There are only a few people, usually quite eccentric ones, who stay awake during the winter to take care of as well as guard the sleepers. The climate is turning colder and the glaciers creep southward – but oh so slowly that no one is really concerned about it. Hibernating takes a lot of energy, and as a result, people try to fatten themselves when the autumn season approaches. However, there are a few people that are lost every winter. There is a new medication which will almost certainly prevents the deaths, but sometimes some unfortunate people wake up as zombie-like creatures, who might be even dangerous in their vast hunger if they weren’t very slow and very stupid. However, they can be used for different purposes- apparently for breeding, (as people die every winter, there is always a need for more children), as well as to complete some easy menial tasks after they are reprogramming and trained - thus they are a source of very cheap labor. The same company which developed the medicine is responsible for the employment of the former zombies. It isn’t hard to see that there are some slight possibilities for exploitation if the ethical standards aren’t high enough…

I feel that the first half of the book was very disjointed and confusing. Anything that remotely resembled a plot took its time to appear. During the first part of the book, everything was pretty surrealistic and unclear and things seemed to happen mostly to enable the puns, witticisms, and wordplay with no coherent plot-line in sight. When the plot really started to move forward and make sense, the book got a lot better. In any case, this is possibly my least favorite book by the author. Nevertheless, I will say that the last third of the book wasn’t bad at all, but it does not make up for the first third of the book, which most certainly wasn’t good.

403 pp.

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