“Early Riser” by Jasper Fforde – what happens when a population hibernates and only a few remain awake ?

In Jasper Fforde’s novel Early Riser the winter is so fierce that people hibernate through the season. A very few people stay up during the whole winter period to care for those who are sleeping and to deal with problems which might arise. The book is set in an alternative Britain which mostly, but not quite, resembles our own and our hero is Charlie who escapes from an institution to become one of those who stay awake while knowing that the winter waking might send him mad.

The book is set in rural Wales where Charlie finds a very odd selection of people who remain awake – these are the misfits of society. There are also people who have ended up as zombies because of the drug which helps sleep and then there are mystical folk who may or may not pose a threat. Dreams are dangerous too and suddenly Charlie begins to have dreams which are shared by others.

As always with this author this is a clever and amusing book. It is full of underlying puns and jokes whilst the story itself is well plotted and quite serious. Jasper Fforde seems always suspicious of how people and especially large corporations handle the power they have and this book is no different. Charlie’s life is frequently in danger but so too is his integrity and he battles circumstances and others to do the right thing.

If you are not familiar with this author’s books then you may find this one a bit odd and might be better starting with The Eyre Affair which is his best. Some people just don’t get on with his style. I love it and I love this book which is clever and funny and keeps you reading.

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