Book Reviews: Shades of Grey and Neverwhere

Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron (Shades of Grey, #1) Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron by Jasper Fforde

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was an all out fascinating read. I’d read some of Fforde’s Thursday Next series, which I enjoyed quite a bit, but for me, this one blew Thursday out of the water. It’s a post-apocalyptic book that makes hardly any sense at all for the first thirty or forty pages. They you start to get a hang of the sort of world these people live in now, and it all starts making sense. The basics? People can each see one or two shades of color each. So a Red looking at an orange ball would just see the red in the ball, and a Yellow would just see the yellow. The society is divided by class. Purples are royalty, Yellows are the police, Greys (who can’t see any color) are essentially slaves. But it’s far more complex than that. Really, you have to read it to believe it. The post-apocalyptic plot isn’t exactly mind-bending. But the world these characters live in and experience is what the real draw is–sort of like reading Flatland again. Better yet, the book is the first in a trilogy. I eagerly await the sequels.

Neverwhere Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Maybe I’m getting too easy on books these days, but I’ve been reading a real string of good ones. Gaiman’s always a reliable author, of course (and there are other books I’ve started but given up on, which I don’t review), but this one was a stand out for him. The book takes place in a bizarre underworld of London, one which coexists with the London we know, but which all of us normal people just don’t perceive. A normal person from our world is thrust unwillingly into this other world, and he must learn how to navigate it successfully, or face the perilous consequences. I suppose that same plot has been used a thousand times, but the difference lies in how it’s applied. In this case, Gaiman’s characters are well crafted and believable, and the setting shines. I imagine if I knew London better, it would only increase the appeal of the book for me. I really enjoy books that completely transport you to another world, with its own set of values and beliefs and customs–this book does that extremely well.

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