Okay, I'll come write out and say it - I didn't like The Well of Lost Plots as much as The Eyre Affair and Lost in a Good Book.
To catch you up: Thursday Next, pregnant and pursued by Goliath, the ChronoGuard, and SpecOps, has decided to take a vacation in the pages of Caversham Heights. Never heard of it? That's because it's a work-in-progress, located at the bottom of the Well of Lost Plots, where all fiction is created. Considering that she now is fictional, you think she'd be safe among Miss Havisham and the Bellman from Sense and Sensibility, but no - she has a mindworm trying to make her lose all her memories of the father of her child (who was eradicated at age two), somebody is killing off Jufisfiction Operatives, and the novel she resides in is threatened with being broken down into text. Life in her alternate reality is never simple for Thursday Next.
It's a clever plot, with a lot going on without being too much to handle. It's kind of nice to see that Thursday is human and therefore breakable (not because she is a woman but because when you're pregnant, you should probably get out of the line of fire). It's rife with all sorts of fun characters and silly subplots, like nursery characters going on strike, "generics" (genderless, personality-less, featureless future characters) being trained up into character types, and escaped minotaurs. There's always something going on.
The main problem I find with The Well of Lost Plots is how few laugh-out-loud moments it has. After the two preceding novels, I expected to be laughing hysterically every other paragraph, but instead it was only every other chapter. What is that about? I know I sound silly, but I'm serious - this book made me serious. The clever play on literary references and re-imaginings of reality's social problems are really what made the series for me up until now and without that, the writing loses a lot. Of course, that's not to say that it doesn't have it's moments. I'd give you an example, but I think it would need to much backstory to be entertaining, plus it's far too long. Suffice it to say, that it includes the adult hero of adventure stories for boys and his wife, who happens to be a gorilla in a pinafore.
Which brings me to my next point. Fforde just spends too much of this novel world-building. Though we spent some of Lost in a Good Book in the Great Library, Fforde really gives it life in this installment. The problem is, he does so at the cost of plot, silliness, and logic. I spent so much time trying to figure out the logistics of it (the characters read each other? or something?) that I had little time to just enjoy the novel. Maybe the whole novel was full of literary witticisms that the last two books could only dream of and I missed them because I was so busy trying to figure out why only sometimes can characters read each other's thoughts. Fforde spent so much time figuring out the book world that the vast majority of the book's action took place in that last quarter of the novel, which threw off the balance and had me wondering if anything more exciting than an escaped minotaur would ever happen.
It's not all bad. My favorite bit was about UltraWord, a new platform for reading novels that the Book World is anticipating. Though shiny and fancy, in truth UltraWord has a dark side and is a wonderful riff on the advent of ebooks, in all of their evil wrong-doing. Cantaloupes will never smell the same to me again...