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Shades of Grey: A Novel Paperback – March 1, 2011
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Did you understand that? You would if you were Eddie Russett, the 20-year-old, first-person narrator of Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron. Eddie knows that the above is one of Munsell's innumerable Rules. "The Word of Munsell was the Rules, and the Rules were the Word of Munsell. They regulated everything we did, and had brought peace to the Collective for nearly four centuries. They were sometimes very odd indeed: The banning of the number that lay between 72 and 74 was a case in point, and no one had ever fully explained why it was forbidden to count sheep, make any new spoons or use acronyms. But they were the Rules..." Not surprisingly, this is a society that has embraced "loopholery" enthusiastically.
Eddie's society is a Colortocracy, where social status isn't determined by merit or by birth, it's determined by which color(s) of the spectrum you can see, and how much of them. Eddie's a Red, which is next to lowest on the totem pole. Oranges are higher than Reds, Yellows higher than Oranges, and so on. The only ones lower than Reds are the Greys, or achromatics. They can't see any color at all. They're the unappreciated workers of this society.
In Shades of Grey, Jasper Fforde has created a richly imagined future that revolves entirely around color, and the perception of it. Explains Eddie, "No one could cheat the Colorman and the color test. What you got was what you were, forever. Your life, career and social standing decided right there and then, and all worrisome life uncertainties eradicated forever.Read more ›
At last, we have Shades of Grey, and it's both like and unlike anything Fforde has published before. Like, because it gives us a richly imagined world with absurd-sounding details, yet it all hangs together. Unlike, because Shades of Grey is firmly on the side of science fiction whereas his other books I'd call fantasy.
It is some unspecified time in the future. An "Epiphany" occurred some hundreds of years in the past - nobody knows what it was - that changed the world. Most people can see only one shade of color - the higher up the spectrum you can see, the higher your social status. Those who can't see colors at all are Greys and are generally a servant class, but not entirely. It is possible to move up and down the social strata through marriage, and children are reclassified by a color test given when they are 20.
We meet our hero, Eddie Russett, a Red, as he is being digested by a carnivorous tree, into which he was thrown by Jane, the Grey woman who has turned his life upside down. I spent a large part of the book wondering how this would be resolved, since Eddie is narrating the story and this implies he somehow moved past this fate. We shall see....
As Eddie learns more about how his society works, he has more questions. This does not endear him to the community leaders, since their society is rigidly structured according to the rules laid down by "Munsell" some centuries past.Read more ›
I have been looking forward to Shades of Grey ever since the teaser went up on Fforde's website. Unfortunately, the publication date was released, delayed, delayed again, and then finally established (of course, no matter when the release date is, it is always too far away). Lucky for me, the appearance of an advanced reader's copy at the bookstore I work at meant no more waiting.
For those of you unfamiliar with Fforde's work, he has written the Thursday Next series, the Nursery Crimes series, and now, Shades of Grey (the first in a trilogy). If you haven't read Fforde before, start with the Thursday Next novels, move to Nursery Crime, an then pick up the newest. While Thursday Next is certainly my favorite, Fforde's bizarre worlds and witty British humor are enjoyable in each of his series. Enough of this chatter- on to Shades of Grey.
Shades of Grey starts off slowly. Fforde's new world is complex and confusing and it takes a good quarter of the book to establish an understanding of world and how it works. This initial section sets up the entirety of the book and if you hang in there, you will be rewarded. Fforde's new world is wonderful; it has amazing potential which I hope will be reached in the sequels now that the whole messy business of explaining things is over.
The protagonist, Eddie Russett, is a fine, upstanding young man who truly wants the best for people.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Do not confuse this with the other shades of gray. This is a futuristic society novel that is interesting and creative. A book you won't forget.Published 14 days ago by Marijo
If Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut had a baby and he grew up to write even more snarky cultural critique. Read morePublished 22 days ago by Dawn Sampson Beresford
one of my favorite books!
i bought copies for all of my friends this year.
waiting as patiently as possible for another instalment.
Amazing world building, but a bit of a slow story but still fascinating most of characters personalities are boring but in a way that may also be apart of the story linePublished 1 month ago by khadijah wilson
Please don't confuse this with 50 Shades of Grey. This book is wonderful; I hope the writer is planning to write another book to follow this.Published 1 month ago by Amy C
Jasper Fforde has an incredibly inventive mind. This story introduces a fascinating alternative reality.Published 2 months ago by gailengineer
Wasn't my favorite Fforde book. Was difficult to get into.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
In this book we get a glance at a future where color is what determines who and what you are and who you become. Read morePublished 2 months ago by James litchen