Fifty Shades of Grey
by E.L. James
Summary: When literature student Anastasia Steele is drafted to interview the successful young entrepreneur Christian Grey for her campus magazine, she finds him attractive, enigmatic and intimidating. Convinced their meeting went badly, she tries to put Grey out of her mind - until he happens to turn up at the out-of-town hardware store where she works part-time.
The unworldly, innocent Ana is shocked to realize she wants this man, and when he warns her to keep her distance it only makes her more desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her - but on his own terms.
Shocked yet thrilled by Grey's singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success – his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving adoptive family – Grey is man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a passionate, physical and daring affair, Ana learns more about her own dark desires, as well as the Christian Grey hidden away from public scrutiny.
Can their relationship transcend physical passion? Will Ana find it in herself to submit to the self-indulgent Master? And if she does, will she still love what she finds?
Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.
This review, as well as the book, contains mature themes.
I usually avoid books that are all the rage, but one of the book clubs I am in picked this book for the month, so I figured I’d read it. It was a good excuse to see what all the fuss is about. I struggled with giving this book 3 stars, but decided that 2 was much more appropriate. I didn’t hate this book, but I also didn’t love it. I really don’t understand why people hate this book and I also don’t understand why people love it. I can’t imagine this book invoking any other reaction other than nonchalance. It is a bit intriguing and I sped through it, but I also found it lacking in many areas. Even though part of me enjoyed it, there were too many flaws for me. I don’t know if knowing it was originally Twilight fanfiction ruined it for me or helped it. I don’t know if I would have thought the similarities were as obvious and I’m not sure if I was more or less able to let them go. This book makes me feel kind of conflicted, but I also think this book is a terrible piece of literature. I hate to say that, though, because maybe that’s harsh. After all, I loved the Twilight Saga, despite it being considered terrible literature by many people. I don’t want to “hate’ on this book like that.
While romance is not my typical genre of choice, I have read and enjoyed plenty of romance novels with racy scenes. I went into this book with an open mind in that regard.
I suppose I’ll start with the positive things.
I was afraid that this book would be absolutely horrible, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.
I liked Ana’s character quite a bit. I thought she was believable. I went into this book thinking that as soon as she discovered the “Red Room of Pain” and the things Grey was into, she jumped into it eagerly and naively. This is not the case at all. I thought she weighed the pros and cons efficiently and asked tons of questions before she even considered doing anything. Ana is also not a doormat, which made me happy. I don’t know what reviews I was reading or what made me think she would be this stupid and weak character, but she was definitely NOT those things at all. She stuck up for herself and carried herself quite well, all things considering. Despite her innocence, she was a much stronger character than I thought she would be.
This book was much more than just sex. In fact, it actually took a few chapters before anything really happened. The scenes weren’t bad at all, either. I didn’t feel that it was a gross book or that it read like an excuse for porn or anything like that.
I don’t think Christian Grey or his relationship with Ana is abusive or unhealthy. While he definitely has his share of issues, I didn’t see the book as promoting an unhealthy relationship or message.
Now onto the bad…
I get that books like this are intriguing. I honestly feel like if you picked this book up for the racy sex scenes, you should look around more. I didn’t think it was all that great. There are so many romance novels out there with sex scenes that make us all blush, but are more fulfilling, at least to me. The whole innocent girl meets intriguing hot guy and engage in mind-blowing sex has been done before and I just think other authors do it better. Mind you, I don’t recall many of them bringing in some of the kinks that Fifty Shades has, but I’m sure they are out there.
Ana’s inner thoughts bugged me. First, the whole inner goddess thing got old. Aren’t there synonyms that could be used? Second, Ana frequently addresses herself in her thoughts, (…, Steele;…,Anastasia.) Sometimes, I say to myself, “Get a grip, Megan.” but I don’t usually refer to myself as often as Ana does and it annoyed me because it seemed unnatural. Third, the overuse of Holy f***, Holy crap, Double crap, etc, annoyed me.
I saw a few reviews referring to “SAT” words and I totally agree. While the book isn’t wordy, occasionally large words are used that feel unnatural, especially in dialogue. I feel like the author went through her manuscript with a thesaurus and picked unusual words for no reason. It kind of irked me. I’m definitely a fan of descriptions and various words, but these seemed forced and unnatural.
While Ana and Christian are relatively well developed characters, everyone else is poorly developed. I feel like they are placeholders or fillers. I don’t know any of the other characters, even the best friend, Kate.
There are Twilight similarities that didn’t work for me. While the similarities were a little annoying at first, I understood this was originally fan fiction and wasn’t going to hold it against the book or the author. There were quite a few, such as the tan friend who wants to be more than friends with Ana, a dad into fishing, living in the Pacific Northwest, Mom and new husband living in the Southeast, Ana being clumsy, Christian not being the biological child of his parents, etc. These are all fine and kind of amusing.
One of the parallels I noticed was that Christian claimed he was dangerous for Ana but he couldn’t stay away, yet kept warning her off. This definitely reminded me of Twilight, but I didn’t think it worked with this story line. I think being dangerous and warning a girl away because you have to urge to possibly kill her because you are a vampire is believable (the conflict, not the fact that vampires exist). Warning a girl away because you are into BDSM and telling her you are dangerous doesn’t make sense to me. I guess I think if he is really into that sort of thing and has been for decades, he wouldn’t be so overdramatic and ashamed of it. I’m not the most knowledgeable person in regards to that sort of lifestyle and I do realize it is seen as taboo, but I didn’t buy the conflict. I thought it was only there to be a Twilight parallel instead of being a legitimate conflict. Because this conflict is a major part of the plot, this was probably one of the main reasons I didn’t love this book. I just didn’t buy it and thought it was over the top and unbelievable. Christian also pulls away from Ana whenever she goes a little overboard and attempts to touch him, much like Edward pulls away from Bella. Again, I think the entire premise makes more sense in Twilight and doesn’t work quite as well in this book.
While I don’t think Christian is an unhealthy person, I feel like I am supposed to feel that way as the reader. I feel like Ana sees his obsession with being Dominant as unhealthy or due to some sort of abuse, despite her doing so much research. I don’t consider the lifestyle to be unhealthy and I feel like too much focus was placed on this.
The bottom line is that I don’t understand the hype. I don’t think the plot was very solid. I don’t think that in order to have a book with tons of sex scenes, the plot should be skimpy. There are tons of great books with sex in it that I find more appealing because a solid foundation is present. I’m not sure why people have gravitated towards this one.
I’m glad I read it and I’m glad I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, but I still can’t give it anymore than 2 stars. It’s just an okay book. It’s popularity baffles me. I don’t think I’ll continue the series.