REVIEW: "Fifty Shades Of Grey", by E.L. James

Title: Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1)
Author: E.L. James
Format: Kindle ebook
Pages: 514 
Publisher: Vintage 
Release Date: May 26th 2011

WARNING: Given the nature of the book, there is some adult content in this review. Nothing too drastic, but thought I'd let you know! 

Taken from Goodreads

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?

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

Do you ever find yourself disliking something without ever having given it a chance? Maybe you form an opinion about certain things before really experiencing them properly. Unfortunately, I sometimes find myself unjustifiably against something. However, when I feel this way I try to make a point of giving said thing a chance. That way, maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised and have a change of opinion. Or, I'll be justified in my dislike and be able to back up my slating with truth.

Fifty Shades of Grey
was one of those books which I would have been quite happy to never pick up. Ever. As far as I was concerned it was a fanfic/masturbatory aid for older women. But then people started raving about it. I kept hearing that the characters were actually very well rounded and the narrative was engaging. 

So, I decided to splash out and buy the book. I felt like I was selling out when I pushed the "Buy" button, but also felt good about the decision to put aside my prejudices and try and read the book I was so ready to slate. 

Honestly, it was just slightly better than I had anticipated. It wasn't hugely similar to the Twilight books, though the inspiration was evident. But it still wasn't great. There was a story there and conflict and all the necessary ingredients for a book, but it was just kind of ... meh.

Most of my concerns about the book were justified upon reading it. Many of the character-flaws which irked me in the
Twilight books were magnified, especially where Christian Grey (Edward Cullen) was concerned. In Twilight, I often thought Edward was a domineering chauvinist. In Fifty Shades of Grey, this is exacerbated drastically as Grey is into BDSM in a big way and likes very much to be in control. 

Now whatever your own kink might be, that's just dandy in the right circumstances. But when your control issues extend beyond the bedroom and result in subjecting women to what is basically abuse, then it's time to get some meds. Grey's "quirks" are explained away by saying he had an emotionally abusive childhood. But I don't think anything justifies sadism. A bit of kink is just fine, and if blurring the pleasure/pain boundary is your thing then knock yourself out (pun intended)! But emotional and physical abuse isn't sexy. 

I've always hated it in fiction when the love interest is "broken" and in need of "fixing". I think too many real-life bastards end up having their every whim catered for because their lover thinks they can change them. I just felt like Grey was a glorified abusive partner in the first book of this trilogy. Perhaps things change, but even if love does fix him, is that a good message? Does that negate his dark proclivities? I might have to read the rest of the books to see how this plays out... but I just don't know if I can be bothered. 

Ana, the first person protagonist, was okay. However, I actually preferred Bella. Bella certainly had her annoying moments and is forever soured by Kristen Stewart, but she was always able to come up with a plan when the going got tough. She had faith in Edward which was sort of justifiable because, even though Edward was
capable of being a monster, he kept himself restrained. And what human being doesn't have the ability to hurt another? 

The most irksome aspect of Ana's character was how often she says "Oh my". It is impossible not to read it in a George Takei voice, which made many of the love scenes unintentionally hilarious!

Christian Grey, however, indulges his darker desires and causes pain to others. He's big on charity work and sustainable technology, but then Hitler had his philanthropic moments too. To me, Grey was more of an animal than his vampire inspiration ever was. 

Overall, this story
did have its moments. The chemistry between the two main characters was tangible and, at times, enjoyable. It's a shame that there was little more to this book than just some fairly cheesy sex-scenes and characters who I felt as much empathy for as I might a soggy sponge. 

This gets two stars. I read it, I might read the others to see if the fuss over these books becomes justified, but mostly I just didn't love or even like it much. I didn't hate it either, it was just okay. Mostly, I'm
glad I read it because now I can eviscerate it justifiably! So there's a plus!


  1. Literally, everything you've mentioned in this review are the things that have stopped me picking up this book! I've got to admit, I've got a bit of a case of morbid curiosity with this though - maybe I'll end up getting it on Kindle given it's fairly cheap!

  2. Loads of people seem to love it, but I just thought it was kind of trashy and poorly put together. If you want a good story, read a book. If you want porn, use the internet. If you want a weak story and lame sex scenes, then this might be the book for you, lol!

  3. If you're going to buy it may I suggest ASDA where it's only £2. I'm looking forward to writing my review now :p x

  4. Or visit your local library so the staff can judge you. Just don't return it with any pages stuck together...

  5. I really appreciate this review! I started reading this book and just couldn't get any interest in it. Mind you, I never finished Twilight either - just couldn't get into it. Thanks for your honest review!

  6. i have read this book and having been in an abusive relationship for 20 years, i found it really really disturbing.
    i could see the same behavior patterns in Mr Grey of an abusive partner.i think if the book ever revisits Ana in 20 years time she would have been completly destroyed by this man, jumping like a frightened mouse always trying to second guess what he wants to stop being beaten by him!!

    1. This really puts the book in a new light. I'm so sorry that you have had such bad experiences, and think it's brave of you to admit this. I'm going to quote this (with your permission?) when I write my review of book 2!

  7. Haha, nice to know what all the fuss is about. This isn't a book I'm particularly drawn to pick up but it's interesting to hear some honest thoughts on it.

    WIN Tickets to the British Library’s Summer Exhibition (competition ends 15th June 2012)

  8. This is actual dialogue between Ana and Christian, the narrator and her billionaire boyfriend. These books have conflicted me. The dialogue, plot contrivances, and most of the characters are completely ridiculous. And yet, for reasons I don't fully understand, I am on book three of the trilogy. I guess I want to see what happens with these characters, even though every page makes me cringe and/or laugh. Starting with Christian, the billionaire...who is also incredibly hot...with an insatiable sexual appetite...and he pilots his own helicopter...and he's a philanthropist...and a concert-level pianist...and an expert dancer...and of course, he's completely head over heels in love with Ana. I am fully expecting that he will find a cure for cancer by the end of the third book.

  9. Oh yay, I've been waiting for a blogger review of this one for ages, but for some reason not many of us have picked it up!

    I know what you mean about disliking a book before you've even touched it, especially because I did it with this one too. It's why I was so desperate for a review, so I could see if it was actually worthwhile or not. I'd kind of expected it to turn out the way you described, so now I can avoid it without feeling like I'm missing out :)

    Bella certainly had her annoying moments and is forever soured by Kristen Stewart. <---- That made me snort - so very true.

  10. If you think it was meh in print, you should hear the audio. Horrible! Painful! (no pun intended).

  11. If you think it was meh in print, you should hear the audio version. Horrible! Painful! (no pun intended). I only made it 1/3 of the way through.


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