in Reviews

Review: The Big Over Easy

The Big Over Easy : A Nursery Crime

Rating: 2 out of 5

Author: Jasper Fforde

Year: 2005

Publisher: Viking Adult

ISBN: 0670034231

The Big Over Easy is Fforde’s first novel outside of his Thursday Next series, which I loved. I had high hopes going into Over Easy, but it just doesn’t measure up.

This book follows investigator Jack Spratt, who specializes in crimes involving nursery rhyme characters. In this version of England, regular people live side by side with the storybook counterparts. In particular, Spratt has to solve the murder of Humpty Dumpty.

I’m going to stop right there and not describe the plot any further. Because I’ve already hit on the biggest weakness of the book – there is almost no world-building. Why do nursery rhyme characters exist in our world? Why are they all in England? Does each rhyme’s story only play itself out once in our world? Then why haven’t the stories run out long ago? None of these questions are answered.

Meanwhile, “The Jellyman” seems to be some sort of religious figure whom everybody loves. He even appears towards the end, but there’s never any explination of who he is. Similarly, the “Sacred Gonga” is a revered artifact, but Fforde makes a joke out of never actually describing that either.

There was enough tongue in cheek humor to keep me reading, hoping for details. But sadly, almost none were provided. Granted, the main plot of Thursday Next was absurd as well – The titular hero worked for an agency whose job it was to enter books and keep their plots and characters in line. But there Fforde sold the world with tons of details and internal consistency. The Big Over Easy has almost none of either.

I was very disappointed, and can only hope the series improves from here.