Early Riser by Jasper Fforde

Picture this: climate change is real, and humanity is forever affected by it. But instead of retreating ice caps, the reverse is reality – winters are deep, dark and dangerous, with temperatures plummeting to -40C in places like Wales. People have taken to hibernating as the only means to survive the season. On the upside, wooly mammoths still exist.

Jasper Fforde is a master in alternate realities, but one that is grounded in so much of our current reality mixed in with a liberal dose of humour. From Gaer Brills to Albion’s Got Talent, as well as ratings on SleepAdvisor to politicians not wanting to get behind the fight against climate change, Early Riser is very much a reflection of our times, including our fascination for zombies. Here they are Nightwalkers – people who enter a Morphenox-induced sleep but don’t quite wake up the same come Springtime (and yes, they eat people, too).

But apart from his parody of life – I mean, get this, the group of people known as Villains are made up of the upperclass English crust and they threaten people with the most polite proper English around (they are also avid stamp collectors) – Fforde tells a damn good story. The plot thickens with every passing chapter and he keeps you wondering what the heck is going on right to the very last few pages of the book.

This is something he has done with his other books and I am a big fan of his Thursday Next series. I continuously keep my fingers crossed that he’ll write another installation someday. My only gripe with Fforde is that he needs to write more. I’ve already read all this non-YA publications (and the only reason I haven’t read his YA stuff is because I haven’t been able to find them). But I understand his brand of genious takes time too. I don’t know how his mind works, but I’m so glad it works the way it does!

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