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Shades of Grey

Shades of Grey - Jasper Fforde Please see the full review on my blog Let’s us start off with the world building - Shades of Grey is set in the future, where colour denotes how high up on the social ladder that you stand, with grey being the bottom of the pile and purple being at the top. If you were a certain colour then you could only see that colour in the world or that part of a colour, for example, if you were a yellow the grass looked yellow due to the fact that you could see the yellow elements of blue and yellow that makes up green. In everybody’s twentieth year they would have an ‘Ishihara’ which is a test to determine what colour you fall under and how much of a perception you have in that colour, 100% being the highest and anything below 10% meant that you were a grey. The complexities and the intricacies of this world building were absolutely phenomenal in the way that they were thought out; it’s based on such an innovative theory of colour that I actually found myself wondering how much time and effort had been put into the thoughts behind this novel. Everything to do with colour had been thought out and dissected in this book without detracting from the story, it was all intertwined within it in fact that the characters ended up telling you more of the information than the description did. The story is told from Eddie’s point of view, and you get dropped right into the middle of a society that has been living for years under the rules of the collective, (some of these rules are written at the bottom of each chapter title, which I thought was a nice touch as well) and due to the fact that everything is never explained in a whole, you go through the whole book finding out piece by piece things about the society. This is definitely a slow read due to the information about everything being filtered in bit by bit throughout the whole book; this is definitely not a negative point however, as the fact that I had to read through it slowly, meant that I absorbed more about everything and I wasn’t just rushing to finish it. The gradual gain of knowledge also meant that I wasn’t thrown headfirst into a load of facts and information that has to be taken into account all at once, it meant that I could think about it and dissect it as I pleased as I went along and this made for a fun and interesting read. The more you read this book, the more you realise how corrupt and not perfect that society is in comparison to what everyone thinks. The twists of things that you find out are as shocking to you as they are to the characters, as you are finding out everything along the way with them as everything is new to you as well. The revelations that are found out along the way are not predictable in the slightest and I had no inclination that such things were going to arise. The characters were so (pardon the pun) vibrant, and different, and just plain brilliant. Every colour had their own stereotype to adhere to, and every person within that colour had their own individual way of sticking to that stereotype. The story revolved around Eddie Russet, a red who followed the rules of the collective until he stumbles upon Jane the grey who turns his whole world upside down, and only then does he start to see what’s really going on in the world and how conceited it really is. Through this, Eddie’s development as a character is wonderful, he slowly but surely starts seeing the world for what it really is and you can see him struggling to go against what he has known and has been taught for the entirety of his life. He is quite a naive and clumsy character at times so in his attempts to figure out what’s going on he really doesn’t help himself and at times finds himself in a bit of trouble. Jane of the other hand is the violent, untrusting female character of the book who’s dry humour and sarcasm throughout the book definitely had me laughing. She’s not afraid to speak her mind and tell you what she really thinks despite her lower status among the colours, and her development throughout although subtle, was nicely done. The relationship between the two characters was brilliant, they bounced right back off each other even with their differences and I believe that they were the making of one another. This book actually makes you think about society as a whole, and not just the fictional one he has created, it makes you wonder what goes on behind the scenes of the world today in comparison to what is expressed in the media for everyone to see – perhaps we are all drones of our own collective. This kind of thought provoking novel is just up my street, and the ideas and imagination behind this book are outstanding – I would give it a standing ovation if I could.