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

Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1)

By E.L. James
Editions: audiobook, ebook, paperback
Published May 26th 2011 by The Writers Coffee Shop Publishing House
Genre: Adult Spicy Romance / Contemporary
Source: own copy

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 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?
~ Goodreads Blurb

This is gonna be an odd review, you’ve been warned, lol. I’ve had this ebook for almost an year, I’ve been meaning to get to read it for what feels like ages and I finally, finally got to it. At long freaking last!

To begin with, I will clear the elephant in the room. I’ve seen many book reviews or thoughts sorrounding this read that instead of focusing on the book, took the chance to bash the dom/sub or BDSM lifestyle choice. Ladies and gentlemen, let me be clear: the only demeaning thing in the world is being looked upon as if there’s something wrong with you for making your own choices and being your own self. I like power play, I like BDSM, dom/sub, master/slave. It’s not demeaning or in any way offensive for me to enjoy what I enjoy, I’m not being someone for the sake of womanhood all around the world, I’m being me, for myself. If you find something wrong with that, then there’s something seriously wrong with you. If you think I should spend my life catering to your own warped notions on life, love, sex and so on, then there’s something really, really wrong with you. I’m much too busy catering to my own, sorry; if I get a second life contract and it’s solid, I might consider factoring your stuff in it, but for now, I’m just gonna focus on taking care of me in the way I see fit. So short version of this rant here is, if you have issues with something, then buzz off and face reality: you have issues.
You know how some people will climb up their high horse and start preaching to you about how you should be, feel, behave, only because they think so and it fits their understanding of the world, life, love, etc? I’m the one who would unbuckle their saddle and laugh her a$$ off after they fall from up there.
The world and the rest of its inhabitants owe you and your whacked out ideas nothing, man, deal and move on. Anyways.

Now, reading this was an odd and mixed feelings sort of experience. To me, the similarity tangent of things was sort of obvious. Klutz young woman, oddly mature guy who uses antiquated wording at times and is self-hating like it’s his goal in life, the “I’m not good for you, stay away” and the “I can’t stay away from you any longer” and “then, don’t” moment…I mean, this was pretty obvious to me. But then again the same formula was used on many other books, in some dose or the other, so by now I’ve grown pretty accustomed to the do-over/do-again flavor. Despite these clear hints, I actually found the novelty factor to be really cool, because what this author did is she took the inspiration given by one thing and tweaked it in such a way that it became this smashing hit for its own original elements.

The writing was plain, direct and accessible, clear and straightforward. We’re not dealing with literary writing here, nor should we, this is commercial fiction and it’s very well suited for its market, fact proved by the market’s response as well.

The way the characters were written was interesting to me, because Ana made more sense to me then Bella really did, though some of the main characteristics are there, the klutz factor being the obvious one, plus some like general whiny/scared-y-cat approach to some things, the over-dramatizing and such, she felt more consistent but that’s not really saying much. I didn’t like her, but I empathized with her a lot despite the not liking her factor. This left me oddly confused as the read went on, because both my not liking her and my empathizing with her both grew and grew, combining in the oddest reaction I may have ever had to a character.
Grey had the same off effect on me, meaning he made more sense then Edward did, but not a whole lot either. The not liking and empathizing went on just like with Ana, and their interaction had my undivided attention despite the odd eye roll and snort.

What bothered me and sort of gave me this yuch factor was the way Ana tried to rationalize Grey’s predilections by somehow justifying them through his tormented past, that really didn’t fly well with me. This sort of approach never does, I’ve seen it in a couple of reads before. Somehow, either the narrator or one of the characters feels the need to find some sort of justification for why someone or something is the way it is, like it needs to be explained away and solved, fixed, mended to fit the narrator/character’s view on the world and things. This bothers me, to say the least, and yet I could roll with it in this read, because the overall effect was just so wow. But if this tone of explaining things that need no excuse or explanation wouldn’t have been in there, then this would have been easily a 5 butterflies read, no doubts or questions.

I was edgy by the end of this novel, because all the signs of heading for disaster were there for Ana and Grey. And they went there, and I sort of got my heart broken because of it, this novel just hurt to read by the end of it. The result of this ending was as flabbergasting as the whole read, I disliked each of the characters more on a personal level and empathized with them to the n-th insane degree. Short story long, I was even more hooked by the end then I had been in the beginning.

I’m currently reading book #2, though gods know how long it will take me to actually finish it. Overall, this was an interesting and memorable reading experience, and if you like mature love stories that don’t really fall into the insta-love and instant HEA then give this baby a try if you haven’t already.

Read it already? Liked it, hated it? What was the one thing you loved and the one thing you didn’t? :D>

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2 thoughts on “Review: Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

  1. ilovebooks1972

    Interesting review.  As I’ve mentioned, I love reading my fellow bloggers takes on this book, good or bad.  I don’t agree with all you’ve said, but that’s my opinion.  I can see why you’ve said the things you do though.  I do agree with your statement about the trying to rationalize his actions based on his past.  Personally, if you are into that kind of sex, you are, I don’t think it should have to be because you were abused or something when you were younger.  The BDSM doesn’t bother me, just isn’t necessarily my cup of tea, and doesn’t seem to be Ana’s either, so why does she stay as long as she does?  Again, my opinion.  You can read my review here.

  2. Livia ~ BoM Books

    I totally agree with your point, as long as it’s clear what Grey’s thing is, the fact that she stays trying to deprive him of it and deprive herself of the kind of relationship she needs is just… more sadistic then whips and chains, lol. She goes for emotional torture as opposed to BDSM instruments or something, I don’t know. I don’t get her, but hey, you know, I don’t have to get her all the way.  It’s oddly entertaining to watch her torture herself and Grey, bad of me to say so perhaps, haha.
    It’s like watching a train wreck, I’m oddly fascinated and can’t look away though it’s sort of painful to witness.  Maybe it’s a bit of schadenfreude, you know? I generally like to read about tortured characters more then the surreal happy ones, struggle then delight seems more realistic to me then other perspectives. This again is consistent with my way of feeling and understanding things, I’m not saying it’s universal or anything, we’re all speaking for our selves here.  

    In a way I get her, because let’s face it, how many friends do we have that begin a relationship with someone on the basis “I don’t like this and that and that other at all, but I’ll fix it in time to suit me”, you know? Ana does that, she falls for someone and then wants to totally change them. I guess we all do that, maybe that’s part of the reason why so many readers get where she’s coming from. 

    While reading I was tempted to think, jeez, this chick just creates issues for herself and then moans and whimpers about them, mainly, which we all do at times I guess. There’s a certain sense of universality about this story, maybe, that’s why it appeals to all sorts of readers, regulars or not.
    As I’ve said, a particular point why this was fun is I didn’t go into it looking for, you know, literary merit or something of that nature, just for some fun and it provided that though in an odd yet fascinating way.


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