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

Posted August 12th, 2012 in book review / 12 comments

Fifty Shades of Grey

Book #1 of the Fifty Shades Trilogy

by E.L. James

Publisher: Vintage (May 2011)
Genre: Erotica, Romance, Contemporary
Format: Paperback (362 pages)
Source: Personal Bookshelf (Purchased)
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository
Rating: ★★★★½ (4.5 stars)

When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—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 family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

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

This book is intended for mature audiences. ~ Goodreads

At a Glance
I think we all know how controversial Fifty Shades of Grey is. Some people love it and some people hate it. There are a lot of things about the book I can nitpick, but I decided to go into this book with an open mind. I focused more on the story and how much it intrigued me. After turning the last page, I was dying to read the next book in the trilogy.

The Good
Here’s the Story…
Ana has very little sexual experience, but when she meets ultra-rich, ultra-sexy Christian Grey, her desires awaken. But Christian is not looking for a plain vanilla relationship, he’s looking for a submissive to satisfy his dominate needs. The question is whether Ana can fulfill his desires and her own at the same time. Can she go down this dark road for the only man that has ever made her feel wanton and sexy? Or will Christian’s horrible past be too big of a road block?

Poor, naive Ana. She really didn’t know what she was getting herself into. A 21 year old virgin who hasn’t really stepped out into the real world yet. She is days away from graduating college and searching for a job when she meets Christian and her life changes forever. It’s hard for her to stand up to him. She both wants him but is weary of his dominate tendencies. Then he introduces her to the world of BDSM (a light version if you ask me). Ana often battles with her sexual desires for things she thinks are forbidden or demeaning. I felt bad for Ana when it came to her sexual confusion, but I also admired her when she stood up to Christian and was even brazen enough to initiate both sex and a relationship. It may have been a rough introduction to intimacy and dating, but Ana really grows into her own throughout the novel.

Mr. Grey…
Christian. Oh dear. How should I phrase this? Christian is kind of a jerk. A hot jerk, but a jerk nonetheless. But as the story progresses, you realize that his life has not always been so elegant and fruitful. With a childhood like his, it’s understandable why he is so closed off and pushy. Becoming so successful at such a young age hasn’t lessened his traumatic childhood memories but it has shaped him into a confident (mostly) and self-indulgent man. He knows what he wants and he takes it without a backward glance. He just so happens to want Ana. Her exterior screams submissive, and Christian can’t help but want to entertain his dark desires with her. He is a dominate in every way, and he can’t wait to exert his power over the lovely, innocent Ana. But Christian starts to feel more for the young woman. He wants her like no other and might just change his wicked ways to keep her close. But can he ever get over his past? Can he be the man Ana needs?

I had so much fun watching Ana and Christian’s relationship build. It had more ups and downs than any other relationship I have ever read about. They both know what they want, but neither can give the other the kind of relationship they hope for. I also like the questions Fifty Shades of Grey brings up. Should one change in order to satisfy their significant other? What are the limits in which one should explore sexually? Is being dominated or wanting to dominate a bad thing? I can see why this book intrigues so many people. There really isn’t another book like it out there. It’s naughty, it’s rough, it’s heart breaking, and it’s dazzling. It takes us to places we are not use to exploring but interest us nonetheless. We all wonder about the forbidden, and here, in this book, we get to explore those fantasies safely behind the pages of a book.

Flawed Yet Beautiful…
Ana and Christian are not perfect characters. They annoy us, they make us cringe, and they make us want to scream. But they also beguile us with their uniqueness. They are so flawed, they become beautiful. I almost felt honored to witness the journey they took together. James has written a story that draws us in and doesn’t let go until the very last word. I was emotionally exhausted by the end, which can only attest to the fact that this book is a must read.

The Bad
I have two big complaints. There really wasn’t much of a plot. The relationship between Christian and Ana, their ups and downs, that’s the plot. That’s it. It still kept my interest, but as a writer it made me cringe. Also, the writing was just okay. It was a little corny, it was often repetitive, and it wasn’t up to par considering some of the amazing authors out there. But I often got lost in the story and simply didn’t care about the amateur writing after a little while.

The Bad but Good…
I would like to mention that yes, Ana was a little too insecure, a little too “innocent,” and an overall pushover. And Christian was domineering, aggressive, rude, and an overall asshat most of the time. But it was the flaws in the characters that I loved. So though this may bother many people, I found it refreshing to read about characters so overly imperfect.

The Snuggly
This book is not so much about romance but about sexual awakening. It can get romantic, but mostly we got hot sex with some kink. Surprisingly, I didn’t think the BDSM was that extreme. Christian may have his playroom, with sex toys galore, but we never get too deep into the kinky sex. We get spanking (not just with a hand), bondage, stuff like that, but I was never uncomfortable reading about it. I’d label this more of an erotic romance instead of erotica–which tends to have more aggressive sexual language and no holds barred sex. Frankly, the most squirm-worthy moment was when Ana reads the contract for her to become Christian’s submissive. Yikes. I had a good laugh though.

Some of you are going to love this book, some of you are going to hate it. All I suggest is going into this book with an open mind. Don’t let either bad or good reviews sway your opinion. Just try it out for the sake of reading such a controversial book. Read this book for the engrossing story…and for the naughtiness. It was fun, it was thrilling, and it was HOT. You can’t miss out. Highly recommended.

“Your stepfather? I’d like to meet him.”

Oh no… why?

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”

Christian unlocks the door, his mouth in a grim line.

“Are you ashamed of me?”

“No!” It’s my turn to sound exasperated. “Introduce you to my dad as what? ‘This is the man who deflowered me and wants to start a BDSM relationship’. You’re not wearing running shoes.”~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Don’t get your panties in such a twist… and give me back mine.”

“I want you sore, baby,” he murmurs, and he continues his sweet, leisurely torment, backward, forward. “Every time you move tomorrow, I want you to be reminded that I’ve been here. Only me. You are mine.”

Fifty Shades Trilogy:
Book #1: Fifty Shades of Grey
Book #2: Fifty Shades Darker
Book #3: Fifty Shades Freed

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12 Responses to “Review: Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James”

  1. Sarah (saz101)

    *snort* Asshat! Is it there just for me? 😀


    UGH! JEN. SO TORN. I *want* to read it… but… the writing. I swear it nearly gave me an aneurysm :S And… now that I’m hyper aware of it, it’s hard to ignore, if you know what I mean? BUT YOU MAKE IT SOUND SO GOOOOOD O___O

    • Jennifer L. Bielman

      lol, yup, asshat is all for you, hehe.

      I think like you mentioned, give it a month or two, then try to go back to it. Focus on the story. I think after 100 pages you will barely notice the writing. And it does get better.

  2. Ashley

    Well you totally know how I feel about Fifty Shades! 😀 But I know it’s a love it or hate it kind of book, so although I really didn’t like it, I’m glad you did. It’s always better to be able to enjoy a book. My mom has actually been wanting to read this and I’d kind of curious to see which side she’d fall on–love or hate! Not sure if she’ll get around to it though. 😛 It’s kind of funny because I’ve always seen her as a bit of a prude so when she said she wanted to read it I was a little taken back! My mom.. wanting to read a sexy book? Not just a sexy book but a BDSM book? WHAT??

    • Jennifer L. Bielman

      LMAO. Now that is funny. If my mom wanted to borrow my copy, I would hide in the recesses of my closet. That would weird me out because my mom is also a little prudish. She won’t even read my book because it has a little sex in it.

      I guess we should be open minded though, huh? Ugh. It’s still weird, I can’t help it. lol

  3. Sarah Elizabeth

    I have to say that I liked Christian when he was being teasing and flirty. I think my favourite part was when he went to the hardware store to buy cable ties and Ana hadn’t the faintest idea what he was using them for!

    • Jennifer L. Bielman

      That was an awesome scene. He was the cutest when he was teasing and flirty. I just wish we got to see more of that than the controlling Christian. But then the book wouldn’t have been the same I guess.

  4. Elisa

    I will read it some day…especially since so many people like it so much! Very nice review. It was a lot of fun to read. 🙂

  5. Dagmar Jacisinova

    Jen, hahah, I think age wise I could be your mom and I read the trilogy and found myself so sucked into it, I could not sleep.I felt emotionaly exhausted, but the story of Ana and Christian resonated with me on so many levels. Yes, writing could have been better, editing was non existent, but story was so incredibly captivating, not to mention, it gave me a brand new appreciation of the sex (ha! maybe more info then you need from you mom-age follower here)

    • Jennifer Bielman

      Hehe, that’s okay as long as your are not my mom it’s all good. My Aunt and I talk about sex and stuff like that cuz to me as long as she’s not my mom I don’t think it’s weird.

      But yes, I totally agree, this story just captures you even with the bad writing and editing.

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