Rowland Bismark's Reviews > Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
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Aug 03, 10

But where besides North Korea and a few other pariah states would "Shades of Grey" make anyone see red nowadays?

The level of suspense is so tepid that from hundreds of pages away, you can hear Charlton Heston yelling, "Soylent Green is people! We've got to stop them somehow!" To be fair, part of the problem is timing. We've already read "1984" and "Harrison Bergeron" and "Fahrenheit 451" and a dozen other trenchant satirical assaults on the evils of societies that perpetuate themselves by infantilizing populations with inane regulations.

It is some unspecified time in the future. An "Epiphany" occurred some hundreds of years in the past - nobody knows what it was - that changed the world. Most people can see only one shade of color - the higher up the spectrum you can see, the higher your social status. Those who can't see colors at all are Greys and are generally a servant class, but not entirely. It is possible to move up and down the social strata through marriage, and children are reclassified by a color test given when they are 20.

We meet our hero, Eddie Russett, a Red, as he is being digested by a carnivorous tree, into which he was thrown by Jane, the Grey woman who has turned his life upside down. I spent a large part of the book wondering how this would be resolved, since Eddie is narrating the story and this implies he somehow moved past this fate. We shall see....
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