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Shades of Grey: A Novel [Paperback]

Jasper Fforde
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 1 2011
The New York Times bestseller and "a rich brew of dystopic fantasy and deadpan goofiness" (The Washington Post)

Welcome to Chromatacia, where the societal hierarchy is strictly regulated by one's limited color perception. And Eddie Russet wants to move up. But his plans to leverage his better-than-average red perception and marry into a powerful family are quickly upended. Juggling inviolable rules, sneaky Yellows, and a risky friendship with an intriguing Grey named Jane who shows Eddie that the apparent peace of his world is as much an illusion as color itself, Eddie finds he must reckon with the cruel regime behind this gaily painted façade.


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Review

The world of the near future is anything but an ashen wasteland in the impish British author’s refreshingly daft first volume of a new fantasy series.

Already cult-worshipped for his popular Thursday Next and Nursery Crimes novels (First Among Sequels, 2007, etc.) Fforde is something like a contemporary Lewis Carroll or Edward Lear. He’s a shameless punster with a demonic flair for groan-worthy parodies and lampoons, and it’s just too much bother to try to resist his greased-pig narratives. In this one, which does take place in a possibly post-apocalyptic world, a repressive Colortocracy ranks and separates citizens according to their ability to perceive particular colors. For example, haughty Greens and dictatorial Yellows (“Gamboges”) deem Red-ness hopelessly lower class. It’s as if 1984 were ruled by Coco Chanel. Our hero, Eddie Russett (a Red, naturally), is an affable young man who hangs out with his father Holden (a healer known as a swatchman), killing time until his arranged marriage to fellow Red Constance Oxblood. But when son and father resettle in the odd little hamlet of East Carmine, the lad’s eyes are opened to a confusion of standards and mores, and the realities of sociopolitical unrest. While serving his punishment for a school prank by compiling a “chair census,” Eddie visits fascinating new places, enjoys the wonders of the UnLibrary and the organized worship of Oz, and decides that conscientious resistance to entrenched authority probably won’t bring about the ultimate ecological catastrophe—Mildew. He’s a little less sure about his wavering infatuation with Jane, a militant, pissed-off Grey (they’re the proles) who rather enjoys abusing him. Eventually, the best and brightest prosper, while characters of another color end up in the relational red (so to speak).

All this is serenely silly, but to dispel a black mood and chase away the blues, this witty novel offers an eye-popping spectrum of remedies. A grateful hue and cry (as well as sequels) may be anticipated.—STARRED Kirkus

In Eddie Russett’s world, color is destiny. A person’s perception of color, once tested, determines their rank in the Colortocracy, with primes ruling “bastard” colors and everyone lording it over the prole-like grays. No one can see more than their own color, and no one knows why—but there are many unknowns ever since Something Happened, followed by the deFacting and successive Great Leaps Backward. Due to an infraction against the Collective’s rule-bound bureaucracy, Eddie is sent to East Carmine, in the Outer Fringes, where manners are shockingly poor, to conduct a month-long chair census. In short order, he falls in love, runs afoul of the local prefects, learns a terrible secret, and is eaten by a carnivorous tree. This series starter combines the dire warnings of Brave New World and 1984 with the deevolutionary visions of A Canticle for Leibowitz and Riddley Walker, but, Fforde being Fforde, his dystopia includes an abundance of tea shops and a severe shortage of jam varieties. It’s all brilliantly original. If his complex worldbuilding sometimes slows the plot and the balance of silly and serious is uneasy, we’re still completely won over. In our own willful myopia, we sorely need the laughs.—STARRED Booklist
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Jasper Fforde traded a varied career in the film industry for staring vacantly out of the window and arranging words on a page. He lives and writes in Wales. The Eyre Affair was his first novel in the bestselling "Thursday Next" series. He is also the author of the "Nursery Crime" series.


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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Fun! Feb. 8 2010
By Pablo
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this latest offering from Mr. Fforde. While I don't consider this his best work, The Fourth Bear holds this honour, it's still a very enjoyable and fun read. I never once felt the book dragged or was a challenge to read. If you've read Fford before you know his books are best described as children's book for adults. This again delivers in the thought provoking yet fun genre he seems to have mastered. While I won't give away the plot or any further details I will simply state, "if you're a fan of Fford this book won't disappoint. If you're not a fan...what's wrong with you. If you've never read Fforde before, there's never a better time to start than now." Enjoy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you - arrived in great condition May 30 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Great condition. Thanks. This is a hilarious book and a recommended read, can't wait for the prequel/sequel one of these days.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Prefection! Jan. 7 2014
By ally
Format:Kindle Edition
In a world where colour hierarchy means everything, you better hope your hue is prefect.

This book has changed all previous opinions I had on what a brilliant book should be. It was simply everything I want in a book. A unique world, fun character perspectives, brilliant & quirky writing, it made me laugh and I could not put it down.
I've spent hours after thinking and trying to imagine myself in a world where I could only see 24% red or 72% yellow.
I found this book by chance and after finishing it I discovered this is only book one in a trilogy. Thank God for that because after finishing I was excited, but also disappointed that the adventure was over. I will re-read and then re-re-read and then re-re-re... you get the point, this book... and I cannot wait for the next one.

Favorite Quote:
"The cucumber and the tomato are both fruit; the avocado is a nut. To assist with the dietary requirements of vegetarians on the first Tuesday of the month a chicken is officially a vegetable."
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book in the Fforde style March 10 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Since I really like all of this author's writing so far. I was pleased to see a potentially new world storyline. Perhaps a little more intense, but still fun to follow.

A good read and a good story. The comedy style suits me, and all I can say is read this book.

You will enjoy it -- especially if you like his other works
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4.0 out of 5 stars A must read Feb. 11 2013
By Camila
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Never read something as unique as this book. Very clever and a page turner. You just want to know more and more about the characters and this world of colors and rules.
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