Thursday, June 16, 2011

Book Review: Shades of Grey

Shades of Gray by Jasper Fforde Genre: Dystopian (Young Adult Appropriate)

I enjoy dystopian novels.  I believe part of it is because they play into my biggest fears. What would happen if there was a nuclear war?  What if the religious right were to take over the world?  What if our government collapsed?  In Jasper Fforde's novel Shades of Grey, the question is: What happens when people are subjugated to a certain lifestyle because of the colors they can perceive? 

I found this theme quite unnerving.  We already deal with discrimination based on what color a person's skin is, but what about when we further discriminate because of what colors a person can actually see.  The idea that one could only see shades of blue, or green, or yellow, or purple, or, Munsell save us, grey was eerie.  I can't imagine my world being limited to seeing 72% blue.  Not even the full blue spectrum, just 72%.  And what makes someone who can see 29% purple better than my 72% blue? 

I enjoyed following the changes that Edward Russett (even your name is delegated to your color perception) as he begins his journey as a compliant follower of the Great Munsell.  He is poised to marry up-color and is on a pointless task to make up for a practical joke at school.  He follows his father, a healer, to a town on the outer-edges of their world where he starts to see things differently out here further away from the big city.  And lo and behold he has to go and fall in love with a Grey!  Oh the shame!  But Jane Gray (love the name) doesn't just steal his heart.  She infects his mind with new thoughts and challenges his way of thinking.  Soon young Edward finds that life isn't so black and white.

Tinted with fabulous double entendre using color words to not only describe people, but also to help the reader see what life would be like with a limited color spectrum, Shades of Gray is a fabulous read, even for people who don't normally pick up dystopian books.  About the only thing that I can say that bugged me about this book's writing was the use of "artificial color."  I am still having a hard time understanding how if someone has a limited color spectrum how they can see "artificial colors" but not real colors.  But then my world is surrounded by color and my eyes function as they should (provided I am wearing my glasses!)

What I'm currently reading:  Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

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