Shades of Grey
- Japser Fforde
Publisher: UK - Hodder Paperbacks
Hundreds of years in the future, after the Something that Happened, the world is an alarmingly different place. Life is lived according to The Rulebook and social hierarchy is determined by your perception of colour. Eddie Russett is an above average Red who dreams of moving up the ladder by marriage to Constance Oxblood. Until he is sent to the Outer Fringes where he meets Jane – a lowly Grey with an uncontrollable temper and a desire to see him killed. For Eddie, it’s love at first sight. But his infatuation will lead him to discover that all is not as it seems in a world where everything that looks black and white is really shades of grey . . .
Shades of Grey is a departure from the relatively light books of the Nursery Crimes unit and Thursday Next’s literature adventures. Usually Jasper Ffrode books are self-reverential, fun and very British reads and while this keeps elements of all there is a much more serious element to this novel. Set in a future where society is based on which colour of the spectrum you can see, spoon production is banned and night is a terrifying time when everyone is blind. Eddie Russet has been set to edges of the civilized world as punishment for trying to improve queuing and ends up discovering that his world doesn’t run by the same rules as he thought...
At first it is difficult to understand Eddie’s world as it is so different from ours, but it doesn’t take long to relax into and let all the little details which might seem surreal to us, but are everyday to the characters build a picture of their society. From giving feedback to everyone, the demand for spoons and yes, the lack natural colour build together to create a very different dystopian world to the one we usually think off. While the comedy usually comes the differences between our world and Eddie’s, there is a very strong mystery running through as well as a romance between two very different and strong people and by the end I was desperate to know what happens next to Eddie.
There is more inventiveness in one page of Jasper Fforde’s book than in a whole series of other authors, but he doesn’t lose touch of either character or plot. It was a fantastic read that not only is enjoyable but also thought provoking. It was like eating a giant ice cream sundae with layers of fruit, cream, nuts and chocolate – and when I finished I was left wanting more!
Highly recommended for fans of Thursday Next and Maria V Snyder’s Inside Out series. 9 out of 10.