Saturday, March 10, 2012

Review - Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1) - E. L. James

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.

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.

"Why don't you like to be touched?" I whisper, staring up into his soft gray eyes.
"Because I'm fifty shades of fucked up, Anastasia."

Review:  Fifty Shades of Grey by author E.L. James is a sexy, surprising and dark romp through the world of  gorgeous millionaire bad boy Christian Grey and the innocent and naive Ana Steele.  The book opens with Ana driving from her college in Portland to Seattle to interview Christian Grey for the WSU school newspaper because her best friend Kate, the editor, is sick.  Ana is a loyal friend, unaware of her beauty and charm.  She drives a beat-up Volkswagon bug and is happy to do this favor for her friend.  She meets Christian Grey in his office and sparks immediately fly.  She is drawn to Christian, yet leaves him quickly.  She's just a nothing-special college student, right?

Christian is the enigmatic CEO and alumni of WSU.  He's tall, beautiful and sardonic.  He is described several times as "mercurial" and he is an obvious control freak.  He takes a liking to Ana immediately, and shows up in Portland at her place of business just to see her again.  Despite his stalker-ish tendencies, Ana is smitten and they begin an unusual, and oftentimes brutal, relationship.  The relationship starts slowly, with Christian warning Ana off, but then builds very, very quickly.  

 "Well, when you were nearly run over by the cyclist - and I was holding you and you were looking up at me - all 'kiss me, kiss me, Christian,'" he pauses and shrugs slightly.  "I felt I owed you an apology and a warning."

Christian warns Ana away from him several times before he even attempts a relationship with her.  Christian is into BDSM.  He is a dominant, a control freak in every sence of the word, but will only accept Ana with her consent and permission.  He forces Ana to think about his proposition, long and hard.  He writes everything he wants and expects down in a contract and then gives her time to think about whether it is acceptable to her.  Of course, Ana only wants to be with Christian, and will agree to almost anything.  It becomes apparent that Ana wants "more" from Christian, and to her surprise, Christian is willing to try to give her more.  Unfortunately, Christian has some very deep-seeded and tortuous issues in his past that derail any attempt he has to have a "real" relationship.

I felt bad for both of these characters from time to time.  I am not qualified to say what is right and what is wrong, but I do know that both are compromising for the other.  As many times as Ana attempts new things to please Christian, he attempts new things to please Ana.  Both characters are extremely vulnerable.  This book ends with a very emotional and dark series of events.  I can't judge who is right or who is wrong in their actions.  There is no black and white answer - only shades of grey.  

The things that made me give this book a 4-star rating instead of a 5 are very specific.  The writing was not as polished as in other books that I read, although it continually improved as the book progressed.  James tends to write in a stream of consciousness that I found hard to follow at times.  There is also a very abrupt change in scenes - the transitions were difficult to follow at times.  This book is also written in first-person present and that took me a while to get used to.  

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this book.  Dr. Drew seems to think that this book is a beacon of violence against women.  What do you think of this clip?  Is this a book about violence or is it a harmless fantasy?

Another article I found most interesting was written by Dr. Logan Levkoff, a sexologist and professional sexual educator.  Check it out here at The Huffington Post.  Below is one of my favorite quotes from Dr. Levkoff in this article:
And in the case of "Fifty Shades," if it got you hot and bothered, it got you hot and bothered. That's about it; there's no underlying psychological issue here. This is not about feminism or the demise of the women's movement.

Here is another recently published story that appeared in the NY Post.   And here's another published last week in none other than The New York Times that discusses how this book is introducing women to erotica. And in this Slate article, Ana and Christian are even called "The Ross and Rachel of BDSM."

 I'm not even going to delve too much into the Fifty-Twilight comparisons, because in my opinion, it is ridiculous to compare the two. Fifty Shades of Grey has no paranormal aspect, there is no family of like-minded BDSM enthusiasts, there are sex scenes almost immediately and throughout this book, and I certainly don't see the Fifty character, Jose, as anything close to Twilight's Jacob. Although this may have begun as a Twilight Fanfic, it bears little to no resemblance, in my opinion, to Twilight.

If you've read this book, please tell me what you think? Did you love it? Hate it? Have mixed feelings? This is a book I'd love to discuss with you in detail.

Until then, laters, baby.


Alexa said...

I can't wait to read this book now. I love when people stand up on tv about something they know nothing about! I'm sure that is the first BDSM they have ever read and they judge it on something they know nothing about. I've read so many of these type of books and I never sat back to think that it was degrading women. If you even read several of them you will see how in control the woman really is! A lot of times in romance novels and even erotic ones the woman holds a ton of power because she can bring the man to his knees, make him fall in love! ....I'm going to stop ranting and just get on to reading this book this month.

Thank you for the beautiful review and the links to posts about this book. :)

Underworld Love Addiction said...

Great review. I will have to read this when I get a chance.

Cimmaron @ Talksupe said...

I found out a few women at work were reading this book just because of all the controversy it's gotten lately. I might be adding it to my TBR list.

Lee @shewolfreads said...

I admit that I have been totally curious about this read. Will have to check it out. Great review. Thanks for posting!

Jamie said...

And look - just posted today. Fifty picks up Random House as its US publisher...

Thanks for all the kind words :) I really did enjoy this book. To me, it wasn't a book about BDSM, although that certainly played a large role. To me, this book was more about tortured pysches and the ability to overcome your past. There was no big epiphany in this book, but the wheels are in motion.

And a lot of people are reading this just because of the controversy. As a middle-class American mom and housewife, I bet I'll see all my neighborhood friends reading this soon, if for no other reason than to see what all the hubub is about.

Vanessa theJeepDiva said...

I read it...Loved Christian, hated Ana. I didn't like it enough to move on in the series. In my review I point out the numerous Twilight similarities. I didn't know the author wrote Twilight fan fic when I purchased Fifty. That probably would have swayed my decision of clicking buy. I am glad I read though, I had to see what all the hype was about. I can honestly say I didn't hate it and that James is a talented writer.

Great review!

Nocturne Romance Reads said...

We are featuring this on our Tough Topic Tuesday. You should come by and comment your thoughts, since you enjoyed the book. I would love your feedback.

Jamie said...

Thanks for your input Vanessa :) I understand that there are similarities between this and Twilight, but when I was reading it, I honestly didn't pick up on it until I really started looking for it.

Nocturne - I'd love to stop by your blog on Tuesday! I did enjoy this book, and I'm enjoying the second one even more :)

Miss Vain's Paranormal Fantasy said...

I <3 Christiah Grey and all his Kinky-Fuckery!!;)

Jamie said...

I'm right there with you, Miss Vain! And book 2 is even better :)

Aleya Bamdad said...

I actually like the way she wrote the book because I felt like I was there. I guess you can say that it made it more personal for me. The only thing that bothered me was the repetition but it was totally worth it at the end.

Braine @ Talk Supe said...

LOL @ Miss Vain. I've been putting this off because of the BDSM thing, I don't think I'm ready to read kinky stuff, I'd much rather watch it hahahahaha!

Jamie said...

@Aleya - There is a lot of repetition, but you're right - SO worth it :)

@Braine - To me, the BDSM was just a small part of the book. The story wasn't really about BDSM - just a side effect to the greater issue in my opinion. Don't let the kinkiness scare you off :)

Braine @ Talk Supe said...

It's not the BDSM part but the underlying reasons behind the deviant behavior that disturbs me. BDB's Vishous' scenes makes me uncomfortable because we know where that damaged pleasure came from. It makes me too sad lol.

Anyway, I wonder what SMeyer, a devout Mormon who made Bella painfully wait for Edward til he married her and finally stuck it til the bed broke, think about this Twilight "fanfic"?

P.S. thanks for the reassurance but i think I'll wait til i'm the last person who haven't read this before i pick it up. lol

Love It said...

Wow! Sounds like an interesting book. Funny how Dr. Drew's wife seemed to like the book. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Chris Kinnk said...

Really enjoyed this book, an easy and enjoyable read. Yes its predictable, has repetition and Ana's bangs on about her 'inner goddess' too much. But ultimately, its a great steamy story to introduce a vanilla partner to a little BDSM.

Anonymous said...

This trilogy was not very good if you ask me. The writing was distracting and the characters were predictable. This is the ultimate erotic adventure to read!!!!

Anonymous said...

Truly dreadful writing style, constant repetition of words and phrases, the biting of the lip on just about every page, the constant exclamations Holy Moses, Holy Crap etc etc and as for the Inner Goddess words fail me! Won't be bothering with the second and third books.

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