The world building here is a treat. Although I can’t quite fathom how the human race has developed to such a point that an individual’s perception of color or lack thereof is the most important component in his or her identity, the concept itself is intriguing. Your perception of a color – and how much you perceive – determines your social rank, your marriage prospects, and your employment opportunities. Purples are highest, Greys are lowest. And yet, all members of the collective can be treated for any illness by being shown the right combination of color swatches. All seem to be affected by the drug-like effects of certain shades of green, and the only deadly disease – which kills any and all colors equally - is The Mildew.
The tonality of the story is unusual for a dystopia. While there are quite clearly darker aspects of this society, such as institutionalized mercy killings and the systematic weeding out of undesirables, Fforde uses his trademark satirical wit to lighten up the atmosphere. It’s probably the only time I laughed multiple times while reading something from this genre.
The story is told from the first person POV of Eddie Russet, so we only know as much as he knows. This means the story can be kind of confusing in the beginning, but the patient reader will be greatly rewarded by a rich story, quirky characters, and a fascinating vision of a future world.
Two sequels are planned: SHADES OF GREY 2: PAINTING BY NUMBERS and SHADES OF GREY 3: THE GORDINI PROTOCOLS. Can’t wait!
SHADES OF GREY 1: THE ROAD TO HIGH SAFFRON is available in hardcover now. Find out more about it at the author’s website.
My rating: 5 Zombie Chickens - The Ultimate Dystopian Experience
I’ll have an interview with Jasper Fforde and a book giveaway later in the month so be on the lookout for that!