“Somebody once said that the library is actually the dominant life form on the planet. Humans simply exist as the reproductive means to achieve more libraries.”
I’ve long been a fan of Jasper Fffffforde and his madcap sense of whimsy. The Thursday Next books could hardly have appealed to me more, with books acting as portals into their own stories. The opening quote of the new, non-series book, gave me false hope of more bookish fun – actually, ‘speed librarying’ suggested only anxiety, and plays little part in the story beyond the opening chapter.
Instead, we enter an alternate Britain which is about to mark the 55th anniversary of ‘The Event’: the time when several handfuls of rabbits anthropomorphised overnight. DNA tests cannot distinguish them from normal bunnies, but you wouldn’t get confused: the new lot, and several generations of their offspring, are tall as humans, vaguely human-shaped, walk upright, and can talk and think better than most of the people currently going to pubs in a global pandemic. Ahem, sorry 😉
The allegory isn’t particularly deep as we delve into rabbit-phobia and political parties gaining power by playing on the fears of the human population that the Rabbit is trying to take over, sideline our human way of life, breed us into a minority, etc etc. In fact, to begin with I wasn’t sure I was really up for this kind of story. However, sticking with it and Ffffforde’s storytelling is its usual wonderful self, mixing the wacky with the serious message, even if the latter does get a bit heavy especially towards the end.
This isn’t my favourite of the author’s work by a long stretch, but it was a lot of fun to read. And if he has a slightly more serious message under than capers than usual, well, I think we’re living in those kinds of times. Life probably would be better following the Rabbit Way – although I’ll hold on to my thumbs, thank you very much!
Recommended, but with that caveat that it isn’t wholly lighthearted, despite the 6ft rabbits.
NetGalley eARC: 320 pages
First published: 2nd July 2020
Read from 28th June – 4th July 2020
My rating: 7.5/10