Shades of Grey takes place in the dystopian world where colours rule. People are segregated according to what colours they could see and their hierarchy is based on that. For one inhabitant, Eddie Russet, the world is about to turn upside down when he travels to East Carmine and he meets a Grey named Jane. He begins to question why things are run as they are and that doesn't sit well with those who hold the power.
I don't read a lot of dystopias, so I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I really loved it! It was quirky and so much fun to read. The rules in this world were definitely absurd and generally there was a whole lot of silliness going on. For instance, instead of progress they had "leap backs", where certain inventions/tools/items were no longer supposed to be used. Other examples: Rule "2.3.06.02.087: Unnecessary sharpening of pencils constitutes a waste of public resources, and will be punished as appropriate" (page 156), Rule "220.127.116.11.025: 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" (page 46). Silly, right?
It was such an interesting read, because even though that world was very different, it was vaguely familiar, too. There were lots of references with slight and not-so-slight changes that I recognized, but there was an equal number that were elusive to me....on the tip of my tongue, but didn't quite make it to my brain. It was all good.
I'm sure there were some deep underlying themes running throughout the book about society and it's rules, but I don't analyse books that deeply. I'll leave that to the literary folks.
Here are a few of my favourite quotes from the book:
...information can liberate but also imprisonate.(page 210)
First, time spent on reconnaissance is never wasted. Second, almost anything can be improved with the addition of bacon. And finally, there is no problem on earth that can't be ameliorated by a hot bath and a cup of tea. (page 211)
Prisons are still with us...only the walls are constructed of fear, taboo, and the unknown. (page 356)Highly recommended. I can't say enough about how much I enjoyed this one. I'll definitely be keeping my eye out for the next books in the series. In the meantime, I have a few of his other books on my to-be-read shelf to keep me busy.
If you liked this book, you might also enjoy Tourquai by Tim Davys (my review). It's a very different book from this one, but has some of the absurd qualities.
For more information about this book, please visit Penguin'swebsite.
For more information about the author, his other books, and call kinds of craziness, please visit Jasper Fforde's website.
I'd like to thank those nice people at Penguin for this review copy.
Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde, Viking (Penguin), ©2010. ISBN 9780670019632(Advance Uncorrected Proof), 389p.