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Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron (Shades of Grey #1)

4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  25,544 Ratings  ·  3,510 Reviews
An astonishing, hotly anticipated new novel from the great literary fantasist and creator of Thursday Next, Jasper Fforde.
As long as anyone can remember, society has been ruled by a Colortocracy. From the underground feedpipes that keep the municipal park green to the healing hues viewed to cure illness to a social hierarchy based upon one's limited color perception, soc
ebook, 400 pages
Published December 29th 2009 by Penguin Books (first published November 6th 2009)
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Leif Eric I didn't know this book was part of a series before I read it, and I'm glad it works well on its own. Although it would be nice if Fforde wrote some…moreI didn't know this book was part of a series before I read it, and I'm glad it works well on its own. Although it would be nice if Fforde wrote some more books in this series, I think his time might be better spent on other novels for variety. I will read his next novel in any case, because I very much enjoyed this one.(less)
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Michelle Cruickshank
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Community Reviews

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Mar 02, 2015 Patrick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this as an audiobook just recently, and I was absolutely blown away by it.

That said, I don’t know how I’d describe the entirety of it to someone. If I were to summarize it, it would sound... well... kinda dumb.

Let me say this instead: It’s funny without being goofy. It’s clever without being pretentious. It’s original without being desperate. Its mysterious without being willfully obtuse.

Best of all, this story has an element of what I think of as divine ridiculousness: a delight
Jul 14, 2012 Heidi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A happy accident... my book club was reading "50 Shades of Gray," and it just so happens that I missed the gathering (sorry, gals!) where this was chosen. With that "50" left off the title and another incarnation of "gray" (specifically "grey"), I requested the wrong book from the library.

I'm so very happy I did. It's probably one of THE most imaginative books I've read in a very long while. I enjoyed it immensely. I completely expected to despise the reading experience as it's a dystopian read
mark monday
Oct 28, 2011 mark monday rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
the world of Shades of Grey is a nightmarish dystopia: a ruthless totalitarian regime that destroys all individualistic spirit, all creativity and ambiguity and questioning of authority; a monstrous government that divides its citizens into color-stratified class/caste systems that is based upon the inherent physical deficiencies of its populace; a place with no love and where death is the end result for the underdog and misfit.

sounds pretty bleak, right? well, dear reader, think again! this rat
Candace Burton
Aug 02, 2011 Candace Burton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don't read this book. Seriously. Wait until nos. 2 & 3 in the projected series have come out, then take yourself off to a beach or a comfy sofa somewhere for the weekend and just blow through them all in one great binge, because it will take so much concentration and devotion to keep up with the stunning intricacies of Fforde's latest that it's wasted effort not to just immerse for a bit. Trust me, I've read everything he's written, and despite my usual sense of trepidation when faced with a ...more
Feb 19, 2015 Deb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fforde is a satiric word-weaver and I always look forward to reading whatever he pumps out. Thursday Next is my literary hero, and while the Nursery Crime books weren't up to snuff, they weren't bad--just not as interesting as a dashing, cheese-smuggling book jumper.

Shades of Grey is the beginning of a new dystopian trilogy situated in Chromatocia, a world ruled by the Colortocracy where color perception has faded and social hierarchy is determined by what colors you can see. Edward Russet, the
5.0 stars. Another superb novel by one of the best writers "that not everybody reads" working in speculative fiction. I am continually impressed by Fforde's imagination, writing and his supreme talent for incorporating both well known and obscure references to literature and pop culture.

With this novel, Fforde begins a new series based in a future world that arose from the ashes of ours and in which every person's status in society is based on the portion of color spectrum that they can see. Thr
Jan 25, 2012 Priscilla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
AHHH. SO GOOD. By the end, I just wanted to jump to the next book!

Initial thoughts:
1. Wow! What a world. Jasper Fforde creates an imaginative, interesting, and complex dystopia society where what you see determines who you are. I loved the rules, and the process in which Fforde guides you through this odd futuristic society. SO COOL!
2. Pacing is slow throughout most of the book (until the end). Fforde slowly unravels the secrets and corruption behind this society, and it's up to our main charact
I've been on a dystopian kick over the last several months, and it was interesting to read this one so soon after Brave New World; Jasper Fforde offers up some similar ideas but approaches the concept of a totalitarian future society from the same skewed perspective he brought to the Thursday Next series.

That said, I didn't always find this a fun read. I might blame it on fatigue, but I found the first half of this one really slow going. It takes Fforde a long time to set up his world, slowly r
This is Jasper Fforde.
That means it's silly, not necessarily groundbreaking, but certainly satirical, dark-edged, referential and post-modern in ways that will only work if you're capable of tripping lightly along in his wake, enjoying the view and grinning wryly at the social commentary and broader themes he's sketching on the horizon for you.

I always find the start of a new Fforde novel a bit like that first dive into cold water on a warm day. It's shocking and disorientating, especially at fi
Megan Baxter
Jul 10, 2014 Megan Baxter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shades of Grey is an unexpectedly devastating book. Funny as hell, yes, but with a creeping sense of horrors lurking just beneath the surface, and when they strike, well, they were even more awful than I'd been anticipating.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Lisa Vegan
Jan 14, 2010 Lisa Vegan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with a warped sense of humor who also enjoys dystopian novels
This is one of those books that’s most enjoyable to read when you come to it knowing not too much. So, I’ll say just three specific things: 1. Spoons!!! Very amusing for me given that except for a few exceptions such as salads, I use spoons to eat everything not to be eaten with my hands, 2. I’m going to be very aware if I use the phrase “you know” and will try to avoid doing so, 3. page 79: The Little Engine That Could bit was extremely amusing. (If you haven’t yet read this book, don’t worry i ...more
Steve Fox
Sep 07, 2011 Steve Fox rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Surely, there's more to writing a book than simply having a good idea?

This book is based on a good idea, but it reads like it was written by a computer programme and commissioned by that bloke in Marketing who seems to have a new car every other month.

It's so damn clunky. The sentences are twistier than a twisty thing, the narrative structure was arrived at using one of those foldy-paper-fingers-things and the jokes were designed by the same committee that came up with the camel. And Fforde must
Jun 02, 2011 Rainbow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book made me so happy. I'm a big fan of Fforde's "Thursday Next" series - and this has the same sort of whimsical/absurdist/sci-fi vibe. Also, the premise -- a world where individuals can see only one color -- is really fascinating.
Jasper Fforde has a hit with this new series. I have had his "Thursday Next" series on my to-read list forever but the first in this new series popped up at the library so I thought I'd give it a shot. And I am so glad I did!

In this world, the lives of the people are defined by their ability to perceive color. Each person in the Collective is subject the "Ishihara test" upon turning 20 years old. Once their color perception is measured and documented by a representative from National Color, they
2.5 stars - Spoilers

Good but also bad, really really bad. So yea, I liked it but I also hated it.

-I didn't know what the fuck was going on for the most part. It was such a weird dystopian world. I mean, how can colour perception be that bloody important?! And how did the human eye 'evolve' so that people could only see 1 or 2 colours? It made very little sense. I admit that it was an interesting concept but none of it was remotely believable.
I was lost as soon as I started, nothing was explain
This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For
Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron is Jasper Fforde at his weirdest. It contains a delightfully bizarre and humorous look at a post-apocalyptic world hundreds (if not thousands...the timeline is a bit vague) years in the future where a future species of "human" lives in a society structured on ones ability to see color. The people of this world are largely colorblind or have limited monochromatic vision or (at best) dichromatic vision. The better you can see your specific color, the higher ...more
Fforde has created another most illogically logical, or logically illogical world, just like he did with his great Thursday Next series. However you look at it, this new world is more bizarre than Lewis Carroll's mad Wonderland and L. Frank Baum's colorful Oz combined. Mix in a bit of the dystopian worlds created by Lois Lowry in The Giver and Gathering Blue and you get this amazing book. A story of a future where the rules of living are based on color. Not the color of a person's skin, but the ...more
Sep 06, 2015 Epizeuxis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who: are looking for something creative, enjoy quirky humor.
I knew that you were going to do this, Fforde. You couldn't have just let things end on a happy note, could you? You had to get my hopes up, and then punch them right in the face in the last few pages and ruin everything. Then you laugh as you gleefully tell me that the sequel won't be out for another year or more.


Oh, look. Another book involving shades of grey. Unlike the last one, however, this one doesn’t spit upon the face of literature. I apologize for the length of that above summary, b
Apr 04, 2012 Aryn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone.


I had zero idea what to think when I picked up Shades of Grey from the bookstore. When I say "no idea," I really mean not a fucking clue in the entire world; I didn't even read the blurb on the back. It had been recommended to me, that was all. I have never been so glad that I bought a random book, ever.

Edward Russett lives in a Dystopian future version of what was (possibly) our world. People do not see in full color anymore, and the social hierarchy has been established based on what color
Apr 25, 2011 Isamlq rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“What did he just say?” I think this was a constant reaction from me given that this is my first Fforde novel. And, boy did I slow down my pace. I even put it down a couple of times to get the details straight, EVEN SO: Shades Of Grey is worth it.

Eddie and his world are definitely quirky, different and funny! He simply wants to marry Constance and get a good job; first he must go to the Outer Fringe to conduct a chair census. On his way, he and his father meet a Grey camouflaged as a Purple as
Jun 01, 2010 Pôl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If you're a Jasper Fforde fan, don't let my low rating deter you. This book is pure Fforde: a maelstrom of crazy ideas that somehow coalesces into a coherent, if weird, world. The world that Fforde has created here was the biggest draw, for me; I loved delving into this strange society, where the colors that a person can see determines their social standing.

My main disappointment with the book was that it really wanted to be several books at once. Somewhere in Shades of Grey, there's a fantastic
Good concept but not as well executed as I wanted it to be. Yes, I am saying “as I wanted it to be” because this is not essentially a bad novel. Far from it. The world building in itself is a sort of achievement. But considering the fact that the whole book is just that - world building - right upto the last 50 pages or so, I am not sure whether I like it or not.

Well, I don't want to properly review this book for you (because I am annoyed as this promised to be a 5 star book for me at the start
Mar 22, 2015 Skip rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, e-books
Jasper Fforde has created a richly imagined future that revolves entirely around color, including social standing. Protagonist, Eddie Russett, is a Red: a fine, upstanding young man who wants the best for people. He is easy going and makes friends easily. When he and his father are sent to a remote town because of a mysterious death, Eddie means Jane, who is smart, knowledgeable, volatile, emotional, and ... threatens to kill him. The highlight of the book is their dynamic relationship, and tryi ...more
This was really, really good, and really, really weird.

I’ve been sitting on a hardcover copy of this book for YEARS, waiting for the right time to read it. The long-promised two sequels seemed nowhere in sight, so I figured no harm in waiting. And now that it looks like the second book* is on it’s way for next year at the earliest, 2017 at the latest, I figured it was about time. I am also feeling resentful and wanting to take back the phrase “Shades of Grey” from certain . . . sectors. And wha
In the world of Shades of Grey, Jasper Fforde's newest novel, your social standing is partly decided by your ability to perceive color: most people can only see one color, and some people are more color-sensitive, allowing them to see their color better than others. In this "Colortocracy," the Greys — who can see no color at all — are the lowest class and little more than serfs, those who are most sensitive to their color become community leaders (or "precepts"), marriages are arranged to get th ...more
Yvonne Boag
Apr 10, 2011 Yvonne Boag rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Shades of Grey by Japer Fforde is a very different novel from what I expected. Set in a world 500 years from now but somehow in the 1950's it is a world where everything is defined by colour. Status, work and who you can marry is all about what colour you can see. Every other colour is just shades of grey. So much is lost in this future world. The main protagonist, Eddie gets a tour of an empty library and is shown where the books used to be. Paintings are valued, the artists are remembered but ...more
Shades of Grey is truly brilliant, and completely different from anything I have read before. A little dystopia, a little thriller, a little romance, and a generous serving of "colorful" hilarity.

Throughout this book, I was constantly blown away, by Jasper Fforde’s inventiveness. I kept thinking, how the heck does he come up with these insane yet fascinating ideas? I mean, ownership of a spoon as a status symbol?! Giant swan Attacks?! Yeah…

If the idea of a well-written dystopian book injected w
Kirsti (Melbourne on my mind)
I've always thought of this book as fantasy, but on reread it's incredibly obvious that it's a dystopian story and I feel like kind of an idiot for not realising that the first time around.

Essentially, it's a society where social hierarchy is dictated by what colours you can see. Everyone can see artificial colours, and artificial colours are used for everything from paint to gardens to medical care. Like, looking at a swatch of a particular colour can give you the runs or cure the sniffles or
Jan 28, 2015 Giovanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I expected, Fforde developed a good idea by writing a not too serious dystopian novel. Don't get me wrong, Shades of grey is a good dystopian and will make you think if you want to, but it's also a quite fun read.

I'll write a full review tomorrow, but for now, I have one thing to say: WRITE FAST FFORDE BECAUSE I WANT THAT SEQUEL NOW

Okay *deep breaths*
Be patient with me but really, right now I'd like to glue Fforde to his chair to make him write Painting by numbers. You can't end a book like t
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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 Desmond Fforde, married to author Katie Fforde. His early career was spent as a focus puller in the film industry, where he worked on a number of films including Quills, GoldenEye, and Entrapment.

More about Jasper Fforde...

Other Books in the Series

Shades of Grey (2 books)
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“Okay, this is the wisdom. First, time spent on reconnaissanse is never wasted. Second, almost anything can be improved with the addition of bacon. And finally, there is no problem on Earth that can't be ameliorated by a hot bath and a cup of tea.” 240 likes
“The cucumber and the tomato are both fruit; the avocado is a nut. To assist with the dietary requirements of vegetarians, on the first Tuesday of the month a chicken is officially a vegetable.” 146 likes
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