Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James

From the Trade Paperback editionFifty Shades of Grey by E L James
Published by Vintage, an imprint of Random House

I wasn’t even going to talk about this book on the blog. I’m almost embarrassed about the fact that I broke down and read it. I decided to read it on vacation when I was having an impossible time concentrating on the book I planned to read (The Shadow of the Wind, which turned out to be excellent, and which I’ll be talking about next week). I’ve told just about everyone I know that I refuse to read this trilogy, but I finally decided I should at least try to read the thing before continuing to criticize everything about it.

So I read it. In about a day and a half. I have to admit, it’s a quick read. Maybe that’s the appeal? I don’t know, but what I do know is that looking back I feel like I wasted my time on a poorly-written, badly characterized, and entirely too repetitive book.

Now I really don’t care about the sex scenes. BDSM isn’t my thing, so I can’t say I was turned on by all the spanking and other, ahem, interesting things that Christian is into, but these things don’t bother me. What did bother me, however, was the truly awful writing. I highly doubt it is necessary to describe in excruciating detail every single thought that floats through Anastasia’s head, or every single time Christian tells her to stop biting her lip, or every single second of their relationship – what he did, how it made her feel, how she reacted, etc., etc., etc. Too much. Way, way too much.

And also, Christian’s BDSM preferences aside, the guy is a complete and total creep. Maybe there are some women out there who like to be controlled, who like to be told what to do and when to do it, who to see and especially who not to see, but I am definitely not one of those women. If I had a daughter and she wanted to be with a guy like this I would have to beg her to stay far, far away from him. And again, not at all because of the sex – whatever, if that’s what he likes okay fine, if he can find someone who’s willing to comply. It’s the creepiness, the almost-stalking, the demanding, all of that. Yuck.

So no, I didn’t like the book. Admittedly, I couldn’t put it down. Which is hilarious because I was making fun of it the entire time I was reading, telling my mom how ridiculous I thought it was and how much of an ass Christian was, and how if I read the words “oh, my” one more time I would throw the book into the pool, but there you have it – I flew through the book. Like I was saying, maybe its ease of access is part of the appeal? Or maybe it’s the fairy tale like fantasy of having a guy with unlimited money and the ability to “take care of” you? I don’t know. I don’t really get it, and I won’t be finishing the rest of the trilogy.

Did you read Fifty Shades? What did you think?

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28 thoughts on “Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James

  1. No…didn’t read it, but I did read SHADOW OF THE WIND and loved it. In fact, I went to Bsrcelona to find all the places mentioned in the book. 🙂

    Thanks for your review….now I don’t have to read it. 🙂

  2. I love your review because I am the same way – there are books that are awful that I just fly through as well. In fact, I have a review coming up one of these days of the same phenomenon. Yeah, I laughed and made fun of it, but I still kept at it!!! I guess that’s what makes them best sellers!

    1. Exactly – I think a lot of what people love about this book is how easy it is to read. Sorry to say, but I think there’s a lot of truth to that.

  3. LOL I can see where that would happen! I actually haven’t read it (this is the one book I actually chose not to read based on reviews which is something I almost never do). I just read too many places that the writing is terrible and the BDSM isn’t really well written out and it’s more just Christian getting down and dirty (again, all hearsay) – But sometimes regardless you just race through it. Even still, I won’t be reading it anytime soon with all the confirmations of poor writing! I’m glad you did put a post about it 🙂

    1. All of that hearsay is pretty much true. I felt like it was only fair for me to continue talking crap about the book if I actually read it, but beyond that … I wouldn’t recommend it.

  4. I read the book in March, pure curiosity, before it was available in print. I would have never expected the millions of sales. Poorly written oh goodness yes! I honestly think most of the raves are coming from those who read very little. Also minus the bdsm the sex appeals to women, some women, the sex is consensual and the focus is on Ana’s pleasure and many women are looking for that. Lol. I had no desire to read the 2nd or 3rd book.

    1. I would have to disagree about the sex … the focus is more on Christian’s pleasure, he likes it when what he does to her gets her off. I don’t know, I see what you’re saying but I would have to say that it’s more about her doing what he wants and she happens to enjoy it too.

  5. Yes, the book is poorly written!! Augh! A fast and easy read for sure. I did end up reading the other two books and have to say the story was nice, and although the writing is still poor, it’s better than the first book. I skipped over the sex scenes, they were just too corny and I’m not into that. I finished all three books in a week I think. If given the choice though, Shadow of the Wind, would get my vote! 🙂

    1. My mom says the second and third books get better in terms of their relationship, but I am truly not interested based on how much I loathed Christian in the first book. And Shadow of the Wind was a phenomenal book. 🙂

  6. I totally agree with your review- the repetitiveness drove me crazy. I kept thinking if she wrote that Christian”smirked” one more time, I was going to scream. It was an easy read- read it on the plane with a cover so no one noticed what I was reading. Not my usual kind of book but I had to see what the hype was about. Am I going to read the next two? Not sure- want to see how it ends I think. I loved The Shadow of the Wind” as well- the sequel just came out and am looking forward to reading that.

    1. I know! And the biting of the lip! So obnoxious. You made me laugh out loud when you said you read it with a cover so no one would know what you were reading! I read it on vacation with the cover in full view of everyone else at the beach and pool. Oh well.

  7. I have been refusing to read this one, and now that I hear the writing is terrible, I am even less enthused. I don’t like creepy and controlling guys. Had enough of those in my twenties, so I think this book would actually make me mad. It’s funny that women seem to love this stuff, because in real life, it is horrible. Count me in on the group of people who will probably never read this book!

    1. I’m with you on the creepy guys – I had one incredibly awful relationship and Christian just reminded me so much of that guy (not the sex stuff, TMI, just the controlling nature) I couldn’t handle reading two more books about him and them “falling in love”. Puke.

  8. From the conversations I’ve seen on Facebook, it seems like a lot of people I know (professionals!) are really into the characters and the storyline of this book! I just don’t get it. I mean, I didn’t read it, but yours and Sandy’s reviews are enough for me to confirm I should stay away!

    1. I don’t get it either! These characters are horribly written, the story takes place over the course of like a month so it’s totally not believable, just blech! Don’t waste your time!

  9. It was badly written but I loved the books, all 3 of them. The way she wrote though meant I could literally picture everything so was almost like a film in my head.

    The BDSM is very mild, and as someone who does like that I love Christian. The actual BDSM in the book is very mild though and not very ‘erotic’ in my view.

    It could have been written better and it was repetitive and the way Ana act, disobeying Christian so she can get spanked is actually like a few subs I know and in fact me too.

    1. You have an interesting perspective but I personally do not like controlling, jealous guys, and Christian definitely fits into that category. I had no problem with the BDSM, just the way he acted outside of their sexytimes.

  10. Well I have just read the first book and could not put it down! I loved it. She made me smile and giggle all the way through. Can’t wait to get a hold of the next 2 books (local shops are all sold out though!!!) Of note, I am an avid reader of many genres – I have tried other erotica in the past but struggled with them as the storylines have been too poor or predictable, I think I enjoyed this more for the relationship that evolves than perhaps the bedroom shenanigans.

    1. I think a lot of readers feel that way, so I can appreciate your position, but to me the relationship didn’t seem well-developed, it happened way too fast, and Christian is just way too controlling for my tastes. I have heard that their relationship is more solidified in the second and third books, but I will not be reading those so I guess I’ll never know!

  11. Loved loved Shadow of the Wind. My Book Group read Shades of Grey as a hoot. We made fun of the book and laughed our heads off. One of the ladies even made a game for us out of all the expressions that are repeated so many times in the book. If I didnt “have” to read it I never would have bothered, but can’t say I regret it as it worth the laughter. One volume was enough though, I’ll pass on the sequels.

  12. I almost broke down and picked this one up for the very reason that you did. But then I’ve been reading enough reviews by bloggers whose opinion I trust and you all focus on how badly written the book is. I might be able to get over plot problems, but I really need the book to be well written. Thanks for reinforcing my decision not to go with the crowd!

  13. Yep, I read all 3 of them and even though I too thought the writing was terrible and screamed every time “she bit her bottom lip” or the word “inner goddess” was repeated for the trillionth time, I kept right on reading. Can’t even tell you why but there it is for all to see.

    1. Haha! You are hilarious, Staci! I feel the same way about the first one – no clue why I didn’t throw the thing in the beach to be washed away forever, but there you have it – I read all 400+ pages of this crap.

  14. I started reading this book in May. I am still working my way through it. It certainly is a mindless read but I too have this strange desire to finish it. While reading I’m thinking to myself “This s*** it ridiculous, and if THIS can sell, then I need to write something!” Yet I plan to continue reading it. The psychology behind this is exhausting. I’m annoyed and fed up with the book but I don’t feel I can criticize the series until I’ve read it. There must be something wrong with me!

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