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The Fourth Bear - Jasper Fforde
Genre: Fantasy, humor

This was the first book I've ever read by Jasper Fforde (whose name, by the way, I always want to pronounce "Ffffffordy"). I had him recommended to me by several people and was told if I liked Terry Pratchett's humor I would probably also like Fforde.

I listened to this as an audiobook read by Simon Vance. He did an excellent job - voices, accents, the whole thing.

What I liked about the books was the world Fforde has created of nursery rhymes and fairy tales mixed in with normal life. It was fun recognizing the characters, puns, and jokes in the book, sometimes snuck in slyly, other times as a long continuing gag. It is a clever idea, though not unique to Fforde - it has been used by Cornelia Funke (another person with an extraneous 'e' on the end of her name), Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman to name a few.

The story itself was a bit on the odd side, with individual parts seeming to have only tenuous connections. At times The Fourth Bear seemed like instead of being a story in its own right, it was simply a vehicle to carry all the jokes about nursery rhyme characters and fairy tales that Fforde could think of. Overall it was amusing but not great. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if I had read the previous Jack Spratt novels, but I don't really think that would have helped the plot.

Based on The Fourth Bear I haven't been inspired to read much more of Fforde's work. A person with good book taste has, however, assured me that were I to read the Thursday Next novels by Fforde I would enjoy them much more. I am going to give that a try.....soon.

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