If, like me, you just read about anything and everything and geek out about literature and spend about 85% of your time surrounded by books, then you have either read this book by now, and if you haven’t, you should. It’s an extremely meta book, so I can understand why some people might not get “it” or latch on to it, but I love this book. The world-building has shades of subtlety worked into it—it’s slightly steampunk, along with the alternate 1985 and in-universe mentions of the still-ongoing Crimean War and the state of England. (Honestly, I did not even realize that zeppelins were widely used until this reread.) The fact that tampering with literature is a crime punishable by death is a big honkin’ clue to just how vastly different this universe is. Which leads into the hilarious meta-aspect of the book. I was an English major, I am all about LITERATURE IS SRS BZNS. I love the different fringe groups devoted to various authors of British canon; the Shakespeare-ghostwriter theories not only run rampant, but the theorists backing Bacon are the equivalent to Jehovah’s Witnesses; and there is a literary tourism industry that takes you to famous fictional locales. (Also, ROCKY HORROR-STYLE SHAKESPEARE. I WOULD PAY TO DO THIS.) There’s a lot of winking and nods to various authors that range between the blatantly obvious (such as the hotel desk clerk, Liz Barret-Browning) to mere nods (Shakespeare’s Christopher Sly and why he never shows up beyond one act). Plotwise, events move quickly, switching between rapid action and the lengthier, slower comedy and satire. The general mystery of why Acheron Hades steals the Prose Portal is set up and revealed early on, but a lot of the book’s tension comes from whether or not Thursday will be able to catch up with Hades, and how exactly she plans to beat him. There’s a lot going on in the subplots, with Thursday’s reconciliation of her ex-fiance, Landen, and the intervention of the Goliath Corporation with the aforementioned Crimea, but Fforde manages to streamline all of the plotlines without being overbearing.I generally like Thursday. She’s intelligent, with her moments of brash thinking and stupid bravery—which actually has consequences that she has to deal with later. Her ability to jump into various manuscripts is never fully explained, but it’s revealed that she’s not the only one to do this, I liked her building a rapport with the various characters from Jane Erye. (Which is another thing I loved, Thursday actually details the months she spends in-text, but it’s mentioned that in her world, it’s only as long as someone reads the book. My one issue with her characterization is that she falls back on the unmarried singleton who “let Landen get away” and resorts to referring to her two-dimensional rival as a ‘fat cow.’ It just felt like she had to fulfill that particular trope, and while I like her rapport with Landen, if felt like they ended up together for the sake of the plot. Also, her reconciliation with him, specifically in regards to his damning testimony of Thursday’s brother, just came off as too easy. It’s mentioned that it’s been years since they’ve seen each other, but Thursday has never once considered the reasons why Landen did what he had to do until her brother mentions it. As I said, easy plot convenience. The other characters range between being enjoyable to somewhat clichéd. I like Thursday’s Uncle Mycroft and his mad science experiments (I want a set of bookworms. And a Prose Portal, of course) and he’s got a relaxed chemistry with his wife, Polly. I wasn’t a huge fan of Thursday’s mother, and for the small amount that he shows up, I did enjoy her other brother Joffy. Acheron Hades is a little harder to pin down—he feels like the even more evil and megalomaniac version of Zaphod Beeblebrox. It feels intentional at times, but then again, Hades’s character goes a little too over-the-top at times. (And given the extreme meta of the book, it feels really intentional.) I liked Thursday’s co-operatives at the Swindon Litera-Tec; everyone gets just enough detail to feel fully fleshed out without weighing down the plot. I even enjoyed the slightly further developed character of Mr. Rochester that pops up in the book—I didn’t like him in Jane Eyre proper, but here, it seems like he’s playing up his idealized characterization that people swoon over. As I said earlier, this book is heavily meta’d., so I understand why some people might not gel to it immediately. I do love the book—it’s not perfect, but the nods and references to literary canon are highly amusing, and it keeps me on my toes with its humor and fast plot.