“Shades of Grey (Shades of Grey #1)” by Jasper Fforde
Genre: Adult Fiction, Dystopia
Summary from Goodreads:
Part social satire, part romance, part revolutionary thriller, Shades of Grey tells of a battle against overwhelming odds. In a society where the ability to see the higher end of the color spectrum denotes a better social standing, Eddie Russet belongs to the low-level House of Red and can see his own color—but no other. The sky, the grass, and everything in between are all just shades of grey, and must be colorized by artificial means.
Eddie’s world wasn’t always like this. There’s evidence of a never-discussed disaster and now, many years later, technology is poor, news sporadic, the notion of change abhorrent, and nighttime is terrifying: no one can see in the dark. Everyone abides by a bizarre regime of rules and regulations, a system of merits and demerits, where punishment can result in permanent expulsion.
Eddie, who works for the Color Control Agency, might well have lived out his rose-tinted life without a hitch. But that changes when he becomes smitten with Jane, a Grey Nightseer from the dark, unlit side of the village. She shows Eddie that all is not well with the world he thinks is just and good. Together, they engage in dangerous revolutionary talk.
Stunningly imaginative, very funny, tightly plotted, and with sly satirical digs at our own society, this novel is for those who loved Thursday Next but want to be transported somewhere equally wild, only darker; a world where the black and white of moral standpoints have been reduced to shades of grey
Fascinating, thorough world building. I found the story could be confusing at times. It is about social rank being based on the color you can see. How would that not be confusing? As you read, things started to make sense. Fforde did a really nice job of painting this world. You’d learn a new thing or two and the story would continue. That gave you time to process the information. Then you’d learn something new and the process would repeat itself. No infodumping here!
Pacing was odd. I enjoyed the story but it felt like I was trudging through the first ~75% of the book. The last bit really picked up. The humor and silliness made the story very palatable. I didn’t laugh out loud at the story but I did chuckle at the absurdity of the world and their rules.
This was a pretty solid dystopia because the rules were laid out and made sense. Your rank is based on the color you see. Everything in your life is based around that fact. Sure there weren’t some answered questions (like why can’t you see other colors and what happened ‘before’?) but there weren’t weird holes in logic that I could see.
It was interesting reading an adult dystopia compared to a YA dystopia. The adult one was more cohesive storyline but made for a bit more difficult reading. YA dystopias are faster paced but can have logic holes.
Fforde has won me over! This just confirms I really do need to try his other books. They all sound so interesting!
The bottom line? It’s a different type of dystopia but a pretty enjoyable one!