31 March 2010

Book Banter -- Shades of Grey

Title: Shades of Grey
Author: Jasper Fforde
Length: 388 pages
Genre: sci-fi
Where Word Nerd's Copy Came From: Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library

Plot Basics: Earth in the future... society has become stratified based on how much color a person can see. It's all the result of some sort of Event, that has forced society underground and into strict adherence of a set of rules. Young Eddie Russett is sent to the village of East Carmine to conduct a chair census -- punishment for bad behavior in his home town. He's also due to take the national test that determines his future abilities and will measure permanently how much Red he can see. But on the journey there, he meets Jane, a Grey, who is belligerent and mysterious and doesn't behave at all like a subservient Grey should. Eddie ventures into village politics and realizes that the societal system is far more insidious than he ever realized. And color may not be all its cracked up to be.

Banter Points: Shades of Grey is not Thursday Next. While at first, the book has much of the same level of quirkiness that the Thursday Next series (and Nursery Crime, too) has, by the end, it's clear the Fforde is not just writing a fun breezy story. His subtle commentary on society is dead serious and spot on. He shades (yes, pun intended) his characters with brilliant levels, making them entirely believable in this unbelievable world of CMYK color.

Bummer Points: Fforde takes a while to get the book going. The first 200 pages set up the world and introduced the players, all of which was important, but it was kind of slow going. Without this intro, a reader would be lost because the society Fforde's created is so complex. What the beginning lacks for in action, Fforde makes up for in the last 100 pages.

Word Nerd Recommendation: If sci-fi isn't your thing (because you think it's all aliens and space opera), this book can prove otherwise. It's a must-read for Jasper Fforde fans and a great read for those who like a quirky, good yarn.

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