Shades of Grey: A Novel Paperback – Mar 1 2011
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The world of the near future is anything but an ashen wasteland in theimpish British author’s refreshingly daft first volume of a new fantasyseries.
Already cult-worshipped for his popular Thursday Next and NurseryCrimes novels (First Among Sequels, 2007, etc.) Fforde is somethinglike a contemporary Lewis Carroll or Edward Lear. He’s a shamelesspunster with a demonic flair for groan-worthy parodies and lampoons,and it’s just too much bother to try to resist his greased-pignarratives. In this one, which does take place in a possiblypost-apocalyptic world, a repressive Colortocracy ranks and separatescitizens according to their ability to perceive particular colors. Forexample, haughty Greens and dictatorial Yellows (“Gamboges”) deemRed-ness hopelessly lower class. It’s as if 1984 were ruled by CocoChanel. Our hero, Eddie Russett (a Red, naturally), is an affable youngman who hangs out with his father Holden (a healer known as aswatchman), killing time until his arranged marriage to fellow RedConstance Oxblood. But when son and father resettle in the odd littlehamlet of East Carmine, the lad’s eyes are opened to a confusion ofstandards and mores, and the realities of sociopolitical unrest. Whileserving his punishment for a school prank by compiling a “chaircensus,” Eddie visits fascinating new places, enjoys the wonders of theUnLibrary and the organized worship of Oz, and decides thatconscientious resistance to entrenched authority probably won’t bringabout the ultimate ecological catastrophe—Mildew. He’s a little lesssure about his wavering infatuation with Jane, a militant, pissed-offGrey (they’re the proles) who rather enjoys abusing him. Eventually,the best and brightest prosper, while characters of another color endup in the relational red (so to speak).
All this is serenely silly, but to dispel a black mood and chase awaythe blues, this witty novel offers an eye-popping spectrum of remedies.A grateful hue and cry (as well as sequels) may be anticipated.—STARREDKirkus
In Eddie Russett’s world, color is destiny. A person’s perception ofcolor, once tested, determines their rank in the Colortocracy, withprimes ruling “bastard” colors and everyone lording it over theprole-like grays. No one can see more than their own color, and no oneknows why—but there are many unknowns ever since Something Happened,followed by the deFacting and successive Great Leaps Backward. Due toan infraction against the Collective’s rule-bound bureaucracy, Eddie issent to East Carmine, in the Outer Fringes, where manners areshockingly poor, to conduct a month-long chair census. In short order,he falls in love, runs afoul of the local prefects, learns a terriblesecret, and is eaten by a carnivorous tree. This series startercombines the dire warnings of Brave New World and 1984 with thedeevolutionary visions of A Canticle for Leibowitz and Riddley Walker,but, Fforde being Fforde, his dystopia includes an abundance of teashops and a severe shortage of jam varieties. It’s all brilliantlyoriginal. If his complex worldbuilding sometimes slows the plot and thebalance of silly and serious is uneasy, we’re still completely wonover. In our own willful myopia, we sorely need the laughs.—STARRED Booklist
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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Summary: I don't really feel capable of doing this justice but I'll make an attempt. This is a satirical dystopian novel. Set 500 years in the future after Something Happened, this new world is ruled by a Colortocracy. People are born being able to see only one colour or perhaps a mixture of primary colours thus making greens, oranges, etc. Those at the top of the class system are Purples and those at the bottom are Greys, the working class who are colourless. Increasing one's family's colour heritage is of utmost importance and marriages are arranged to produce children who will climb further up the class system. It is here we find Eddie Russet, half promised to marry into the Oxblood family, who finds himself wearing a humility badge, sent to the Outer Fringes, a town called East Carmine, to conduct a chair census supposedly because of a prank he pulled but in reality because he asks too many questions and shows too much curiosity, a dangerous quality in this society. But it is in East Carmine that he realizes the banality of the heavily rule dependent government and the oppressiveness that is wrought upon society. He meets Jane, a Grey revolutionary, who he loves at first sight and while her ideas seem fanatical at first, the more he experiences the more he starts to agree with her.
Comments: This was a fabulous book. Fforde has created an utterly unique and fascinating dystopian society that is believable but is full of satirical comments that reflect upon our own society that one can take the story seriously and with tongue in cheek at the same time.Read more ›
Months before he is to take the 'Ishihara' and determine his colour competency, Eddie Russett is sent with his father, a Swatchman(health practitioner) to conduct a chair survey in East Carmine, a distant, rural location. He has started to question his life and the way things are done and 'head office' doesn't want anyone to upset the rules of the collective. What could go wrong by sending him to a remote location with his father to watch over him?
If he hadn't met Jane, a Grey, who appears to flaunt every rule she comes up against he might have got along just fine. Unfortunately Eddie is instantly attracted to Jane and that spells trouble for him.
I was fascinated by this book. In fact, I was distracted from the story a few times by thinking about the possibilities of this world. What would it be like to one see in one colour, for Eddie, he only sees red but lots of red. Mr. Fforde has devised a complex world that follows the rules of Munsell including the banning of the number that occurs between 72 and 74, being forbidden to count sheep, and not making new spoons. The idea of the Apocryphal man, who was treated as invisible, was most intriguing. I don't think that I could ignore a person who walked into my house just because some rule defined that he didn't exist.
While this is a fanciful world it does bear close resemblance to ours with a Yellow family of bullies and various political intrigues/conspiracies. I can't wait for the next book in this 3 book series.
Only ForwardThe Island Of The Colorblind
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.
"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."
Most recent customer reviews
I loved this book! However if I had known that I would love it this much and if I had known the sequels were not out yet I may have waited. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Carrie Lee Pukin
The story starts rather slowly, but the characterization is terrific, the plot extremely interesting, and from about the middle, the tension is retained all the way to the end. Read morePublished 10 months ago by hen3ry
Great condition. Thanks. This is a hilarious book and a recommended read, can't wait for the prequel/sequel one of these days.Published 20 months ago by Nicole Shanowsky
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. Read morePublished on March 10 2013 by paultbear
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.Published on Feb. 11 2013 by Camila
Shades of Grey is set after "the something that happened" and portrays a society rather different from the one we live in. Read morePublished on June 30 2012 by Neko
I loved all previous books of Jasper Frorde-- he seemed to be improving in every one: They moved, they crackled, they relied on action, dialogue, scenes. Read morePublished on Jan. 19 2010 by Avner Mandelman