Book Reviews: Shades of Grey

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Shades of Grey
The Road to High Saffron
by Jasper Fforde

In this dystopian future world, color equals status. The Colortocracy is based not on skin tones, but instead on what shades of red, blue, purple, yellow, etc. that an individual can see. People are judged by what color they can perceive and in what saturation.

Fforde has created a complicated and fascinated society. Instead of money, people have merits. When they become difficult they are sent to Reboot to be reprogrammed to behave better. All of this takes place after “The Something That Happened,” though no one knows what exactly that was. The new world is set up with a strict rule structure that must be blindly adhered to. Here’s a great example, for years parents follow the rule “Every child should receive a glass of milk and a smack in the afternoon.” Finally someone realizes that this is simply a typo and should be “snack.” After loads of paperwork and the careful navigation of loopholes the rule was changed.

The book, the first in a series, follows Eddie Russet and his father (a Chromaticologist, who heals people of their maladies using color swatches). They travel to East Carmine, far from the busy city they’re used to. There they meet a “colorful” cast of characters including the prickly Jane Grey and the nonexistent Apocryphal man.

Just like Fforde’s Thursday Next series, the reader must be willing to suspend reality and be swept along in the flood of his intellectual imagination. His writing is clever and provides a constant stream of witty twists and dialogue. If you’ve read his work before and loved it, this is more of the same, unique, hilarious and wonderful. If you haven’t liked his writing in the past, this won’t change that. I am firmly in the loved it camp and will continue to read everything he writes.


Sandy Nawrot said...

ZOMG!!! I want to send my kids to Reboot! We actually enjoy a little dystopian in our house, but must they ALL be a series??

Kals said...

Great review! I've been looking forward to reading this book for ages and I really must get to it soon. Fforde is amazing, isn't he? :)

Vaishnavi said...

Lovely review! I have heard wonderful things about the Thursday Next series, going to read some Fforde as soon as possible.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Sandy - I know, there are a lot of dystopian series. Apparently the next book won't be out for a few years though, so you've got awhile to read the first one.

Kals - He really is. People either love him or they don't, but I'm firmly in the love camp.

Vaishnavi - The Eyre Affair (the first Thursday Next book) is a great introduction to his writing. I would start there.

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

I don't think I'm ready to try Fforde after the major disappointment with The Eyre Affair. It's at the top of my books-everyone-loves-that-I-hate list!

Jenners said...

This is one author I'm going to try this year based on all the raves I've read about in the book blogging world. This book sounds fantastic ... I love the whole snack/smack thing. Thanks.

Rebecca Chapman said...

Fabulous fabulous fabulous. I am soon to start the final in the Thursday Next series and then I will move onto this one. Can't wait :-)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Alexandra - With some authors I would suggest trying a different book, but Fforde has a very distinct style. If it doesn't click the first time around, it probably won't ever click. I definitely have authors like that.

Jenners - I can't wait to hear your thoughts. I think he'll be one you enjoy.

Becky - I can't wait for the final Thursday book to come out this year!