Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Book #35: Shades of Grey

It's no secret that I'm quite a Jasper Fforde fan. I read the Thursday Next series almost obsessively, devoured the Nursery Crime books while abroad last summer, and even special ordered his newest book, a children's book called The Last Dragonslayer, from the UK when it wasn't released in the US last fall. For some reason, though, I just couldn't get into Shades of Grey when I got it from the library last summer (that may be in part due to the fact that I brought in on a vacation that also included five children under age 10).

I just drove a triangular route for visits and interviews this past weekend, though, and as my total trip was going to take something around fifteen hours by the time all was said and done, I decided I'd listen to an audiobook. Cue Shades of Grey--all of Jasper Fforde's creativity and skill combined with John Lee's vocal talents. I thoroughly enjoyed the story now that I was able to actually focus my attention upon it. It's the tale of young Eddie Russett, a red living in a world dictated by a person's ability to see color. Purples are at the top of the spectrum of society, followed by blues, greens, yellows, oranges, reds, and greys. Eddie finds himself in East Carmine, sent to perform a chair census in an effort to gain humility, but things are much stranger in this fringe town than he would have expected. It's a dystopian type of novel, albeit with a totally unique, extremely intricate universe unlike anything I'd yet encountered in reading.

I don't know that I can do any justice in describing the actual plot to you--Fforde's writing is so fantastic, his plots so intricate and hilarious that if I tried I am pretty sure I'd turn you off reading (or listening to!) the book. Suffice it to say that Shades of Grey is chock full of all the amusing characters (both endearing and infuriating), seemingly irrelevant plot points that make total sense in the end, and quiet satire and humor that are standards of Fforde's writing. Now I am very anxiously awaiting the next book in this series. And, when I'm the sort of person who should really be reading more children's literature than anything else, that is saying something.

I'd suggest this book to readers who enjoy Fforde, are looking for something a bit more out of the ordinary in terms of dystopian fiction, and/or are looking for a captivating way to pass 13+ hours. Audiobooks count as reading, remember!

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