Friday, January 22, 2010

Shades of Grey, by Jasper Fforde

I've got to say, even though I haven't read a Jasper Fforde book in at least 2 years, I was able to pick up on his style once again, and I very well believe that this was the best novel I've read this month! Most of it is really world-building, but it was really incredible. Amazing how this all came from one person's imagination.

The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world of some sort, probably over 500 years ahead of today, or Something That Happened. In this world, all the people have, for some reason, evolved so that they're mostly colorblind except for one color. So whatever a person could see reflected their social rank. It's all a rather complicated government with rules for everything, and all centered around color. What job you can do, who you can marry, acceptable behavior. Everything runs on merits and feedback. If you get too many demerits and negative feedback, it means you're up for Reboot, which will set you apparently right. At twenty years of age, a citizen takes a test to see what color he can see, and his life is mapped out after that. Besides the people who can see color, there are a lot of people who don't, so they're referred to as Greys, who are lowest in the social hierarchy.

It's really hard to explain what happens in the story, but there were lots of things I liked about it. An entertaining aspect of this world is that everyone has a color for a last name, representing what color they can see, like our hero Eddie Russet. He's the son of a Swatchman, who is like a doctor in that world, only instead of giving people medicine, he shows them a certain shade of color and they get better. The places are also named after colors, it seems, such as East Carmine, Vermillion, and High Saffron. Another important thing is that night is a total mystery to people. Since everyone can see very little color, at night no one can see anything. Also, certain trees evolved so that they've become carnivorous. 0,o

By making the acquaintance of a feisty Grey named Jane, Eddie starts to question the ways of his world and wonder what exactly happened that led to the Something That happened. He does his best to solve the uncountable mysteries that start to pile up on him, but being curious makes one stand out, so he needs to be really careful about the sort of questions he asks people. Like I said, most of the book is dedicated to building up this world, but somewhere in the second half the story picked up, and then I couldn't turn the pages fast enough! Trust me, the ending is completely explosive, blows your mind. ^_^

The great thing is that at the end of the book it promises that a sequel and a sequel after that will be written very soon, so that means Jasper Fforde means this to be a trilogy. I absolutely can't wait until the next book comes out.

In the meantime, I'd like to add that I've started reading one of Fforde's other books, The Big Over Easy, to my brother Adam. So far he really likes it, which is quite awesome because the first time I tried reading it to him, he thought it was boring. But now that he's older, he can appreciate the humor and style of it. It's quite fun to read aloud. It'll probably take a long time, but I'll let you know if/when we finish this book.

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