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Shades of Grey: A Novel by Jasper Fforde

Shades of Grey: A Novel

by Jasper Fforde

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Shades of Grey (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,0042291,900 (4.09)1 / 380
  1. 130
    The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (shallihavemydwarf)
  2. 92
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (Othemts, TomWaitsTables)
    TomWaitsTables: The dystopic comedy by by Jasper Fforde, not the adult novel read by housewives.
  3. 40
    The Island of the Colorblind by Oliver Sacks (bertilak)
  4. 20
    Only Forward by Michael Marshall Smith (simon211175)
  5. 86
    The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (Othemts)
  6. 11
    The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry (ahstrick)
  7. 02
    Theory of Colours by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (bertilak)
    bertilak: In particular, see Goethe's section on pathological colours.
  8. 14
    Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (KCLibrarian)
    KCLibrarian: Both books create believable societies unlike our own in some ways, but recognizably human in other ways. Both raise challenging societal questions and have some surprise twists and turns along the way. Both authors deftly ease their readers into the fantasy worlds they create, and by the time the story ends, leave readers wanting more.… (more)
  9. 04
    Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder (Yells)

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English (229)  Dutch (2)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  All (233)
Showing 1-5 of 229 (next | show all)
I loved the book. One thing bothering me, was how does the color-seeing thing work. How can it work? Which light frequencies they perceive to what degree? Can it have the perceptual consequences that are described? If you only saw red, you'd be sensitive to one frequency band and effectively monochromatic. But this isn't how the reds work in the book. The best I could do was trying to forget physics. ( )
  automatthias | Jun 19, 2017 |
I always find it takes a bit more effort to get into a Jasper Fforde book than with most because the worlds he creates are so peculiar. Shades of Grey is typically atypical. In this novel, the first of a proposed trilogy, he creates an alternate, or perhaps a future earth in which color perception determines social class, most living things are born with bar codes, night blindness and fear of the dark is the norm, and compliance with strict social rules is not only expected but enforced. This cultural satire, which addresses questions of societal versus personal goals and class conflict, is worth a bit of extra effort. ( )
  DLMorrese | Oct 14, 2016 |
I'm going to do a crap job of reviewing this, because there's just too much to say, but if Monty Python did a movie adaptation of Orwell's 1984, it would look just like Shades of Grey. Unfortunately, as much as I love Fforde's writing, I loathed 1984.

Shades of Grey takes place many centuries in the future, presumably in what is the UK. The world is run by the collective and people are ranked by what color of the spectrum they can see (and they can only see one). Everyone bows to the infallible word of Munsell, but rather than being a technologically advanced society, the collective embraces a progressively severe form of ludditism (it's a word, I looked it up), where every set number of years they have a "leapback" where more and more technology is forbidden, and by tech I mean things like bicycles. The MC, Eddie Russet, and his father are sent to the outer fringes of their world by the collective so Eddie can do a chair census and learn humility. While there he learns a lot more than humility.

The writing is classic Fforde. In my one and only status update for the book, I said it felt like I was trapped in a Dali painting; between the pure absurdity and the color centric society, it's still the most apt comparison. Everything about the story is absurd, from the biggest threat to the collective being swan attacks, to the fact that it's illegal to make spoons but not illegal to own them.

I didn't like science fiction as a genre when I started this book and even though I enjoyed Shades of Grey as much as I possibly could given my total dislike of the premise, I still don't like science fiction. But I want to be clear that this is not the book's fault: Fforde's writing is excellent, the story filled with absurd humour and a plot that sneaks up on you and leaves you stunned; this is the book that teachers should be using instead of 1984; students would learn the same lessons about the evils of communism and fascism and 'Big Brother' but enjoy it a hell of a lot more.

Weighing my bias against SF and 1984 in particular with the very excellent writing on Fforde's part, I split the difference and went with a three star rating. This is the first of a trilogy and even though this one had an ending that left me sputtering, I doubt very much I'll read the rest. ( )
  murderbydeath | Oct 11, 2016 |
Fforde at his best - great world building - good potential - generally likable characters with some personal development - however it is a teenage coming of age story (albeit light) with the attendant romantic entanglements and problems. No great philisophical depth but plenty of philisophical problems.
overall will probably read more by author ( )
  jason9292 | Sep 16, 2016 |
To say it's highly imaginative would be an understatement, rather it's effortlessly delirious...
It's a dystopia, though not the young adult kind we have an inflation ofthese days, but tailored to the likes of Zamyatin or Huxley. Instead of Taylor or Ford, life is ruled here by the laws of Munsell, the inventor of
the Munsell colour system. Peoples' social class is determined by the colours they are able to distinguish, the lowest being the Greys, those who are not able to see any colours.
I loved the world building and the humour(who said dystopias can't be funny).
Bad thing is, this should be the first part of a series, but, although it was written about 5 years ago, there is no book 2 yet.

( )
  LauraM77 | Jun 28, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 229 (next | show all)
In structure, Shades of Grey moves like most other books in the sci-fi/fantasy genre, but in tone, it has more in common with comic novels such as Catch-22.
Fforde is an author of immense imagination. Not satisfied with just a few layers of Dickensian jokes and revisions of the physical universe, he creates an archeological treasure trove for readers.
All this is serenely silly, but to dispel a black mood and chase away the blues, this witty novel offers an eye-popping spectrum of remedies.
added by Katya0133 | editKirkus (Dec 15, 2009)
It's all brilliantly original, lf his complex world building sometimes slows the plot and the balance of silly and serious is uneasy, we're still completely won over.
added by Katya0133 | editBooklist, Keir Graff (Dec 15, 2009)
Eddie navigates a vividly imagined landscape whose every facet is steeped in the author's remarkably detailed color scheme. Sometimes, though, it's hard to see the story for the chromotechnics.
added by Katya0133 | editPublishers Weekly (Nov 23, 2009)

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jasper Ffordeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Buckley, PaulCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Garduno, KenIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lagin, DanielDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, StevenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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There is no light or colour as a fact in external nature. There is merely motion of material...When the light enters your eyes and falls on the retina, there is motion of material. Then your nerves are affected and your brain is affected, and again this is merely motion of material...The mind in apprehending experiences sensations which, properly speaking, are qualities of the mind alone. —Alfred North Whitehead
Welcoming you to the undeniably
enjoyable and generally underrated
sense of being known as existence
First words Males are to wear dress code #6 during inter-Collective travel. Hats are encouraged but not mandatory.
It began with my father not wanting to see the Last Rabbit and ended up with my being eaten by a carnivorous plant. It wasn't really what I'd planned for myself—I'd hoped to marry into the Oxbloods and join their dynastic string empire. But that was four days ago, before I met Jane, retrieved the Caravaggio and explored High Saffron. So instead of enjoying aspirations of Chromatic advancement, I was wholly immersed within the digestive soup of a yataveo tree. It was all frightfully inconvenient.
Apart we are together.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Welcome to Chromatacia, where the Colortocracy rules society through a social hierarchy based upon one's limited color perception. In this world, you are what you can see.

But Eddie Russet wants to move up. When he and his father relocate to the backwater village of East Carmine, his carefully cultivated plans to leverage his better-than-average red perception and marry into a powerful family are quickly upended. Eddie must contend with lethal swans, sneaky Yellows, inviolable rules, an enforced marriage to hideous Violet deMauve, and a risky friendship with an intriguing Grey named Jane who shows Eddie that the apparent peace of his world is as much an illusion as color itself. Will Eddie be able to tread the fine line between total conformity—accepting the path, partner, and career delineated by his hue—and his instinctive curiosity that is bound to get him into trouble?
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670019631, Hardcover)

From the bestselling author of Thursday Next—a brilliant new novel about a world where social order and destiny are dictated by the colors you can see

Part social satire, part romance, part revolutionary thriller, Shades of Grey tells of a battle against overwhelming odds. In a society where the ability to see the higher end of the color spectrum denotes a better social standing, Eddie Russet belongs to the low-level House of Red and can see his own color—but no other. The sky, the grass, and everything in between are all just shades of grey, and must be colorized by artificial means.

Eddie's world wasn't always like this. There's evidence of a never-discussed disaster and now, many years later, technology is poor, news sporadic, the notion of change abhorrent, and nighttime is terrifying: no one can see in the dark. Everyone abides by a bizarre regime of rules and regulations, a system of merits and demerits, where punishment can result in permanent expulsion.

Eddie, who works for the Color Control Agency, might well have lived out his rose-tinted life without a hitch. But that changes when he becomes smitten with Jane, a Grey Nightseer from the dark, unlit side of the village. She shows Eddie that all is not well with the world he thinks is just and good. Together, they engage in dangerous revolutionary talk.

Stunningly imaginative, very funny, tightly plotted, and with sly satirical digs at our own society, this novel is for those who loved Thursday Next but want to be transported somewhere equally wild, only darker; a world where the black and white of moral standpoints have been reduced to shades of grey.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:21 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Welcome to Chromatacia, where for as long as anyone can remember society has been ruled by a Colortocracy. Social hierachy is based upon one's limited color perception. society is dominated by color. In this world, you are what you can see, and Eddie Russett, a better-than-average red perception wants to move up.… (more)

» see all 9 descriptions

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