Monday, April 30, 2012

Review: Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James

fify-shades-of-grey-review_320Author: EL James
Genre: Romance, Erotica, BDSM
Format: Kindle (also available in paperback)
Published: Vintage
Publisher: 3 April 2012
Series: Yes
Price: $9.99 (Kindle price)

Synopsis: {via Amazon}

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.

Let me tell you, I'm really struggling with this one. By the end of a book, I normally know exactly how I feel about it. With this book, I have no idea where to even begin, there are so many things I could say. So, I'm going to try to stick to my usual format (Characters, Plot, Verdict) and see where that gets me--and if I can't quite make it, forgive me, this may be wordy! I know this book is pretty controversial, people seem to either love it or hate it, and everyone has their reasons--it has ~1,100 5 star reviews & ~600 1 star reviews on Amazon as of right now. But, I bought it before I realized it was self-published and I started it before I knew that the author is a notable Twilight fan-fiction author. I went into this with zero preconceptions, except for the fact that everyone was talking about it and, since I enjoy Romance/Erotica I figured I'd like it. Any book so divisive was something I just had to read.

The Characters:

Anastasia Steele is a really interesting young woman and I liked her almost immediately.  She's "every-girl" and, in a way, is all of us. She's young and smart, but doesn't think much of her looks or her worth. She's really very sympathetic, but she's also a little bit Bella, at least at first. She has some of the same characteristics as Twilight's Bella, which are, incidentally, the only things about her I didn't like. Let's just say Bella isn't my cup of tea, she's fairly weak, and some of her weaknesses show up in Anastasia which I suppose is to be expected of an author famous for writing fan-fiction. For example, Anastasia and Bella both live in Washington State, they're both ungraceful and downright clumsy,and both of them are enthralled/in-love with men who they feel they're unworthy of. Fortunately, Anastasia redeems herself by doing things and making decisions Bella would never make, which make her much stronger than Bella.

Christian Grey is going on my "Leading Man" page; I absolutely adore him. I tend to be attracted to the darker characters, the ones who're most messed up, and he fits the bill. He's absolutely stunning, even though there are moments when Anastasia is admiring him that make me think "oh brother!" and roll my eyes (something he, incidentally, hates!).  He's got major issues, which render him much m ore believable and sympathetic than he might otherwise have been. Like, he's a major control freak. You don't wonder, the way you do with Edward & Bella, why he's interested in Anastasia. It's clear what he's looking for, it's clear he thinks she's it, but there are still some very Edward/Bella like moments. For instance, he tries to warn her off, which is something Edward also does. Overall, however, Christian is much deeper and more complex, which I love about him.

The other characters are all really on the periphery to the main story. Kate, Jose, Elliot, Ray, Carla, they're all sort of there as props and ways for the story to work, but aren't so much important. I do like them all, and they're all fairly unique and different, distinguishable from one another, which is a good thing.

The Plot:

The plot is fairly straightforward, but by the end of the book you certainly have a sense that this story is not anywhere near being done. There's still much to say and do for and about these characters, so the end of the book was grossly unsatisfying for me. Still, even though it's BDSM erotica, it's still the same "boy-meets-girl, boy-and-girl-have-issues" type scenario, but there's really no happy ending here, not yet, at least. There's no "boy-and-girl-live-happily-ever-after" in this story and if you're expecting it, like I was, you'll be disappointed, too. I must say, though, the pacing of the plot was perfect... beyond perfect, really. The way their relationship progresses is pretty fast, but is natural to the type of situation the author was setting up. It works, it's whirlwind, but it works. What I didn't care for about the plot was the seemingly innocuous situations she puts the characters into now and then, and while most of them pan out into something useful for the story, they're still not really all that interesting.


Before I move on to The Verdict portion of this review, I'd like to take a few minutes to talk about some of my issues with this book. Foremost, the price is ridiculous for a self-published book. Further, the fact that the Kindle version is more expensive than the paperback sort of ticked me off. I've never paid more than  $7.00 for a kindle book, and I have never, ever, bought a kindle book that was more expensive than the paperback. I know a lot goes into formatting a kindle book, but it's almost free to publish, there's no paper, no ink, no binding, nothing that should lead this book to be more than $10 after tax.  I did like, no love, the cover and I think it's so appropriate to the story and so well done that it mislead me. I never even bothered to see if it was self-published, which is a good thing for the author.

My other problems are with the books mechanics. It needed a little closer editing and the writing was, at first, really stiff. The narration and dialogue were difficult to get through at first, but rest assured they actually do get better. There are still some cringe worthy moments, when the author uses too many rather big, and frankly unnatural, words--something she makes fun of herself for in the book, really--and the excessive uses of the words "baby," "inner goddess" and "subconscious." I mean really, her references to Anastasia's inner goddess are so frequent I started to be annoyed by them.

The Verdict

Rating: 4/5
The one thing I know about this book, beyond my struggle to decide how I feel about it, is that I could absolutely not put it down. While I should have been writing my last thesis chapter, I was reading this book. While I should have been in bed asleep at 2am because I had to be up for work at 7:30am, I was reading this book. I could not put this book down and had I had the next two books in the trilogy I wouldn't have gone to bed at all. I'd have been up, all night, reading. I'd still be reading, rather than writing this review and waiting not-so-patiently to get paid tomorrow so I can get books 2 & 3.  So even though it had issues, and I'm still upset about the cost, I have to give this book a good rating. I can't not, because now that I've thought about it and written about it, I think I really, really, liked it.


  1. Thank you so much for the wonderful book! I finished it a few days ago and cannot get it out of my head. It is pure magic. It was everything I hoped it would be and much more. Thank you so much.50 shades movie

  2. I m excited for the Fifty Shades of Grey movie.i cant wait for releasing date of Fifty Shades

  3. I can't wait for the movie. I loved the books. I should agree these are the best written books.
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  4. I wish robert pettinson would cast as christian... and am also excited to see this book on reel.
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