Saturday, January 23, 2010

I'd probably be a Blue.

Hi everybody!

It's been awhile since I blogged. I know I promised to do a piece on strange uses of form, but as my fellow booksellers can attest to - I got distracted. It's coming someday, I promise. But that day is not today.

Today I would like to talk about Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey. I realize I'm a little late to the party on this one, in more ways than one. Not only has the book been out for awhile, but I hadn't read Fforde before. "But Greg," the reading masses will likely cry, "how can you call yourself a reader of science fiction if you haven't read any of Fforde's Thursday Next?"

I'll be first to admit that I'm hideously under-read. I read a lot, but I don't always read the things I ought. This includes a lot of the classics that booksellers really should have read. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn springs to mind. But I digress.

Shades of Grey is the first book since The Magicians that I have really loved. In Fforde's dystopian world, you are only able to see one color, if any at all. The color you see, and the degree to which you can see it, shapes your placement in society for the entirety of your life. Fforde's zany caste system based on color hierarchy is about as unique as can be, and the level of detail he has put into it is really quite astounding. Many of the things Fforde describes can also be seen as not-so-subtle allusions to contemporary issues or events, which one cannot help but snicker at. The story focuses on the adventures of the compassionate, moral, and unwitting red-seeing Eddie, and the snarky, ornery, and physically abusive Jane, who can only see grey. Eddie is unquestioningly loyal to the strict rules of the society, while Jane is unabashedly rebellious. Though initially merely infatuated with Jane, Eddie's organized and simple world becomes completely upended when he begins asking questions.

Great book. I could go on for pages about it, but I'll save that for if you ask about it in the store. Well worth picking up and having a look.

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