I had to laugh a bit at the Patrick Rothfuss reading because someone asked him what good books he had read lately. He sang the praises of Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde, which I had just started reading that very day!
The idea behind Shades of Grey is really inventive. It is a dystopian novel set in the future United Kingdom where the class structure – or Colortocracy – is determined by color perception. The main character, Eddie Russett, is a red. The story begins with Eddie and his father travelling to an outer-fringe town to conduct a chair census as a punishment. The hilarity of this task and Eddie’s bumbling nature remind me a lot of P.G. Wodehouse novels. A good six word description of Shades of Grey would be, “Jeeves and Wooster after the apocalypse.”
Eddie is content to live life within the rules and regulations of the land until he starts to learn about injustice and questions the system as it is. He meets a girl named Jane, who is a grey, the lowest rung on the color ladder. Jane refuses to live her life within the rules of the Colortocracy and is in danger of being sent to “reboot.”
While I enjoyed the idea behind Shades of Grey, I think Fforde got a bit lost in the details of his world and forgot that he needed to tell a story. Due to his very detailed description of Colortocracy and its rules, the first two-thirds of the book move very slowly. It was in the last bit of the book that I really got interested in the story and didn’t want to put the book down. I hope that Fforde has gotten all of this description out of his system because the story he started has me waiting for the next installment. I hope I am not disappointed.