Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

(9.0/10)

It’s a shame that the title of this book is similar to another very famous title as the subject matter is completely different and this book to most people will be much more satisfying to read. Shades of Grey is set in a fairly dystopian world after the “Something that Happened” which is never explained and so this could be a future reality of the world we live in now. The main character, Eddie Russett, is a Red, which defines his place in The Collective. The Collective is based on the colours that people can see. With a hierarchy that is bottom heavy, Purples are at the top, followed by Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange and Red. Underneath all the colours are the Grey’s, who are numerous.

Eddie is on a trip to the outskirts to learn humility but whilst there he learns a whole lot more. Most of the inhabitants of the Collective do not question the life they lead - they are almost bred to not question the status quo of their reality, and they are only taught what they need to know. In this way everyone toes the line and if you are not a valuable member of society then you are sent to Reboot to be retaught communal good conduct.

On their way to East Carmine Eddie, and his father who is heading that way as a temporary Swatchman (like a doctor), take a brief stop when Eddie sees Jane, a grey who happens to be anything but a responsible citizen. Through this chance meeting Eddie slowly has his eyes opened not only to the way East Carmine is corrupt, but how The Collective may be a greater evil than ever imagined.

The characters are amazingly well written. Generally, with a character like Eddie, I would be really annoyed at his naivety and yet he has an endearing quality that makes you hope he survives the story. The cast of supporting characters is vast but believable, with society as closely monitored as can be, as well as people manipulating the system for their own benefit - they almost seem human. I would love to know what the “Something that Happened” actually was that made society like this.

The many uses of colour are ingenious. Natural colour seems to be a commodity that is slowly disappearing but you would only be able to see the colour you were born with. So if you were born a Red you would never see Green, and a Grey would never see natural colour. There is also Univisual colour which is synthetic in nature, which everyone can see although there are costs involved.

This is a very detailed book with lots of comedic and dark moments hidden within this seemingly idyllic world. If you have never read anything by Jasper Fforde this may be a good book to start with.

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Our interview with Jasper Fforde

Jasper Fforde is a novelist living in Wales. He is the son of John Standish Fforde, the 24th Chief Cashier for the Bank of England, whose signature used to appear on Sterling banknotes, and is cousin of the author, Katie Ffor [...]

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All reviews for Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey Trilogy series

Shades of Grey

by Jasper Fforde

Hundreds of years in the future, after the Something that Happened, the world is an alarmingly different place. Life is lived according to The Rulebook and social hierarchy [...]

Series: Shades of Grey Trilogy #1
Published: 2009

Score: 90

Our rating: 9.0 | positive reader reviews

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More Jasper Fforde reviews

The Eyre Affair

by Jasper Fforde

There is another 1985, where London’s criminal gangs have moved into the lucrative literary market, and Thursday Next is on the trail of a new crime wave’s Mr B [...]

Series: Thursday Next: Book 1
Published: 2001

Score: 95

Our rating: 9.5 | 0 positive reader reviews

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Lost in a Good Book

by Jasper Fforde

Thursday Next, literary detective and newlywed, is back to embark on an adventure that begins, quite literally on her own doorstep. It seems that Landen, her husband of fou [...]

Series: Thursday Next: Book 2
Published: 2002

Score: 90

Our rating: 9.0 | 0 positive reader reviews

12+

The Well of Lost Plots

by Jasper Fforde

Leaving Swindon behind her to hide out in the Well of Lost Plots (the place where all fiction is created), Thursday Next, Literary Detective and soon-to-be one parent famil [...]

Series: Thursday Next: Book 3
Published: 2003

Score: 90

Our rating: 9.0 | 0 positive reader reviews

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Something Rotten

by Jasper Fforde

The resourceful literary detective Thursday Next returns to Swindon from the BookWorld accompanied by her son Friday and none other than the dithering Hamlet. But returning [...]

Series: Thursday Next: Book 4
Published: 2004

Score: 100

Our rating: 10.0 | 0 positive reader reviews

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First Among Sequels

by Jasper Fforde

Thursday Next is back. And this time it's personal… Officially, Literary Detective Thursday Next is off the case. Once a key figure in the BookWorld police force [...]

Series: Thursday Next: Book 5
Published: 2007

Score: 96

Our rating: 9.6 | 0 positive reader reviews

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One of our Thursdays is Missing

by Jasper Fforde

It is a time of unrest in the BookWorld. Only the diplomatic skills of ace literary detective Thursday Next can avert a devastating genre war. But a week before the peace t [...]

Series: Thursday Next: Book 6
Published: 2011

Score: 95

Our rating: 9.5 | 0 positive reader reviews

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The Woman Who Died a Lot

by Jasper Fforde

The BookWorld's leading enforcement officer Thursday Next is four months into an enforced semi-retirement following an assassination attempt. She returns home to Swindo [...]

Series: Thursday Next: Book 7
Published: 2012

Score: 96

Our rating: 9.6 | 0 positive reader reviews

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Shades of Grey reader reviews

from Slovenia

It is the best dystopian novel I have ever read A really nice sense of humor and very good language the idea of the world of this novel is very unique - not just the fact that the whole society is based on colours one can see, but also the strange inventions and phenomena that are randomly laying around. just one warning: after a few chapters you wont be able to stop.

9.5/10 from 2 reviews

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