Book Review Early Riser – Jasper Fforde knows how to world build!
Early Riser. Every Winter, the human population hibernates.
During those bitterly cold four months, the nation is a snow-draped landscape of desolate loneliness, and devoid of human activity.
Well, not quite.
Your name is Charlie Worthing and it’s your first season with the Winter Consuls, the committed but mildly unhinged group of misfits who are responsible for ensuring the hibernatory safe passage of the sleeping masses.
You are investigating an outbreak of viral dreams which you dismiss as nonsense; nothing more than a quirky artefact borne of the sleeping mind.
When the dreams start to kill people, it’s unsettling.
When you get the dreams too, it’s weird.
When they start to come true, you begin to doubt your sanity.
But teasing truth from Winter is never easy: You have to avoid the Villains and their penchant for murder, kidnapping and stamp collecting, ensure you aren’t eaten by Nightwalkers whose thirst for human flesh can only be satisfied by comfort food, and sidestep the increasingly less-than-mythical WinterVolk.
But so long as you remember to wrap up warmly, you’ll be fine.
Duffy’s Thoughts on Early Riser
I have to confess, this is my very first Jasper Fforde novel! Fforde seems to have a tremendous fan base and so was looking forward to finding out what all the fuss is about. Charlie Worthing leaves a mundane, rather unsatisfying life which was mapped out for him the moment he was born (on account of his head). Charlie gets the chance of a lifetime to become one of the Winter Consuls, a group that stay awake and keep people safe (well, try) during the harsh four months of winter.
Charlie Worthing lives in Wales, but it isn’t the Wales we know. You may think that Wales can be an odd place to live at the best of times, but in Fforde’s world, everything is different. For me, it felt like a mash-up of Hugh Howey’s Wool with a sprinkling of Sedaris wit, a nod to 1984 and FFordes unusual brain which created this crazy mixed up world. At one point Charlie helps to move a giant woolly Rhino from the local Co-Op car park.
Early Riser takes it time to get moving and there is a lot of detail in the first third of the book as the poor old Charlie and his world are revealed to you. But, then the pace picks up as you head to the end.
If general consensus from reviewers is that this isn’t Fforde’s best work, then I’m very interested to read his other works as Early Riser was a quirky, funny and a suspenseful read. Be warned, I ended up with Help Yourself by Tom Jones as an earworm for two days after reading this one!
Get your copy of Early Riser and your Fforde fix here!