I know Jasper Fforde from the absurdist Thursday Next series and its spin-off. So when I heard he had a new series, a dystopian one no less, I really wanted to read it. Shades of Grey takes place on earth, sometime in the future, after something happened. The people on earth have no idea what happened, only that it happened roughly 500 years ago, and the Previous lived and looked different then they do. The current society is based on color. Basically there is a kaste system in place based on which colors you can see. Purple is higher than yellow, yellow than red, and at the bottom are the grey’s. The society is highly rules based, even to the point of absurdity (no new spoons are allowed to be made), the rules have been written in the past by the great Munsell.
Eddie Russett is a Red who has been sent to the outer regions with his father, a swatchman. Eddie tries to do the right thing, live by the rules, but he sees possibilities for improvement and against injustice. He meets Jane, a feisty Grey, and slowly starts to discover what his world is all about.
I loved the originality of the idea, even though it took some getting used to and some figuring out what was going on and why. I didn’t like that this was very clearly part one, just the set up of the story, but despite that, it was a good story in and of itself. If you like Fforde’s other books, you’ll like this, the world is just a bit more unfamiliar than the world of Thursday Next. Four out of five stars.