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...moreShades 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 your social standing; the shorter the wavelength of your spectrum, the higher your social standing (following the rainbow prism of ROYGBIV, red is the low end and violet is the high end). The system itself is one of thousands upon thousands of often nonsensical rules which all must follow for the good of the collective. Into this world steps a young man named Edward, a Red who likes to ask questions. Sent to an outskirt town, he meets a violent, yet pretty Grey named Jane, stumbles into multiple conspiracies to beat the system and just tries to understand why no one is allowed to make more spoons.
As one would expect from Fforde, the books is extremely humorous and off-the-wall. Some examples: one of the greatest fears of the people in the world is being attacked by swans, spoons serve as valuable underground currency, and sex is referred to as youknow. Language itself is generally quite comical in the book, another example being that the apocalypse is simply referred to as "Something that Happened" (what actually happened, no one knows). Although funny, the humor doesn't all completely work. There were times where I mentally recognized a scene as funny but didn't find myself emotionally laughing about it. On the other hand, one paragraph had me in such stitches my wife had to come in from another room to find out what was going on. As with many works of humor, it can be a bit hit or miss.
The story, plot, and background seem better developed that what is found in the Thursday Next series, which has a much stronger "making up as he goes along" feel to it. Shades of Grey is the first book in what is planned to be at least a trilogy, so hopefully many of the unexplained aspects of the world will eventually be made clear by the end.(less)