Published years before there were 50 of them, Shades of Grey is about as far from erotica as you can get. Author Jasper Fforde is perhaps better known for his Thursday Next series, which established him as an incredible worldbuilder and somewhat of a satirist. In Shades of Grey, Fforde kicks the satire into overdrive in this “colorful” dystopia.
Centuries ago, in an event referred to as the “Something That Happened,” Homo sapiens disappeared and were replaced by Homo coloribus, i.e. people that can see shades of only one certain color. That color determines a person’s place in a strictly-controlled hue hierarchy with Purples on the top echelons and Greys on the very bottom.
20-year-old Eddie Russett has strong Red perception and hopes to marry into a wealthy Purple family. His hopes are put in jeopardy, however, the moment he arrives in East Carmine. A tiny village far from the bustling city Eddie is used to, East Carmine is steeped in small-town secrets and societal intrigue. Though Eddie has no desire to disrupt the system, he’s nevertheless drawn into a web of mystery that will make him question everything he knows about himself, his people, and his world.
Humorous, poignant, and brilliant, Shades of Grey should not be missed. A sequel, Painting by Numbers, is due out
in 2012 in 2014 in 2015 someday, hopefully.