The start of a new series from Jasper Fforde, Shades of Grey delivers to a world after Something That Happened where the colours you can see will affect your standing in society, and your life will be mapped out from the job you get to the place you live to the people you can marry. All you need to do is follow the Rulebook and everything will be fine – or at least that what Eddie Russett thinks until he falls in love with a Grey called Jane.
What do I want from a Jasper Fforde book?
1. Surreal and fantastical yet still realistic and recognisable characters and settings.
2. Excellent storytelling that makes me desperate to keep reading.
3. Funny, witty and clever writing, but that is still accessible and inclusive.
So does Shades of Grey deliver? Yes, Yes and YES! I loved it. My first laugh out loud moment was on page 8 so it was off to a great start, and I think in total there were four occasions when I audibly laughed, but there were plenty of chuckles, knowing grins and smirks along the way.
Fforde has created a whole new environment which while retaining elements of the landscape we live in, provides a whole new way of looking at the world and the colour around us. In a society where your perception of colour decides your rank and role within it, there are obviously parallels with race and class in our own world, and certainly gives you pause for thought about these issues whilst still being entertaining fiction. It’s amazing how much detail and depth there is to the characters, the physical environment and the world that is created.
Any complaints? Only a couple of niggles really. I’m still not sure I understand what LeapBack actually is/was, and perhaps the development of a couple of the relationships between characters were a tad predictable, but there were plenty of other completely unexpected elements to allow these to be forgiven.
The story keeps going right to the last page, and sets us up nicely for rest of the series (of which we are promised at least two more books), although that, of course, means more (not so) patient waiting for the next instalment!