SHADES OF GREY: JASPER FFORDE Friday 18 November, 2011

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Jasper Fforde wonders what life would be like if our future society was ordered by our ability to perceive colour.

Set hundreds of years in the future Shades of Grey tells the story of Edward Russett, a young man trying to make his way in a society places all importance on colour? Sounds more like a novel about our own past but the colour in question here is the colour we can see not the colour of our skin.

I’ve got to be honest and say that I found this book very difficult to read. It’s billed as being funny. I must have a markedly different sense of humour (most probable) because I didn’t find this funny at all. What I did find is that the plot moved along at a painfully slow pace. I suspect this is because the gaps in plot development were being filled by japes which I didn’t find funny. It felt like I had wandered into some upperclass farce (one of the characters is called Bunty!)  full of hateful individuals but perhaps that was the point.

Despite the lack of humour there are some wonderful ideas on show here. Unfortunately they are few and far between. The society depicted in this book is constantly repressing any kind of knowledge which effects not only it’s citizens but also us as readers. This is where the humour would have made a big difference to my overall experience. Reading this book felt like a chore. When I got to the end of the book I realised that there are two more books planned for this series. My initial reaction was that there would be no chance of me reading those. However, I’ve had a few days to think about it now and the pacing of this book makes more sense if I think of it as part one of a trilogy. This first book is more like an orientation device so that we are well versed in the ways of this world.

The last hundred or so pages were far more exciting than the rest of the book. I’m not sure I would go as far as saying it was worth the wait but that last section has made me ponder whether to persevere with the series or not.  If he can pick up the pace a little this series might be very enjoyable because Jasper Fforde has got a wonderful imagination. If you can view this book as an investment for the rest of the series it might be worth reading. I don’t think I’ll be able to give you a definitive answer on that until after book two which I suppose I will now be reading.

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