Book Review: Shades of Grey

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Shades of Grey Shades of Grey by
Series: Shades of Grey #1
Published by in 2009
Pages: 400

As long as anyone can remember, society has been ruled by a Colortocracy. From the underground feedpipes that keep the municipal park green to the healing hues viewed to cure illness to a social hierarchy based upon one's limited color perception, society is dominated by color. In this world, you are what you can see. Young Eddie Russett has no ambition to be anything other than a loyal drone of the Collective. With his better-than-average red perception, he could well marry Constance Oxblood and inherit the string works; he may even have enough red perception to make prefect. For Eddie, life looks colorful. Life looks good. But everything changes when he moves with his father, a respected swatchman, to East Carmine. There, he falls in love with a Grey named Jane who opens his eyes to the painful truth behind his seemingly perfect, rigidly controlled...


Finally I can give a review that’s not just listing good things! I feel like I’ve been a broken record, just finding the good stuff in the books I read.

Before I get into the stuff I didn’t like, let me just say that Jasper Fforde is one of my favorite authors. I love both his Thursday Next series and Nursery Crime series. When I heard he was writing a new novel I was really excited. Besides, the premise sounds so interesting! A dystopia based on what colors you can see? Isn’t that clever? My main problem with the novel wasn’t that it didn’t live up to my expectations – it was that it left me confused. I spent nearly the first half of the book trying to figure out what was going on, and the second half trying to catch up on everything I managed to miss while trying to figure out the first half. I didn’t like that. With someone as clever as Fforde writing, I expect some deeper meaning. Even the fluffy satires that he usually writes are written for more than just entertainment. This time I spent so much time just sorting through the plot points and rules and regulations of the colourtocracy that I never managed to even scratch that surface.

That said, I think the novel really is quite clever. Once I began to understand the colourtocracy and all its seemingly arbitrary rules, I was amazed. The mind that created this society must be absolutely genius. I would love to just meet Fforde once and sit down and have a conversation with him. I’m sure it would be fascinating. And you can tell this wasn’t just a “oh wouldn’t this be cool!” kind of idea. He must have sat for hours just working out the details.

I think in the end, the jury is still out on whether or not I like the book. I’d like to read it again. I think a second reading will give me a different perspective, and perhaps a different opinion. But for now, I’ll say if you decide to read this book, prepare to be confused.

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One Response to “Book Review: Shades of Grey”

  1. starshinedown says:

    Hi! I'm here by way of the Hop, but got distracted by this review. :)

    I'm not familiar with Jasper Fforde, and hadn't heard of him at all until a little over a year ago–he's on my list of authors to check out–but I'm not sure where to get started on his novels. Which to check out first? Which to maybe ease into once I've gotten used to his style? Any recommendations?

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