Friday, February 1, 2013

Review of Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1)When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—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 family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.

This book is intended for mature audiences.

(Summary from GoodReads)

Yes, I did it. I went there. I actually read Fifty Shades of Grey.  I really wasn’t expecting much given the reviews I’d read ranting about it, as well as the fact that it’s Twilight fanfiction (ugh).  However, I decided to work it in a.) in case I ever wind up working with adults in a public library setting and b.) because sometimes I take just a bit of joy in knowing I can rant about a book.  Well, don’t worry: Fifty Shades of Grey is just as bad as I thought it would be.

I’m sure you all know the premise of this one: Anastasia Steele helps her roommate out with a newspaper assignment by interviewing Christian Grey, a very successful businessman. To the surprise of Anastasia Steele, Christian takes a liking to her.  A very intimate kind of liking (cue wolf whistles, if you haven’t already).  What ensues is a very intense sexual relationship.

There are oh so many places one could start, so I’ll go with the big picture: how James deals with the source material.  Like I said, this is Twilight fanfiction.  E.L. James writes Ana and Christian to be just like Bella and Edward.  Ana is not the greatest about standing up for herself and very clumsy, while Christian is ridiculously creepy.

E.L. James, I have four words for you: what were you thinking?!?!  We all know that  a plethora of reviews exist of Twilight. While a lot are negative, there are a few that are positive.  However, it doesn’t seem to me like any of the positive reviews touch on what a great character Bella is.  Personally, I think she’s kind of throwaway.  She does homework, cooks for her father, and for some reason, all these paranormal dudes decide they are attracted to her.  So why, why would you recreate a character that was so mediocre in the first place? Why?!  Why not take Anastasia Steele and make her a slightly less irritating version of Bella Swan? To me, recreating Bella’s character just shows that James is unfamiliar with Twilight’s audience and why the books are popular with readers.  This book may have sold tons of copies, but sooner or later more readers are going to catch on to the fact that James doesn’t know what she’s doing.

While I’m on the note of Ana’s character, I’d like to point out something wholly unrealistic: Anastasia Steele, student who turns into a graduate during this book, does not own a laptop. AND THIS BOOK IS SET IN 2011.  When Christian gives her one, she dubs it the “mean machine” and is not happy about using it.

YOU GUYS.  I went to graduate school in 2011-2012 and let me confirm that it is nearly impossible to be a college or graduate student these days without owning your very own laptop. I suppose it might doable in theory, but it’d be difficult.  Also? Ana’s professors would expect her to be familiar with modern day Office programs, e-mail, the Internet, etc.  This point of the plot just seemed ridiculously unrealistic and a contrived way of showing how much Christina spoiled/stalked Ana.  There are ways that James could have addressed this that would have been much more persuasive.

Once we get into the relationship, something astounding happens: this book is STILL TERRIBLE. /sarcasm Fifty Shades of Grey is essentially the first book addressing BDSM that I’ve ever read, and I wasn’t impressed.  I sometimes enjoy steamy moments in books, but not one thing even did it for me in this case.  Nothing. I think this has to do with the fact that 50 Shades of Grey is really poorly written: there’s a good deal of redundancy and James’s prose needs a lot of spellchecking and proofreading it.  I also just thought Christian Grey was just a creep.  As for Ana, the way her sexuality is dealt with is wholly unrealistic.  The first time she sleeps with Christian, she’s a virgin.  From there on out the sex is nothing but mindblowing and absurdly pleasurable.

Um, no.  Just. NO.  Maybe some women have had that type of sexual experience, but it’s not normal.

Fifty Shades of Grey has only one redeeming quality: the ending.  However, the ending appears to be rendered void by the simple fact that other books in this series exist. The ending of this one is going to be undone. Maybe it’ll be undone in a better way than this book was plotted, but ugh.

This is a book that falls flat on its paperback, tie covered face.  I knew it was going to be bad, but some things wound up being more awful than I could have ever imagined.  I’m debating continuing this series so I can see how much better or worse it gets, and also because sometimes, I enjoy going on rants.  I honestly have no idea who could possibly make it through this one without smacking their book or ereader against their heads.  I suppose if you’re looking for a title that you are going to love to hate, then you are headed in the right direction with Fifty Shades of Grey. Ugh.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.


  1. I also heard how bad the books is, but for Christmas I received it as a gift so I need to read it. The thing is that I am reading it translated into Romanian and someone told me that the writing style is better in the translated version. That doesn't mean that it saves the story, but still...

  2. Love this review. I managed to get 2/3 of the way through 50 Shades and just couldn't take it anymore. The writing was awful and the BDSM stuff was more icky than romantic. I do want to finish it eventually just to say I did.

    Although as a die-hard Twilight fan, I can give a decent defense of Bella, I do agree that Bella is the least interesting character in the Twilight series.

    You're probably right that no grad student would be computer-less. However, one of my friends who is also a lawyer had no computer, an ancient cell phone, no ipod, not even a digital camera until she got married last year. If she wanted to surf the internet, she stayed after work. I called her a Luddite. But she did graduate law school in 2006 - five years have gone by, although she's the only person i knew who did not have a computer in law school.



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