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All booksSci-fiEarly Riser
Early Riser by Jasper Fforde

Early Riser

by Jasper Fforde

Quick take

An alternate world where humans hibernate, dreams go viral, and winter is not just cold, but deadly.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SlowRead

    Slow build

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Movieish


  • Illustrated icon, Literary


Illustrated icon, Icon_Challenging_Indicator


This is high-concept sci-fi—think detailed, complex world-building and numerous characters and plot lines. The book has an unconventional writing style that includes footnotes.

Why I love it

Liberty Hardy
BOTM Judge

Zip up your snowsuit and grab your pillow and blanket! It’s time for a chilling, sharply funny novel, where humans hibernate half the year, and dreaming can be deadly. Welcome to the delightfully zany world of Jasper Fforde!

Charlie Worthing is a new recruit with the Winter Consuls, the scrappy agency that watches over the lucky tranche of humanity that gets to hibernate through each brutal winter instead of risking frozen limbs, starvation, and death. What’s his first day on the job like? Well, his mentor is immediately assassinated, a viral dream is killing off hibernators, and that’s just the beginning. Throw in cannibalistic Nightwalkers, the dreaded WinterVolk people, and the other undesirables he must deal with while being awake, and you’ve got all the makings of a very fun adventure story. Can Charlie save the day?

I’m trying hard not to gush here, but I have been a diehard Jasper Fforde fan since his first novel, and this one makes me SO HAPPY! Fforde has such an incredible talent for witty dialogue, and the imagination he pours into this novel is astounding. I loved how the exposition builds and builds, gaining momentum like a runaway snowball, until its fabulous conclusion. Whether you’re a longtime fan or a first-time Fforde reader, this novel is ffun for everyone!

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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 artefact 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.

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Get an early look from the first pages of Early Riser.

Member thoughts

All (4110)
All (4110)
Love (1255)
Like (1793)
Dislike (1062)
4497 ratings
  • 28% Love
  • 40% Like
  • 24% Dislike
  • Searcy, AR

    I’ve had to change my rating from “liked” to “loved” because here I am, several months and many books later, STILL thinking about Early Riser and wanting more from Fforde. Perhaps worthy of a reread!?

  • centennial, CO

    I’m such a sucker for dystopian novels! This book stole my attention and the plot was completely unexpected and origonal. I loved getting to know the different characters, and the society they live in

  • Charlotte, NC

    One of my favorite picks! A chilly alternate reality with a blunt and relatable character who must save us from our dreams. If we need to be saved at all. Hope you like whit & sarcasm! PS. Bring food.

  • Colorado Springs , CO

    While a well constructed story that left me unable to stop turning the page until the end, it begins rather slowly with quite a bit of learning up front. This made it much more difficult to get into.

  • Yorba Linda, CA

    A new top favorite of all time. So many twists and turns, meaningful characters, wonderful story building, and a plot I'll never forget. Listen to the songs in the book for a chilling effect. Perfect.

  • Lakewood, OH

    Very much a Fforde novel as I have become used to them but in a great new setting As usual confused by being dropped into a crazy world, but worth sticking with to learn about, and then sad to leave.

  • Germantown, MD

    A very enjoyable read. A mix of the humor and wit you expect from Fforde but with a nice break from his usual series. A must read for anyone who wants post apocalyptic style and wants a bit of a twist


    I read this book in the dead of summer at the beach which made it even more fun! if you are stoned you will get the munchies for sure. more complex verbiage than i'm used to but once i caught on ....

  • Portsmouth, VA

    Funny, whimsical, wonderfully bizarre with some pointed social commentary. Perfect reading for late fall with a hot drink and a fire. It takes a few chapters to get oriented but then you’re hooked.

  • austin , TX

    A science-fiction book that made me laugh out loud! I’m not normally into sci-fi, but i loved this. My boyfriend read it after me because I kept reading short passages to him that i really enjoyed!

  • Huntsville, AL

    A strange read but one I thoroughly enjoyed. Jasper Fforde is one tricksy writer. A varied and interesting cast of characters living overwinter in what you can truly call a “sleepy” town. Read it!

  • Littleton, CO

    Slow to start, but once it picks up it's hard to put this book down. Fantastic plot points so well written, and the visuals you draw from the writing is amazing. The plot just keeps building and ends

  • Lakeview, OH

    This became my new favorite Sci-Fi novel. The world building was just enough for the imagination to fill in the blanks, and the properly disganced dangers kept me turning the page without being bored!

  • Burlington, WI

    What a bizarre and brilliant story. This is sci-fi done very well, a bit of satire on our current climate, so to speak. Plus bothersome zombie people, big pharma conspiracy, and intricate dream plots.

  • Pflugerville, TX

    This book made a great palate cleanser after a couple of very dark books - not because it was particularly light in subject matter but because the way it was presented was so absurd and funny at times

  • Seattle, WA

    Not gonna lie, the first 20 pages made me question whether I would be able to read this book, since you have to learn a whole new world. BUT I’m so glad I stuck with it. What an amazing book. 10/10

  • Mechanicsburg, PA

    The narrator assumes you live in their world so many things take time to pick up. I think it allowed me to really feel the uncertainty that Charlie was dealing with. I was figuring it all out with him

  • Valatie, NY

    Sci fi mystery genre bender with fantastical fringes. Interesting characters who are never exactly the person you expected them to be. Grab a hot toddy and curl up by the fire for this winter sleeper.

  • La Verkin, UT

    A complete work, both in body and in plot! Early Riser keeps the wheels turning whilst maintaining witty humor to break tension. And the ending was an elusively wrapped masterpiece with a bow on top.

  • Hugo, MN

    Reminded me a lot of Ready, Player One which I also loved. Jargon was a little difficult to catch onto, but such an interesting plot. Took a little time to get into it, but then couldn't put it down.

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