Crystal Starr Light's Reviews > Shades of Grey

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
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Mar 19, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: book-club, science-fiction, dystopia, boys-boys-and-not-a-girl-in-sight

"If you can't find the correct answer, then you are obviously asking the wrong question"

Eddie Russett lives in a world where social standing is based on the color of the rainbow that you see. He is a Red, as is his father. Both are relocating to East Carmine after a prank Eddie performed, but the trip turns out to be far more exciting and eye-opening than Eddie could ever imagine. And it all started with one girl with a cute nose.

As I was reading the book, I couldn't help but think of Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. The humor is this book is along the same lines of Adams' works: zany, somewhat ridiculous and very enlightening commentary to our society. And yet, the book also speaks of a time where the society Leapbacks--removing technology such as vehicles, tractors, lightbulbs, and more--people marry based on their desire to rise in the color ranks and actions are rewarded or punished with a strange pseudo-currency, merits.

Astonishingly, the characters in this novel were particularly well-drawn. Our protagonist, Eddie, is of course well written. He is curious, somewhat dense, and enlightening. His naivety makes it easier for the audience to merge into this strange society. By the time you finally get to him being eaten by the yatevo from the beginning of the book, you are truly worried about his fate and want him to succeed.

Eddie is accompanied by many colorful (okay, bad pun!) secondary characters. Tommo, Courtland, Bunty, Sally Gamboge, Yewberry, Lucy Ochre, and of course, Jane and his father, have desires and motives and are not in any way two-dimensional.

If there is a problem with this book, it would be the slow pace and the slow plot. The first 200 pages were particularly painful, as we are dropped headfirst into this new culture with little to soften the blow. For the next 200 pages, we are desperately playing catch-up and trying to avoid pulling out our hair as we get more and more questions and few answers. What happened to Travis? What's up with the Apocryphal man? Why is Jane so belligerent? How did she get from Vermillion to East Carmine so quickly? Who was the Grey in Purple disguise? Why was he there? And what the hell is up with all the spoon talk?

Fortunately, the last 200 pages (specifically the last 50) more than make up for our earlier confusion. By the time you reach about page 275, it's a downhill slide. Answers pile up, light bulbs turn on in our heads, and the threads begin to tie up. The answers are solid, satisfying, and sensible. The conversations between Jane and Eddie are fascinating, revealing much about freedom, imprisonment, and tough choices:

"Prisons are still with us, only the walls are constructed of fear, taboo, and the unknown."

"If we're to make a difference here, we have to make hard decisions."

Not to mention, the solution to the spoon problem is HILARIOUS! I literally laughed out loud (not a common feat!).

This is part one of a projected trilogy; however, there is quite a bit of closure in this book. Sure, there are plot threads open for the next book, but on the most part, many of the questions the book raises are answered.

When I first started reading, I was close to bailing. The writing style, language, and all the info dumping was almost too much. Fortunately, I made it past the crest and was able to sail to the ending. So, if you like Douglas Adams, if you like dystopias, if you don't mind trilogies (that aren't finished--no note at this point when the next book will be out) and can get through the first part, you are bound to find this an interesting book.
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Quotes Crystal Starr Light Liked

Jasper Fforde
“The safest course was actually the simplest-do nothing at all and hope everything turned out for the best. It wasn't a great plan, but it had the benefits of simplicity and a long tradition. ”
Jasper Fforde, Shades of Grey

Jasper Fforde
“the best lies to tell are the ones people want to believe”
Jasper Fforde, Shades of Grey

Jasper Fforde
“Defiance through compliance.”
Jasper Fforde, Shades of Grey

Jasper Fforde
“He set fire to some potatoes, then cooked some undelivered post in the embers." - Dad
"Did he now? What a strange fellow. I would have done it the other way around." - Stafford”
Jasper Fforde, Shades of Grey

Reading Progress

March 19, 2011 – Shelved
March 19, 2011 – Shelved as: book-club
April 3, 2011 – Started Reading
April 3, 2011 –
page 6
April 4, 2011 –
page 13
April 5, 2011 –
page 41
10.51% ""He set fire to some potatoes, then cooked some undelivered post in the embers." "Did he now? What a strange fellow. I would have done it the other way around." LOL"
April 6, 2011 –
page 49
April 6, 2011 –
page 61
April 8, 2011 –
page 94
April 11, 2011 –
page 126
April 12, 2011 –
page 141
April 13, 2011 –
page 164
April 14, 2011 –
page 188
April 15, 2011 –
page 224
57.44% "There is no way I am going to finish 176 pages between now and tomorrow morning."
April 16, 2011 –
page 245
April 17, 2011 –
page 288
April 17, 2011 –
page 311
79.74% "OMG! All these answers in the last 20 pages alone!!"
April 17, 2011 – Shelved as: science-fiction
April 17, 2011 – Finished Reading
November 10, 2011 – Shelved as: dystopia
July 15, 2014 – Shelved as: boys-boys-and-not-a-girl-in-sight

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