Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Shades of Grey - Jasper Fforde

I hate to admit this but it's true: I have never read a Thursday Next novel. I know that they're very popular and have such a major literary theme and they're detective novels (my love!) and despite the fact that the first book in the series has been sitting on my shelf since some point during high school, I've just never flipped it open. To be honest, I was never quite bothered by it, either. I knew they were probably good but so were lots of other books and I'd get to it if I got to it. I may have to make an exception now.

I'd been curious about this novel since it came out; not because of the plot (as I had no clue what it was) but due to the different covers. They were all very interesting. After looking at them all in Google Image Search a few minutes ago, I think I prefer the one that I read (this one) but all of them are just, to put it simply, cool. They draw the eye and even if the book is crap, the cover is aesthetically pleasing enough that I'd happily put it on my bookshelf if only as art.

As you can probably guess by the cover, color plays a big part in the novel. In this completely uniquely thought out society, social hierarchy is determined by what colors a person can see. As such, there are different social circles for Greens, Reds, Blues and the like. Like any other book with such a complicated and new world, Fforde creates reality but, while he clearly knows every minute detail, only shares with the reader need to know facts (and sometimes not even those), letting us struggle through the first fifty pages, true, but ultimately giving us a greater understanding through our own observations. I never realized how well I'd absorbed the world until I tried to describe the setting to a friend who'd never read it and found myself tongue-tied. 

Our hero is a young Red named Eddie, sent to the Outer Fringes with his father due to a small rule infringement on his part. Despite his determination to keep his nose to the ground, marry a high-hued girl and live as boring a life as possible, mysteries just keep appearing in front of him and he is, unfortunately, cursed with a keen sense of curiosity. As he navigates a murder (possibly two, possibly three), the curious case of a wheelbarrow at night, ghosts, the apocryphal man who lives in his house, the pretty young grey girl who obviously wants to punch him in the face, never mind a conspiracy that may go all the way up to the top of the top, Eddie finds much more than he bargained for. And he just may be killed for it. 

Despite the fact that I had (have!) essays to be writing, this page-turner of a book was done in two days. I honestly could not put it down. Even if the plot itself slows in parts, just the world creation alone is worth a look. And although I'm not completely satisfied with the way the book ended, there are still two more to look forward to. This is a great set up to what I'm sure will be a great trilogy.

1 comment:

  1. Nice review! I liked the book as well even though I do agree that it was slow in some parts and I needed to strain myself to understand the concepts of this completely invented society. I was so scared when you said at that top: "...even if the book is crap,"I thought that you thought this one was! Anyhoo, can't wait to read the sequels!