TUMBLR BOOK REC: SHADES OF GREY!
No, no. Not like that. But you do get to watch people’s faces drop wide open when you tell them what you’re reading, before you drop the other shoe on them, and isn’t that fun?
No: Shades of Grey by crazybrain word-whirligig Jasper Fforde (the Thursday Next guy), or: the third good dystopia story I’ve ever encountered in my life, as well as the only one that’s not engaged with being a scare tactic. It’s a dystopia thriller in a world wherein people can only see one colour on the spectrum, it is empirically ridiculous and also legit tense and fast-paced and engaging as well as gloriously silly, and HERE ARE FOUR PERSONS OF QUALITY WHOM YOU WILL MEET THEREIN:
- Eddie Russet! Our Hero, who totally gets to be the boring/passive hero who stumbles into things that happen to him as a consequence to the stumbling, NO BUT IT’S OKAY THOUGH, the text knows it, the text knows he is basically every textbook Stuffy Fiancé, as Baxter a Baxter as you can get, and therefore takes delight in a) fiancé-ing him up (we’ll get to that in a moment, get excited, get so excited—SECRETLY, OR NOT AT ALL SECRETLY, THIS IS ALSO A DYSTOPIA ABOUT THE JOYS OF UNHAPPY SOCIETY MARRIAGE TROPES) and b) poking fun at his stuffiness and rulebindery while c) letting us watch him get slyer—not more renegade, necessarily, just smarter and more slippery, because he’s not a man to break the rules but he can sure as hell be the man to bend around them when he knows them so well and has learned to use his spinelessness for interesting spineful means.
- Jane Grey! (I know!) Our Love Interest, only not interested, only yes interested, only the development of that relationship is simultaneously so organic and so delightfully ott violent that I was super into it despite it being not that many of my things! She just kept threatening him way too much bodily harm, okay, and she is the lowest-caste lady and a revolutionary and wants to BREAK ALL THE SHIT and is notorious for BREAKING ALL THE SHIT and I feel like she’s operating on Plucky Heroine Shitslinger mode only the shit she slings is of SUCH VOLUME, AND ALSO IT IS LIKE ON FIRE, THIS METAPHORICAL SHIT that it goes way past hackneyed and never meets annoying, her anger is real and her comedy is high and you just want to watch her break things, including Our Hero.
- Tommo Cinnabar, who is the slimiest little fast-talking conweasel criminal tricksterfool of my heart, who runs the whole criminal market and has literally no ethics and no apology and no pretenses just a brazen smile and a swift turn of phrase and everyone in-text is like “why do we put up with this guy” but why would you EVER elect to have him for your enemy and besides what’s to do when he is such wonderful company
- Violet deMauve, VIOLET DEMAUVE, “most poisonous woman in the village”, top-of-the-line spoiled brat heiress who gets everything she wants by getting it her owndamnself and castigating it into loving her, Veruca Salt grown up into Blanche Ingram, what she wants isn’t what you think she wants and she’s going to get it in spite of you and your narrative expectations, she is in more control than you think and more genre-savvy than you expect of any of your wayward scary socialite fiancées although just as hungry and bratty and elegantly inelegant and glorious and oh p.s. sexually insatiable with a 102% approval rating SHE WILL TELL YOU HERSELF
That’s not everyone (Lucy Ochre! the Apocrypha! Constance Oxblood I want to know you! even Courtland a bit altho mostly my weird feelings abt who assorted Gamboges are fucking lbr) but it’s the main two + THE TWO THAT COUNT THE MOST. WHHHHHHHHHHH. I NEED TO TALK TO PEOPLE ABOUT THEM BECAUSE THEY ARE THE MOST. I BIT PAGES FOR VIOLET DEMAUVE, I BIT LIKE FIVE PAGES. (It takes a while to get to her in earnest but oh my god! When you do!) And they’re all inhabiting different moral geographies and the text? Is okay with that. And the ending is the greatest optimistic-but-upfront-morally-compromised shit, for this book and re. the genre of dystopia at large, aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh. Not over it, not that I should be over it, as I literally JUST FINISHED the book and rolled off the couch to do something with all the energy that was making me roll off the couch, i.e. this. I really want fic! I fucking want fic! There is one on AO3 and it’s not really a fic about this, that (1) was totally fraudulent! So! Hello! I am talking to YOU.