Book Review: Shades of Grey 1: The Road to High Saffron by Jasper Fforde

I wanted to like this, I really did. I am a big fan of Jasper Fforde and his clever method of mixing mundane storylines with a hefty dose of the bizarre. It is this formula that has given him success in the ‘Thursday Next’ and ‘Nursery Crime’ series. So when I found this novel with its interesting blurb I felt I had to get it.

Here is a world from which all colour has been removed, everything is coloured by artificial means by devices that look like fire hydrants. Furthermore, it seems that people cannot see colour very well and the rigid ‘outraged middle England’ social heirarchy is organised on the perception of it.

Eddie Russett is a ‘Red’ who dreams of greater status… until the day he falls in love with a ‘Grey’ (the lowest class) and persues her only to begin to discover that all is not well in his rigid but seemingly transparent world. I ploughed to the end, admittedly I struggled with this, which is a big difference with the other Fforde books that I flew through.

This is quite a messy book that is difficult to get into and at times lacks any sort of direction. The bizarreness of the world, instead of being amusing, makes it a slog at times and the plot that is seemingly heavily influenced by Gilliam’s Brazil left, for me, very little to enjoy. Perhaps this was just a step too far in the weird department when coupled with characters I couldn’t care a bout and a plot that was just too familiar.



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