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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.

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  1. I started this book but couldn’t get into it. I was actually thinking it was a Thursday Next spin-off since at the end of that series the Nursury Rhyme characters are moved into Jack Spratt’s book – but nothing seemed to fit in place and I only finished 3 chapters before I gave up. I’ll probably try again later, but I’m glad to hear that I’m not alone in this.

  2. I guess I had forgotten the Thursday Next connection. Interesting… So that might at least explain why the nursery rhyme characters exist in this world, but there’s still too many other unanswered questions.

  3. I must say, it is a little confusing—too many paradoxes (is that the plural form of paradox? Paradoxi? Parado?) to truly understand how the world works. However, I still love the book. It literally makes me laugh out loud and not many books I have read do that for me. I’m reading The Fourth Bear now and some more details are filled in, but it’s still slightly confusing. Have you read The Fourth Bear yet? Another problem: a lot of the stories/rhymes are England-based and so I’m not familiar with them. Sometimes I have to look them up online.

  4. Nope, I haven’t read The Fourth Bear. I will probably give it a chance someday, but have a big pile to get through before then 🙂 And if it fills in details, that’s a big plus.

  5. In the unlikely event that anyone is still referencing this review, I’d just like to point out that the Whole back story for this book is explained in The Well of Lost Plots (Thursday Next #3)