Fifty Shades of Grey (Paperback)
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Short Description for Fifty Shades of Grey Originally published: Australia: Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing House, 2011.
- Published: 29 June 2012
- Format: Paperback 514 pages
- ISBN 13: 9780345803481 ISBN 10: 0345803485
- Sales rank: 50
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Reviews for Fifty Shades of Grey
Entertaining and intriguing, but disastrously executed and rather ridiculous. Please don't waste your time!
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) naïve 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 Karielleunder review
Fifty Shades of Cray
"...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:
http://herebebookwyrms.blogspot.com/2012/09/fifty-shades-of-grey.html by Colleenunder review
First let me start by saying I've only picked up the book because of all the "hype". So, I thought, 'why not give it a chance?' Well, this has to be one of the worst books I've ever picked up. I have a vast range of books I like to read, and am open to most anything. The writing style was that of a teenager's. At first, I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but once I found that the author was British, it completely made sense to me. She has no concept of how American's speak to each other. Tone, word choice, and mannerisms. Granted it can't be that hard to try and understand the way American's speak, but she didn't really get it right. There were many uses of British slang and terminology, and on top of all that it was redundant. The whole book is comprised of repetitious phrases. I also caught a few too many grammar mistakes (probably because she is not America, and writing of American people). I think this would be a fine read if you're a teenager in the same position as Ana, the main character. The book continually gets weirder and weirder. From sex contracts (NDA's stated in the book) to S&M torture chambers. Don't get me wrong, if that's what you're into, then hey, go for it. But suspension of disbelief is very unattainable while reading this book. A billionaire, millionaire "somethingaire" (as stated in the book) who is head over heels for this demure undergrad with a super freak flag he likes to fly at night in his sex dungeon? Not all control freaks like to use whips and shackles on shy unsuspecting girls.
Aside from the super fictitious nature of this story, the word phrasing again, is just unbearable. "My muscles cringing in the most delicious fashion" is by far a European phrasing. Americans use delicious to describe one thing only...FOOD. There are several more phrases you can pick out immediately. Not to mention the only books "Ana" the character seems to know of are the ones that are British, that the author has probably read six thousand times over. I'm a very bright and studious undergrad student, and even I cannot say anything good about this book. So if you're looking for an actual good read, try a less "hyped up" best seller, and if you're looking to get your rocks off, make sure you're a teenager disconnected from reality.... by Valentinaunder review
no so interesting
didn't like so much by achrafunder review
fifty shades of grey
a friend gave me this book and at first it annoyed me. The writings not great and there are some discrepancies, but half way through I couldn't put it down.
I'm now just about to start the 3rd and while it may be repetitive i'm really enjoying it. My husband seems to be really enjoying me reading it too! by nicola bowyerunder review
- Top review
Fifty Shades of Grey
I probably would have never have picked this book up if it there hadn't been such fuss made over it in the book blogosphere and the news that it was going to be made into a film (What kind of film it will be, I really don't know...). All I knew about it when I picked it up was that it was once fan fiction and had erotic themes. I also knew that there must be something about it that made it so controversial.
I'll admit that I was a bit nervous when I was starting the book. I haven't read erotica before (unless you count that scene in Tipping the Velvet) and whilst I am certainly not a prude, the thought of reading a load of BDSM sex scenes did, for some reason, unnerve me. Thankfully, when I got used to it, it didn't really bother me at all. There are some pretty strong images, a lot (expectedly) involving sexual restraints, sexual torture and the like, so if you're not comfortable with those ideas, you're really not going to be comfortable with the book. There are no holds barred with the descriptions of the sex scenes, apart from when our protagonist, Ana, mentions her 'sex' or 'down there' - for some reason, she can't give it a proper name, which I found strange and a little immature, considering what she was doing. Though I don't have any other experience with erotica to compare it to, it did sound quite amateur because of the writing.
Speaking of Ana, I thought that she was so frustrating and frankly, at times, downright stupid. She couldn't seem to make her mind up about anything at all. I understand that accepting a contract to be a sex slave would be a very big decision, but it wasn't only that that she couldn't agree to or decline. She didn't seem know what she wanted and so a lot of her behaviour made her look really hypocritical. At some moments, she was sure that she didn't want to be dominated, but her actions really didn't reflect that. Her relationship with Christian Grey was just, in general, disturbing. I don't mean that by the fact that they're indulging in BDSM sex, but rather because although they both claim to want to avoid it, they are constantly mentally manipulating each other.
I can understand why people find Christian Grey attractive (and hey, if he's played by Ian Somerhalder in the movie, I probably would too), but I, personally, find his lifestyle to be degrading to his sexual partners and I found him to be disgustingly controlling (not just in his 'Red Room of Pain'). I will admit that I did like his joking in his e-mails and his slight charm, but I can't really excuse his mood swings just because he had a certain cheeky humour. It's certainly up for debate and I am sure that a lot of people will think 'he's messed up, has issues and it's not his fault', but I can't buy in to that - there's still no excuse to act the way that he does with Ana.
So why the two stars? Despite being really quite irritated by the ever mood-changing characters, I still managed to get hooked into the book and found it to be quite addicting, probably because (once I had read a few chapters), I found it easy to read. If you don't look too deeply into it, it's not completely terrible - I think that this is something that you've got to be quite open-minded to read and enjoy. If you push some things aside, it's easy to get engrossed. As a reviewer, I thought that the quality of writing was rather poor and I just didn't like or connect with the characters. I didn't hate this book, though and I certainly don't regret picking this up as I did need to make my own decision about it. Do pick it up to make your own decision, but this book is not for the easily embarrassed or the overly critical. by Stephanie Forster (Stepping out of the Page)under review