For as long as I've known her, Marta has been insisting that I read something by Jasper Fforde. As it's now been several years and I still hadn't gotten around to it, she decided to solve the problem herself and just buy me a book, so entry 7 in my is Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron, from 2009.
Set in a alternate version of the United Kingdom called Chromatacia, Shades of Grey is takes place some 500 years after 'The Something That Happened', an unknown event that wiped out the 'The Previous', leaving behind only small of their world and existence.
Life in Chromatacia is strictly defined by how much colour you can perceive, with people and places all named after colours, and a merit system to ensure compliance with The Rules.. The protagonist is a low-ranking Red named Eddie Russet, from Jade-Under-Lime. Above Reds in 'The Colourgencia' is the rest of the visible spectrum such as Yellows like Travis Canary and Purples like Violet DeMauv. Those with little to no colour perception are called Greys, and make up the hardworking, downtrodden, lower class.
It's not a very subtle commentary on existing class systems, but it works. Colours are somewhat typecast, with Yellows traditionally having a mean streak, and Greens being somewhat snooty. Arranged marriages are the norm, with parents hoping to move their family up-spectrum, or at least secure a good dowry for children who have a high perceptiveness.
The world itself is strange, quirky, and very enjoyable, and Fforde drops you right in with little hand-holding to explain why things are the way they are, but it's fun slowly uncovering those things yourself. Postcodes are tattooed on your chest, synthetic colour is piped into towns, swans are a deadly threat, and the manufacturing of new spoons is strictly prohibited.
If I was to describe the book in one sentence, it would be "imagine if Terry Prachett had written Nineteen Eighty-Four". I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and was exited to read more... only to find Fforde hasn't written any sequels, despite listing a second and third installment at the end of the book. It seems that low sales numbers meant he put further books on the #bookchallenge #scifi #chromatacia #books #fiction #readingchallenge #book #bookworm #roadtohighsaffron #modernfiction #biweeklybook #sciencefiction #biweeklybookchallenge #reading #shadesofgrey #jasperfforde #booksofinstagram