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Andrew is a staff writer at the “The Hudsucker”. He is a 30 year old lawyer living in Ottawa. Besides legal jargon, his brain capacity is taken up by reality show trivia, video game walk-throughs and room escape strategies. Andrew is also happily in a long-term, long-distance relationship. Follow him on Twitter as @sublymonal.

Book Review: Why You Should Axe The “Fifty” and Read Shades of Grey Instead

There’s a book that I read last summer that I will recommend with reckless abandon to anyone I know, even if I’m well aware that it is completely unlike the other books on their shelves (or in their e-readers, for that matter). This book is in the unfortunate position of partially sharing its title with a book that forms the beginning of a very interesting series of pop-erotica books that are sweeping the nation right now.

Image Credit: Jasper Fforde

Image Credit: Jasper Fforde

This book is called Shades of Grey and it is written by Jasper Fforde. (Not a typo, there are actually two f’s. One of them is silent, but I don’t know which one).The basic  premise is this: The main character, Eddie, lives in a world very unlike our own. There are echoes of the world we are familiar with, in places, but mostly it is extraordinarily different, especially in one significant way. The people in Eddie’s world fall into social classes based on which colors their eyes are able to detect. The more color you can see, the better off you are, and the type of color you can see (red versus purple, for example) also determines your classification in the hierarchy. It may sound like a difficult and strange premise to buy into, but Fforde has such a knack for changing every subtle detail that he makes you forget what the real world is like. Everything from what a doctor does and is called to what the typical house contains is flipped on it’s head in this book and it makes you wonder why… why did all this happen?

I can’t guarantee you’ll get a full answer to that question in this book, as it, like it’s pop-erotica namesake, is part of a series, although this one has yet to be completed. You will, however, begin to get pieces that you can draw some conclusions from and not just endless questions, like a certain TV show about a plane that crash lands on an island in the middle of the South Pacific.

Besides that major mystery, which seems to occupy your brain most of the time while reading the book, the story contains a few other, smaller mysteries, like a season of CSI that has a different case every episode, but an overarching season-long mystery to be solved.

Moreover, the characters in the book are those which you love and cheer for or love to hate and root against. Besides Eddie, another significant character is Jane, a girl who is only described as having a rather cute, retrousse (turned up) nose but a temper that keeps Eddie at bay for much of the book. The lack of details about her life create a romantic mystery that draws the reader in the same way that it does with Eddie, until even her temper seems to speak volumes about who she is just below the surface.

Inevitably, when I read any book, I compare it to the ones that defined my love of reading: the Harry Potter series. What this book does so wonderful is capture that same magic. The world Eddie lives in is unpredictable. It is so different from our own that you never know what is going to happen next and you savor every word, every description, because it makes your brain draw out such vivid pictures of things you’ve never ever seen or dreamed about.

It isn’t necessarily a book you can power through in one day for that reason, but it’s well worth the time invested and it will stay with you for a while after (as demonstrated by the fact that I’m writing this review almost a year later). I have given my hardcover copy over to numerous people since I first got it and I’ve recommended it to several people who went out, purchased it and loved it too. I now own a signed, paperback copy with a different cover that I cherish deeply as I await the next book in the series. That anticipation is something I’ve missed since the Harry Potter series ended and now, with this book, I’m able to capture that and imagine what the future holds for the characters and the world they live in.

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