- Publisher: Vintage Books
- Format: Paperback | 514 pages
- Dimensions: 127mm x 201mm x 25mm | 372g
- Publication date: 29 June 2012
- Publication City/Country: New York
- ISBN 10: 0345803485
- ISBN 13: 9780345803481
- Sales rank: 141
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.
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E L James is a former TV executive, wife and mother of two based in West London. Since early childhood she dreamed of writing stories that readers would fall in love with, but put those dreams on hold to focus on her family and her career. She finally plucked up the courage to put pen to paper with her first novel, "Fifty Shades of Grey."
By Liz Ramlee 27 Feb 2014
It's pretty good if you like super dominoring men but Fifty Shades of Grey Christian Grey is not that dominant in my book. He's like, the baby low class dom. The story is ok but I still cried a lot reading this. It's not all Kink as what people say, the story is pretty ok but Anna annoys me a littlel A little dumb. Christian loves her for some reason that I will never get.
Christian is the saddest person i've ever read. The music he plays adds on to my waterworks.
In all, the book is worth reading if you look at it a little deeper that the BDSM part of it.
Give it a chance.
By Karielle 11 Mar 2013
I think I need to clear something up, before I begin. Fifty Shades of Grey is hardly BDSM literature; in fact, it's hardly erotic literature. It has explicit sex scenes and breaks readers into the world of sex toys and equipment, yes (for those of us who never knew what a Cat o' Nine Tails or kegel balls were-psh, amateurs)-but if this is what people are being introduced to as "erotica," no wonder they've been severely disappointed. To those who haven't been disappointed, or have even been ridiculously enchanted by James's series: what. the. hell. is wrong with you??? Pornographic writing and a list of submissive rules/toys do NOT equate to erotica. Take it from me, who's read dirtier, sexier, filthier, and way more taboo than this. Please, just trust me on this one.
This book isn't evil because of its portrayal of an "unhealthy relationship," which is what I'm hearing from a lot of reviewers, or at least the conservative ones. The BDSM lifestyle has nothing to do with domestic abuse or inequality between partners; in a sense, it's power play-roleplaying for pleasure, and is perfectly sane and perfectly safe. I've seen many D/s relationships (in real life and in other books) that are way more tasteful than in Christian and Anastasia, but I won't divulge because this isn't a lesson about BDSM. The point is, if you can't stand the idea of pain for pleasure, you shouldn't be complaining about the "unhealthy relationship" in the first place. As for me, I can handle whipping, I can handle tears, I can handle bruises, and I can handle pain, but what I can't tolerate, is the disgustingly unrealistic dynamic between Christian as a Domme and Ana as a sub.
James has committed no crime in writing about such a relationship; her only sin is glamorizing and falsifying it. It is a miserable portrayal of erotica and BDSM fiction-a poor, inaccurate, and unrealistic picture of a D/s relationship-and I'm sorry if anyone who's never read erotica before has been unfortunate enough to be broken into by Fifty Shades of Grey. Anastasia Steele is a bad initiator, and if you're a smut-virgin, you deserve much better than this.
For starters, it doesn't even give you details of the relationship, aside from a list of hard and soft limits, a few unremarkable spanking scenes, some naughty usaes for gray ties (from a man named Grey with gray eyes... ooooh!), and ONE exceptional-I'll admit-love scene involving a flogger. But that's it. All 500-something pages revolve around Ana mulling about the non-disclosure agreement she's so afraid to sign... no juicy deets on what the contract will actually promise.
I'm not trying to kill the hype, here, because I actually wanted to like this book. You'll see my rating is way more generous than I feel it deserves, because I do get why people fell for this book, at least partially, and will explain more about this later.
People have said this is smut for smart women. No nO no No NO. This is the opposite of smut for smart women. These are presumably the same people who tell unsuspecting readers to "open up their minds" and give BDSM a try because it isn't all that smutty, it isn't all that bad. Well of course the **** it isn't bad, because it isn't actually BDSM! You want real BDSM, real down and dirty kinky BDSM? Try Rachel Kramer Bussel's anthologies. Try Alison Tyler's. Try Carrie's Story, for Chrissakes, but if you've never tried erotica, do not read Fifty Shades of Grey; you will hate start off and end up hating the genre, which would be a terrible shame.
As for the characters... this is where I'll start getting nasty.
Anastasia is probably the dumbest narrator I've ever encountered in any book. I'm not kidding you. However, literally every man she encounters is smitten with her; she has multiple suitors throughout the book, which is inappropriate for her so-so looks and awkward, dim-witted, and terribly (and I mean TERRIBLY) naÃ¯ve personality. I don't get it... even she doesn't get it. Which probably means it's just a fantasy on James's part, and perhaps even just an illusion! But I won't go there.
She does have slight relatable humor to her, but it's just that: very slight. That's the only good thing I can say about her. She contradicts herself (and not in that way that makes me sympathize) and apparently is an academic, though she doesn't sound at all intellectual, save her sporadic references to classic literature in comparison to her own life. This, and her poor attempts at self-deprecation ("my hair never behaves, ugh!!") make her even more dislikable. All in all, she says the stupidest things, does the stupidest things, and lets her huge doe-eyed crush, Christian Grey, get away with the stupidest things. No wonder he had such a strong urge to beat her all the time; I wanted to give her a good whipping myself-that's how much I was irritated with her.
Christian Grey is also a problem. He's handome, rich as sin, oozes sex appeal, and cares for the ordinary and unintelligent Ana. Basically, he doesn't exist. He, too, says weird, uncharacteristic things that makes me wonder if he's an android (possibly) and is also kind of an ass. A self-proclaimed "fifty shades of 'effed' up" lives shamelessly and opulently... because he can. And I'm totally picking on him in this review because... I can. He's supposedly got a dark, alluring past that isn't ever fully disclosed. Thanks for telling us, but for not explaining, EL James. Really, thank you!
The only good thing about him is his attractiveness, which I guess is the only reason why Ana likes him. This shows how shallow the basis of their relationship is. I picture him to be sexy as hell; I mean, physically, Ana doesn't skimp on the details. I'm sure he's a babe. But otherwise, he sounds rather bipolar, creepy, stiff... more like a serial killer than anything. He actually stalks Ana at one point. I wanted to swoon over his good looks, but found it hard to.
To make matters worse, Christian finds Ana absolutely fascinating, but like I've mentioned, I can't see why. The relationship is even less convincing in that respect, and even less enjoyable to read about for 500 pages.
Long story short: the characters sucked. The romance sucked, because frankly, there wasn't really any.
Moving onto the next worst element of this book: the style. EL James's writing is simplistic (but not in the poetic way) with the occasional out-of-place SAT word thrown in for good measure. Ana's stream-of-consciousness first-person narrative is often difficult to follow-rather elementary in tone, like a middle schooler's diary-and I surprised myself that I even got through the whole thing. I think the quality of writing is some of the worst I've seen published, with lots of telling rather than showing (see my quotes below for references) and dialogue that's choppy, forced, and stilted.
Aside from the poor composition, James seems to have an affinity for foil packets, dry murmurs (how does one dryly murmur, anyway??), gasping, wide eyes, the word jeez, and the six holys (fu*ck, moses, hell, crap, sh!t, and cow, as in "I'm turned on. Christian is so sexy. Holy moses!"). If you can get through 500 pages of holy moseses, then be my guest.
I know this is only the first in a three-book series (I'll be reviewing the next two... don't know whether to be excited or to burst into tears), but the ending was what was fifty shades of 'effed' up; Mr. Grey himself doesn't even compare. It has this cliffhanger that doesn't leave me hanging-the absolute worst-and it's almost as if James just wrote this huge 1500 page book about a stalkerish billionaire and a dumbass college student, then chopped it up into three to create a "trilogy." Oh wait.
There isn't much else I can pick on; in summary, the characters are weak, the dialogue is weak, the style is pitiful, and the plot is pretty mellow, nothing fancy. It doesn't live up to the hype at all, but eff me, I read the whole freakin' thing in two days.
See, this is where my review sort of does a 180 and I start praising it. You didn't see this coming, did you?
I think it's the storyline. Like in Twilight, there's an irresistible troubled hero-who, I cannot emphasize enough, is really poorly portrayed and quite stalkerish/pathetic-and his uncontrollable compulsions for a girl who's wrong in every way for him. I'm a glutton for these kinds of stories, so yes, that is why I kept reading. Everything-the style, the characters, the sex-is weak, but the appeal factor is strong, definitely strong, and that's why I (unfairly) am giving this one 6 hearts: because I kept reading, and eff me, because I actually wanted to.
So let's put it like this: The characterization, style, dialogue, BDSM elements, and sex scenes deserve 2-3 hearts.
The intrigue factor, the fact that I kept reading and actually wanted to know what happened next? 7-8 hearts. I guess the story itself is good, but the poor writing and Ana's idiocy/ignorance creates this irritating shadow over the entire read. Even the sex, which you'd think would be the foundation of an erotic romance, is very mediocre... which is a euphemism for very bad. I don't think any of them were remotely arousing (minus the one flogging scene at the end SPOILER START which coincidentally, is also when Ana leaves Christian SPOILER END) because they were ALL THE SAME. And let's not forget the most absurd loss of virginity I've ever read in my life. I've definitely definitely read much better erotica. It's safe to say the love scenes aren't what make this book enjoyable-I could've done without them. And considering this is an erotic romance novel, that's saying a lot.
Rather, it's the emotions, the overwhelming darkness, that keeps the story moving and Mr. Grey entrancing. There's a certain tenderness in getting to know him; he's got this dark, painful past, and she's got nothing. She wants to know him, but he won't let her, and this desperation is at once startlingly draining and hauntingly engaging.
So overall? I weigh the factors and give it 6 out of 10 hearts. I'm certainly not saying there's anything substantial, anything sexy, or anything I get out of this series. I'm just saying I liked it enough.
See why this is so frustrating??
I hated everything about the book, but I was so immersed in the relationship and the elusive Mr. Grey, that I actually ended up kind of liking it as a whole. It's weirdly addicting, like those powered donut holes you hate and know are bad for you, but keep eating anyway (as EL James would so eloquently articulate).
Pros: Grey is intriguing... while I don't understand Ana as a character, I do understand her attraction for him // I'm mildly curious as to what happens in the next book // Christian Grey weirds me out but I do feel sympathetic for him // Taylor, the bodyguard, is a total catch. I ship him and Ana // The emails between Ana and Christian are the only tolerable correspondence they two have... they're actually witty! But the in-person conversations... ugh. See "Cons" below
Cons: They fall in deep, desperate love in like, two weeks // Sounds like it was written by a ten-year-old // Unpronounceable vocabulary words randomly thrown in the middle of sentences // Unrealistic dialogue //Ana is probably the most dislikable protagonist in history // Grey is the creepies freak ever // Cookie-cutter secondary characters, i.e. the likable brother, the doting mother, the best friend who has it all, the guy friend who secretly has the hots for Ana, etc. // The "dark past" isn't really... dark? Sorry. I've seen worse // Ridiculous and inaccurate portrayal of a submissive lifestyle // BDSM just isn't kinky // Sex scenes are awkward or just outrageously underdone // Overall not arousing // Ana literally calls Christian "Fifty shades"..... ok // Ending is balls
Verdict: I have a manic love-hate relationship with this book and am awarding it a reluctant 6 hearts because Christian Grey, while unrealistic and overstated, is strangely hypnotic. I didn't like this book for the characters or BDSM or the romance, or even the sex; only for the story. I can't recommend this, especially if you're new to erotica; this is not the kind of book you want your first experience to be. I don't recommend this to you even if you read a lot of erotica, either, because you probably won't be able to finish it. So I guess I don't recommend it to anyone. It was pretty entertaining (more out of laughs, than anything) and is a far-fetched fantasy that raises the question of who really has the power in D/s, in which readers will gladly indulge. I'll even be reviewing the next two books because I have to, but as this first book in the series isn't particularly well executed, and often very frustrating, I suggest you spend your time and money elsewhere.
Rating: 6 out of 10 hearts: Satisfying for a first read, but I'm not going back.
Source: Complimentary copy provided by Edenfantasys in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)
By Colleen 03 Sep 2012
"...All the women who swoon over Christian Grey and think this book is romantic and steamy...I worry about you. I worry about the teenage girls who undoubtedly also read this and get all swoony over it, then end up in abusive, toxic relationships themselves, thinking they've found their own Christian Grey. And you know, if the BDSM thing actually is for you, and if it actually was something Ana could get into, the relationship probably would have been pretty okay. But under no circumstance was anything that went on between them actually okay. Consenting begrudgingly because you are afraid the person will leave you if you don't is NOT the same as actual consent.
I'll admit Grey had his moments of being charming and likable. But that doesn't make up for the rest of it. I have nothing against the BDSM lifestyle. Between two adults who both understand and consent to the details, it can provide an exciting and erotic aspect to their relationship. But when one person doesn't really get it and thinks it's some kind of phase he can be therapied out of, and the other person is an overbearing, possessive stalker, the relationship is not at all healthy. It wouldn't be healthy if the BDSM were not a factor, and the BDSM doesn't make it suddenly acceptable.
I find it amusing that so many people got riled up about this same behavior being exhibited by Edward Cullen toward Bella in the Twilight saga - getting jealous about other guys, warning her against spending time with him, sneaking into her room at night to watch her sleep...but when it's Fifty Shades of Grey, it's suddenly ideal romantic behavior.
And speaking of Twilight? I dare you to read this book and not get the sneaking suspicion that this is actually fanfic, rewritten so it could be published without a lawsuit.
If civilization is really going to come crumbling down at our feet this December, then I am taking this book's best-seller status as one of the signs of the coming apocalypse. I don't believe I'll be subjecting myself to the rest of the trilogy if it's all going to be like this."
For full review, please visit me at Here Be Bookwyrms on Blogger:
By Sonya Kavanagh 23 Jul 2012
In a purely selfless manner I took it upon myself to read the now infamous Fifty Shades of Grey. I just had to see what everyone was talking about! Here's what I thought having read the entire first book in one sitting.
The notoriety of this novel is astounding considering the premise of the story, i.e. this is a typical Mills & Boon type love story with a dose of explicit sex thrown in for good measure. Even the names given to the main characters in this "romp fest" - Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele - are reminiscent of the extremely popular romantic novel series. Nothing unusual there you might think.....well think again!
The inclusion of an S&M element to the story has turned this rather "old fashioned" storyline into a modern sensation. This novel should be a feminist's nightmare as a sexually experienced (and some would say sexually deviant) older man (with rakish good looks and pot loads of money) sets his sights on a fresh faced, virginal college student.
Of course she falls for him instantly and finds herself torn between the romance and the reality of her situation. He is emotionally detached / sexually complicated and his behaviour is justified by glimpses of an extremely troubled early childhood. This justification sees our heroine willing to forgive and make allowances for his need to control her and to control her life. However, the book seems to infer that the young woman holds the upper hand simply because she is the object of this mans desire. I'm not sure that's the case!
Anyway, I had heard that the book was poorly written and lets face it, it's no Thomas Hardy novel, even though Hardy and, in particular, Tess of the D'Ubervilles, is quoted on a number of occasions, however, the book held my attention and I raced through it. And no.....it wasn't just the smut that kept me going! I actually couldn't wait to see how it ended and that, for me, is always a good sign. It may not win any literary awards but I would definitely recommend that you read this book, even if it is just so that you can join in on the conversation in the canteen! Enjoy!
By Natalie Cleary 23 Jul 2012
I love romance, although this was a bit much for me. I may read the series, although I'm not into the erotic part of the novels. Although it's not always about that. This book is not for the easily shocked, I know I was.
If you like first person point of view books about this, then it's for you!
A GoodReads Choice Awards Finalist for Best Romance `In a class by itself.` --`Entertainment Weekly`