I am a huge fan of Fforde's Thursday Next series but I was not so sure about diving into his latest release, Shades Of Grey. I admit that the Thursday Next series really hooked me with it's references to books and literature and after reading the summary of Shades Of Grey I thought it might be a little too "out there" for my tastes. I have to say now that I have finished the book I am glad that I took the risk and dove in.
In Shades Of Grey Fforde has created a world based on our own (loosely!) but where the hierarchy of the community is based on their vision and what types, and amounts, of different colours they can see. The main character of the book, Eddie Russett, is classified as a Red - not as high up as a Purple but definitely not as low down as the Grey's who are unable to see colour in any great detail.
As I was reading this one I felt there were a lot of similarities with the latest Margaret Atwood books I have read, Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. All books take elements from our current world but project them into a future that has twisted and turned. I felt Fforde offered a lot more humour in his vision than Atwood though!
The first half of the book just flew by for me - I was really enjoying how Fforde was introducing and explaining the world he had created and there was so much to take in and process about how the community was structured. The middle section got a little bogged down I thought but the ending redeemed the book and has left the way wide open for the next two planned books in the series. Overall I really enjoyed this one - a great humorous read but also a very insightful commentary and reflection on our own current community and the way in which we "rate" and prejudice people and groups in society.