REVIEW: Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

FullSizeRender (16)Shades of Grey is a futuristic dystopian/science-fiction/fantasy novel where the hierarchy is based on colour perception. Eddie Russett is an above average Red (meaning he is somewhere in the middle of the social standings) who moves to a new town with his father on the Out Fringes. There he meets Jane, a Grey (the bottom of the social ladder) who is bad-tempered, has a lot of secrets and doesn’t seem to like him that much. Eddie is fascinated by Jane but as he gets closer to her he discovers the system he has been living under isn’t as simple and as perfect as he thought.

Shades of Grey is the first book in a trilogy – which I wasn’t aware of going into the book and I don’t like it when that happens. That being said, there isn’t a huge cliff-hanger left at the end of the novel or anything, you could say that the first arc of Eddie’s story has been completed.

The world of Shades of Grey is very well thought out and complex. Each person can see so much of a certain colour which means they have a certain standing in society – the only way to move up the ladder is to marry people of higher or complimenting colours. There are a lot of rules people have to live by and some of the rule are kind of ridiculous as they have been lost in translation from the time “Before”. These rules are explained slowly to the reader so you are left to figure out how the world works yourself which can sometimes be a good thing but in this case it was a bit confusing.

The problem I had with Shades of Grey is while the world is fascinating and vastly different to other books I’ve read, the actual plot was very slow moving. It wasn’t until about half way through that the main conflict really appeared obvious (there were so many sub-plots that I wasn’t sure which thread was going to be the main one or which ones really mattered) and the characters started to react to it.

Eddie’s realisation that the world he lives in isn’t as it seems is almost painfully slow and I sympathise with Jane’s frustration with him as I frequently got very annoyed with him.

In short, I found Shades of Grey a very slow read and I had to push myself to finish it as while the world was interesting but complicated, the characters and plot were very slow moving and at times boring. 2/5.

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