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Saturday, June 2, 2012

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

Title: Fifty Shades of Grey
Author: E.L. James
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Self-published
Publish Date: May 26, 2011
Source: Borrowed

Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You like erotica/romance.
  • You don't mind repetitive writing.
  • You don't mind un-stylistic writing.
What's the Story?:

From "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 a 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?

My Two Cents:

So any time a book comes along that everyone is buzzing about, I have to see what's up with it. I have to see why everyone is talking about the book. My curiosity has gotten me sucked into to books that are well outside of my usual foray in to the literary world.

Full disclosure: while I've started reading Romance, I read very little to no erotica.

One of my friends lent me all three of these books so I really had no excuse not to read them. What did I think? First off, the story is okay. There is a cliffhanger. I will probably read the next book because there was a cliffhanger. The writing leaves much, much, much to be desired.

As most people know, these books started their lives as Twilight fan fiction. More full disclosure: I actually enjoyed the Twilight books. No, they were not well written but I liked the story and they were an enjoyable way to pass time. In Fifty Shades, you can definitely see the Twilight influence and in fact, it seems like in some places, I could see the author simply using "find, replace" to separate this book from Twilight.

Most of you know that I'm a huge proponent of Indie and self-published writers. I've read some really good books that were self-published. This is not one of those. This book is laden with cliches and word and phrase overuses. The book could have used a heavy scrubbing or two by a good editor. Even if you are self-publishing a book, that definitely doesn't mean that you can't use an editor. Find a friend or collegue to sit down with your book and give it a once over. Take their feedback. I think when you're working on a book, you look at it so much that you start losing that edge when it comes to revising your work. Sometimes you just need a fresh set of eyes. This book really, really needed that fresh set of eyes.

The characters talk in a very stilted manner. While I understand that E.L. James is British, her characters are Americans living in Washington State. It would have been better for her to take some time to really focus on the way that Americans speak. Every time the characters spoke, I sort of got taken out of the book because the way in which characters said things was so unfamiliar to me.

A List of Things that Bugged Me:
- Cliche about Ana being a virginal reader in college. It just seemed really unreasonable to me that Ana could be so inexperienced after going through college.
- Ana's use of "oh my." Seriously, do you ever say anything else?
- Jose saying "Dios mio." Poor kid has hardly any lines and most of them consist of dios mio. Cliche, cliche, cliche.
- All of the characters use of "shall." Who talks like this???
- Ana talking about her inner goddess as a person. Gag me, please!
- Ana talking about her subconscious as a person. You are so frickin' weird.
- The sex scenes. They got better as the book went on but seriously one of the first ones, Ana talks about her own Christian Grey flavored popsicle. Seriously???? That is way not hot and made me actually chortle out loud.
- Christian is a little bit of a creep. But so was Sparkly Edward... so?
- All the repeated descriptions. Christian's eyes are gray. We get it.

I had a lot of issues with the book. It was very hard to see past the writing for me even though in general, I liked the story. 


  1. I often think characters talk in a stilted manner, and I wonder how many authors try reading the dialogue out loud to see if it works that way. Great review!

    1. I think one of the best ways to "test out" your writing is to read it out loud. I do that with everything. Even if everything looks ok on paper, it could sound really strange out loud.

  2. I have no desire to read this book, I have seen lots of other reviews that agree with you. I know how you feel though about reading a book just to see what all of the hype is about, I have done that a few times.

    1. I am very, very curious by nature! I couldn't help myself.

  3. I've heard your sentiments echoed repeatedly, not only on book review blogs but in person. I, for one, will not foray the grey path. There are so many well-written books out there waiting to be discovered, so skip this one folks.

    1. Exactly. There's too little time to spend it on reading bad books.

  4. I'm like you, contemplating reading it just to see for myself what all the buzz is about. I've got a copy on my Kindle but haven't started it yet. It's reviews like this that make me not want to waste my time on something that's hard to read because it's badly written. Plus it's something like 500 pages! We'll see, I guess if I'm going to read it I should do it soon before the buzz dies down and my review is irrelevant to readers.

    1. My thought is that there are a lot better books out there to read!

  5. Ha! I read this when it was still a Twilight fanfic (a friend of mine write Twilight slash fanfic and she said I had to read it), and I pretty much laughed my way through it. It's very bad from a literary point of view, but EL James has managed to create something huge from pretty much hype alone. I mean, there's a movie coming out as well. Her PR team is amazing (i.e. all the twihards).

    I have to warn you, though, the story gets worse. Far worse. But therefore also more hilarious. I'd recommend reading it just to have something to laugh about, but that would just be cruel.

    1. You and I are very much alike. I'm about halfway through the second book. I'm in it mostly for the giggles, chortles and guffaws.

      The PR for this book really is insane. She got a huge amount of money for the movie rights to the book. It's a mad, mad world.

  6. Nice review. I was honestly pretty disgusted by this book. I like romance and I enjoy erotica now and then, but to me this book just seemed like consensual slavery.. Like what I said in my review was:

    "I realized that in reality it’s a book about BDSM, consensual slavery, abuse, and pathetic hopes of a romance that ultimately isn’t there."

    I honestly just thought it was disgusting and pathetic that Ana would force herself to go through being abused (and crying her way through the BEATINGS) because she hoped that one day she might get something more out of the relationship. I think that actually sends a really terrible message to women in general and women who are in abusive relationships. It's like saying to someone who's being abused: "Hang in there. Just put up with the tough times because sometimes he'll really come through and be sweet to you." Seriously?

    Here's my review if you're interested: Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

    1. Yes! I went back and read your review and I definitely see what you're saying. I have no problem about two consenting adults doing anything sexually as long as they are BOTH in agreement that they're okay with what's going on.

      You can't change anyone and forcing yourself to suffer with something you hate is abuse of yourself. People do not change in most cases. I hated how Ana clinged to that idea that someday things were going to change.

  7. I really appreciate your review. I'll admit I have been judging people who read this book and say it's the best book ever. Really?? That bothers me and I feel more justified when I read bloggers' reviews that sort of back my thoughts up, as I have no desire to read this!

    1. I had a conversation with one of my friends this week and I said that I feel like the people who don't read a lot are the ones that really like this book. There is well written romance and erotica out there; they shouldn't subject themselves to this drivel...

  8. Eeek! This book sounds like one I would be hurling across the wall. I enjoyed the Twilight books, too; agree that they won't win any Pulitzers, but they're entertaining. I was halfway humoring picking up Fifty Shades because of all the buzz, as you mentioned, but I don't think I have the stomach for it.

    As a sidenote, nearly every woman I passed in the airport had this in her hands/purse, and the woman in front of me on a plane was reading it on her iPad (I'm the creep who spies on others' reading choices, I'll admit it!). It is e-very-where.

    1. It really is. I saw tons and tons of people in the airports with the book when I went on vacation last month. I even saw one gentleman carrying the book... very interesting.

  9. Hahahahahah! I totally laughed aloud when I read your bulleted list. I tried to read this and made it halfway through before I gave up on it. I absolutely agree with your comments on the poor writing.

    1. It was sort of like a car accident. I couldn't stop watching!

  10. I read all three in about 4 days (I had other things to do) and just shook my head that people find this erotic. What I got from it was that the real fantasies here are 1) a billionaire who wants to get married and 2) she changed him with her love. Add to that the sorry, unimaginative writing and you have someone's idea of a best seller. Another cliche to add to your list - "His hands fisted in her hair" Boring!

  11. I really enjoyed the first book. I was excited to buy the second and continue reading Ana & Christian's saga. I just cannot seem to stay interested. I feel like I am reading the same thing over and over again. There were a few parts of the book that caught my attention but for the most part, I got really bored with this one. I do not know if I'll buy the third. It took me only a few days to read the first book. It has taken me over a week to get through the second - and it's shorter than the first. I'm bummed that I cannot stay interested.


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