Friday, July 11, 2014

"Shades of Grey" by Jasper Fforde

Some of you, having read the book title at the head of this post, may have been horribly aghast that someone whose blog you read would ever read That Book.  But then you looked at the author name, and then you saw the book cover image, and by now you've realized that I did not read That Book.  I read this book, an off-beat, speculative fiction kind of novel that defies easy description.

Shades of Grey takes place several centuries in the future, in a strange world few but Fforde could have imagined.  There are flocks of killer swans.  Everyone is terrified of the dark, because very few people can see in it.  Making new spoons is illegal.  And all of society is ordered according to a hierarchy of how much of what color you can see.  People can only see one color, or no color at all, and how much color you can see determines how important you are.

Some kind of cataclysmic event (referred to as The Something That Happened, and never explained in the book) is responsible for changing an advanced version of our world into this strange new one.  Weirdness and mysteries abound, and Eddie Russett, a young Red too curious for his own good, slowly figures some of them out.  He also falls in love with a violent Grey named Jane and gets eaten by a tree. 

By this point, you already know whether or not you'd like this book -- those last two paragraphs have made you either intrigued or annoyed.  So I'm not gong to make any recommendations here.  This was not my favorite Jasper Fforde book, but it wasn't my least-favorite either.  Fforde is clearly making a statement about the arbitrary hierarchies of today's world and the way we treat nonconformists, and probably several other points that I was too dizzied by his wackiness to catch.  In the end, I felt like it was too silly to be a serious novel, and too serious to be a silly novel.  Still, it was a fun read.

Particularly Good Bits:

I didn't set out to discover a truth.  I was actually sent to the Outer Fringes to conduct a chair census and learn some humility.  But the truth inevitably found me, as important truths often do, like a lost thought in need of a mind (p. 1).

I returned home, made sure Jane wasn't in the house, carefully filed the telegram in my valise and then hid under the bed for half an hour before making my way down to the sports fields (p. 254).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG-13 for adult dialog and situations (sex is always called "you know," but you know what "you know" stands for).

This is my ninth book read and reviewed for the I Love Library Books challenge.


  1. Haha, your review is great. Just what I would write reviewing a Fforde novel; you just can't say anything really objective about it!

    1. Thanks! Yes, it's hard to be concise when discussing his books -- you either have to explain evvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvverything or just say, "It's weird."


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