Shades of Grey, Paperback Book
5 out of 5 (3 ratings)


Hundreds of years in the future, after the Something that Happened, the world is an alarmingly different place.

Life is lived according to The Rulebook and social hierarchy is determined by your perception of colour. Eddie Russett is an above average Red who dreams of moving up the ladder by marriage to Constance Oxblood.

Until he is sent to the Outer Fringes where he meets Jane - a lowly Grey with an uncontrollable temper and a desire to see him killed. For Eddie, it's love at first sight. But his infatuation will lead him to discover that all is not as it seems in a world where everything that looks black and white is really shades of grey ...If George Orwell had tripped over a paint pot or Douglas Adams favoured colour swatches instead of towels ...neither of them would have come up with anything as eccentrically brilliant as Shades of Grey.


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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

After the Swatchman of East Carmine is pronounced dead by mis-diagnosis Eddie Russett and his dad arrive to help out and they find out there is more to East Carmine than meets the eye. What is happening to the greys and when people end up being sent to reboot what becomes of them. The prefects are looking after themselves but what will happen when one of their own start to get a conscience??? Guess I will need to read book 2 and 3 from the series to find out! :-)

Review by
'I thought Munsell said that colour was here to give our life meaning?''Its function is to give life apparent meaning. It is an abstraction, a misdirection- nothing more than a sideshow at Jollity Fair. As long as your minds are full of Chromatic betterment, there can be no room for other, more destructive, thoughts. Do you understand?'"Shades of Grey" is set in what used to be Wales, hundred of years after the mysterious Something That Happened. Nobody knows what the Something That Happened actually was, but it seems to have been linked to the disappearance of the Previous (i.e homo sapiens) and the establishment of the Colourtocracy, a society where your social status is based on which colours of the spectrum you are able to see, and the population lives according to a series of rules, with their conduct being rewarded or otherwise by the award of merits and demerits. Their society is gradually regressing technologically, as every few years there is a Leapback, when certain subjects are 'defacted' and all books on those subjects removed from the increasingly empty libraries, and the use of certain items becomes forbidden. Telephones, any cars more advanced than a Model 'T' Ford, and even riding horses are some of the things that have been forbidden in previous Leapbacks. The few remaining artefacts made by the Previous are now incomprehensible to the populace, but the Oz Memorial made me laugh when I realised who the figures on the statue were.For most of the book, not a huge amount happens, but I liked the way that information about this strange rule-bound society is drip-fed as the story progresses - there are no info-dumps but you gradually get to understand how this strange society works (or so you think). The action picks up towards the end of the book, and I was surprised (shocked, even) at just how dark the story became. I'm really looking forward to the next book in the series and am hoping that we it will reveal more about the Something That Happened, who the the Riff Raff are, and where the Fallen Man fell from.While reading the book, it gradually becomes clear just how bad the characters' eyesight is, even leaving aside their problems with colour perception. Eddie remarks more then once about the hollow, empty appearance of the Previous, due to their large pupils, and it seems that people have tiny pupils which don't change size to adapt to different lighting conditions like ours do. So their eyesight is poor even in daylight (hence the complicated arrangements of heliostats bringing sunlight into their buildings), while at night, they are completely blind (and terrified of the dark). They can't see by moonlight, although they know that some animals can, and they are unable to see the stars at all.As well as the Apocryphal Man telling Eddie that the function of colour is to give life apparent meaning, Jane also says 'Someone remade the night as a barrier to restrict movement, and sightless people who have no fear of the darkness would give the game away.' So I don't think that the differences between the characters in this book and the Previous are due to evolution. It's not as if they live in caves or underground, so what evolutionary benefit could there be for the deterioration in their eyesight? If there were no colour-based rules on who you could marry, colour-vision would soon even out amongst the population. There is also no logical reason for social status to increase as you move along the spectrum form red to ultra-violet. I think that at some point someone must have made an arbitrary decision that that was the way it would be (maybe based on the historical role of purple as a colour for royalty). But whether it was brought about by genetic meddling or selective breeding, and why it would only affect the ability to see 'natural' colours I have no idea.
Review by

It took me a little while to acclimatize to a Jasper Fforde book where bookish puns and conceits are not in the foreground, but I found it well worthwhile.That said, the puns and conceits are certainly not absent in this new "altiverse": they're just a little different. There's sometimes a more serious edge, to my mind. I look forward to reading the next in the series.

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