Part social satire, part romance, part revolutionary thriller, "Shades of Grey" tells of a battle against overwhelming odds.Read more...
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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.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 39.
- Review Date: 2009-11-23
- Reviewer: Staff
This inventive fantasy from bestseller Fforde (The Eyre Affair) imagines a screwball future in which social castes and protocols are rigidly defined by acuteness of personal color perception. Centuries after the cryptically cataclysmic “Something That Happened,” a “Colortocracy,” founded on the inflexible absolutes of the chromatic scale, rules the world. Amiable Eddie Russett, a young Red, is looking forward to marrying a notch up on the palette and settling down to a complacent bourgeois life. But after meeting Jane G-23, a rebellious working-class Grey, and a discredited, “invisible” historian known as the Apocryphal man, Eddie finds himself questioning the hitherto sacred foundations of the status quo. En route to finding out what turned things topsy-turvy, Eddie navigates a vividly imagined landscape whose every facet is steeped in the author's remarkably detailed color scheme. Sometimes, though, it's hard to see the story for the chromotechnics. 10-city author tour. (Jan.)
Beyond black and white
Imagine a distant future in which the job you hold and your social position—not to mention who you can marry—depend critically on the colors you are able to see. Such is the world in which Eddie Russet finds himself in Jasper Fforde’s latest novel, Shades of Grey. After an ill-advised marriage greatly depleted the Russet family’s Red vision several generations ago, the Russets have struggled over the years to regain their social standing and vibrant Red perception through carefully planned marriages with other high-standing Reds. In this vein, it is Eddie’s fiercest hope that he can win the hand of Constance Oxblood, who is practically Red royalty, and take over her family’s string business. All this changes, however, when a foolhardy prank gets Eddie and his father sent to the Outer Fringes, where Eddie encounters a lowly Grey named Jane. In the blink of an eye, Eddie is irrevocably in love. Eddie soon learns that it will take a lot more than poor poetry to curry Jane’s favor, and her friendship may mean often running afoul of authority. In his attempts to lessen her hostility towards him, Eddie’s blinders begin to lift and he finally begins to see beyond red to something far more dangerous: the Truth. Sounds zany and outlandish? It is! Fforde’s novels are akin to a Monty Python episode put to print, or a Salvador Dalí painting brought to life, and readers who are able to suspend their disbelief are in for a breathtaking and illuminating literary adventure. When the pieces of Fforde’s tricky puzzle fall into place, the resultant climax is an explosive kaleidoscope of emotion that will startle and unsettle, while also igniting a desperate need to nab the next volume in this dazzling new series. With romance, adventure, conspiracies and plenty of laughs, Shades of Grey is high-energy storytelling that offers something for every reader. Stephenie Harrison writes from Nashville.