If you took the futuristic, caste-based society from Brave New World and combined it with the outrageous humor of Monty Python, you'd end up with Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey. The book is both insightful and amusing, not to mention very, very clever.
The world of Shades of Grey is so intricate that it almost defies description. The story is set far into the future in a place in which the Wizard of Oz was as real as Chuck Norris and Rembrandt. In Fforde's world, the hierarchical society is based on an individual's ability to see color. The better one can perceive color, the higher one's rank in society is. And the society is rule-bound to the point of absurdity with its highest goal to be as conformist as possible.
Eddie Russet, the book's main character is an extremely likeable person who sticks to his morals despite the fact that everyone around him, including his friends and family, will do anything to better themselves in society. When Eddie meets up with a young, grey woman (greys being the lowest caste in society since they do not see color) with a horrible temper and no respect for the establishment, he not only finds himself in the middle of several shocking mysteries, he also begins to question the values he has been taking for granted all his life.
I loved this book! It was clever, imaginative, and compelling. As a lover of dystopian fiction, I appreciated the fact that while the society was, on the one hand, horrific, the comedy relief saved it from becoming oppressive. The characters were intriguing and extremely enjoyable. It took me a few pages to get accustomed to the language, and I'm still not certain I understand every nuance about the setting, but the story and characters have firmly embedded themselves in my mind.
Shades of Grey ends with a cliffhanger, but luckily there are more books in this series. I will definitely be reading on to find out what happens with Eddie Russet and Jane Grey.