Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey - E.L. James

Warning:  If you are expecting a professional-sounding review here (not that my other ones are all that, but I do make an effort) this post will not be anything even close to professional.  I will not hold anything back.  I realize that this book is the result of E.L. James' blood, sweat and tears, but at this point I'm sure she won't care how I feel.  The woman is laughing all the way to the bank.


It is my understanding that this trilogy ("Fifty Shades of Grey" being the first of three installments) started out as Twilight fanfiction.  In other words, it was Bella and Edward with a lot more sex.  After taking some flack for that, James reworked it into Fifty Shades, and readers will easily be able to identify the similarities.  However, instead of its target demographic being tween and teenagers, it is aimed at women over the age of thirty...deemed "Mommy Porn" by some news agencies.  Because of the publisher's limited marketing budget, there was a huge reliance on blogs and word of mouth to spread the word.  Well, it worked.  It was endorsed by Dr. Phil.  It was banned in Florida Country libraries.  Nothing like that combination to fuel the fire.


While I was loathe to read this, it was selected by one of my book clubs.  I was less than thrilled at the prospect.  However I do believe that if you are going to wave around some attitude towards something so popular, it is only right to back it up with your personal experience firsthand.  


The premise:  Recent college grad Anastasia Steele interviews young, studly but mysterious billionaire Christian Grey for the college newspaper.  Ana is apparently gorgeous but unaware of her beauty, and is a virgin.  The moment Christian sees Ana, he must have her because, you know, she is irresistible and so very clever.  He stalks her, woos her with his private jet, private helicopter, rumpled hair and white linen shirts, then asks that she sign a contract with him that details what will be required of her once she becomes his Submissive.  


Christian unleashes all of Ana's unexplored talents in bed.  She is insatiable you see, and perfects the deep-throat on her first try.  She is a natural...she was born for this.  She is introduced to the finer points of BDSM, various toys, bondage, fisting and spanking.  But she is nervous about all this.  What if he spanks too hard?  And what if she has eye contact or touches him when she isn't supposed to?  And what is up with his control freak issues...the stalking, the temper that flares when she dares to talk to another male or wants to fly out and see her mother for a long weekend?  Such decisions for a young woman to make.  Good thing her inner goddess is around to offer an opinion every fifth page.  


She loves him so.  And the sex is so good, except for the spanking, which hurts.  And they do fight a lot, when they're not having sex.  He is damaged, since he was abused and abandoned as a child, so poor thing, she must try to fix him!  No wonder why he is such an ass!  It is not his fault!


Redeeming qualities:  Many taboos are addressed here, out in the open for all the inhibited over-thirty crowd to see and fantasize over.  And that is exactly what this is...fantasy.  There is absolutely nothing realistic going on in these pages.  I doubt that any of these women who are frothing at the mouth would actually go through with anything on Christian's "contract", but if it gets them talking about their own fantasies and spices things up with their boyfriends and husbands, then something good has come from it.


My personal thoughts:  I've read some pretty bad books in my life but this one wins the prize.  Ana is stupid, and Christian is a spoiled creep.  These two are annoying.  They fight, they have sex, they fight, they have sex.  I've seen plenty of these relationships.  They are dysfunctional, and usually end badly.  There is nothing sexy or romantic about it.  But if you tell me you just want brainless reading on the beach?  Fine, go ahead. But just be cautioned...it is explicit.  But maybe that is the attraction.  Apparently the average American woman isn't getting enough deviant porn in their life.


The writing is horrid.  Harlequin romances are more literary.  I should have kept track of how many times there is a reference to Ana's "inner goddess".  Fifty?  A hundred?  I'm not exaggerating.  It wasn't cute, even in the beginning.  The dialogue feels like something written by a teenager.  Here is just one of a couple thousand examples I could give you:


"What is your thing, Anastasia?" he asks, his voice soft, and his secret smile is back. I gaze at him, unable to express myself. I'm on shifting tectonic plates. Try to be cool, Ana, my tortured subconscious begs on bended knee.


Try 528 pages of this.  It's popularity is impossible for me to fathom.  By the time I got to the end, which leaves the reader with a manipulative cliff-hanger, I could have cared less.  Let them spank each other into oblivion.  


My drinking game:  During one of my rantings about this book, my friend Molly Bumble suggested I devise a drinking game for increased enjoyment.  I realize that I am not the first to do such a thing.  In fact, Tasha and Kimberly made up this one.  But I have my own.  So to make Fifty Shades easier to get through, take one drink of your favorite alcoholic beverage any time these events occur in the book.  You will be comatose by page 150.


*  Ana gasps
*  Ana bites her lip
*  Ana says "Oh my"
*  Ana refers to her inner goddess
*  Ana says "Holy XXX"  (Holy crap, Holy shit, etc.)


Fifty Shades the movie?  Ugh.  Whatever.  It is not a huge shocker that a movie studio wants to get in on the gravy train.  I'm sure it will make millions.


1 out of 5 stars  





37 comments:

Beachreader said...

That's pretty much what I thought this book would be about after I flipped through it at Barnes & Noble. Thanks for the review - you saved me from reading it.

Iris said...

Poor you for your book club picking it! I don't think I could get to the end of this book. I've heard a lot of bad things about it, but if there's one thing coming out of the book it's entertaining reviews. Thank you for yours.

Anna said...

I appreciate you reading this so I don't have to. ;) I've been wondering what all the buzz is about...and I still don't have a clue.

Nymeth said...

This is silly of me, but all I can think is that it's too bad the main character in this series has my name. It's pretty rare to find books that do, especially with the single "n" spelling. Why did it have to be this one? :P

Annette said...

What a riot of a review. So glad you were honest in how you felt, and with tact too. I'm not interested in reading this book, for the main reason is I just have too many "to be read piles" that are better books. Even the theme doesn't attract me, and don't care. The book is a sensationalistic type read, a shocker. People just might be reading it for the shock value, rather like watching a train wreck.

annieb said...

Periodically, (I'd estimate every 10 years or so) some explicitly sexual book comes along and makes a big splash. I have lived through The Pearl, Fanny Hill, The Story of O, Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty series, and probably more I can't even remember. They are always pretty badly written and after the first few shocks, become increasingly boring. But I bet they all make money. To me the truly sexy is a lot more subtle. Great review, however.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Bahaha, this is exactly what I needed to hear. I'm sick of "nonreaders" and the media I know telling me I should read this. I had a strong feeling that there was no chance it was for me and this just confirms it. I'm glad I didn't waste any time with it.

GMR said...

LOL! Loved the review, truly I did. I too do NOT get the insane popularity of the book especially given the content. No, I haven't read it...no plans on it either (not my cup of tea)...to each their own though. Thanks for the share!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I applaud this book! Because how else would we ever see in one of your reviews the line: "Let them spank each other into oblivion. " LOLOLOLOL

Rose Ann P said...

I have not read this or plan to read it either.

Love your thoughts!

Meg @ write meg! said...

Oh boy, I'm not touching this with a ten-foot pole. While I enjoyed the Twilight books back in the day, nothing about this sounds even remotely appealing.

Isn't it sad when we have to actually ask ourselves how something so awful could be so popular? I saw women carrying copies of this all over the airport last weekend. It seemed like every lady I passed was either reading one of the Hunger Games books (at least those are great!) or this. Blah.

Jade @ Chasing Empty Pavements said...

I LOVED this post...it seriously made me laugh so much. Thank you for making my day! (And saying the exact same thing I've been thinking on this book!)

C.B. James said...

You crack me up!

Brooke said...

You have further solidified my determination to stay far away from this book. A girl in my book club tried to convince me there was actually a decent plot and it was all I could do to keep a straight face.

Jenny said...

I appreciate fellow bloggers who read and report on this so I don't have to, LOL. I am so annoyed with the people I know/see reading this and thinking it's so great. Ahh!!!

Marce said...

I love all the different experiences with the book. I am glad I read it last year May/June, hadn't heard of it and didn't know about the Twilight fanfict or I wouldn't have read it.

I have to say I loved it, lol I was entertained. Am I shocked over the global hype absolutely, but it is what it is.

What frustrated you frustrated me with 2 and 3 but I did like Christian and Ana as characters.

Ti said...

Your book club has totally lost my respect. LOL. How can a book club pick a book like this??? Seriously. It pains me.

I refuse to read it. I can't believe the trash that gets published these days and I am not talking about content here... just the lousy writing.

Carrie K. said...

I've been looking forward to this review since you said you were reading it! Thanks for reading it so the rest of us don't have to.

JoAnn said...

So, I guess you didn't like it ;-) Thanks for saving me the trouble (pain) of reading it myself.

caite said...

well, at least you gave it one...lol

Honestly, it sickens me as someone who loves books to have this..creation...taken seriously. Folks, what the heck is wrong with you?
You are so right...laughing all the way to the bank.

Nise' said...

This book is making the rounds at my daughter's school (she teaches cosmetology) and she told me, "Don't read it Mom, it is trash". I am going to take her advice and yours as well and pass.

Anita said...

I am daily shocked and amazed with the sales of this trilogy. In May alone our store sold over 12K in just the first book, good grief. A part of me says, okay people are reading, then I think, oh dear lord, look what they are reading. I gave it 2 stars only because I thought the sex was explicit but kind of good. I read it quickly back in March after the hype, no desire to go further. I was out of town when club met....please tell me how it went??

Kimberly (Reflections of a Book Addict) said...

HAHA SANDY YOU ARE AMAZING. Thanks for linking to mine and Tasha's drinking game.

If there is one amazing thing about this book, it's that it makes for a great drinking game LOL

softdrink said...

A co-worker has been raving about this book. Not sure I'm going to be able to look her in the eye now that you've enlightened me as to how truly awful the whole thing really is. So thanks for that. ;-)

softdrink said...

Just had to return to tell you this morning at work I overheard someone else raving about it..."OMG," I swear they squealed, "It even has a good story!!"

Anita said...

I'm surprised you didn't rate it 0 out of 5 stars. :)

Hello Sandy. I clicked over from Anita's post. I'm also an Anita.

Thanks for shedding more light on this book. It's not on my list of books to read, but I wondered about it because my good friend is reading it and is torn about whether to finish it or not. She's feeling guilty because it's trashy, yet, I think it has her curiosity going.

I'm passing on it; too many other books I'd like to read.

Jenners said...

It does make me wonder what people are getting out of this. I'm sure there is much better written "mommy porn" out there than this. It was fun to read your review, which I thought was pretty professional as these things go!

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

Icky. I'm so sorry you had to read this. However, I did find your review to be sparkling, rife with hilarity and extremely well-written. I would read your reviews any day of the week over this book!

Marie said...

hahaha great review. personally i feel free to look down my nose on this without having read it, but probably from a strict point of view i should. but i'm not going to :-) thanks for taking one for the team.

Marianne said...

Great review! I can't see how they can make a movie without an MA rating. They have to add a whole lot of fluff to make it an R rating!

Tasha B. said...

Yeah, it's pretty bad. Not even entertainingly bad, either.

Now you can read all the Fifty Shades Parodies and have a good laugh. :) I heard there's a Hermione and Malfoy one, haha.

Beth F said...

LOLOLOLOLOL Wasn't interested in the first place now even less interested.

bermudaonion said...

We had a drinking game based on this book at BEA - every time the book was mentioned we had to take a drink. We started drinking at breakfast and pretty much stayed drunk the whole time. I just don't get it.

Jackie Bailey said...

LOL! Congratulations on making it to the end! I read a one page extract and had had enough. The writing is terrible. Surely there must be some good quality porn out there for people to enjoy. Why are people raving about this one so much? It doesn't make any sense to me.

Espana said...

This book is well-written and the story of the two main characters getting to know each other and the revelation of Christian's past is absorbing. I enjoyed the banter between Ana and Christian, especially in their emails. Very clever. I also enjoyed the humor and found their interactions and their struggles to learn their boundaries in a new relationship to be very real.

The Bumbles said...

Well, if nothing else, it got you sloshed ;0)

Excellent, wickedly entertaining review. Andy and I enjoyed it immensely - especially your quoted passage selection.

"Spanking each other into oblivion" should have been your post's title.

Melissa said...

I love you!!

I got the whole trilogy from the library on my kindle because everybody was talking about it and I thought I was missing out. Even though it never really sounded appealing to me in the first place. Your review cemented it for my. My library loan is going to expire (or be returned early) without even being opened.