Saturday, May 03, 2014

Shades of Grey (by Jasper Fforde)

For some reason it took me several years to read this book--I started it once before and it didn't grab me, then it languished on my bookshelf, unread--even though I love the Thursday Next series and Fforde in general. I think part of it is the hardcover thing; I really don't like hardcovers and I resist picking them up. I want to keep this book, but will probably buy a used paperback copy to go with the rest of my Ffordes, and pass on the hardcover to a friend. I mean, Ffriend. 

The book is about a distant future society where the apocalypse has happened and receded into history, and all of society is ordered based around what color or colors its citizens can see. The hero is Edward Russett (everyone's last time and all the place names refer to color, it's very delightful), a Red, whose father is a swatchman--a color doctor. He lives in Jade-under-Lime, but travels with his father to East Carmine to fill in for another swatchman who has mysteriously died. Society is all about unquestioning obedience and simplicity (technology is deliberately dialed back in a series of "Leapbacks"), but Eddie's curiosity and interest in a rebellious Grey girl (named Jane--there are other Greys named Zane and Dorian, cute) lead him to find out that there's more to this world than meets the eye.

Yes, a fairly familiar dystopian setup, but classic Ffordean worldbuilding and humor makes this really work. I got very into it after the first few chapters and then couldn't put it down. It ends on a bit of a cliffhanger as well, and a series of very powerful moments for Eddie, so now I'm anxious for the next two planned books in the series. Plus the next Thursday Next book. Write Ffaster, Jasper!

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