Thursday, October 2, 2014

Review: Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

Anastasia Steele is just about to graduate from college with a degree in English Literature when she meets Christian Grey, the mysterious billionaire-business mogul-philanthropist.  As Ana awkwardly stumbles through an interview that was supposed to have been conducted by her roommate, the attraction between the two of them is immediate. 

As a Dom, Christian wants Ana to become his next submissive, and gives her a Non-Disclosure Agreement, as well as a Contract for her to look over.  This contract explains everything he expects of Ana.  Being that she knows absolutely nothing about the world that Christian is bringing her into, and as she's somewhat shocked by the contents of the contract, their relationship (for lack of a better term) ends up turning into something completely different than all of the other relationships that Christian has ever been in.  Since all of his other submissives have been trained submissives, he has to talk Ana through a lot of the "basics" that any other woman he had been with had already known going into the agreement.  

While Ana is somewhat horrified by the contents of the contract, Christian is horrified by her lack of experience and remedies the situation of her virginity, something he's never done before in his life. While Ana is toying with the idea of becoming Christian's submissive, Christian unabashedly pursues Ana, which is something that he never had done in the past.  This not only makes Ana start to fall for Christian (who wouldn't fall in love with someone like Christian Grey??), but it also brings about feelings in Christian that he has never experienced before.
~My Review~

This is (literally) the first book that started what is now known as my book addiction.  Quite a while ago, I received a CD from my father-in-law with about 2000 book files, all in kindle format.  Fifty Shades of Grey happened to be one of those books.  I probably had the disc for over a year before I finally decided to download the book to my iPad (where I do almost all of my reading) and I finally read this book.  Prior to reading it, I did hear about it's popularity, and quite a few of my friends had read it.  For some reason, I just didn't read it....And then one day boredom took over, I picked up the book, and my life hasn't been the same since.

The writing in this book really isn't that great.  I'll be honest.  I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but there were a lot of things that really jumped out at me in the writing.  While I felt that EL James was a great story teller, the characters were developed well, there was good conflict and resolution, and the flow of the story was good, the actual English part of it wasn't that great.   After I read the book and did some digging, I realized that Fifty Shades was written as Twilight Fan-Fiction.  I didn't make the connection while I was first reading the book, but it totally made sense afterwards.  Ana is the Bella-awkward-yet-beautiful-brunette who catches the eye of Christian, the Edward-dangerous-beautiful-sexgod.  While Christian fights his attraction to Ana, there's no denying the chemistry between the two.  At the same time, being that it's fan-fiction, I think right there is the proof that it wasn't written by a distinguished author.  The entire book is written in first person from Ana's point of view, and while this isn't a bad thing, I wanted to kill her inner goddess and subconscious by the end. The characters Ana and Christian are both well developed characters.  We get a good understanding of what makes them tick.  Even though the entire book is written in first person from Ana's point of view, I feel like we still get a good idea of who Christian is.  We know that Ana is shy, naive, and virginally innocent.  We know that Christian is the quintessential Alpha Male who needs to be in control of absolutely everything. We know that he has issues, and while he's not willing to give a ton of information on those issues, he does make some concessions throughout the book so that we get a better understanding of who he is. At the same time, the characters grow throughout the story, and they both transform in a way that I think is appealing and keeps the story flowing.

The story itself is good.  I felt like the plot was good, albeit weak. It's there, but I can see how some people would hate the book. There are multiple conflicts in the book, which lead up to the main conflict at the end. And of course, leaves the book to end on a cliff hanger. Not a bad thing, but it is what it is.

One thing I didn't like was the overall length of the book. It was over 500 pages. It was really long. And I feel like there are multiple things that contribute to this lengthiness. The sex scenes are really long and really in-depth. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not a prude. I enjoy a good steam-fest just as much as the next person. But I found things to get redundant after a while. The visits into the Playroom got a little boring, and while they were really exciting at first, I got bored with them after a while. I almost feel like the Playroom scenes were used to make the book longer and it really didn't need to be longer. I felt that the characters of her inner goddess and subconscious were unnecessary and just added unnecessary length to the book. Honestly, I really don't care if her inner goddess was dancing the samba and I also don't care if her subconscious was hiding behind a couch. I felt that these two things actually made Ana seem a lot younger than she was supposed to be.  She's supposed to be 21, not 17. At the same time, it makes sense - If Ana is the reincarnate of Bella Swan (Twilight), who actually is only 17, then yes it makes sense that her internal thoughts are a bit immature...

Also, I understand a lot of people's complaints about the portrayal of the BDSM culture in this book. I understand where she was going with it, but at the same time, I can see where people wouldn't like how it's represented. Maybe her research could have been better? I don't know. I feel like she was writing a topic that she really only knew just a little bit about. Maybe romanticized about it but didn't totally understand it. While this was my first foray into anything BDSM, I found it really entertaining. Having now read more books with BDSM, I feel like a better job could have been done with researching the topic.

All in all, I did enjoy this book.  The writing was not great, as I said, but the characters really carried the story, and I honestly couldn't put the book down. With the cliffhanger at the end, I was thrilled that I jumped on the bandwagon late so I could pick up Book 2 right away!

Link to Kindle
Link to Nook

Other books in the series:
Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades of Grey #2)
Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades of Grey #3)

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