Monday, September 08, 2014

Shades of Grey

No, not THAT book! This is Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey of unspecified quantity. I joined an online book group, and this dystopian-type novel was the September read.

The setting is a world in which one's ability to see certain colors determines social status, as well as nearly every aspect of life. This world appears to be on our planet several centuries from now, but no specific places from our time are identified, so I couldn't decipher if the action takes place in what was once England, or North America, or South Africa (fortunately, Wikipedia steps in to inform me it is set in Wales). References to moorlands, the constant consumption of tea, and the author's nationality made me suspect England, but the local wildlife includes beasts such as giraffes and flamingoes. However, I can't be sure these names refer to the same species we know in our time. Relics from the past, inhabited by people called "the Previous," include vehicles known as Model-Ts, which seem to be a catch-all term for any motor vehicle.

The world-building is elaborate and was a little hard for me to follow at first. I almost abandoned this one as I generally don't want to step into that much unreality. But eventually it settles down into a basic mystery-adventure tale, with some romance and plenty of humor. It's part social satire reminiscent (at least to me) of Gulliver's Travels. I suspect that some things in the novel are meant to represent a counterpart in our current society, but I didn't try to ferret out the symbolism.

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