Wednesday, February 24, 2010
I just about finished reading Jasper Fforde's latest novel Shades of Grey. Fforde is rather well-known in the UK but is woefully under-read here in the US. This really is a shame, for he really should have a JK Rowling/Stephanie Meyer-type following.
Shades of Grey is the first book in his third series. The basis of Shades is a dystopia far in the future, where a caste society exists. Everyone is somewhat colorblind, so your social standing is based solely on what color a person can see. There's a group of people called the Greys, who can't see any color. They are the lowest caste and do all the grunt work of the society. The highest caste are the Purples. The hero, Edward Russet, is part of the lowly Red Caste. (Primary colors are considered lower than secondary colors because a secondary color can see two colors.)
In the book, there are rules for everything, and many rules that have no rhyme or reason. For instance, there's a law against manufacturing spoons. Therefore, all spoons are considered extremely valuable.
I have read all of Fforde's novels and always considered him a genius. His other books are very witty, light, but still poignant. However, Shades showed a new side of Fforde's genius. The book is a little darker, and many times, he seems to be commenting on our world today (something good sci-fi should do.) For instance, the many rules were put in place when Something Bad Happened; however, no one knows exactly what happened. He begins each chapter with a different rule. My fav: Every town must stage a musical yearly.
Anything by Fforde is worth a read: I recommend starting out with either one of the Nursery Crimes books to get a good feel of the worlds Fforde creates. Move on to Shades or The Eyre Affair, the first of the Thursday Next series from there.
The professor who introduced me to blogging as an undergrad always ended his blogs with what media he was currently consuming. I thought this was appropriate for this, and I will do it on and off:
Reading: Shades of Grey
Watching: Rupaul's Drag Race
Listening: Glee Soundtrack, Vol 1 & 2