Early Riser (Jasper Fforde) - Hodder & Stoughton - 2018 - 402 pages

In the "Acknowledgements," author Fforde thanks his readers "for sticking with me during what I now call my creative hiatus of 2014-2016."  Since his last book (The Eye of Zoltar) was published in 2014, there has been speculation about which of his four series (Thursday Next, Nursery Crimes, Dragonslayer, Shades of Grey) would be the source of his next book.  Instead, he wrote stand-alone Early Riser that is not intended to start a new series.  Set in a different (?) 20th-century (?) Wales and a parallel world where the Winters are deadly, this novel examines the hibernatory habits of mankind and the manipulations of dream worlds by government agencies.  Our hero, Charlie Worthing has decided to leave St. Granata's Pooled Parentage Station and join the "Winter Consul" that guard the "Dormitoriums" from "Slumberdown" to "Springrise." In this world, the life expectation has been reduced to 64 years because of the harsh winters and the "nightwalkers" who are the hibernatory mutants.  Fforde is known for his clever writing style that mixes a sense of humor with situations that only sprout from his creative mind.  While reading this book, it occurred to me that Jasper Fforde is the current writer who comes closest to Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1922-2007) with his insight and entertaining writing style.  It was worth the wait.  Keep them coming, Mr. Fforde. [JAM 9/10/2018]