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Throwback Review: Shades of Grey

Throwback review from May 2015!

Shades of Grey is a dystopian satire novel by Jasper Fforde.

In a world where color perception determines the hierarchy of a Colortocracy society, what you can see is everything.

That’s why Eddie Russet is trying to secure a marriage into the powerful Oxblood family to combine his better-than-average Red perception to their aristocratic name – yet those plans are upended when he and his father are sent to the fringe town East Carmine.

Manners, rules and accepted mores in the Chromatacia seem a bit more lax in East Carmine – dangerously so. Beyond the normal fear of lethal swans and lightening, the sneaky Yellows seem sneakier than ever, the deMauve’s are angling to marry their horrid Violet to Eddie and he’s finding himself fascinated by a Grey named Jane.

Riskiest of all is the knowledge Eddie begins to gather in East Carmine – truths behind the ordered, peaceful, rule-abiding Colortocracy that shed light on its deceptions…

And it’s that innate inquisitiveness that could lead him away from a life of conformity – of career and spouse – and into trouble.

Jasper Fforde has to be one of the most imaginative authors out there right now. Seriously, what a unique, wonderfully bizarre concept!

We are introduced to a futuristic world in which everyone is, essentially, color blind. What they can see leads to where they are ranked in society – who they can marry, what jobs they can do, etc. Education, preference and love have nothing to do with it.

Plus, there is the abundance of RULES. Rules ranging from the illegality of manufacturing spoons (therefore making all spoons currently in existence a high-value, high-demand item) to the time of day you are allowed to drink Ovaltine.

Eddie is, of course, a fully immersed member of this society and we get to watch him go from embracing and believing in it to beginning to question it. He’s a likable character that cannot seem to help his curiosity, yet fears it as well.

Characters in Shades of Grey have, dare I say, colorful personalities! They burst from the pages with snappy dialogue and make the wacky world around them easier to accept – though the intricacies of Chromatacia are still confusing at times.

I loved it. It’s so absolutely different in every way. It’s hilarious, insightful, suspenseful and even a little romantic. There are supposed to be two more books – rounding out a trilogy – yet it has been six years since the release of Shades of Grey.

That’s okay. I will be patient. I am immensely interested in where this story will go – and willing to wait as long as it takes!

In the meantime, Jasper Fforde’s other novels will continue to sweep me away into a level of intelligent creativity that is not so easily found in today’s literature.

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