Read Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde Online

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Eddie Russett lives in a world where fortune, career and ultimate destiny are rigidly dictated by the colours you can see, with violet at the top, and red at the bottom. Below the colours are the grey underclass who can only see tones of black and white. It is also a world of rules and regulations....

Title : Shades of Grey
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780340963050
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 432 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Shades of Grey Reviews

  • Patrick
    2018-11-11 02:02

    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 delightful, subtle, strangeness that is funny while still touching on some underlying truth.In fantasy, we have the ability to write about anything. This is the blessing of the genre as well as being its most insidious trap. You can write about Dragon Ninjas. And they can fly spaceships. That's okay. Our genre can handle it. The problem is that you can get lost in that endless realm of possibility. You read a book with hundred foot tall giants, and you think, "Wow. That's awesome!" Then you go out to write something even cooler: A book with 200 foot tall giants who can fly and breathe fire.But bigger isn't always better. In fact, bigger is only very occasionally better. Gandalf wasn't constantly calling down fire and lightning and he was cool as hell. The odd truth is this: In fantasy, Less is More. It's the Chocolate Chip in your cookie. Yes, it's delicious. But you can't have a cookie that's *all* chocolate chip. It just doesn't work. This book is a great example of that. It's a great example of how fantasy can be brilliant and marvelous and strange and compelling without clashing armies, maniacal wizards, or fire breathing dragons. I feel like I should say more about it, but I can’t think of what else to say. Except, perhaps, that it’s probably the best book I’ve read in a year or so. And Sarah really liked it too, if that sways you at all…

  • Heidi
    2018-11-28 21:52

    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. I'm not a fan of the dystopian genre. Fforde's book is the exception to my rule. I suspect his plentiful humor played largely into making the experience a pleasant one. Most dystopian books are missing humor. I suspect if humor was a common thread in this genre, though, I might have another opinion on it.Maybe all you "50 Shades of Gray" readers were reading the wrong book. Maaaaaybe you should've read this one instead.

  • mark monday
    2018-11-20 03:07

    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 rather amazing novel is as light and airy as a souffle, a real pleasure to consume from beginning to end. i was smiling constantly and laughing out loud nearly as often. the tone is brisk and drily amusing. the plot and the various details of our young hero's travails are wonderfully absurd: the punishment for his past cheekiness is to conduct a "Chair Census"; he must beware deadly carnivorous swans and "mega-fauna"; his greatest ambition is to be the head of a String Factory! upstairs from him and his dad lives the "Apocryphal Man" - an historian the state has deemed 'does not exist', and so is free to wander around naked, stealing food, muttering terrifying truths yet remaining unmolested. the love of his life is mean Jane - a Grey, the lowest caste - a rebel with a cause who does not hesitate to punish him drastically and physically whenever he gets in her way.the writing itself is splendid. Fforde is a deadpan and satirical author with a perfect grasp of what to show, what to tell, what to keep hidden, and what to save for an exciting climax. i was reminded of a couple things when reading this book: the equally absurd and distinctly provincial post-apocalyptic settings of Dick's Dr. Bloodmoney and especially the delightful skewerings of english village life within the Mapp & Lucia series of E.F. Benson. much like the latter, the humor within Shades of Grey is derived almost entirely from the Comedy of Manners. a Post-Apocalyptic Comedy of Manners set within a Provincial Dystopic Colortocracy! how's that for original?best of all, for me at least, this wonderful novel does not have a genuinely cynical bone in its body. yes, it skewers hypocrisy and stupidity in the most cutting way. yes, it is about a vicious, cruel future. but it also believes in investing its hero and heroine with the power to change themselves, to fall in love, to try to bravely risk changing the world around them. and it portrays all of the good and all of the bad with the lightest, most charming of touches. i am really looking forward to the sequel!

  • Candace Burton
    2018-12-08 01:53

    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 new tome, I am inevitably swept completely away to the point of being irked when something silly like dinner or the need for sleep interferes with my reading. Eddie Russett is the main character in this venture, a character embedded in the unbelievably complex world of Chromatacia--a version of our world that is something like a cross between Ayn Rand's Anthem and the opening sequences of the Wizard of Oz. (Seriously.) In short, it's all about what you can see--and who knows that you can see it. Fforde's years in the film industry have clearly served him well--I can't exactly work out what his writing process must be like to enable him to fully, convincingly create worlds that function completely by their own set of norms, but I hope he can keep it up.

  • First Second Books
    2018-11-11 01:43

    Note to my mother: NOT THE SAME SHADES OF GREY!

  • Deb
    2018-12-05 02:53

    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 narrator, is sent to the Outer Fringes to survey the ratio of chairs to citizens as punishment for a mischievous prank. He quickly discovers that the inviolate rules his society is based on are written on "rubber paper" at times, and that his formerly-rigid acceptance leads to people in high places getting pretty peeved at him. Enough to commit...murder?Russet meets Jane Grey, a servant with a cute nose (mention its cuteness at the risk of having your eyebrows ripped off) who has anti-Colortocracy leanings and is designated for Reboot, where all unruly citizens go for re-education and re-assignment. Although Russet is already half-engaged to a cold fish back at home, he promptly falls in love with Grey--despite that she threatens to break his jaw or leg and likes to feed him to carnivorous plants whenever convenient.The bildungsroman element in the book comes to a head near the end, with a quest and a test that lead to more questions than they answer.There is one All-Important Question that will be answered by the end of the book:Where have all the spoons gone?This novel was a slow read at first--Fforde takes time to craft his universes but tends to set his readers down in the middle of things at the beginning, so it took a bit to soak up enough information before the Colortocracy organization made sense. Once everything clicked, though, I couldn't put the book down. The final pages were all action and social un-niceties, the kind of whirlwind ending that makes you long for the sequel in your hands so you can keep the story going and won't have to stop for a year or so. Ah well. Re-reading potential: high!A sneak peak from one of the last pages:Volume 2 will be titled Painting by NumbersVolume 3 will be Gordini ProtocolsUpdateNo word yet on when Painting by Numbers will be released, but a prequel titled 7 Things to do before you die in Talgarth was announced November 2014 on Fforde's Next Book page.

  • Stephen
    2018-12-01 22:04

    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. Throw in such off the wall details like "giant swan attacks", a Rule against using the number between 72 and 74 and how ownership of a spoon is a status symbol. It is smart, funny and very well written. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!

  • Priscilla
    2018-12-03 04:43

    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 character Eddie to decide whether he will make the easy choice or the right one.3. The writing is brilliant! I can say for sure my vocabulary count has increased.4. The ending is amazing! Seriously made this jump from a 3-4 star book to a 5 star for me.5. Totally geeked out over the colour references. It's a graphic designer thing. :/Check out my video review here!

  • Lata
    2018-11-24 05:07

    This is my second attempt to read this book. I think I struggled my first time as I think I expected something kind of silly like the Thursday Next or the Nursery Crime series. While this book certainly has a number of silly elements, this is also a book I found had an underlying sense of dread and real mystery. Mystery as we’re never told by the author what happened to the world, just that the characters live in a place post-Epiphany, as they call it. Their world is heavily stratified by colour. Each character has a colour last name and can only see colours in that colour family (e.g., red, russet and others in the red family). Also, while surrounded by the detritus of a pre-Epiphany world, the characters are largely ignorant of the meanings and use of these items, and have a limited education system as well, reinforcing the ignorance. There is so much terrific detail about the chromatic hierarchy, and the nasty beliefs about those below one's strata or outside the colour strata, and many other things, like spoons, that make a many layered background to this story. And the author covers a lot of this before the action really gets going in the story. Main character Eddie Russet and his father Holden have arrived in East Carmine for a month. Eddie has a nonsensical task to complete while in the town (there is much that is nonsensical and ridiculous about all the characters’ lives and habits.) Eddie quickly becomes acquainted with Tommo, a con man, the Yellow Prefect’s bully son Cortland, and Jane, a Grey, whom Eddie is fascinated with, despite Jane’s verbal and physical propensity for violence. Eddie also is half-promised to Constance Oxblood in marriage in his hometown. (Members in each strata must marry at least within their class, though would love to marry above, provided the colours are not complementary.) Regardless, he remains fascinated with Jane, and becomes involved with activities in the town. The whole time, the author builds the mystery and some dread, as odd happenings occur, and questions are actively discouraged. And while there are little moments of humour, this isn’t a particularly humorous story. There are bad things happening in the town and in the society, and Jasper Fforde takes much of the almost 400-page story to explain, and then the book ends. There is so much left to happen, and I’m not sure when the author will provide another instalment.One other thing: I listened to the audiobook; John Lee narrates, and I kept expecting him to say “Breach!” as I was reminded of bits of China Mieville’s “The City and the City” while listening to this book.

  • j
    2018-11-14 23:53

    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 revealing how the different colors people see influences their standing in society and the way the government functions as a whole. After 200 pages of largely plotless world-building, I was begging for some lazy, blatant exposition, if only to get the story moving.The plot finally does kick in, and the last 100 pages or so provide a pretty satisfying setup for the two sequels advertised on the last page, and I expect those books will go a lot more smoothly with the heavy lifting out of the way.

  • Aphie
    2018-11-30 23:44

    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 first, so you just have to close your eyes, keep going, and soon you find you're getting along so well in this new environment that you feel comfortable with it, even with those shadowy depths beneath you that you do not yet know anything about, and may never know. Like those watery spaces filled with possible fish, Fforde always conveys a sense of a fully realised world ticking away behind the main action and that's certainly true in the whimsical, frightening world of Eddie Russett, when he find himself confronted by a man who's wrong-spotted, somewhere in the middle of a plot that turns out to involve the government and society as a whole. As Eddie stumbles about uncovering more of the truth about his world, we're dragged along too, catching the same puzzle-pieced conversations and bits of information about just what's going on.Fforde does tend towards stereotypes as support characters, but his dyads of protagonists do include tough, nuanced and interesting women, which always works for me, too. Jane is no exception, and the relationship between her and Eddie owes a lot to the noir genre, where the woman holds the knowledge necessary for the clueless male to fully realise what's going on. I enjoy this, though I think the characterisation worked better when we were viewing the story from the woman's perspective (as in Thursday Next's arc) rather than as a guy seeing a woman as (yet again) a total cypher.

  • Megan Baxter
    2018-12-01 05:49

    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

  • Steve Fox
    2018-12-07 23:12

    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 have been slapped, ironically, with the Adverb Stick when he was a baby.Whatever happened to editors? Is Jasper Fforde now so successful that like, say, Stephen King, no-one dare tell him to hold on a minute? Or has the BBC Newsroom's evil plot finally succeeded, and they've all been banished to Out-of-Date Camp?Of course, what do I know? I've never flogged a half-decent idea to within an inch of its functional credibility, nor approached the lower part of a wooden storage device with a spatula. But I do know the difference between a Concept and a Book.Could the angry mob please now form an orderly queue...

  • Lisa Vegan
    2018-11-16 22:48

    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 if the above makes no sense to you.)Ha! Brilliant and very funny, the most (deliberately) comical dystopian novel I’ve read, especially given that this is a very, very dark society. The story is both chilling and hilarious.The best science fiction has profound things to say about our current society, and this story certainly does it well.The society in this book might very well be the most creatively constructed dystopian society ever. The language, the words used/created are perfect and they’re exactly how people from this society would phrase things.I’m very visually oriented and I found the premise of this book fascinating. Readers may never again look at color in quite the same way.The creativity quotient is high and was the deciding factor for me to assign 5 vs. 4 stars.This looks as though it’s going to be at least a trilogy. The next two in the series will be titled Shades of Grey 2: Painting by Numbers & Shades of Grey 3: The Gordini Protocols.

  • Ferdy
    2018-11-27 22:50

    2.5 stars - SpoilersGood 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 explained, and it was all so nonsensical — the worldbuilding was executed in such a piss poor way. The structure, rules and history of the world did slowly become clearer but it took way too much time to get to that point. Even when I did get an idea of what was what, there was still so much of the world and its rules that were incomprehensible.-There were aspects of Shades of Grey that were enjoyable and humourous but a lot of it was bullshit. I did to some extent quite like the originality, and strangeness of a world which consisted of a hierarchy that depended on one's perception of colour. It would have been easier if there'd been a little index/summary or whatever at the beginning which listed the hierarchy of the colours, and the different roles in society and other things like that. -Even though the dystopian world was unique in a way, it was also kind of unoriginal. There was a strict government with silly rules, there were government officials/leaders with all the power, there were corrupt people in the totalitarian government, there were people at the bottom (the greys) that were treated poorly, there were secrets, there were suspicious deaths, there were hints of an uprising — so yea, it was a pretty standard dystopia in a way.-A lot of times I felt that the bizarre and nonsensical world was weird just for the sake of being weird. It all felt too forced and overall not very well thought out.-The characters were decent enough apart from the main character, Eddie, he was kind of boring. His obsession with Jane was irritating — he bumped into her once and she was rude to him, but he couldn't stop thinking about her. Also, the way he kept banging on about her nose was annoying as hell. Eddie was plain dull — he was definitely overshadowed by all the different elements of his world. -The first two-thirds was really slow, hardly anything happened. For the most part I kept wondering where the storyline was. Eddie and his dad moved to a new place (East Carmine), various secondary characters were introduced, there was some gossip, and a load of wacky rules were thrown about — all of it felt drawn out and pointless. There was a kind of mystery with a dead guy, and Jane's connection to said dead guy — but for the most part that was in the background, it was only towards the end where that arc got some momentum. For the most part I felt as if I was reading pure nonsense.-Jane to a certain extent was interesting, but only because she had loads of secrets, and I wanted to know what she was up to.-There were quite a few hilarious scenes like the Apocryphal man at dinner, the hockeyball match, and the library scene. They were all brilliant. Also, the whole spoon shortage and desire for spoons was weirdly wonderful. And the radiator morse code at night, the arranged marriages, and getting high on colours were nice touches.-I loved Violet, Lucy, Sally Gamboge and Yewberry, they were great secondary characters. Violet was a crazy cow — the way she manipulated and tried to control Eddie at the end was highly entertaining. Lucy was a bit of an oddball character, I'm hoping she doesn't end up with Tommo. Sally was an evul cow, and Yewberry was a bastard but they were both fun to read about.-I hated Tommo the most. He was a dick — he was such a horrible friend to Eddie. I hope he gets his comeuppance in the sequels.-The trip to High Saffron was a bit of an anti-climax. I was expecting more action and revelations but it was so dragged out and underwhelming.-I hope Jane and Eddie don't end up together. Eddie got married to Violet and they're having a baby together, it'll be really distasteful if he leaves his wife and baby for Jane. Also, it'll be cheesy for them to end up together because of them being all forbidden because of their complementary colour status. Eddie should stay in his miserable marriage, and Jane should get on with her own life. -I was really pissed that Eddie condemned Imogen and Dorian to death at the end, they were the only truly likeable characters.All in all, I kind of liked it at times, but for the most part I was frustrated and annoyed. The characters were all strong (apart from Eddie), but the story was all over the place, and the worldbuilding was a mess, though by the end it did manage to sort itself out. I'll probably read the sequel as it'll no doubt be easier to appreciate the rich world.

  • Stephanie
    2018-12-03 22:59

    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 are ready to begin serving the Collective in whatever capacity is determined by the test. High perception of the primary colors will earn you a place as a prefect in your village. Exceptional color perception could even lead to a position with National Color! Those very unfortunate to be unable to see any color at all are consigned to the Grey zone and given all the unsavory work that keeps the Collective running. Marriage choices are limited to same color unions or unions within the same color family and marriages between complementary colors are prohibited. So a Red could marry a Purple or an Orange, but never a Green. And of course a Grey is entirely unsuitable, although not prohibited. They also have a very rigid set of Rules that all must follow, including styles of dress, mealtime etiquette, and a strict set of protocols for virtually every occasion or situation. Oh, and they aren't allowed to make new spoons, so all existing spoons are highly prized and passed down from generation to generation. This is all due to the "Something That Happened" but no one knows what that Something was.Eddie Russett is our protagonist. He is sent to live with his dad in the Outer Fringes after his dad is reassigned as the local "swatchman" due to the abrupt absence of the previous swatchman. Eddie is in trouble with his local council for a prank he pulled and is given the task of a "chair census" to teach him some humility. On the way to their new village they make a stop to see some sites in the nearest large town and while sight-seeing they stumble across an accident in a paint shop and Eddie's dad is called in to help. This is just the beginning of a series of strange occurences that happen as Eddie and his dad make their way in a very strange town. Things are very much not as they seem and Eddie has just enough curiousity to get himself in big trouble.This is such an interesting world! The use of chromatics as a basis for society and government is so novel; I very much admire Mr. Fforde's creativity. I will be looking for the next in this series, for sure!

  • Joseph
    2018-12-05 05:08

    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 colors that they can see. Fforde has done such an amazing job with this story where leaders and their citizens go about finding legal ways to break the laws in order to keep order that its almost believable that such a world could exist. This book is so deep that I feel I'm going to have to read it again to truly understand it all since so much of it is so insane a sane mind might have some trouble understanding it all. All in all, this work is so ridiculous it was a blast to read. I can't wait for the sequel.

  • This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For
    2018-11-24 06:06

    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 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.

  • Sumit Singla
    2018-11-22 06:06

    I'm not fully sure of how to classify this book. Is it social satire? Is it absurdist literature? It is just a light-hearted comedic attempt by someone with a phenomenal sense of humour? Well, probably a bit of all three.Our story is set in an oddly dystopian society - where citizens are colour-coded into a caste system. There is a total lack of individualism, and people are trained to be conformists. But, it's not bleak; it's a laugh riot with tons of actual LOL moments.After all, punishments for stepping out of line could include conducting chair censuses or measuring the consistency of stools (Yech!).Our young hero has to deal with all this and more. There are deadly swamps and man-eating plants/trees to deal with. In addition, the wrath of his 'lady love', a lowly Grey is not be scoffed at either.Jasper Fforde writes brilliantly, and keeps you hanging on to every word - it's a bit of Brave New World on laughing gas. If you're not reading this, you're missing out on something brilliant.

  • Epizeuxis
    2018-11-24 03:10

    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, but, in all honesty, I believe that it’s warranted. And not just because it saves me the trouble of trying to explain this book, which is a task that I don’t think that I’m capable of tackling in any reasonably succinct way.Shades of Grey is really, truly, unabashedly odd. I’d ignore the genre tags if I were you, as they really aren’t accurate. I just had no idea how to classify this one. It’s one of those stories that is very hard to describe in only a few sentences, with a basic premise that raises so many questions that you’re sort of forced to provide more details to potential readers so as not to leave them completely bewildered.Notice how I said “completely bewildered.” Be prepared to get cozy with the second word in that phrase, because it’s going to describe you accurately throughout the bulk of this tale. If you’re at all familiar with Jasper Fforde’s work, it will come as no surprise to you to know that this book is likely going to be one of the strangest that you’ll encounter anytime soon. There’s nothing else quite like it out in the market right now, nor has there ever been (to my knowledge, at least). Fforde has one of the most fascinating imaginations that I’ve ever come across, and his ideas are nothing short of brilliant. I suspect that drugs may be involved here, but you can never be sure with these artist types.The result is worldbuilding so surreal, so thoroughly realized, that it’s almost overwhelming at times. Fforde wastes no time throwing you headfirst into the madness, and you’re left to puzzle it out on your own as best you can. Believe me when I say that you’re probably going to spend the bulk of the book having very little idea of what’s going on. For the reader who likes to have the “rules” of their stories clearly laid out before them, this will drive you to insanity. While it’s nice that the author avoids info-dumping or treating audiences as though they’re idiots, it’s rather frustrating to have so many new and odd details piled on so quickly. The problem is that, while many of them come to make sense (in their own, bizarre way), just as many do not, thanks to the simple fact that they’re not supposed to. The peculiarity of this society in which we find ourselves is one of the central themes explored, and how needless many of its ways are. As a result, much of what is left unexplained probably never will be, and sorting these particulars from those mysteries that have answers forthcoming is a weighty task.This is the only real problem that I have with Shades of Grey. Fforde’s oddball storytelling is refreshing and immensely enjoyable, but it’s also convoluted, and my floundering throughout much of the book, desperately attempting to find some sort of anchor via which I could make sense of it all, was frustrating. The upside is that once it all began to fall into place (more due to my putting the pieces together myself rather than any sort of explanation on the book’s part), the experience as a whole became much more satisfying. I guarantee that it’s worth struggling through the first half or so, despite how lost you may be at first – it’ll (sort of) make sense eventually, I promise you. Fforde’s genius becomes fully apparently only over time, and once it does, you’ll be glad that you stuck with him.As for the story itself, there’s not much to say. It’s slow and deliberate (though never stagnant), and ends up feeling more like one long buildup to the “real” plot of the series than like a solid tale in its own right (something that really doesn’t become apparent until the last few chapters). The bulk of the book deals with the complex network of relationships, double-crossing, alliances, and feuds that populate the small town of East Carmine, with hints of a dystopian tragedy hinted at occasionally and not coming to the forefront until the end. It may not be the most exciting of adventures, but the sheer force of Fforde’s cleverness and the character’s eccentricities keeps the pages turning.And do be warned: You’re going to have your heart broken, thanks mostly to our central couple. Eddie and Jane’s relationship develops slowly (so slowly, in fact, that they aren’t really “together” until the conclusion), making it that much sweeter once it comes to fruition. Of course, Fforde cannot permit his characters (or his readers) to be happy, so he makes sure to end things on not one, but several big cliffhangers. Tragic cliffhangers. “I-need-the-next-book-right-now-but-since-I-cannot-have-it-I’m-probably-going-to-die-from-these-feelings” cliffhangers.Brutal. Thanks, Fforde.To Conclude…It’s quirky, well-written, smart, witty, and emotional. It has everything that a certain other book with a rather similar name does not have. I’d recommend that you go out and read it immediately, but, considering that the sequel isn't expected to be released for another few years (what in the world is Fforde up to?!), you might want to wait so that the interim won’t be quite so brutal.Until then, you can find me in the corner willing Fforde to write faster, and possibly crying. You’re free to join me if you decide to give Shades of Grey a try.I hope that you do. It’s lonely over here.

  • Aryn
    2018-11-21 00:13

    Wow.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 colors you can see. Greys are the the bottom of this hierarchy and can see only shades of grey and are basically the servant class. This is followed by Reds who can only see shades of reds, Oranges who can only see shades of Orange, Yellows who can only see shades of yellow, followed by Greens, Blues, and finally topping at Purples. Usually people only socialize within their own color, unless one is trying to marry up color. The one exception to this rule is that people cannot marry people of a complimentary color. For example, Purples cannot marry Yellows. Eddie is sent, along with his father, a swatchman (a doctor who uses colors to heal), is sent to East Carmine because Eddie needs to learn humility by performing a chair census. Eddie gets a lot more than he bargained for when he starts asking questions and befriends a volatile Grey.I'm officially in love. A dystopian satire with a color-hierarchy and a strong female character. I want more. More now, please? Oh I have to wait until the next book comes out sometime next year? I don't wannnnnnna wait.I'm still mulling this over in my mind, but holy fucking Gods, what an amazing book. It was serious, and hilarious, and just brilliant. There is a spoon (view spoiler)[shortage (hide spoiler)], don'tcha know? Plus, it really brings "judging people by their color," to a whole new level.This universe was so amazingly complete while still not answering every burning question. Is this our world or a parallel one? What was the Something That Happened all those years ago? Where did all the Previous go? Why did people's eyesight change? What's with the Defacting? How about Leapbacks, what are those? Why does more and more tech become illegal with every Leapback? What's going to happen in three years with the Leapback? Why do they still have "Leapback" technology; wouldn't that have come from the Previous.I want more, dammit!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Isamlq
    2018-11-13 03:51

    “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 well as meet a certain Jane. Consequence? He is smitten. And that’s just the start too. So many things in this was different for me! The world that Eddie lives in is one organized according to color. So many things in this was different for me!

  • Colleen
    2018-12-08 00:58

    So happy to be slow to the party with this one, which is odd because I loooove Jasper Fforde and all his books. But this one, written in 2009, is not really a standalone, and if you make it to the end of this one, from the daffy futuristic world set 500 years or so after Something That Happened, to the end that reveals just how bleak of a dystopia this world is (not a huge shock what happens to the Rebooters), where everything is upended, ending on a GIANT CLIFFHANGER, with a note that the next 2 books (Shades of Grey 2: Painting by Numbers & Shades of Grey 3: The Gordini Protocols) due out soon. Are these books a Ffordian joke or actually planned? But looking online (which is goddamn difficult thanks to a certain terrible book bringing up false hits), because once you are done with this, you'll be like "WHAT?! Where is the sequel?!" you'll be disappointed, since the planned sequel looks like it's been pushed back many times, with now an announcement that a PREQUEL is next (damn you Star Wars for making this a thing).The prequel, 7 Things to do before you die in Talgarth, is supposedly due out in 2018, but I see that's been delayed a bunch too, and the supposed sequel was planned for 2013 but weak sales of this one has somewhat scotched that...so...."I was immensely proud of 'SoG' and had high hopes for it, but initial sales were tepid, despite generous reviews, hence the lack of a sequel. I like this book, but it has had disappointingly low sales - although things are picking up now. I'm planning on writing a sequel as the book after the book after the book I'm working on now, so maybe 2019."Does this stand alone? To a degree yes, if there's anything Fforde can do well (and he does so many things fantastically--I'd rank him equal to Terry Pratchett even) it's world building. And a future where the caste system is color, both vision and spectrum, with a world revolving around color. Greys do all the terrible jobs, working up to 3 jobs, 16 hours per day--yellows, greens, reds, and blues and the rest spend their day being waited on, getting back performance review credits for virtually everything, and avoiding too much scrutiny. I would say it could have stood on its own merits except for the last 20 pages which hint at much more. In a way I am torn, I want this book wrapped up because there's nothing worse than reading a fantastic book, getting super invested in the plot and the world, only to come across a "TO BE CONTINUED" with nothing resolved...but now I want more people to read this, so Fforde will be forced to finish. Anyways, with the giant warning of you'll fall in love with this book only to be crushed at the end, I still recommend reading this.

  • Pôl
    2018-11-12 01:02

    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 Victorian-style comedy of manners struggling to get free. Unfortunately, it's competing for space with the Miss Marple-style murder mystery, the high-concept science fiction novel, and the conspiracy thriller. Any of these stories would have been wonderful to read on their own, but none of them are given the opportunity to flourish. Instead of ending up with a unique synthesis of genres, we end up with a tangled mess.The book does have many good moments, and the ending satisfactorily ties up many of the story's mysteries. (But not all: this book is the first of a series, it would seem.) And as I've said, the world-building at play here is a delight. Even when the muddled genres left me wondering what the plot was, Fforde's ideas kept me reading until the end.

  • Veeral
    2018-11-23 23:06

    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). And as this is a 3 star book for me, let me link you to a couple of reviews from my GR friends Aerin and Mark, who gave this book a 2 starred and 4 starred reviews respectively. Everything they have written, I agree completely with both of their reviews. Yep, this was that kind of a book for me.But one thing I felt by the end of this book was that it could have been so much better if this was published as a full length 1200 page novel instead of a trilogy.

  • Skip
    2018-11-17 22:54

    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 trying to make sense out of strange events. 2.5 stars, rounded up.

  • Emily (BellaGrace)
    2018-12-08 22:59

    I really liked this one - it was funny (not in an annoying slapstick way) and had a very interesting, well thought out world. However, this book just ends. There's no real resolution to anything. Clearly there was meant to be a follow on book that never happened. For that reason, my recommendation is to skip this book simply because the ending is so frustrating.

  • Ashley
    2018-12-07 05:43

    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 what a fresh breath of weirdness it turned out to be.*WHERE IS MY NEXT NURSERY CRIME BOOK, JASPER. WHERE.Undoubtedly, Jasper Fforde is a writer of silly books, but with Shades of Grey (subtitled The Road to High Saffron in order to distinguish it from its forthcoming sequels) — which is indeed a very silly book — he’s also got something with some heft to it. This is a satire like his other books, but it’s also a dystopia, which is new territory for him. The Nursery Crime books satirize our culture through fairy-tales, and the Thursday Next books are alt-histories that do the same with stories and a surplus of imagination. But the Shades of Grey series actually has a sheen of realism to it. Mind you, just a sheen. We’re not talking hard-hitting documentary here. This is a world where people use the color green as a narcotic and where spoons are highly prized objects.It’s also the most joyfully weird dystopia I’ve ever read.The premise of Shades of Grey, which takes place in Britain an unknown number of centuries from now, is that there was The Something That Happened, and all the people (whom the characters call The Previous) died off, leaving new humans upon the Earth who can now only see one color with their tiny little pupils (which also prevent them from seeing anything at night). Society is segregated by these colors, and certain colors have more prestige than others. Additionally, the more of a color you can see (which is measured upon adulthood with an official test), the higher up within your color you are. Color, or lack thereof, permeates every aspect of their lives. Citizens earn merits that they often use to purchase synthetic colors, and a great deal of time and effort is spent salvaging true color from the wild and turning it in concentrated form into synthetic color (which is fast running out). In addition, the society is rigidly controlled from the top. Citizens who don’t have enough merits are sent to reboot camp. Citizens are told where they will work, and marriages are arranged for optimal color production in children. Technology is also frequently leapt back, seemingly at random (in the book, telephones have only recently been taken away).But that’s just the background. The real story starts when our main character, Eddie Russett, is sent with his father the Swatchman (a person who heals with color combinations) to a fringe village in order to earn some Humility for a prank he played on another boy. The fringes are very different, and he soon finds himself drawn into questioning for the first time why his world is the way it is.Most dystopian novels are endlessly bleak, but sometimes that level of bleakness gets old and actually works against the message the author is trying to impart. And certainly, Fforde sticks some disturbing stuff in here amidst all the humorous oddities. But it’s precisely that level of absurdity that makes the satire so effective. The society these people live in is structured in such a ridiculous manner, but has just enough similarities to our own, that the absurdity of some of our own behavior is easily reflected in it. (It also helps that you don’t come out of the book wanting to smack your own head against a wall in despair.)Eddie and Jane, the grey girl he quickly falls in love with, are definitely the absurdo-world version of Winston and Julia from 1984, but for me that only adds to the book’s charm. The dynamic between the haplessly naïve Eddie and the seemingly caustic, rebellious Jane was my favorite part of the book. In fact, this whole book could be called the absurdo-world 1984, and that wouldn’t be an insult to either book.My only real complaint is that the plot takes a while to get going, because Fforde has to set up the world, which he does set up pretty organically. There isn’t really any exposition. But it does seem for about 100 pages or so that things we’re learning are just set decoration, although it turns out that almost all of it is relevant to the plot. This won’t ever be an issue for me on re-read, but it definitely was before I knew how it would all turn out.If you haven’t tried Jasper Fforde’s writing before, I would highly recommend this as a starting point. It’s probably his most mature and well-written book, even if it’s not his funniest*. If you’ve read Fforde before and found him lacking, you might still like this because it’s of a different flavor than what you’re used to.*It’s still pretty fucking funny, though.And now I really do hope that the internet isn’t lying to me when it says book two will be out next year because I really want it.**AND THE THIRD NURSERY CRIME BOOK, JASPER. WHERE IS IT.

  • Yvonne Boag
    2018-11-19 01:54

    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 the titles are not."On the wall opposite me hung the Caravaggio, and it was every bit as spectacular as the pictures I had seen. ...the drapes above the scene of Frowny Girl Removing Beardy's Head were in a most spectacular shade of crimson, which counterpointed the spurt of arterial blood, also a vivid red. I stared at the large canvas for a few minutes, breathless with the consummate skill of the painter, the fine subtlety of light and shade, and wishing that for just a few minutes I could see more than just red."So what is it like? Just imagine if Douglas Adams had written 1984. Loved it!

  • Stefan
    2018-11-23 21:50

    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 the best possible color perception for the offspring, and inter-marriage by complimentary colors is strictly taboo.Edward Russett is the son of a swatchman (a doctor who heals his patients by showing them specific shades of color) who is moving to a new community, situated on the Fringe of society, to replace a recently deceased swatchman. As he settles in, it gradually becomes clear that the village is filled with intrigue — including the mysterious circumstances of the previous swatchman's death, and a young Grey girl who appears to be be more than she is.As we learn more about the structure and history of the Colortocracy, it becomes increasingly clear that, despite Jasper Fforde's typically cheerful style, this is a dystopia. A large part of the enjoyment of reading Shades of Grey is finding out how its society works, so I don't want to give away too many details, but rest assured: it starts out interesting and unique, and gets better — but darker — as the story progresses.If we graded novels just on the originality of the setting, Shades of Grey would be a 5 star book, but unfortunately that's not the case. I felt that most of the characters had a cartoon-like quality to them, with the villains just a little too villainy, the heroes too heroic, and so on. The fact that they're also conveniently color-coded made this even more apparent. In a nutshell, most of the characters in Shades of Grey have little or no depth and are mainly vehicles to move the plot along and illustrate aspects of the setting. The exception is our hero Edward Russett, who has a great subversive streak and a biting sense of humor which I really enjoyed.Shades of Grey features some by now recognizable Jasper Fforde quirks, like the use of animals in unexpected contexts (e.g., dodos in the Thursday Next books, vicious swan attacks in Shades of Grey), and the alternative forms of mass entertainment that arise with the absence of TV (e.g., Rocky Horror Picture Show-like performances of Shakespeare in the former books, a morse-based underground radio in Shades of Grey). Literature buffs will once again have a blast rooting out all the subtle and not-so-subtle literary references and puns. Jasper Fforde also returns to poking fun at excessive bureaucracy in all its forms — in this case even starting out every chapter with a quotation from the quasi-religious book of rules the Colortocracy lives by. Finally, it's great that, just like for the Thursday Next books, Jasper Fforde has once again provided an entire website with tons of extra information about Shades of Grey.All in all, Shades of Grey is a good novel that, if anything, felt unbalanced to me. The setting is fantastic, but the characters are flat. The novel is at times hilarious, but the humor feels out of place in the dystopian setting. The novel is unique and never boring, but juggling these contrasts makes it almost uncomfortable to read. Still, I definitely want to find out more about the origins of the Colortocracy and am genuinely looking forward to Painting by Numbers, the next novel in the trilogy.(This review was also published on the Fantasy Literature website: www.fantasyliterature.com - come check us out!)