March 18, 2010

Shades Of Grey - Jasper Fforde

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.


Claire (The Captive Reader) said...

I loved this one, though I absolutely agree about the middle bit being slow. I like that Fforde is comfortable bringing up complex ethical issues, but without sacrificing his trademark humour (and taste for the bizarre).

I already can't wait for the next book in the series!

Steph said...

So glad you enjoyed this one, Karen! I think it's one of my favorite dystopian novels of the recent past, and I think it shows great evolution for Fforde as a novel. All of his signature humor and wit is here, but he definitely stretched himself with great rewards!

I can't wait to read the next few books in the series!

Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of Fforde's Thursday Next books, but like yourself was hesitant about Shades of Grey because it didn't have the bookish slant. Seeing you enjoyed it, I will have to give it a try.

Elise said...

I think I have had the exact same initial feelings about this book, I love the Thursday Next books but was hesitant to read this as well, and still haven't. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it though so I might give it a go. I love Jasper Fforde's humour.


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this one a lot when I read it, Fforde is definitely one that I want to read much more of.

stockdove said...

I'm really looking forward to reading this one, his style and wit and insights are so great. I'm actually reading Something Rotten (from the Thursday Next series) at the moment - it's my breakfast book and goes very well with warm oatmeal :)

Karen said...

Hi Claire - I think he has an amazing talent for combining political and social comment with humour. I'm really looking forward to the next book too.

Hi Steph - I think it is a great step for Fforde too - can't wait to see what he thinks of next!

Hi adevotedreader - I would definitely give it a go and see what you think - I think you will be plesantly surprised with this one even without the literary links.

Hi Elise - I think if you enjoy Fforde's writing and his wicked sense of humour you will enjoy this one!

Hi Simon - He is so clever isn't he?? I hope the next book in the series comes out quickly!

Hi Stockdove - I love hearing someone else match their reading with their food - so important!

kay - Infinite Shelf said...

Great review! I have never read Fforde's Thursday Next books but I only heard good things of it - same thing goes with Shades of Grey, which I really want to read.

Karen said...

Hi Kay - I hope you really enjoy them when you get around to them!

Paperback Reader said...

Yay for enjoying this one! It was a departure for Fforde but one that most definitely paid off; I am eagerly awaiting the sequels.

I don't recall the middle being slow but it took me a while to get into the book as I got bogged down by the sheer wealth of detail in the alternate world that Fforde created.