Early Riser

A Novel
Narrated by: Thomas Hunt
Length: 15 hrs and 16 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (504 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

An instant New York Times best seller

The new stand-alone novel from Jasper Fforde, the best-selling author of the Thursday Next series and the forthcoming stand-alone The Constant Rabbit

Every Winter, the human population hibernates.

During those bitterly cold four months, the nation is a snow-draped landscape of desolate loneliness, devoid of human activity.

Well, not quite.

Your name is Charlie Worthing, and it's your first season with the Winter Consuls, the committed but mildly unhinged group of misfits who are responsible for ensuring the hibernatory safe passage of the sleeping masses.

You are investigating an outbreak of viral dreams which you dismiss as nonsense; nothing more than a quirky artifact borne of the sleeping mind.

When the dreams start to kill people, it's unsettling.

When you get the dreams, too, it's weird.

When they start to come true, you begin to doubt your sanity.

But teasing truth from the Winter is never easy: You have to avoid the Villains and their penchant for murder, kidnapping, and stamp collecting; ensure you aren't eaten by Nightwalkers, whose thirst for human flesh can only be satisfied by comfort food; and sidestep the increasingly less-than-mythical WinterVolk.

But so long as you remember to wrap up warmly, you'll be fine.

©2019 Jasper Fforde (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Charlie's journey...is so absorbing, and Fforde's wit so sharp, the reveal that the narrative is also a commentary on capitalism comes across as a brilliant twist.... Whip-smart, tremendous fun, and an utter delight from start to finish." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

"In this richly detailed, dystopic novel from Fforde (the Thursday Next series), most of the population of Wales hibernates in huge Dormitoria through the unbearable Winter.... The sprightly characters, such as the murderous villains maintaining the habits of English sophisticates and the intimately feuding pair of Chief Consul Toccata and Aurora, the head of HiberTech security, bring absurdity into the ambiance, but behave understandably enough to be credible. Charlie's confused but determined mundanity is a relatable anchor in this wild winter world, leavened by Fforde's surrealistic humor. Douglas Adams fans will enjoy the vibe." (Publishers Weekly)

“What captivates here is something that will appeal to any reader - and that’s the feeling that there’s something at stake in fiction, that characters created in books are every bit as real as the memory of a person.” (John Freeman, Newsday)

What listeners say about Early Riser

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  • Overall
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    5 out of 5 stars

A different book from Jasper Fforde

Jasper Fforde has written some of the funniest books I've ever read. You know, the kind of book you read in bed, but you are laughing so hard it makes your partner wake up and irritably ask what the hell you are laughing at?

This book has moments of humor and a once in a while chuckle, but there's a seriousness to this story that none of his other books had. This isn't so much humor as a warning about where our climate is going and who is running our world. I don't know which is more terrifying: the obvious sub-arctic winters in Scotland ... or the deathgrip the mighty "pharma" company has on all humankind.

There are fighters against pharma. Who's the good guy, who's the bad guy. There's not "history" about how the world got to this place, but if you have been reading even the headlines, it isn't hard to put it together. So this is science fiction, except ... it's not all that far-fetched. Sometimes, I found myself not merely listening to the story but worrying if this what I'm reading or hearing is really the future history of my Earth -- unless we DO something about it. Like ... NOW.

Of course, it's beautifully written because everything Jasper Fforde has written is wonderful, though I still am in love with Thursday Next.

I do recommend this book very highly, but I have to warn you -- it isn't like his other books. It isn't hilarious and sometimes, it's pretty serious. But he's telling us a story that I think we need to think about ... while being well-entertained.

Is this science fiction or is it our science future? I think you have to decide.

I have mixed emotions about the narrator. He was good ... but I think I'd have preferred a deeper voice? Or maybe I'm just being overly picky.

19 people found this helpful

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Unique story, hard to get into

Fforde never ceases to impress with elaborate unique stories, but this was harder than usual to get into. I kept losing track of the characters and eventually just had to restart the audiobook from the beginning. It was better the second time but still it wasn't a 'passive' listen. I'd have to back track from time to time to figure out what was going on. Fforde's unique writing style and terminology are always fun and it was worth it in the end. I'm glad I stuck it out

6 people found this helpful

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marvelous world building!

I really enjoyed the feeling of being in the world! Charlie is a sympathetic and relatable character!

4 people found this helpful

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Winter has arrived

I am a fan of Jasper Fforde’s books because he has this unique ability to create new worlds that just emphasize enough of the ridiculous in our own world while taking us somewhere new. They are witty and exciting, and filled with the most random bits of pop-culture.
Early Riser is yet another treat. Set in a world that’s positively arctic during the winter months, where most humans are forced to hibernate, those who don’t must survive the weather, strict food regulations, villains, cannibalistic sleep walkers, mythical creatures, and knowing who you can trust, including your own dreams.

3 people found this helpful

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Slow build but great book

Starts off slow if you can get past the first 100 pages then this turns into a wonderful book. Very thoughtful and interesting take on a world where we hibernate in the winter.

2 people found this helpful

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Fforde does it again

Another excellent book from an excellent author, well performed. Structurally somewhat similar to shades of grey, but imaginative enough that you won't mind.

2 people found this helpful

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Fforde through and through!

Another imaginative story/world from Jasper Fforde! A bit all-over-the-place at first, but rounds out into an interesting tale.
Thomas Hunt’s performance was excellent, hope to hear more from him soon!

2 people found this helpful

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bit difficult and different

Found book difficult to follow at times. Interesting story but still not sure what story line truly was. Wonderful descriptions of characters snd events kept my interest

1 person found this helpful

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Complex, pertinent to our times, and yet, a timeless story...

Rising to the level of imagination and complexity of ‘Shades of Gray’, ‘Early Riser’ taps into issues of the day to create a morality tale set in a problematic world skewed by Fforde’s endless store of altered vision. This novel will provoke heated and unresolved arguments as to which is better when compared to ‘...Gray’, Both are wonderful.

As an audiobook, Thomas Hunt is to be congratulated for a fine and nuanced set of voicings for the book’s extensive cast. Full marks for his performance, and the direction and production supporting him. Rare it is to find an audiobook this whimsical without overplaying or overworking the characterizations. I particularly enjoyed the treatment of the supporting character, Fodder, with no explanations offered in this review. It was simply perfect, and I suspect Mr. Fforde would agree.

If you are a Jasper Fforde fan, you’ll be enjoying this book for sure. If you discover Jasper Fforde through this book, or audiobook, I believe you’ll become a fan, yourself.

1 person found this helpful

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Just a perfect tale about hibernating humans

Jasper Fford creates another masterpiece - this time a strange and cold world where humans hibernate and the winter holds it's mysteries close and deep.

It's a great book with impeccable narration about a strange version of Wales (and the world) but with the all too real human struggles, loves and greed that we have in this world. I never got bored although at first I honestly wasn't too keen on what it might entail hearing the premise. I found myself intrigued and then entranced. At times I even got afraid for the characters, which is always a sign of a book that has dragged you into it's reality.

Winter has a life of its own in this book and is a character as much as any other - the Winterfolk prove that and you will love them for it - as much as Bridgette loves Rogers and Hammerstein.