First, I have to say that I take some pride in the fact I only listened to this audiobook while working out. Given my laziness lately, it probably took a while longer than it ought to have for me to finish.
Shades of Grey is a dystopian novel, but in a very Jasper Fforde way. If you have ever read his Thursday Next series, you know he is witty, sarcastic, and extremely clever. That genius shows through in this tale as well.
The world in which Edward lives is somewhat recognizable as a distant version of the United Kingdom we know today. Rather than being separated by class and birthright, the new structure is based on one’s ability to see hues of a particular color and postcode. Greys are the lowest in the hierarchy, Purples at the top. The rules that govern are often silly and arbitrary, but strictly followed so as not to slide back into the ways of the “time before”- the time we would recognize today. The Collective is not quite Big Brother, but the blind loyalty of citizens to it makes this color-centric world very discouraging and frightening at the same time. Shades of Grey only thinly masks its allegory- and it is all the better for it.
It is oddly enjoyable reading as naive and compliant Eddie has the wool pulled from his eyes, namely by Jane. The progression of their relationship really made the book for me in the end. On his site, Jasper Fforde compared Eddie and Jane to Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre. I only hope they will have their own happy ending by the time the proposed trilogy wraps.
As a whole, Shades of Grey was an amusing read. For Fforde’s almost sickeningly sweet world to have such a dark underbelly was surprising- and I do like it when authors manage to surprise me. The ending left me a bit frustrated. Some of the last minute plot twists seemed like unnecessary points to draw the story out. I have faith they will pay off by the end of the series and the story as a whole warrants a full three books. Since it was published two years ago, I hope we can look forward to the second book in the series very soon.
For some additional fun check out
Shades of Grey at Jasper Fforde’s website.