Shades of Grey Hardcover – 14 Jan 2010
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Full of brilliantly inventive wordplay and quirky fabrications (Mail on Sunday)
This colour-coded world of black-and-white regulations and heirachies is created with spry invention and wit (Daily Mail)
'A brilliantly written book, full of witticisms, wordplay and puns' (News of the World)
'A chromatic tale of fantastical wackiness where colour becomes an aspirational commodity . . . Jasper Fforde's most ambitious novel yet' (Herald)
'An utter delight . . . The world Fforde has created in SHADES OF GREY is colourful beyond description.' (TheBookbag.co.uk)
'There are distinct shades of Orwell's 1984' (Daily Express)
SHADES OF GREY has something of a flavour of Terry Gilliam's Brazil. . .but the novel is much gentler than Gilliam's savage madcappery, and Fforde's world is more old-fashioned public school than bureaucratic nightmare (Guardian)
'Vintage Fforde: zany, original and teeming with complexity.' (Sunday Times, Australia)
Full of colourful characters and amusingly bizarre plot twists. . . SHADES OF GREY is a clever and enjoyable read (SFX Magazine)
This fantastically clever book is a riveting read (Star Magazine)
'A vividly imagined landscape whose every facet is steeped in the author's remarkably detailed color scheme' (Publishers Weekly)
'All brilliantly original' (Booklist)
Praise for Jasper Fforde (:)
'Fforde's books are more than an ingenious idea. They are written with buoyant zest and are tautly plotted . . . and are embellished with the rich details of a Dickens or Pratchett' (Independent)
'Fans of the late Douglas Adams or, even, Monty Python, will feel at home with Fforde' (Herald)
'No summaries can do justice to the sheer inventiveness, wit, complexity, erudition, unexpectedness and originality of the works, nor to their vast repertoire of intricate wordplay and puns' (The Times)
Imagine a black and white world where colour is a commodity . . . It is a world invented by comic and creative genius - and Number One bestseller - Jasper Fforde.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
This is the first book in another new series. I spend the first thirty pages of a Jasper Fforde series undergoing severe cognitive dissonance - or to put it another way, wondering what the heck is going on. The next thirty pages are spent thinking something like: "Hmm. Let's run with this a little further." And the rest of the book (and indeed, subsequent books in the series) passes by in an increasingly addicted scamper.
The plot of "Shades of Grey" moves Fforde firmly in the direction of Science Fiction, rather than the kind of literary fantasy that constitutes the The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next) and The Big Over Easy (Nursery Crime) series, and the scope of the work is also bigger. We find ourselves in a future world, in which people have limited colour perception, and this is what determines their social standing. Edward Russett, a young man who is yet to take his place in society, finds himself struggling to accept the status quo, and as the book develops, we start to learn some sinister facts. Think of "Nineteen Eighty Four", "The Matrix" or "Brave New World", but with a lighter touch.
It isn't hard to read into "Shades of Grey" a parable of modern societies - it is well worth thinking through the implications of intolerance, racism and the priority of the system above individuals as you read the book.Read more ›
The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world some 700 years in the future, so long after the 'Something that Happened' that no one can remember what made the world this way. Your social status is decided by colour - not of your skin, but how much, and which colour you can see. The Purples at the top of the pile down to the Reds at the bottom, and the Grey slave class that sit below the lot. Lives are lived by a set of arcane rules that no one understand, but everyone follows religiously. Until Eddie Russet has an idea to improve the efficiency of the lunch queue and his life changes beyond recognition.
It's quite frustrating in a way, as we see the world through Eddie's eyes (red) and so only learn things which he sees it fit to tell us. Usually that is not stuff about the world, as it is written 'in universe', so the narration assumes you know how the world is. As such there are lots of things you don't discover until it becomes relevant to the plot. On the other hand though this is a genius method for making want to keep turning pages to find out more, and it enables surprise to follow surprise. There are things that seem so obvious now that it seems unbelievable that I didn't see them coming.
Fforde has definitely surpassed his previous work with this one. Deep and meaningful while full of satire and humour, it's the most thought provoking novel I've read for a long time if ever. I can only hope that its sequels live up to its legacy.
2.3.03.01.006: Juggling shall not be practiced after 4:00 p.m.
3.06.03.12.009: Croquet mallets are not to be used for knocking in the hoops. Fine: one merit."
'- Examples of Rules to be followed by members of the Collective
Those readers of the Thursday Next series can only marvel at the flights of fancy of the author, Jasper Fforde. In SHADES OF GREY, the author creates a new fantastical realm, Chromatacia.
Herein, it's presumably our planet Earth, or one on an alternate timeline, several centuries in the future. Five-hundred years previous to the time of the book, there was the Something That Happened, an apparently cataclysmic event that left the human survivors unable to distinguish the full visible color spectrum. Now, each individual perceives only one color or color range, or a small part of several color ranges at best. Society is organized into the Collective, and an individual's social status is governed by the Chromatic Hierarchy, i.e. the color he/she can perceive. Purples are at the top. Greys, at the bottom, are treated not much better than serfs. Bacon is considered the choicest of foods. The greatest life-threatening dangers are ostensibly posed by swans, flying monkeys, pookas, ball lightning, and a carnivorous tree called a yateveo. The Collective's laws and rules for living, enforced by the widely-hated Yellows, are derived from the Word of Munsell.
Technology from the time previous to the Something That Happened survives in roads made of Perpetulite, a living substance that allows the road to repair itself and push inorganic obstacles, e.g. rocks, to the verges.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I absolutely loved this. This strange world is so imaginative and intriguing. I just wish there were more books set there.Published 2 months ago by RGW
This book is one of my favorite books. The characters are well written and the setting is amazing. I wish it had been written as a standalone novel because I have been waiting... Read morePublished 3 months ago by A. Freeman
Considering how much I enjoyed Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next books, it is surprising how strongly I disliked this tale of a dystopian future world where caste is determined by... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Hils T
The first time I read this, I thought "What the hell did I just read?"
The second time I read it, I thought "Okay, NOW I get it. Read more
I loved this book. I love Fford's other books but this one is truly something special. An amazing story, great characters, a real air of mystery ... I could hardly put it down. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Pete in UK
Loved this book due to its unique story creation around another life form beyond humans. Humorous yet thrilling definite page turner.Published 6 months ago by Rosina Millman