Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Social Satire, Comic Relief or a Call to Action

This insanely clever novel from the author of the best-selling "Thursday Next" series sounds like a cult classic. It's perfect for people who love dystopic fantasy and a hint of the ridiculous.  Shades Of Grey is part social satire, part revolutionary thriller and even has a smidge of romance. If you or anyone you know enjoys Monty Python, than this series is perfect for you.

In Fforde's wonderful new world you learn about the peril of giant swans, the mildew and the danger of standing near a Yateova Tree. Regretfully, Shades of Grey starts off slowly. Fforde's new world is complex and confusing and takes a good 100 pages to establish an understanding of this world and how it works. These initial pages set up the entire book. Hang in there, once you understand Fforde's world you'll be hooked. It is unquestionably one of the most deeply original books I have ever read.

As the novel opens, Eddie doesn't want much from life.  He wants to fulfill his Civil Obligations and marry into the prestigious Oxblood family.  He has a radical idea about improved line queing, which gets him sent to the Outer Fringes. There he meets an intriguing and rebellious Grey named Jane.  He's smitten immediately, and remains that way even after she threatens to kill him. Jane is rude in a world without rudeness and violent in a world without violence. She leads Eddie gradually down a path that has him questioning everything he thought he knew about the Colortocracy--in a world that most assuredly does not appreciate questions or those that ask them.

Edward Russett's journey across the Outer Fringes is at one time a delightful trip, a cautionary tale about rocking the boat, and also a call to action (or at least a well voiced complaint against inaction). I can't wait for Shades of Grey 2: Painting by Numbers to learn what happens next.

No comments: