Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Book Review: Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

Welcome to Chromatacia – where you are what you see. Teen Eddie Russet is a red, pretty low on in the social hierarchy, but because his red perception is very high, his future seems bright. That is until he relocates with his father to the backwater village of East Carmine and has to contend with all sorts of weirdness including a Grey named Jane who is very rude and boldly defiant of the rules created by what she claims is a cruel regime that needs to be stopped. Will Eddie continue to conform to his strict society, or will his instinctive curiosity get the better of him?

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!

27 comments:

Chris said...

So glad you liked it! I really enjoyed it and can't wait for the next one. He left us with a lot of questions.

Steph said...

I'm a huge Jasper Fforde fan, so I can't even pretend to be objective, but I really loved this book. I thought it was a big departure from his other books, and I really appreciated the darker tone (but still with bits of sunny humor!).

I got a chance to interview Fforde a few months ago, so I'm really looking forward to your own interview!

Becky said...

Ooh what an interesting premise for a dystopia. I'm wondering if this is adult or YA?

Lenore said...

Chris - I would've kept reading the 2nd and 3rd if they'd been available, but then again, I am satisfied now with the helping I've been given. I don't need to dig through Mr. Fforde's trash or anything! (Not like I am doing with Ms. Collins, LOL!)

Steph - Ooh! Going to look up your interview. Thanks for the tip.

Becky - Though Russet is a teen, this is marketed as adult. It feels adult as well - albeit your wacky uncle type of adult and not some middle aged banker type.

Sadako said...

Ooh. The whole dystopia/classification of people reminds me of the Giver, which I loved. Looks great.

Serena said...

I have not read this author yet, but I do have one of his other books on the shelf.

Ladytink_534 said...

I really want to try Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series.

bermudaonion said...

I read one Jasper Fforde book years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I'm not sure why I haven't read more. You lucky duck - getting to interview him!

Staci said...

I have this one but I gave it to a teen to read and review for me.

S. Krishna said...

This sounds sooo good, I can't wait to read it!

Zibilee said...

I am so excited about this book and can't wait to read it! I have read other great reviews of it (including Steph's) and think that this book sounds like a side of Fforde that I would really like to explore. I am glad that you loved it and rated it so highly! This one is already on my wish list. Great review!

Jen Robinson said...

This, naturally, is on my list. I'm glad to hear that it passes muster with you. That makes me want to read it that much more.

Kristen M. said...

FYI - I skipped the whole middle of your review because I really want to go into this book knowing nothing. But now I know that you liked it and I'm fairly certain that I will too. Maybe I'll come back and discuss in a bit after I read it!

I will be anxiously awaiting the giveaway. I adore Fforde.

Lorin said...

Looking forward to the interview!

Miss Eliza said...

So glad you loved the book. I did as well, it was also fun talking with Jasper, hope your interview goes well!

Jodie said...

Didn't realise it would be a series. Nursery crimes first I think, but then maybe this one.

allisonmariecat said...

I've been waiting to read your review of this book! I loved it, and I'm not normally a dystopia fan. Since I know you are, I was really interested to hear whether or not you liked it (wondering if it was a bad dystopia but a good book).

Looking forward to your author interview.

Kailana said...

I have this book on hold on the library. I am just waiting my turn. :)

Andi said...

This book didn't sound at all appealing to me in the beginning, but I keep seeing such wonderful reviews. I guess I'm gonna have to rethink my assumptions!

stacybuckeye said...

I don't know why I haven't read Fforde yet. Every time I read a review I tell myself I need to find one of his books. Thanks for the review of this one, sounds good.

Lisa said...

I really like Jasper Fforde but I was tired of the Tuesday Next series - this one looks like a great replacement!

Jenny said...

So many good reviews of this! I've been a bit reluctant to read his books, because my sister whose reading tastes are a lot like mine didn't care for The Eyre Affair. This sounds like a good alternative!

reviewsbylola said...

I want to read this one so badly, especially after reading your review!

kay - Infinite Shelf said...

I think the concept of this book is relly intriguing! I've never read Fforde but I heard a lot of good about his books, and I really want to try this one.

Heather Zundel said...

You are interviewing Jasper Fforde? I am so there! And humor and dystopian? Now there's a mix I've got to try out.

Andrea said...

I really loved this book. The world building and details are so specific. Great review!

Jennifer said...

I found the first two thirds or so of the book to be rather... shall we say difficult to get through? But the last third was very hard to put down as all the arduous details finally came to something. I haven't read Fforde before, so I don't know what his timing is usually like, but if I hadn't received this as a gift from someone, I never would have finished it. But out of polite obligation, I persevered, only to find that now I must must MUST read the sequels.