What if your standing in society was strictly determined by the color that you could see? Such is the premise of Jasper Fforde’s novel Shades of Grey, which I enjoyed enough to make the topic of a first post. The setting of the book is the dystopian society of Chromatacia, where the protagonist Eddie Russet, a “Red”, is sent on a chair census errand to the outer-fringe town of East Carmine. There, he promptly falls in love with a rebellious “Grey,” a girl whose color perception places her in the bottom rungs of the social ladder. Don’t be too quick to predict how the rest of the story will play out.
I found this book appealing because I have always felt a certain affinity for different colors. Some colors I find soothing. Other colors I just dislike with a passion. (Don’t tell Orange.) The strangest thing about my attraction for colors is that it evolves! It’s almost as though there is an independent entity guiding my color-decisions. When I am fully in the throes of liking a certain color, I will completely and absolutely tailor all of my clothes and accessory buying to match that certain color. Unfortunately, I am only made aware of this tendency by the observations of confused third parties.
For example, when I was in 7th grade, blissfully unaware of the beauty of having parents pay for your clothes instead of a beleaguered credit card, my mother made an executive decision. Her directive “NO MORE PINK!” marked the end of an era that had infiltrated all aspects of my room, from the wallpaper to the bedspread to my collection of Limited Too nailpolish. Later, towards the end of high school, a friend innocently asked me “do you wear anything but black?”. This question was my first clue of a morbid love affair with a color-less color. White, Dark Red and Purple staunchly marched their way through my college years, inadvertently providing my photos of that period with little tabs marking my latest color obsession.
I see now that Blue and I have been passionately involved for the last year. As I look down at myself, I see that my Iphone case is the exact same shade of Blue as the shirt I am wearing. It has snuck up on me- but at least I am becoming more self aware. I first saw hints of the addiction when I looked into my closet.
So when I considered myself as a character in the book, as I tend to do with all books I read, I wondered: what color would I be? And how would I deal with having to be just one color for the rest of my life? Not Orange. Dear god, not Orange.
The crux of this post is the following: if you like science fiction, read this book. It’s a fun and interesting read, and Jasper Fforde spends a lot of time meticulously creating colorful characters in a strange and rule-based black and white world. I enjoyed it, and if you are anything like me (which after reading this post, you are likely emphatically shaking your head no) you will enjoy it too.
What color would you be?