Sunday, March 18, 2012

Book Review: 50 Shades of Grey by EL James

Not since Oprah was bamboozled by autor James Frey has a novel caused such outrage, controversy, and complete madness in the literary world. After hearing some of my co-workers discussing 50 Shades of Grey, reading the numerous blogs and articles about it online, and seeing the discussion about it on GMA, I decided I simply had to grab it for myself.

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

As mentioned above, I purchased the novel late Thursday night, as the book I was reading had left me bored and unamused. It took me less than 24 hours to become a hopeless addict, unable to put the novel down (even during class!), and desperate for more. Before I delve further into the dark and twisty tale of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, let's establish a few things.

1. This is not a book you share with your mother.
2. It's not your typical book club selection.
3. It's graphic...very, very graphic.
4. If you are of a delicate disposition - offended by foul language or sexual content- do NOT read this book. It is not for rookies.
5. Did I mention it is exceptionally graphic?

50 Shades of Grey is not your sterotypical romance novel. Christian Grey is no Mr. Darcy, and Anastasia Steele is definitely not Lizzy Bennett. Anastasia Steele is a soon-to-be college graduate, coerced by her strong-willed roommate to interview billionaire bachelor Christian Grey for their college newspaper. Clumsy, innocent, adorable Anastasia is instantly captivated by the uber-charming Grey and his sexy, unruly curls (Yes, I imagined him to look like Dr. McDreamy!). Unbeknownst to Ana, Christian (a sado-masochist who specializes in dominant/submissive kinkery), is equally enamored and quickly presents her with a 'proposal' to become his weekend playmate and partner in his universe of whips, paddles, chains, and clamps.

And so the story begins...

50 Shades of Grey is a little bit of Twilight, a touch of Pretty Woman, a dash of The Graduate, and a lot of 9 1/2 Weeks. Ana is the sterotypical sweet, innocent, naive heroine, and Grey is a dark, brooding, exceptionally wealthy Heathcliff with a mysterious past, a controlling nature, and an overwhelming desire to spank. The sexual content of the book is bountiful and explicit (I'm pretty sure I turned 50 shades of pink while reading), but if you can get past the constant fornicating, you will discover a truly gut-wrenching psychological romance that will leave you emotionally exhausted and desperately yearning for more.

Initially, I was very turned-off by the violent sexual details of the book, and bored with page after page of glorious, always-satsifying coupling, but there is an infectiousness to the story that is mystifying and addictive, and I couldn't put it out of mind. I knew there was no way to write a best-selling trilogy that consisted only of pornographic prose, so I continuted to read on, and I'm glad I did!

James is a genius at pulling the reader's sympathy for her characters, and she lets the story unfold slowly, keeping the reader completely enthralled. I did get a little tired of Ana's constant worrying, second-guessing, and insecurities. I found that I had to constantly keep reminding myself that she is only 22 years old and in her first-ever relationship and it's with an older, controlling, jealous man who wants to dictate her every move. (Wow...does art really imitate life? Perhaps James knew me when I was 22? Yikes...that's another blog for another day!) But, I loved that Christian was a character I'd never seen before - a unique, self-loathing loner with an undiscovered ability to love. The growth of both characters throughout the story is impressive, and I was ridiculously consumed by their tale, sobbing like a blubbering fool and sick to my stomach at the book's conclusion.

Overall, I have to say this book is deserving of the hype. For fan-fiction, it is nastily scandalous, horribly inappropriate, extremely disturbing...and utterly irresistible. I don't think I've ever read anything quite like it, and I cannot wait to start the sequel!!


  1. Yup!
    Welcome to the world of fanfiction! I've read Fifty in its original incarnation (called 'Master of the Universe, Twighlight fanfic) and its current one. It is gripping - yet still not the best of what the top fanfiction writers have done-and I've been wondering for years when a fanfic writer would take their fic, change the names etc and publish their work as original fic. Fifty Shades may usher in a new era of novels/novellas that are best sellers from that arena. If so, look out for a number of them being 'slash' fiction (male/male erotica written almost exclusively by straight women) the best of which is even MORE gripping,engaging, and romantic than Fifty.

    For a BDSM novel that is better written for example, you could check the work of KieraMarcos or Xanthe.The best of writing in this genre draws you in, even if you are-as I am-straight and not into BDSM in a million years. Because- as with Fifty- the erotica takes a back seat to the emotional development of the characters.

  2. Thank you so much for the wonderful book! I finished it a few days ago and cannot get it out of my head. It is pure magic. It was everything I hoped it would be and much more. ...
    The Movie Fifty Shades Of Grey

  3. I wish robert pettinson would cast as christian... and am also excited to see this book on reel.
    The Movie Fifty Shades Of Grey