Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron by Jasper Fforde
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This new novel from Jasper Fforde is very different from both his Thursday Next and Nursery Crimes series. While the biting satire is there, this is a much darker-hued (pun intended) view of the world. Fforde's novel is set about 500 years in the future after Something Happened. Society is tightly organized and controlled ( á la 1984 or the The Giver) by a Head Office and National Color. Your place in society is determined strictly by the color and the percentage of that color that you can perceive. Eddie Russet, a potential high-level Red, is sent to the Outer Fringes as punishment for his lack of humility. Or is that really the reason? Eddie is trying to "color up" through an advantageous marriage, but he's been known to question things that are supposed to be unquestionable. He travels to East Carmine with his father, who acts as a healer, using color swatches as his tools. Eddie meets Jane Grey, a known troublemaker, and through his association with her, discovers far more about his world than he wanted to know. Fforde creates a very believable world - a world that values spoons, barcodes, and following Munsell's Rules. There's the characteristic Fforde humor --- the librarians who can recite the misremembered names of novels that have been removed in the Great Leapbacks, Killer Swans, and the wonder of loopholes. I liked this book, though not as light-hearted in feeling as his previous books. I was bothered by the darkness of the ending, but I am looking forward to reading the sequels. It wasn't a fast (for me, anyway) read. I did get interrupted a lot, but at the same time, the darker side of the humor, slowed me down.
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