MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Summary and book reviews of Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

Shades of Grey

by Jasper Fforde

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde X
Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Dec 2009, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2011, 400 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

An astonishing, hotly anticipated new novel from the great literary fantasist and creator of Thursday Next, Jasper Fforde: Part social satire, part romance, part revolutionary thriller, Shades of Grey tells of a battle against overwhelming odds.

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.

A Morning in Vermillion

2.4.16.55.021: 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 yateveo tree. It was all frightfully inconvenient.

But it wasn’t all bad, for the following reasons: First, I was lucky to have landed upside down. I would drown in under a minute, which was far, far preferable to being dissolved alive over the space of a few weeks. Second, and more important, I wasn’t going to die ignorant. I had discovered something ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for a year or $12 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Shades of Grey is the first book in a series, and while Fforde brings this novel to a satisfying conclusion, he by no means answers all the questions he raises. He leaves his readers eager to return to the dystopian world he has created if for no other reason than to satisfy their curiosity about how such a warped society arose in the first place. The novel may not appeal to all of Fforde's fans, as many will find its bizarre setting and deeper themes too much work to enjoy. However, the book's sheer originality and top-notch writing are likely to attract a host of new devotees. Shades of Grey is Fforde's best book to date...continued

Full Review (653 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Media Reviews

Los Angeles Times
At moments, Shades of Grey suffers from the classic error of futurist fantasy, in which the creator grows so fond of his fanciful system that he spends too long setting it up and polishing its upholstery. But even then, it's great fun to waste time in Fforde's company. Though we've heard his plea for curiosity and creative rebellion before, his visceral antipathy for coercive mediocrity and the refusal to think for oneself bears repeating.

Chicago Sun-Times
The story moves slowly at times, but even when Fforde gets bogged down in description, you marvel at the imagination that could create a world so bizarre, yet so complete and convincing.

Washington Post
[I]t's hard not to get lost in the marvelous details of this novel, which is pretty much what happens to the plot... Both the thrills and the romantic comedy pick up during the final quarter, but as much as it hurts to say it, color me disappointed.

Denver Post
In short, Shades of Grey is everything that Fforde fans love, and distinctly different from what has come before.

Miami Herald
Shades of Grey marks the beginning of Fforde's third series, with two more books expected. His Thursday Next novels, starting with the bestselling The Eyre Affair, may be more accessible for readers new to Fforde's singular brand of wit, but for established fans Shades of Grey is not to be missed.

The Guardian (UK)
The narrowness of the high concept is, finally, too much a sort of meagreness, and too little a scalpel edge. But fans of Fforde, of whom there are many, may well find shades of greatness in Shades of Grey...

Publishers Weekly
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.

Library Journal
Starred Review. Fforde has built a complex, engaging, and unique world full of surprises, serious ideas, and serious fun that will appeal to those beyond the author's readers and sf fans.

Kirkus Reviews
The world of the near future is anything but an ashen wasteland in the impish British author's refreshingly daft first volume of a new fantasy series.

Booklist
Starred Review. If his complex world building sometimes slows the plot and the balance of silly and serious is uneasy, we’re still completely won over.

Reader Reviews

Cloggie Downunder

more brilliant Fforde
Shades of Grey, sub-titled The Road to High Saffron, is the eighth novel by Jasper Fforde, and the first novel in the Shades of Grey series. Fforde has used his incredible imagination to create for the reader a unique world, Chromatacia, where ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for a year or $12 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Jasper Fforde

Jasper Fforde was born in London on January 11, 1961. His father was a prominent economist, while his mother did charity work and was a passionate reader. Fforde and his four siblings were raised in London and Wales. At the age of twelve Fforde was sent to Dartington Hall School, a progressive coeducational boarding school near Totnes, Devon, which he attended until his graduation in 1979.

As a child he shared his mother's love of reading, and by the age of eleven had become quite interested in film and television. While the young Fforde liked to watch Monty Python, he was particularly influenced by a commercial he saw for milk starring the actor Roger Moore. It showed what happened behind the scenes on a production set, and this ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for a year or $12 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Jasper Fforde

If you liked Shades of Grey, try these:

  • Qualityland jacket

    Qualityland

    by Marc-Uwe Kling

    Published 2020

    About this book

    What if the perfect world wasn't built for you?

  • Vita Nostra jacket

    Vita Nostra

    by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko

    Published 2019

    About this book

    The definitive English language translation of the internationally bestselling Russian novel - a brilliant dark fantasy with "the potential to be a modern classic" (Lev Grossman), combining psychological suspense, enchantment, and terror that makes us consider human existence in a fresh and provocative way.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for a year or $12 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Lost Book of Adana Moreau
    The Lost Book of Adana Moreau
    by Michael Zapata
    In the 1920s, Adana Moreau, a Dominican immigrant living in New Orleans, begins writing a gloriously...
  • Book Jacket: The Glass Hotel
    The Glass Hotel
    by Emily St. John Mandel
    Vincent—a young woman named for American poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millay—is ...
  • Book Jacket: Saint X
    Saint X
    by Alexis Schaitkin
    In the opening pages of her debut novel, Alexis Schaitkin introduces the reader to an idyllic beach ...
  • Book Jacket: The Bear
    The Bear
    by Andrew Krivak
    The Bear feels like a novel I've been awaiting for years. I received the book and its message with ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    I Want You to Know We're Still Here
    by Esther Safran Foer

    "A vivid testimony to the power of memory."
    - Kirkus (starred review)
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Afterlife
    by Julia Alvarez

    "A gorgeously intimate portrait of...hope in the face of personal grief."
    -- O, The Oprah Magazine
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Henna Artist
by Alka Joshi

The Henna Artist opens a door into a world that is at once lush and fascinating, stark and cruel.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Mostly Dead Things

Mostly Dead Things
by Kristen Arnett

"Hilarious, deeply morbid, and full of heart."
- BuzzFeed

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

E, My D W

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.