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Shades of Grey: A Novel Paperback – Mar 1 2011

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Shades of Grey: A Novel + The Woman Who Died a Lot: A Thursday Next Novel + One of Our Thursdays Is Missing: A Thursday Next Novel
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (March 1 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143118587
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143118589
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.8 x 19.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 281 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #150,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Nicola Mansfield HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Jan. 24 2010
Format: Hardcover
Reason for Reading: I haven't read Jasper Fforde before. I really want to but just never find the time to start his Thursday Next series so I jumped at the chance to get in at the beginning with a new series.

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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Heather Pearson TOP 500 REVIEWER on Jan. 11 2010
Format: Hardcover
Imagine a world where your ability to see colour is your most valuable asset and your next most valuable is your spoon. Jasper Fforde has created such a place in his latest novel.
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
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Pablo on Feb. 8 2010
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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By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Jan. 5 2010
Format: Hardcover
Far in the future -- after Something Happened -- the world has become a literal Chromatocracy. It's a fascist state in which everything about your life is determined by what colors you can SEE.

That's the unconventional postapocalyptic setting for Jasper Fforde's "Shades of Grey," a very eccentric little book about a guy who discovers that there's more to life than your hue rating and following the Rules. It's a bit hard to get into, but just think of it this way -- if Terry Pratchett had written a more comic version of "1984," and decided to have his narrator spend the book being eaten by a tree, it would be this book.

Eddie Russet seems to have a good life -- he's semi-engaged to string heiress Constance Oxblood, he's hoping to improve queues, and he's going to score well on the Ishihara color test. But after a prank gone wrong, he finds himself temporarily exiled to the Outer Fringes to count chairs. Not only does he discover that the Rules are more relaxed out there, but he encounters Jane. Aside from having a retroussé nose, Jane is everything he's been raised to abhor: rude, violent, and openly defiant of their rigid society despite being Grey.

But of course, our naive hero (who sometimes tends to bumble into the wrong places at the wrong times) begins to question everything in his world -- especially since one local resident just may have been murdered. As Eddie investigates, he discovers that there are a lot of other questions about his world that need answering: just what was the Something that Happened? What is Reboot? Why is spoon manufacturing forbidden? And will he be trapped in matrimony to the horrible Violet DeMauve?

For the record, the world of "Shades of Grey" is definitely ours... albeit after Something Happened.
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