Red Side Story

Red Side Story

by Jasper Fforde
Setting: England
Genres: Fiction / Fantasy / Humorous, Science Fiction
Published on May 7, 2024
Pages: 480
Format: eBook Source: Owned

The long-awaited follow-up to the New York Times bestselling Shades of Grey—in an EXCLUSIVE EDITION for North American readers, complete with a never-before-published short story

“Fforde's books are more than an ingenious idea. They are written with buoyant zest and are tautly plotted . . . and are embellished with the rich details of a Dickens or Pratchett.” —The Independent

Welcome to Chromatacia, where life is strictly regulated by one’s limited color perception. Civilization has been rebuilt after an unspoken “Something that Happened” five hundred years before. Society is now color vision–segregated, everything dictated by an individual’s visual ability, and governed by the shadowy National Color in far-off Emerald City.
Twenty-year-old Eddie Russett, a Red, is about to go on trial for a murder he didn’t commit, and he’s pretty certain to be sent on a one-way trip to the Green Room for execution by soporific color exposure. Meanwhile, he’s engaged in an illegal relationship with his co-defendant, a Green, the charismatic and unpredictable Jane Grey. Negotiating the narrow boundaries of the Rules within their society, they search for a loophole—some truth of their world that has been hidden from its hyper-policed citizens.
New York Times bestselling author Jasper Fforde returns to his fan-favorite Shades of Grey series with this wildly anticipated, laugh-out-loud funny and darkly satirical adventure about two star-crossed lovers on a quest to survive—even if it means upending their entire society in the process.


I’ve been waiting to read the sequel to Shades of Grey since that book was published in 2009. I loved the world that Jasper Fforde created in that story. No one does absurdity as well as Fforde does. In this world humans have lost the ability to see in the dark. Their entire society is governed by a hierarchy that is determined on the basis of what color and how much of that color a person can see.

The Book of Munsell is their founding document that is followed in a fundamentalist fashion. If it isn’t in the Book of Munsell, it doesn’t happen. The Book doesn’t mention spoons for instance, so no new spoons can be made. Vintage spoons are treasured heirlooms. Technological leapbacks happen occasionally where previously allowed technology is now banned. Model Ts are now the most advanced cars allowed even though there are gyroscopes that can power racing bikes. It doesn’t matter if it makes sense or not.

It was fun to discover the world in Shades of Grey. Everything is ridiculous in all the ways that Jasper Fforde excels in. But there is a dark side to the world and 15 years later Fforde is a darker writer. In Red Side Story we discover how dysfunctional the world Eddie and Jane occupy is and how it came to be that way. This book isn’t bubbly on the surface with a dark undercurrent. The dark parts are right on top for all to see.

Because of this, Red Side Story isn’t as fun of a read but I loved seeing how he pulled all the seemingly random bits of the story together into a sci-fi/thriller narrative that explained what happened to these people. It’s hard to review a book that you’ve waited that long for because no book can live up to that kind of wait. I’m glad to finally be able to have read it. It went in directions that I never expected. It ignored some things that I thought were going to be the focus of the narrative.

Of course, he’s hinting at a follow up to this one in the next few years. This is how the long wait for this book started. Either way is ok with me. This book ended at a good place. It could be the end of the story. There is also room for continuation of the story if he wanted. Either way I won’t be screaming, “BUT WHAT HAPPENED??” into the void for the next decade or more. I’m happy.