Jasper Fforde: Shades of Grey (2009)
I’m a big fan of Fforde’s other writing, especially the meta-literary-comedy-series (yes, that’s a word, I just invented it) about Thursday Next. Fforde as a writer is incredibly clever and funny in a way that reminds me of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. The drawback of this style is that the plot and the general message of the novels often tend to drown in a cascade of impossible puns and triple entendres.
But here in the first volume of Fford’es new series (apparently he doesn’t do stand-alone novels) the puns are decidedly less predominant, and the universe is positively dystopian. And this new seriousness suits him.
I really enjoyed Shades of Grey. It describes a world some 500 years from now in which poeple are completely governed by a largely incomprehensible and arbitrary rule book, which sounds a lot like modern religion in my heathen ears. It’s 1984-ish and scary, and it actually reads like an insightful political commentary. But Fforde is still Fforde as we know him when he tosses about garbled expressions that are a part of the English language in 500 years. “That’s quite another fish-kettle” is a prime example. Bottom line: Go read it!