Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

The genre for this book is erotica. My review may allude to sexual or other graphic scenes.
Fifty Shades of GreyFifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
Series: Fifty Shades #1
Published by: The Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing House on May 26, 2011
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Erotica, Romance
Pages: 514
Source: Purchased
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Rating:

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 a 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?

Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

“Why don’t you like to be touched?”
“Because I’m fifty shades of fucked up, Anastasia.”

Ladies and gentlemen, that’s what this book should have been titled: Fifty Shades of Fucked Up.

I literally feel like I could have written an entire novel of my feelings about this book. I tried my best to cut things back to just the core opinions in this review, but I apologize to my boyfriend who spent one brutal evening getting an earful from me about how fucked up this book is. 😛

When I bought this book, I thought it was a romance novel with a bit of dabbling into BDSM. After starting it, I realized that in reality it’s a book about BDSM, consensual slavery, abuse, and pathetic hopes of a romance that ultimately isn’t there.

When the book starts out, Anastasia is an innocent, insecure, virgin college student who has never been that into guys. She’s only been kissed twice and has never had a real boyfriend. But romance and love are things she sometimes daydreams about. Then she meets Christian. He’s handsome and mysterious, and for the first time, Ana feels sexual attraction.

The problem is that Ana looks at Christian and wants romantic relationship. She wants to “make love,” go on dates, go see movies, and fall in love. Christian isn’t into that and he makes it clear from the get go that he “[doesn’t] make love. [He] fuck[s]… Hard.” He’s not a “flowers and romance” kind of guy.

Despite that, Ana clings onto the possibility that one day a real, romantic relationship might be possible. She fears that if she doesn’t do what Christian wants (by basically becoming his sex slave), she’ll lose him and be alone forever. So despite her reluctance, she consents to becoming his sex slave, or his “submissive” as he calls it.

Christian draws up a contract for her that literally says stuff like this is for his pleasure, she must do whatever he wants — sexual or otherwise, she has to exercise 4 times a week, she must eat 3 meals a day (absolutely NO snacking in-between) and only from a list of pre-approved foods, she must always be shaven and waxed and attend a beauty salon of his choosing, etc. And then Christian has the right to punish her in any way he sees fit, should she misbehave or do anything he doesn’t like. He is not required to provide a reason.

Remember, Ana is completely inexperienced when it comes to sex.

So she signs away her free will (note: she doesn’t actually sign the contract, but she ends up doing basically everything that’s in the contract). She’s relatively open to playing with sex toys, being tied up, and she tries to obey his commands. But from the very beginning, she doesn’t like the idea of being punished — of being subjected to pain. But she decides to put up with it anyway (through her tears and cries of pain), because she’s still clinging onto the possibility that she’ll walk away with a ‘real’ or ‘normal’ relationship.

I’ll let this quote speak for itself:

And he hits me again and again. From somewhere deep inside, I want to beg him to stop. But I don’t. I don’t want to give him the satisfaction. He continues the unrelenting rhythm. I cry out six more times. Eighteen slaps in total.
[…]
I can’t say that I enjoyed the experience. In fact, I would still go a long way to avoid it.

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James, page 275 and 277

This is her punishment for jokingly rolling her eyes at one of his comments.

To sum it up, I’m completely and utterly disgusted with this book. I have no problem with BDSM in general, but I don’t view Ana’s consent as “true” consent. I see her as an insecure and emotionally unstable girl who’s clinging onto any shred of a relationship. Ana is a woman who has never been exposed to the world of sex, and suddenly her inexperience and innocence is being abused. Her insecurities make her afraid of being left alone, afraid of being abandoned by Christian, and afraid of never having a real relationship. So she clings onto this abusive slavery contract in hope that it will become something more.

Even her flatmate Katie sees how damaging Christian is. She notes that Ana (who normally never cries) is constantly brought to tears by Christian’s behaviour. Katie doesn’t know the full extent of what’s going on, but she knows that Christian is creepy and that he is having a negative affect on Ana.

Side note: Ana constantly refers to her “inner goddess,” who I assume is basically her sexual side. But honestly, the constant remarks about her “inner goddess nodding in approval” or her “inner goddess spinning like a world-class ballerina” are just retarded. What the heck does that mean? Does she have some sort of multiple personality disorder that we weren’t made aware of? I’m just going to quote the awesome review by Novel Sounds to express how I feel about this:

“I do not know what exactly an inner goddess is but [Ana] WILL NOT SHUT THE FUCK UP about hers.”

I think this book sends a horrible message to the reader. It’s basically saying that it’s fine to tolerate horrible pain that makes you cry and want to run away and hide, because one day you might get a real relationship out of it. And on the plus side, the guy will occasionally reward you by cuddling you and will buy you expensive gifts.

These comments barely even scratch the surface of what I have to say about this book. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. My mom showed an interest in reading it and while I’ll eventually leave the decision up to her, I’m making sure she knows my full thoughts before diving into it. I’m seriously horrified that people are praising and loving this book.

I personally was more interested in hearing about Katie (Ana’s flatmate) and Elliot’s (Christian’s brother) relationship, which seemed to be both loving and sexual.

And on that note, I’ll leave you with one final quote that really sums up what this book is about:

“How did you feel while I was hitting you and after?”
“I didn’t like it. I’d rather you didn’t do it again.”
“You weren’t meant to like it.”
“Are you going to hit me again?”
“No, not tonight.”
“Why do you like it?”
“I like the control it gives me, Anastasia. I want you to behave in a particular way, and if you don’t, I shall punish you, and you will learn to behave the way I desire. I enjoy punishing you. I’ve wanted to spank you since you asked me if I was gay.”

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James, page 286-287

The Verdict

avoid

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22 comments

  1. Wow! I guess I really don’t want to read it now! Why is it on the best sellers lists? Why is everyone reading it in “secret”?

  2. ahaha my co-blogger had very similar feelings as you! She felt like she could have written a book too, she was SO ANGRY! Even reading the reviews of this book is very frustrating because everything about this series is the worst. SO GROSS and problematic. Even though I don’t see the hype dying down anytime soon, I hope it goes away.

    1. I know, right!! I literally don’t understand why people like this book. It’s basically an abusive relationship… I just don’t get how it’s appealing at all :/ I can’t help but wonder if girls just swoon over rich, handsome men and love the book for that reason. Ugh. As Patty said above, why is this on the best sellers lists???

  3. I think this book should have stayed where it was, a fanfic. I read a similar fanfic like this, but at least there the girl (Bella..duuuh) wanted this life style. I’m actually shocked to see this is not the case here. It totally gives the wrong impression….this Life Style if for two people who BOTH want this, either dom or sub – but not like this!

    1. I totally agree! I have absolutely no problem with a completely consensual and mutual sub/dom relationship. If a woman (or man) wants to be beaten, whatever. It’s not my thing, but I’ll respect it. But a man beating a woman who doesn’t want to be beaten is just disgusting!

  4. AAAH *runs away* I haven’t dared read this one yet. I’m undoubtedly super curious but I’m not sure I’ll have the patience for it.

    1. Yeah I was curious too.. but if you feel the way I felt, you’ll just rage and consider marking it as “DNF” every five minutes.

      It’s awful! 😛

  5. I’m a bit late with a comment here. I read this when it was still a fanfic, and the general opinion that I got from the women reading this was that they liked Christian’s dominant side, but they also dreamed of being able to make him more ’emotional’ (for lack of a better word). It’s the classical thought that you can change a man to your liking – but taken to the extreme. I’m not sure if you’re going to read the rest of the series *spoilers* but it does “pay off” for Ana to stick with Christian and endure his abuse. Another thing that I didn’t like about this series is that it’s later on implicated that Christian doesn’t like to be touched because he was abused as a child, and then later on sexually abused as a teen. I think that’s a very simplified and somewhat condescending way to look at BDSM relationships; but I suppose it works for that EL James wanted to say with the story.

    So yeah, all the seriousness aside, I laughed at this series. It was just too weird and stupid and kept getting worse… Ah, and they’re turning it into a film.

    1. I definitely laughed at this too. I just thought Ana was so pathetic and so many scenes were just absurd!

      I don’t plan on reading the rest of the series so it is kind of interesting to hear what happens. I guess it just doesn’t appeal to me at all.

      I can’t believe they’re making a movie… that will be……. interesting.

      Thanks for your comment!

  6. Yikes! I’m glad I didn’t make it that far! Wow, for the life of me, I can’t understand what’s sexy about this book. Thanks for sharing your review on my blog, I loved it.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Natasha! I really enjoyed your mini-review. I also can’t understand how this book is sexy.. I don’t get why people call it their guilty pleasure or “mommy porn.” Who wants to be beaten against their will??

      Have a great day! I hope you find some *truly* sexy books out there.

  7. I never loved Fifty Shades. I regretted that I gave in to the hype that had been going on before. Good thing I only bought the first book. It was disappointing that the series got included in the best selling list and the fact that a lot of people are enjoying it.

    1. I’m jealous that you had the sense to only buy the first book. I bought all three and had to go back and exchange the second two when I realized the first one sucked… lol.

  8. I just saw your review for Wallbanger and while I so anticipated the release, it was just ok for me. So for that I am in total agreement. For the review above, I was like WOW! I thought I was the only one, now I am not alone, you are with me! As a nurse, I thought this was a sad book. I read the first one and was actually scared for this girl. His world was one on pain and emotional torture, not about dominating something or someone. When you are into BDSM in my opinion you enjoy it rough but don’t intend to physically hurt someone. I thought he really physically hurt her with the expectation that she would run away he wanted to scare her. I think he was trying to show her the world of his was a bad one.

    When a person tortures an animal and inflicts pain, we call them nutjobs and ask for physiological consult, I thin he needed one too.

    I don’t get the secret! Woman running out to get ties for their husbands? If there really is a man who can do nothing but get off on pleasuring a woman, I wanna find him. I don’t think that he exists. People whether male or female that get off on humiliating a person in a sexual way are in need of medication and therapy.

    Just my thoughts

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts Renee!

      I agree that Christian definitely needed help. It’s one thing to just like things rough in the bedroom or enjoying a bit of control, but he actually enjoyed the process of inflicting pain… that’s a whole different level! That’s more along the line of a psychopath than anything else.

  9. I bought into the hype back when it was first released, and I think I gave it 3 stars. Since then I’ve had more time to think about it and how much I actually hated it. I’ve never gone back and revised my review, though.

    Unfortunately, since EVERYONE was recommending it, I bought the whole series. I’ve only read the first one and can’t for the life of me get interested in the next book. I feel bad about wasting my money on all the books, though…

    The whole thing is just ridiculous…E.L. James behavior since releasing her fanfic as a novel is absurd (she got upset when someone wrote fanfic off hers, etc). I saw a book I wanted to read and then found out it was her husband’s novel, so I’ve avoided it, even though it looks REALLY good, lol! I just figure from reading about their relationship that he’s as messed up as her…so I will run away screaming in the opposite direction.

    Bree recently posted: What’s Next? February 13
    1. Wow, she seriously had the balls to get mad at people for writing fanfic about her book? That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard… >_< Talk about hypocritical. I also did the same thing and bought the entire series before reading the first one. I ended up returning the two I never read the next day LOL.

  10. Sometimes I am ashamed of what becomes popular in the US. This is one of those times. The fact that kinky Twilight fanfiction hit the NYT bestseller list makes me sad. There are much more deserving books out there. Books of actual quality. Sigh.

  11. I’m sorry and I hate to be a downer but I just really wish you hadn’t used the word retarded. Some may say I’m overreacting but it seriously offends me (ADHD) and those like me (with disorders) in general. Sure it wasn’t used to describe me or a real person but I’d seriously appreciate it if you avoid using that term in the future. Otherwise though I agree this book is messed up in so many ways.

  12. Perhaps the great move of the author has been to create a beautiful protagonist, with almost null and absurdly naive self-esteem. The silly girl who falls in love with the attractive billionaire and is reciprocated (even if strangely) was the bet of E. L. James.

    The similarities with the Twilight saga were visible. This I expected, because of the “buzz” about this trilogy, but I confess that I was a little annoyed because I did not feel the originality of the product that I had at hand.

    In the first pages, I liked the development of the narrative and how the protagonist had been presented. But in the course of the chapters I could not bear it when Anna rolled her eyes, said the same words, bit her lower lip, argued with her “inner goddess” and her unconscious.

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