Wednesday, January 13, 2010


It's not unusual for a writer of a successful series of books to create another set of characters for another series. It is unusual for a writer to then create a third world and group of characters for yet another series. That's what Jasper Fforde has done with Shades of Grey.

I am a big fan of his Thursday Next books, of which there have been five so far. In fact, they are some of my favorite books of the past decade and one day I will reread them with a great deal of joy. I also quite liked his two Nursery Crime books starring Jack Spratt and wouldn't mind seeing some more in the future. I don't love the new series quite as much but I definitely enjoyed the first book.

His new world is one of color. Society is sorted by the amount of true color people can see. Those who can see lots of color are made prefects and help to run society, those who don't are expected to contribute meaningfully to that society. There is a definite hierarchy, with those who are labeled Grey at the bottom.

Our introduction to this world comes through the eyes of Eddie Russett, a Red who will soon take his Ishihara, which will determine his fate by testing how much color he can see. He and his father are sent to East Carmine, a more remote village where the Rules are not as solid as they seem back home.

Eddie is a bit of a dolt, though he definitely grows (and grows on the reader) over the course of the book. He is in love with a Grey and through his eyes (and hers) we are awakened to the oddness of the world. This is a world somewhere in the future, after the fall of humanity. This book doesn't give us all the answers to what happened and I'm okay with that. Fforde seems to be after something deeper and a bit darker than his usual work.

At the end of the book, Fforde promises two more books in this series and I look forward to reading them and discovering the mysteries.

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