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Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

Shades of Grey

Shades of Grey - Jasper Fforde

I'm going to do a crap job of reviewing this, because there's just too much to say, but if Monty Python did a movie adaptation of Orwell's 1984, it would look just like Shades of Grey.  Unfortunately, as much as I love Fforde's writing, I loathed 1984.


Shades of Grey takes place many centuries in the future, presumably in what is the UK.  The world is run by the collective and people are ranked by what color of the spectrum they can see (and they can only see one).  Everyone bows to the infallible word of Munsell, but rather than being a technologically advanced society, the collective embraces a progressively severe form of ludditism (it's a word, I looked it up), where every set number of years they have a "leapback" where more and more technology is forbidden, and by tech I mean things like bicycles.  The MC, Eddie Russet, and his father are sent to the outer fringes of their world by the collective so Eddie can do a chair census and learn humility.  While there he learns a lot more than humility.


The writing is classic Fforde.  In my one and only status update for the book, I said it felt like I was trapped in a Dali painting; between the pure absurdity and the color centric society, it's still the most apt comparison.  Everything about the story is absurd, from the biggest threat to the collective being swan attacks, to the fact that it's illegal to make spoons but not illegal to own them.


I didn't like science fiction as a genre when I started this book and even though I enjoyed Shades of Grey as much as I possibly could given my total dislike of the premise, I still don't like science fiction.  But I want to be clear that this is not the book's fault: Fforde's writing is excellent, the story filled with absurd humour and a plot that sneaks up on you and leaves you stunned; this is the book that teachers should be using instead of 1984; students would learn the same lessons about the evils of communism and fascism and 'Big Brother' but enjoy it a hell of a lot more.


Weighing my bias against SF and 1984 in particular with the very excellent writing on Fforde's part, I split the difference and went with a three star rating.  This is the first of a trilogy and even though this one had an ending that left me sputtering, I doubt very much I'll read the rest.


This horizon expanding read fills the very last square of my Summer Book Bingo card.