Book Review: Fifty Shades Of Grey

Okay. This is going to be one of the most challenging book reviews to write as I don’t even know if I can technically review the book itself, or more the endless sexual content that is rife throughout the pages of E L James’ trilogy, beginning with the first book in the series, Fifty Shades of Grey. Out of the gate, I’ll admit my first mistake was due to my unspoken rule that I don’t read the cover or inside story prior to reading a book. I like the complete story to be a surprise from start to finish, no expectations.

I picked up Fifty Shades of Grey on my latest trip down to LA as I finished the current book I was reading, When God Was a Rabbit (which I also reviewed) and foolishly forgot to pack a second one. A quick search on a few different book sites and I noticed that the Fifty Shades trilogy was taking every single book list by storm, holding strong at the number one spot for several weeks. I figured, if that many people were reading it I should probably see what it’s all about.

Holy crap.

I Had. No. Idea. What. Was. About. To. Happen.

If you are reading this review and have read even snippets of this book, then you’ll understand instantly what I’m talking about. This book is classified within the Erotic Romance literature section, which I was NOT ready for and was completely blown away by the fact that this new-age harlequin-romance of sorts had infiltrated so many top 100 book lists that I so deeply relied on. What is the world coming to? More importantly, who is reading this book?! Or I guess in the instance of Fifty Shades of Grey, who isn’t!? Since I started the book, I have had several side bar conversations with boy men and women discussing this book, each one equally nervous to discuss it, scared as to what it might reveal about their own characters.

The plot, which is pretty much non-existent from the 500 page ‘story’, and I use that word loosely, centers on Ana (Anastasia) Steele. Ana is graduating from college in Portland, Oregon, still a virgin, and has plans to move to Seattle with her unbelievably beautiful, smart, witty, outgoing roommate Kate. Ana herself is timid, awkward, and clumsy and describes herself as plain. I feel like I can write these choppy descriptions as they absolutely transcribe to the exact phrases in the book. It’s almost plagiarism. Kate works for the school newspaper and is to interview, Christian Grey, a young entrepreneur who is a self-made billionaire, for the final edition of the newspaper with her at the helm as editor. As luck should have it, Kate falls ill and somehow convinces Ana to go in her place, even though Ana isn’t a writer or involved in the paper in the slightest. Makes perfect sense.

The minute Ana awkward trips into Christian’s ridiculous modern office, there is a spark between the two of them. By the end of the second chapter this God-like man with unparalleled good looks is near-stalking Ana to get her attention and convince her to be with him. Like, no shit, this happens all the time.

That’s what all hell breaks loose and it turns out that Christian is a SUPER jealous control freak who is obsessed with having Ana sign a contract that would make her his Submissive in his crazy Dominant-sexual-lifestyle. The are soft and hard limits to this contract that even made me blush in the privacy of my own home, I couldn’t imagine penning these thoughts. Like no joke, there are horsewhips used on a girl’s clitoris in this book. I don’t care; I’m putting it all out on the table with this book!

It. Is. Insane.

To make matters even worse, the plot never really develops beyond Ana’s constant internal struggle of whether or not she wants to get involved with this lifestyle choice, and does she have it in her to experience all the forms of sexual torture that Christian wants to inflict (oh yeah, that happens). The constant back and forth with her ‘inner goddess’ actually made me want to scream at E L James for writing that nonsense into pretty decent line-crossing smut. Let me remind you, this goes on for FIVE HUNDRED PAGES. There is no plot development. The girls move from Seattle, which I forgot to mention, is where Christian already lives making it easier for Ana to play the part.

Don’t forget he’s a billionaire, so he showers her with gifts including a new car, wardrobe, and computer (even though she says she didn’t have an email address in the year 2011 while going to college in Portland).

I have to keep going, even though this could technically be ruining the book for any of you still reading it. The way she eventually loses her virginity. COME ON! There is no man in history that would do the things Christian does to Ana, knowing she’s a virgin. It just couldn’t and wouldn’t happen. Or maybe I’m wrong? I’ve never experienced it from a woman’s point of view. If there’s a lady out there that is bold enough, and you’ve read the part of the book I’m talking about, please confirm.

Okay, I realize now this isn’t really a book review and a much bigger rant on the erotic surprise that is Fifty Shades of Grey. It had to be done.

Heck, it’s been made into a skit on SNL already!

After finally finishing the first book in the series I am now completely torn as to whether or not I’ll pick up the second. To be honest, I really didn’t enjoy the story past the first 200 pages as the sexual conquests simply became so outlandish (and repetitive) that I was too embarrassed to be seen reading it! I had no idea what I was getting myself into!

Even better, I recently spoke to a friend who is reading the trilogy for a book club she joined. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

For more information on the author and the book, check out E L James’ website: http://www.eljamesauthor.com/books/fifty-shades-of-grey

Ugh…happy reading?!

  • BA

    You can find a pdf of this “book” from when it was Twilight fanfiction. Google Master of the Universe fanfiction. Please don’t waste your money on the psychotic acid trip turned poorly researched, poorly edited, fublished piece of word vomit. It only goes downhill including forced sex, pedophilia, partner abuse, Oedipus et al.

  • arturo

    Dan:
    what are some of the site you go to for information about new books?

  • Dan

    Arturo – this may come as a surprised, but I actually like cruising past my local bookstore on a regular basis to see what’s new.

    I also check out Amazon.com as the US tends to promote books before they catch on in Canada.

    Do you have any sites to recommend?

  • Interesting take on a book that has captivated millions of people especially women. My female friends have all read it and are crazy about it. I recently read an article on it in Time magazine or something similar that tried to make sense of its draw. I guess it’s just not for you.
    I won’t read it though, it’s not the kind of book I’m interested in at all.

  • Brian

    OMG Six weeks or so ago,when it was first “discovered” I had to be one of the “in crowd” (it was selling for up to $,.00 US on Amazon as it was almost impossible to get in print just on Kindle) and so I borrowed the first book from a friend…….BIGGEST PIECE OF CRAP I have ever TRIED to read.I gave up before I even got to the major kinky sex stuff……2 of my best friends…both female of course…have read all 3 books not just once but twice or more and rave about it. They just keep saying I don’t “get it” because I’m a guy. Whatever,I’ve read every Jackie Collins book cover to cover and they all have a PLOT and STORYLINE….not just sex. Skimmed the rest of the book and other than ewwwww grosss when I read a few more passages,it was just…..DULL!

  • Olga

    I completely agree! Wow I’m so relieved to find another review that actually can say this is such a shitty book only based on sexual scenes!

    I started reading the book not really knowing much about it and then got shocked and went to Amazon to read reviews – a lot of people really like this book! I just don’t get it!

    What bothers me is that Ana (although a virgin) is so sexually developed that she could probably get an orgasm from Christian touching her eyelids! All he has to say is – ‘give it to me’ and voila an orgasm erupts.

    I did pick up the second book – it’s very very boring… I kinda left it two weeks ago and don’t have the energy to finish. Basically same – does he love me? are you going to leave me? no, are you sure you’re not going to leave me? no. What do I have to do so you’ll believe me I’m not going to leave you? bla bla bla

  • Dan

    Olga – HA! Love it! I definitely realized this book wasn’t for me early on but powered through to see if there was a redeeming quality that I was missing, or simply hadn’t gotten to yet.

    There’s definitely a surge in Harlequin-romance novels since the invention of eReaders and people not having to hide the shame of reading them in public!