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REVIEW: Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James

This review is being posted in lieu of a morning opinion piece because it is an opinion piece of sorts and because, well, it is verbose. So you get three reviews today. Yay!

Dear E.L. James,

So I’m pretty much in the minority when it comes to this book as I hated it.

Fifty Shades of Grey came to my attention during a Twitter conversation. I was intrigued by the fact that the book was apparently once a Twilight fan fiction piece entitled Master of the Universe and featured a BDSM relationship between the main protagonists. I was told that there was a high level of WTFery but I ignored this warning. I’m usually a fan of WTFery. If I was not a fan of WTFery, I would not have enjoyed afternoon soap operas for most of my teen years. After all, WTFery is simply the absurd taken to new heights of, well, of absurdity. But this was not WTF in an absurd, adorable way. It was infuriating. I wanted to scratch my eyes out or maybe the characters’. I’m not really sure. At one point, I had to start drinking heavily. But even gin didn’t dull the fury.

Fifty Shades GreyIn writing this, I’ve been thinking of alternate titles, something that plays on the title of the book, what it is about, and how I feel about it. Something succinct like: “50 Shades of Grey, 7 Shades of Scarlet, & 372 Pages of Dumb.” Or maybe: “120 Days of Boredom.”  What about: “The Story of Oh . . . My! Perhaps, “Where There’s a Will, There’s an Ellipsis” or “The Whiner, the Witch, and the Wanker”? No, I’ve got it: “Oh Bondage! Up Yours!” but I wouldn’t want to associate X-Ray Spex with this book. So let’s call this after my favorite safe word: Julie Andrews!

I should state, for the record, that I was did not buy this book. I was lent it and I am very grateful to that person.  Yes, I am very grateful despite the fact that I ended up loathing this book. So, what’s it all about?

Anastasia Steele is on the cusp of graduating from Washington State University. Before she can do that, though, she’s got to get through finals, a task which would be made easier if she didn’t have to drive up to Seattle to interview some billionaire named Christian Grey for the student newspaper. But she does have to, even though she isn’t technically on the student paper. Her BFF Kate is sick, and being sick she is incapable of driving the three hours or conducting the interview. So Anastasia does it instead. It’s a last minute thing and honestly, she’s just not prepared for it (or for anything in life, really, but we’ll get to that). She doesn’t know anything about Christian Grey. She doesn’t know how old he is or what he does. All she knows is that he’s rich and he donates to the university.

Whatever she expected, it wasn’t the reality of Christian Grey. He’s young, for one, and he’s intense, really intense. Anastasia knows that she’s no match for him looks-wise, so it baffles her when he starts pursuing her: showing up at her work, sending her a first-edition of Tess of the D’Urbervilles, rescuing her from a drunken evening out. She can hardly believe her luck when this perfect man whisks her away to his penthouse in Seattle. Only Christian Grey has a dark secret. No, he isn’t a vampire or a spy or Batman. He’s kinky. He’s into BDSM. He likes to whip and chain it. GASP!

That’s pretty much the plot. Ignorant young woman with virginity still intact and a case of low self-esteem meets a controlling, manipulative, hot, young billionaire who identifies as a dominant in order to justify the fact that he’s a paternalistic control freak. Yay! Oh, yay! It’s just such an original and imaginative take on heterosexual relationships, don’t you think? It really offers some new insight into sexuality and power.

I am, of course, being sarcastic. Fifty Shades of Grey does the exact opposite. Not only does it perpetuate damaging untruths about BDSM as a sexuality and a sexual identity, it also manages to do so in the most clichéd and hackneyed way possible. It is a thoroughly uninteresting book. The characters are as flat as a thing can be without entering the first dimension. The plot has only a single conflict: that Christian is BDSM identified and Anastasia is vanilla. E.L. James has managed to take the worst aspects of Twilight, the worst elements of a Mills & Boon circa 1977, and the worst of BDSM erotica and combine them into one glorious whole (or should that be hole?). She deploys the tropes and clichés with a heavy hand—tropes and clichés that, to be fair, are everywhere in romance. But it is the thoughtless use of these clichés that makes them problematic for me. And this is coming from a person who has just written and presented an academic paper defending the cliché and clichéd language!

Worse, the prose itself is stuttering and robotic. Sentences are rendered in a childish sing-song structure (subject verb predicate) and overwhelmingly they are in the active voice. Moreover, the prose beats you over the head with its intended meaning. James clearly doesn’t trust her readers to pick up on nuance, to infer traits and qualities from the characters dialogue and interactions, or to remember events from mere paragraphs prior (God knows Anastasia doesn’t). Instead, she spends a great deal of timing telling us all sorts of things about Anastasia and Christian but somehow manages to demonstrate the exact opposite.

What I hated about this book are certainly issues and problems that I have disliked in other novels. However, as I said above, by separating the clichés from the original forms and contexts (particularly in the case of Twilight), James loses the subtlety that made these problematic clichés at the very least tolerable in their other contexts. For instance, in Elizabeth Hoyt’s Wicked Intentions the hero’s desire for kinky sex is “cured” by his relationship with the heroine. However, the central conflict of that book does not revolve around the hero’s sexual identity nor does the heroine find it any way monstrous. As such, I was able to overlook it enough to enjoy the rest of the novel. That simply was not the case for me in Fifty Shades of Grey.

In order to address the multitude of problems in the narrative, I have divided the review into three sections. I have not written a thesis statement, which I’m sure will disappoint Maggie Stiefvater. C’est la vie! We can’t always get what we want. I certainly didn’t whilst reading this book.

Prose

The prose is dull, but it isn’t unreadable. It’s competent. The best thing I can say about it is that vast majority of sentences are grammatical. More problematically was what I shall call the rhythm of the prose. Like Gertrude Stein, I believe the sentence is the basic building block of narrative. The sentences in this book did not help me enter the world of the story. They were an obstruction. A series of pedestrian, pre-chewed sentences only slightly more sophisticated than the ones found in my 2nd grade reader:

The drive to the heliport is short and, before I know it, we arrive. I wonder where the fabled helicopter might be. We’re in a built-up area of the city and even I know helicopters need space to take off and land [Reviewer’s Note: No. They don’t. That’s their advantage over the plane!] Taylor parks, climbs out, and opens my car door. Christian is beside me in an instant and takes my hand again.  (p. 63) Kindle Edition.

By pre-chewed, what I mean is that every sentence, every piece of dialogue is exactly the sort of thing you’d expect in a book like this. Like in a James Cameron movie where every character says exactly what such a character always says at such a moment. It is uniformly predictable and because it is uniformly predictable it doesn’t convey any subtle or nuanced meaning to the story. Its uniformity on a sentence level shapes the superficiality of the rest of the book—the plot, the characters, and the underlying themes. This is what I mean by clichéd.

The prose is further made awful by James’ weird and arbitrary use of the italics. Italics are used to emphasize certain words or phrases. They are also used, on occasion, as a way of setting off a character’s thoughts. By using the italics all the time, which she does, the emphasis loses all meaning and force. Quite frankly, the italics make Anastasia look dumb—not that she needs any help with that. They create a constant sense of Anastasia as a person easily startled, like someone suffering from short term memory loss who forgets she just saw you ten seconds ago and then jumps when she sees you again. It’s fucking ridiculous. For example:

“I assume you’re not on the pill.”

What! Shit.

“I didn’t think so.” He opens the top drawer of the chest and removes a packet of condoms [Reviewer’s note: the pill doesn’t protect from STDs, yo!]. He gazes at me intently.

“Be prepared,” he murmurs. “Do you want the blinds drawn?”

“I don’t mind.” I whisper. “I thought you didn’t let anyone sleep in your bed.”

“Who says we’re going to sleep?” he murmurs softly.

“Oh.” Holy hell.

He strolls slowly toward me. Confident, sexy, eyes blazing, and my heart begins to pound. My blood’s pumping around my body. Desire, thick and hot, pools in my belly. He stands in front of me, staring down into my eyes. He’s so freaking hot. (p. 82).

Why are these in italics? What is the purpose of the emphasis? What does it tell us that the context doesn’t? That the words themselves don’t? We don’t need them if they are just supposed to be setting off Anastasia’s thoughts because the story is told in the first person and we are already occupying her headspace. We don’t need to be told that this is what she is thinking via italics. They emphasize nothing. And at one point, dialogue coming from another room is in italics (Location 2842 of 10541). So to me, there is no rhyme or reason for this usage. It just takes the reader out of the story. Let’s not even get into the plethora of ellipses (oh my god . . . the ellipses!).

A final, but by no means last, word on the prose is the use of the word subconscious. The subconscious plays a large role in Anastasia’s life. Almost as large as her inner goddess, which I can only assume is some kind of euphemism for vagina. The subconscious is constantly berating and admonishing her. The problem is that this is not what the subconscious does. That’s what the conscience does or the superego, if you are going to be Freudian about it. You are not actually consciously aware of the subconscious because it is sub conscious; it is below the level of consciousness. This may seem like mean-spirited nitpicking, but it isn’t a singular instance of wrong usage. It is a constant refrain within the book. Every time the subconscious spoke, I thought to myself: No. Wrong. No.

Because the prose is so weak, it ends up highlighting and accentuating the book’s other weaknesses, which are as follows:

Plot/Character

The plot in this book is the characters. And that’s the problem. There is no other conflict or story other than the fact that Anastasia wants a normal relationship and Christian can’t give her one. He gives it the old school try, I’ll tell you that. Theoretically, this could be a really interesting story. What happens to a kinky person when/if they fall in love with someone who is vanilla? Is it bound (ha!) to be a doomed relationship? Or is there a way to make it work for both people? There’s a good story there. That’s a good premise. Unfortunately, that is not the story in Fifty Shades.

Going in, I had heard rumors to the effect that Christian gets “cured” of his BDSM kink and to me it was fairly clear from the beginning that this is trajectory of the story. This because of the way the narration—that is Anastasia as the first person narrator—characterizes Christian’s kink and the presumption that the reader is going to or ought have her same perspective about BDSM. But let’s talk about Christian first.

Christian is an asshole of the first order. At the outset of the story, he employs the classic move of mind-fuckers and bad boyfriends everywhere, “Anastasia, I’m not a hearts and flowers kind of man, I don’t do romance. My tastes are very singular. You should steer clear of me” (p. 52). Ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ooohhh god! What girl hasn’t heard a version of that before? Am I right, ladies? Regardless of what language it is uttered in, this is the first tip off that you are dealing with a manipulative fuck. But you know what? Let’s give credit where credit is due, Anastasia actually takes him at his word, something Christian never manages to do when it comes to her word. No, no. He just steamrolls right on over every one of her objections. But Anastasia doesn’t pursue him after he tells her this. No, he pursues her. He sends her a first edition. This is not the action of a man who wants a woman to stay away from him. When she calls him drunk to ask him why he would do that, he tracks her down and takes her back to his hotel. Nothing happens, but again, his actions say something different than his words. I would call him a stalker, but he doesn’t have that level of subtlety

The mind games really set the scene for when Christian takes Ana to Seattle where he has her sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement prior to revealing the fact that he’s a dom. There is so much wrong with this I don’t know where to begin. First, Anastasia has no effing clue what BDSM is. Second, she has no sexual experience. Third, the agreement says she can’t talk about this to anyone, which means that she cannot ask anyone bedsides Christian anything about BDSM. Thus, Christian gets to be the one who controls the interpretation of what it means to be a submissive. Does that not strike anyone else as abusive? This is such a violation of kink ethics, of ethics period.

Fine. Whatever. Let’s move on. So then, he hands her a contract. Surely you jest? I mean, dude. Just . . . wow! For god’s sake, he doesn’t even give her a chance to find out what BDSM is or whether or not she wants to pursue something with him. No. He just hands her a contract that’s basically structured to be a 24/7 Dominant/submissive relationship. I mean, I’m not kinky but it seems to me to be common friggin’ sense that you ought to at least play with someone, do a few scenes with a new partner before you go all 24/7! Let’s hire a U-Haul! Forevah, Babes! Not the mention the fact that he’s totally pressuring her to say yes immediately. Argh!

Anyhow, I shouldn’t have been surprised that Ana’s virginity would not stop him from just steamrolling right on over that issue and continuing with his plan to have her as his sub. Oh! And did I mention he blames her for not telling him she was a virgin. Douchewad! So then we get this romantic and touching scene:

“We’re going to rectify the situation right now.”

“What do you mean? What situation?”

“Your situation. Ana, I’m going to make love to you, now.”

“Oh.” The floor has fallen away. I’m a situation. I’m holding my breath.

“That’s if you want to, I mean, I don’t want to push my luck.”

“I thought you didn’t make love. I thought you fucked hard.” I swallow, my mouth suddenly dry.

He gives me a wicked grin, the effects of which travel all the way down there (p. 81)

Somebody call the producers of Jersey Shore, because it turns out The Situation is actually Anastasia Steele’s intact hymen. Yes, responsible sex at its finest. This attitude pretty much characterizes Christian throughout the novel. The only difference between Christian Grey and a Greek Tycoon is that Christian isn’t Greek, as far as I know. He also has more contracts. Other than that, his paternalism and general alpha-hole behavior may as well have been stripped from any number of Harlequin Presents, sans the nuanced characterizations or groveling scenes of penance.

Besides being the worst sort of alpha male, Christian’s personality can be summarized thus: spectacularly beautiful man who smirks a lot. There’s not a lot there. He’s pretty much a cipher, not so much enigmatic as empty.

Then there’s Anastasia Steele. She has shockingly little personality for a first person narrator. She’s vapid and dumb, so very, very dumb. She’s TSTL, but not because she chases down villains in London’s worst slums. No, but because she fails to register the blatantly obvious. Right after Christian tells her he’s kinky, we get this gem of an exchange:

My mouth drops open. Fuck hard! Holy shit, that sounds so… hot. But why are we looking at a playroom? I am mystified.

“You want to play on your Xbox?” I ask. He laughs, loudly.

“No, Anastasia, no Xbox, no Playstation. Come.” (p. 70)

Is this supposed to be cute? Endearing? If so, fail. It is one thing to be a virgin, it is another thing to be so flamingly, fantastically ignorant of the universe and the obvious. I mean, good god, Xbox?! Freaking Xbox?! (Note the use of italics, used to emphasize my disdain). Come on, woman!

I don’t have a problem with virgin heroines, because I don’t equate virginity with being a brain-dead ignoramus. Call me crazy, but I don’t think one needs to have had sex in order to be able to connect the dots in basic human interactions. James has Christian constantly praising Ana’s intelligence and bravery and cleverness, but everything Ana does renders these compliments into ironic, nay sarcastic statements. Every time something sexual is mentioned Ana blushes or flushes or gasps. Any time Christian tries to have an adult conversation with her about BDSM, she bites her lip and peeks out from under her hair like Princess Diana used to do at the paparazzi. Then he tells her he wants to fuck her. Ana’s entire attitude towards their relationship is immature and adolescent, while Christian’s is controlling and manipulative.

If only she were just dumb and easily embarrassed by sex, but no. Ana’s also judgmental and shallow. I think her attitude towards Christian is fairly well summarized in the following lines: “The problem is, I just want Christian, not all his… baggage – and right now he has a 747 hold’s worth of baggage” (p. 217). And later she says: “I’m in this fantasy apartment, having fantasy sex with my fantasy boyfriend. When the grim reality is he wants a special arrangement, though he’s said he’ll try more” (p. 269). The sheer immaturity of these statements is awe-inspiring. Ana doesn’t want Christian with all his baggage. She wants the fantasy, not the grim reality of the actual man. The fact that her adolescent crush on him is characterized as true love illustrates the underlying fuckwitted-ness of this book.

In an adult relationship we deal with the other person’s baggage, whatever that baggage is because everyone’s got it. When Ana talks about how she doesn’t have any examples except literary heroines for knowing how to deal with men, her fundamental misreading of relationships is revealed. She says, “My other references are all fictional: Elizabeth Bennet would be outraged, Jane Eyre too frightened, and Tess would succumb, just as I have” (p. 163). Ana seems to be under the misguided impression that Elizabeth was upset with Darcy for having baggage. That Jane was scared of Rochester’s baggage, which like most people he kept in the attic. But this is a terribly naïve reading of those books and the relationships they depict.

And this naïve attitude toward sex and romance is reiterated in the way that Ana repeatedly characterizes Christian as a monster, as depraved, as a nut-job, as scary, and as dangerous. At one point she says, “This man, whom I once thought of as a romantic hero, a brave shining white knight – or the dark knight as he said. He’s not a hero; he’s a man with serious, deep emotional flaws, and he’s dragging me into the dark. Can I not guide him into the light?” (p. 259). And that pretty much sums up the problem with Ana, Christian, and the plot. BDSM is something you do when you don’t know how to have a “real” relationship. Something you use when you don’t know what “real” love is. “Real” love being two flawless people with no baggage loving boinking. And that’s bullshit.

Spectacle

Oh BDSM! Up Yours! Kink serves three contradictory purposes within this story: it is a justification for Christian being an alphahole (He’s damaged! He’s dominant! He doesn’t know what real love is!). It is the erotic titillation and tension in the sex scenes—which, FYI, are so boring they could have acted as general anesthesia. I could have had a tooth drilled during and not realized it. And it is the obstacle or conflict the hero and heroine must overcome in order to be together.

The narrative wants to occupy a position where we get to take the moral high ground sexually speaking but at the same time get to be thrilled by the eroticism of BDSM. It wants us to think of Christian’s BDSM as something that’s wrong with him, a symptom of his inner, childhood demons. But it also wants us to get off on it. Like teenage girls giggling over pictures of penises, it seems to say of BDSM, “Tee he he he! That’s so gross!” But secretly loves the titillation it gets from viewing the forbidden.

Nowhere is this made clearer than in the depiction of Mrs. Robinson. Mrs. Robinson is the name Ana gives to the older femdomme who introduced Christian to BDSM when he was but fifteen years old. Ugh! But friends, it gets worse. Ana, in her typically sensitive and insightful way, refers to her in front of Christian as Mrs. Pedo. To which Christian responds, “She’s a dear, valued friend and a business partner. That’s all. We have a past, a shared history, which was monumentally beneficial for me, though it fucked up her marriage – but that side of our relationship is over” (p. 314).

Cue stunned silence.

I don’t even know where to begin with this: the fact that one of the few, and certainly the most important, femalez involved in BDSM is depicted as child molester. Or the fact that she gave Christian the only kind of love he would accept and saved from a life of darkness and drugs. Oh my! Or the fact that it basically justifies Ana’s view of BDSM as “scary” and “dark” . . . like Christian’s eyes. This is just so, so, so WRONG.

The characterization of Mrs. Robinson as a pedophile is followed by Ana getting turned on, for the umpteenth time, by Christian and then trying to use sex to get him to tell her about his past. Followed by BDSM being characterized as some kind of therapy. Followed by another mind-blowing orgasm. This is fairly typical as far as this book is concerned. One minute BDSM is wrong, wrong, wrong. So scary! So dark! Then the next it is hot, hot, hot! Then it is therapeutic. Then it is wrong and dark again. Then Ana’s getting off on images of Christian with a riding crop, and so on and so forth. In short, the depiction of BDSM as an identity and as sexuality is careless, inconsistent, and rests on common myths and misperceptions about it. And I haven’t even gotten to the contract, yet!

It is entirely obvious to me that this used to be Twilight fan fiction because James manages to capture the vibe of the original: the shoe-gazing, eye-gazing, pseudo-angst of Bella and Edward’s tumultuous love affair. Yes! It’s all there from the zero conflict to the zero chemistry! However, as it turns out—and believe me I’m as surprised to be saying this as you are to hear it—Twilight turns out to be the more sophisticated version. If we were to characterize Edward and Bella’s relationship as BDSM, then unlike Anastasia, Bella eagerly and unconditionally accepts Edward and his darkness. She embraces him and his baggage wholeheartedly. She is happy to go into his world. She never thinks of saving him from his darkness. She never thinks of him as a monster. Edward is the one in the closet, so to speak. Edward is the one who fears his desires. This book has completely missed that aspect of its source material.

For all that Twilight normalizes the Gothic, the monstrous, and the kinky it never “cures” it. It never tries to “drag it into the light” and reform it from its bad, bad ways. Instead, and I’m quite startled to realize this, Twilight posits a world in which the “monstrous”, too, can be happy. Even the villains experience real love and true love. In fact, Victoria’s pursuit of Bella is based upon the fact that she did love her partner and mourns his death. Fifty Shades, on the other hand, persistently characterizes kink as abnormal except when it uses it to excuse bad behavior or to titillate its readers. It is exploitive and appropriative in the worst sort of way. More importantly, it separates the “hearts and flowers” sort of romantic love Anastasia wants as being distinct from and incompatible with BDSM.

I could say a lot more about this book: the use of musical references as status symbols, the weird relationship to food the narrative has, the weird relationship to appetite generally the narrative demonstrates, how the text defines love and normalcy, etc. Not to mention the hoops E.L. James has to jump through to keep Ana innocent of the world. I mean seriously, what student doesn’t have an email address? Or a computer? And there is a helluva lot more to say about the depiction of BDSM. But I will refrain.

While I recognize that there are two other books in this series that I have not read and have, therefore, not completed the narrative arc, I have no confidence that the problems that were so garishly on display in this first book have, in any way, been resolved in the subsequent installments. And I will not be reading the others to have my suspicions confirmed. I’m quite positive that my predictions will come true: Jack Hyde will turn out to be some kind of bad dom; Mrs. Robinson will play the role of jealous, glamorous older lover that Christian has to break free from in order to be with Anastasia; and finally, Christian will be set free from his need to be a dominant once he has fully come to terms with his dark past.

But why did this infuriate me so? Why? I think, after much contemplation, it was because the way in which the clichés and elements of genre romance were deployed served to reveal a troubling and repugnant worldview. Troubling for the very fact that these are not issues isolated to 50 Shades of Grey. The artless way in which they were written simply laid bare the problems, exposing a terrible underlying ideology. Whether James realizes it or not, intended it or not, she has written a book whose ultimate message is this: the only people who deserve love are those who are perfect and normal. Redemption is nothing more than learning that you were always already chosen, always already perfect.

How Calvinist! I find this message foul and damaging. Because of that fact and because it is rendered in dull, robotic prose, I hereby give this book an F.

Lazaraspaste

You can read more about Fifty Shades and its origins here along with recommendations of other books here.

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Lazaraspaste came to the romance genre at the belated age of twenty-six. While she prefers historicals, she's really up for anything . . . much like her view of food! Some of her favorite authors include Jo Beverley, Anne Stuart, Lisa Kleypas and Joan Smith. Once a YA librarian, she is now working towards an advanced degree in literature with the mad idea of becoming a critic and teacher. Though she loves romance, fantasy has always been her first love. She hates never-ending series and believes the ending is the most important part.

266 Comments

  1. Susie
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 12:02:56

    @bethany: I agree with the distaste for this so-called novel. I write fanfic, but this would be roundly laughed at and flamed without impunity. As I read, I kept asking myself: You’ve got to be kidding me! The Kool-aid has been avidly consumed.

    ReplyReply

  2. Bob
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 21:48:21

    Not a bad review except that as a writer I would expect that you might spell/grammar check your work before posting it.

    ReplyReply

  3. Cavalier Queen
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 08:40:04

    Ellen DeGeneres “reads” 50 Shades… LOL Enjoy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=on3JCwnwHbU&feature=share%27%2C%29

    ReplyReply

  4. Mariemim
    Apr 28, 2012 @ 06:32:36

    I went looking for your review after getting to Chapter 13 of “50Shades”. Surely I couldn’t be the only one to think this book is crap. Thank God. You agreed. Very poor writing and characterisation. Boring by the numbers sex. I mean, how bad does it get to make BDSM BORING. Only goes to show sex and social networking sells. Good Writing doesn’t necessarily make it.
    BTW – a book that someone sent in a good review on – “Master of Crows” I loved. Now that had me hooked, wanting to get back to every night. Thanks to that person.

    ReplyReply

  5. Carol Joan Haney McVey
    Apr 28, 2012 @ 18:17:20

    Loved the review. I skimmed the book until an uncontrollable surge of fluids in my lower abdomen nearly erupted from every oriface like Mount St. Helens. Now I’m chained to my keyboard trying to penetrate the cyberspace of our collective inner goddess with titles such as the following:

    1. 50 I.Q. points of shady grey matter.
    2. 50 shares of hemmorhoid creme stock traded on a grey day.
    3. 50 dumb dom dominoes and still no effect.
    4. 50 shades of grey poupon on a Kosher dog.
    5. Schlongs, bongs, and thongs by Ima Trashay limey.
    6. Of Subhuman Bondage
    7. 50 pairs of shades for a grey lady.

    ReplyReply

  6. Jessica
    May 15, 2012 @ 12:08:52

    Ahhhh crap. I had really high hopes for this book. I tried to get a hold of a copy without buying it so that I could look into it. I read the beginning of the story for free online, and it never got into the kinky bits. It was a good tease for starters, the daft little girl picking up on his sexual deviance without knowing what it was. I liked the writing style well enough, it was about what I was expecting of that kind of book. The phrasing a little flat, uninteresting as a stand alone, but correct and easily legible. I was relying on the kink to be the interest factor in the story, and since it hit such big popularity I expected at least a small level of character development throughout the story. I figured it must have some real credit as a story, or at least sound hot as hell to break out of the quarter and dime romance novels written by private horn-dogs who make sex sound boring. But according to this review, it’s just another shlock romance that gets people off by talking about a taboo. I’m so disappointed.

    ReplyReply

  7. sab
    May 16, 2012 @ 11:01:58

    I had to see for myself, and I did. Now I know.

    What I disliked the most were the clichés: he knows everything about wine, he can play the piano as a professional, he is into art, he is into opera, he knows how to buy clothes for a woman, he can read her mind, he remembers, he cares and cuddles, he speaks French fluently, he loves gliders…. so Thomas Crown! And yet so tormented… so Nip Tuck Christian-like! And oh… I almost forgot, he is handsome, smart and rich like no-one else.
    What kind of man is he? Is he the prince charming we are all waiting for? All about emotions and stuff?
    Wait what year is this?
    And Ana… I don’t even know where to start, so I’ll skip.

    I was not able to connect with the characters, the story, the style.

    I was afraid to be the only one out there. I’m glad I’m not. Thank you for making me laugh and for making my day. The review was smart and sharp. The comments where enlightening.

    ReplyReply

  8. Steph
    May 17, 2012 @ 15:06:30

    Thank you for this review. I read this review months ago, but people continued to encourage me to read it so I gave it a chance. Of all the things I dislike about this book, I have to say it’s writing style is at the top of the list. It’s just plain ridiculous and puerile. For a college graduate she’s pretty stupid. Then the author just throws in sophisticated words to try to make it sound better I guess. No. It only served to infuriate me more. It just takes the reader out of the story and made me feel like I was reading something a 3rd grader wrote then looked up big words in a thesaurus. No, scratch that, a third grader definitely writes better. Anastasia sounds completely, vapid, shallow, and just plain contradictory. All she can she is how mercurial Christian is, but at the same time she’s sooo in love with him.
    It’s like one of those disasters you can’t look away from. You know it’s bad, but you need to see how it turns out. I’m part of the small minority who honestly finds this book unappealing and an insult to good literature out there. I can’t stand the point of view either. The concept is interesting, its the crap, one dimensional characters and her writing that screws everything up.

    ReplyReply

  9. Alexis
    May 19, 2012 @ 14:41:38

    Oh thank goodness. I felt like I was the only person who hated this series (I say this based on my reaction to the first book. Like you, I have no intentions of reading the 2nd/3rd books.)
    So many things wrong in this book. I won’t go into that, since you covered most of them in your post, and I totally agree with you on all accounts.

    ReplyReply

  10. Thoughts on ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ | I Could Be Arguing In My Spare Time
    May 20, 2012 @ 14:49:13

    [...] Dear Author’s fantastic breakdown of the whole mess. Share this:TwitterFacebookTumblrEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in Book Reviews and tagged bad writing, bdsm, books, el james, fanfiction, fifty shades of grey, iron man, literature, new york times bestsellers, reviews, Twilight by IntrovertedAnalyst. Bookmark the permalink. [...]

  11. Dragonsmate
    May 22, 2012 @ 08:37:41

    I absolutely loved this review … almost better than some of the books to which I’ve lately been subjected. In just the last 4 days, I’ve had 3 people ask me if I’ve read this series. My response was ‘no’ to which I was treated with amazement. You see, I AM in the BDSM lifestyle and 2 of those asking me know it; seems they thought it was ‘right up my alley,’ so to speak.

    My biggest problem with most fictionalized BDSM books is exactly what Lazaraspaste has written here. Those books are generally written by people who know nothing about the lifestyle, other than what they’ve heard or read elsewhere, and/or they can’t write at all so their books read like a 3rd grader wrote bad porn. I usually laugh myself silly reading porn or end up feeling very sorry for myself because I’ve just wasted my time and money. I spend more time re-reading to correct grammatical errors and trying to overlook spelling errors in order to understand what the author is trying to say that I lose all sense of the pornographic purpose of the story.

    And let’s face it, since I am a card-carrying member of this particular lifestyle, I’ve got real-life experiences with the sex and activities involved therein. The thought that this author (or others like her) could believe I would waste my money and time to read some third-rate version of a vanilla person’s interpretation of the ‘evils’ of BDSM is laughable and insulting.

    Thank you Lazaraspaste; I will NOT be purchasing/borrowing/reading this series. Readers: you want a love story that’s VERY well-written, heart-wrenching, beautiful, and thoroughly engrossing? Try the Outlander series by Diana Gabeldon. You will NOT be sorry.

    ReplyReply

  12. An Anecdote, and Fifty Shades of Grey – Redux | Raspberry Lime Ricki
    May 23, 2012 @ 22:33:45

    [...] phenomenon, Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. I wasn’t going to read it. I had read some reviews and none of them made it sound compelling to me. I’m not opposed the sub-genre; just ask my [...]

  13. Twilight and fanfic and Grey, Oh my! 50 Shades of Grey review | Jacqueline Brocker
    May 24, 2012 @ 11:00:48

    [...] case of the subconscious, better named (as this glorious detailed, highly critical, and very funny review at Dear Author points out, it ain’t a subconscious if you’re aware of it!) And I did like the emails [...]

  14. JBurke
    May 24, 2012 @ 11:24:52

    This was the worst book I’ve ever read and I find it hard to believe that we can possibly be in the minority. I just think this is a perfect example of media hype causing collective insanity.

    ReplyReply

  15. Concerned
    May 25, 2012 @ 09:37:05

    Loved your review.
    I read the book because I don’t want my daughters to read it. It made me so angry.
    This book scares me on multiple levels. It glorifies young stupid female characters. It does not talk about the actual harm of BDSM gone awry. Mutilation, deprivation and an increasing addiction to amping the pain thresh holds to get the same level of satisfaction.
    The not so subtle message that is surfacing across books like these is that “Women want to be controlled.” and it is ok to be with men who are energy sucking dominants “I will possess you and your soul for the next million lifetimes” and they can be changed easily.
    “You. Will. Always. Be. Mine.” Let me get my branding iron.
    The virgin babe in the woods ingenue without email, internet or a laptop…what was she raised by wolves?
    What the heck does “My breath hitched.” even mean.

    ReplyReply

  16. Cher Hanks
    May 26, 2012 @ 19:22:15

    My sister was fooled into buying two of these. I’ve always told her to read one page in the middle of a book. If it says,”he said, or she said,” then don’t buy it. My grad prof always said if you are redundant in your vocabulary use, or I find a he said, she said, and it wasn’t warranted, then you fail. She now uses it as a doorstop. I use the last “Hannibal” book, since I fail to believe that Thomas Harris actually wrote it and it was garbage.

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  17. Dee
    May 31, 2012 @ 10:25:06

    It is wrong that I agree with everything you have said -from the writing to the cheap plot devices and suspending disbelief to misrepresentation of BDSM and Dom/Sub type relationships and despite it all I still like the books. Junk food for my brain – no redeeming qualities but still enjoyable. Of course I had heard much about them and I went in with my eyes wide open!

    ReplyReply

  18. The 50 Shades Debate « Stephanny Dawn
    May 31, 2012 @ 13:47:40

    [...] FF writing, which is probably why it’s gotten more then it’s fair share of bad reviews from real [...]

  19. Trix
    Jun 03, 2012 @ 19:02:16

    @concerned – those “risks” you mention are extremely rare in the established bdsm community. If the book was written by someone who had an actual clue about it, there would be no signing 24/7 contacts with virgins, nor people wanting to beat women who resembled their mothers!

    As for addiction, no more so than good sex. And for the person above who opined that people get into bdsm out of boredom, dear god. Look, maybe some people are wired in such a way that vanilla sex would have never been satisfying to them. In my experience, they’re a minority. For most of us, I think it’s more akin to learning you like oral sex or getting “addicted” to good workouts at the gym.

    ReplyReply

  20. Tracey’s Seal of Approval: Paper books like a Bastard Sturgeon* & Christian Grey « Tracey Livesay's Blog- Mimosas at Midnight
    Jun 04, 2012 @ 07:01:17

    [...] REVIEW: Fifty Shades of Grey: I cannot escape it!  It has now come to my doors.  A review from Dear Author. [...]

  21. 50 Shades of Grey? Simple Black and White « Ept, Couth, and Combobulated
    Jun 04, 2012 @ 21:40:04

    [...] That’s pretty much the plot. Ignorant young woman with virginity still intact and a case of low self-esteem meets a controlling, manipulative, hot, young billionaire who identifies as a dominant in order to justify the fact that he’s a paternalistic control freak. Yay! Oh, yay! It’s just such an original and imaginative take on heterosexual relationships, don’t you think? It really offers some new insight into sexuality and power. From dearauthor.com blog [...]

  22. Cristina
    Jun 09, 2012 @ 05:49:40

    Thinking this might actually be a decent fantasy novel, one of my friends let me read their PDF version. It was being compared to Twilight, and I thought since I didn’t half mind reading twilight, I’ll give this novel/series a go. However, I hit the page where I thought the “dark secret” was something like Dorian Grey or some room full of accursed objects–something along those lines. When they were describing the room, I was at a loss for words. Psycho-killer would have been a far better dirty secret than BDSM. I could handle a “Hey, I am really Dexter” as opposed to “Hey, I assault and rape women.” I could handle the journal entry-like 1st person dialogue, but there is only so much one can handle. “Electric shock” or “current” at every touch, I can’t believe I thought, “What if this person is a never-aging, self-absorbed man who found the same woman he has been chasing after all these generations?” Nope.
    Needless to say I have thoroughly learned my lesson–NEVER trust this person’s taste in literature.

    ReplyReply

  23. Sara
    Jun 11, 2012 @ 13:22:38

    Great recap of this garbage. I gave up when I read Ana, the virgin, had an this unbelievable orgasm upon losing her virginity. I call bullshit.

    ReplyReply

  24. merryhappy
    Jun 17, 2012 @ 19:38:51

    I just had to say I’ve had the best time reading the review and the comments. It made my day haha.

    ReplyReply

  25. Blaire Carter
    Jun 18, 2012 @ 16:30:57

    I finally gave in and read the first book. I was less than half-way through when I threw it down in frustration, as I was disgusted with the overall bad writing. I felt duped. THIS is what all the fuss was about??? Really!!! Really??? So I Googled, “Bad reviews of 50 Shades of Grey,” to see if there were any other like-minded individuals out there and I was delighted to come across this post. I was so inspired by your assertion that E.L. James uses far too many ellipses, that I sat and counted all of the ellipses in the first book. The grand total (give or take a few”…”) was 887! Or, in numerological terms: 887= 8+8+7= 23… Or 2/3=0.666 (The Devil’s number).

    There’s your sign

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  26. Jenna
    Jun 19, 2012 @ 13:41:49

    To the commenter above…AWESOME! LOL

    ReplyReply

  27. inthestars
    Jul 02, 2012 @ 12:17:19

    I’m only on page 150 and just want it to be over. But like many readers, once I start, I have to see it through. That may be painful. I almost threw the book across the room last night. I think I said “are you f’ng kidding me?!” three times outloud. I’m with Sara above and call bullshit – total utter bullshit – with the losing the virginity+explosive big O number. Even w/someone masterful & gentle – you aren’t “grinding to meet thrusts” a minute in, you are praying to sweet JC for relief & wonder if you’ll ever actually like the seeming intrusion. I don’t care how intense, dark, grey his damn eyes are. Other random annoyances: James over-usage of certain words. If I NEVER have to see the words “murmur” “mutter” “whisper” “ghost of a smile” “smirk” – I’d be thrilled. (Who did the 2nd & 3rd edits? What publishing company allows such novice, immature writing?) Always with Ana staring at her hands, biting her lip, peeking up through lashes, contrite and ridiculous. Which would be fine if there was more meat to the story, more insight. (maybe the 2nd & 3rd books solve this, idk) James is inconsistent with character development and my God, they are so painfully one dimensional, lacking substance. At the end of the day, I want to at least LIKE the people I’m reading about, on some level.
    And a serious eye roll that this book is being called “porn for housewives.” The sex scenes didn’t grab me. My heart didn’t race, I didn’t re-read any sentences out of excitement. In fact, I laughed out loud that its supposed to be hot.
    I should have known better though, I rarely like books that are heavily hyped up.

    “Er, um” (blah) I just needed an outlet for my irritation w/this book, & you gave me one. Thanks for that!

    ReplyReply

  28. KayBee
    Jul 03, 2012 @ 18:34:16

    Hello, my name is Marissa, and I fell for it, all of it, I admit it: I have a very good friend who is very much into vampires, BSDM, what I call ‘heavy’ erotica – and I’ll pretty much read anything, to be honest – and she told me about FSOG. She’s a bit of a writer herself; she’s written stuff for Literotica and likes vampire fanfic and she’s not bad, so I trusted her judgement. Like a true sucker I bought the whole trilogy in one go from Amazon and immediately opened it on my iPad as soon as it downloaded.

    OMG. Literally, it’s all I can say. I kept reading, hoping it would get better, hoping at some point Anna would grow a pair (or, for that matter, just grow the heck up)…alas, it was not to be. Like the reviewer above who stated it has “crackability” (I think that’s the word used), I kept turning the page, more out of curiosity than anything else, but I just found myself rolling my eyes at the lack of cohesiveness, consistency – anything, really. I truly don’t know what else I constructively add to the conversation on those fronts.

    I have no problem with escapism – what I have a problem with is piss-poor writing of any genre. I expect a lack of perfection in stuff on websites; I have higher standards for anything existing on paper and being presented as a formally published work. This fell down for me on all counts in that department.

    Most people have admirably presented my major issue with the entire publication: the writing is, in a word, atrocious, and I’m saddened that these books are being so over-hyped and heralded as great literature. OMG.

    I had a truly massive problem with the characterization. The first thing that stood out for me was HELLO – she’s American; she’s not supposed to have been anywhere; she’s being presented as the ultimate, stereotypical ingenue, and yet she sounds more British than Kate Middleton. I’ve spent the last fourteen years of my life married to a Brit, and I feel perfectly confident in saying I’ve spent more time in the UK and in London than ELJ has ever spent in the USA. To further add to this, my oldest brother – no kidding – has lived in Seattle for the last twenty years since he retired from the US Navy, and while I know London better than I know the Puget Sound area, I definitely have a better grasp of it than this author – really, who says ’165 miles’ when they’re describing a distance, especially if they’re supposed to be familiar with the area? I usually say ‘a couple of hours or so’. And the whole view from Christian’s office just made me LOL. Directionally speaking, it’s impossible: when I picture looking out from a building overlooking Seattle, I’m seeing the lights reflecting off the Sound or the majesty of Mount Rainier – not the skyline; I see that from the ferry! ‘Pike’s Market District’ – what inhabitant of the Emerald City would EVER say that?? No American is ever going to ‘ring’ someone unless, like me, they either live with a Brit or have lived there and picked it up (I spent 2 years in the UK and 2 years in Saudi Arabia, ironically surrounded by more Brits than Americans); they’re not going to say ‘bloody’ all the bloody time (I get teased about that one all the time, because after 14 years I’ve definitely picked it up!); and they’re certainly not going to have their tea with the bag out (when I read this, I got this great mental picture of thousands of American housewives jamming Google and trying to figure out what the hell this meant). This bugged the crap out of me from the first page – literally, within the first six or seven paragraphs I knew the author was NOT American and hadn’t bothered to work on fleshing out these people as colonials. I could give Christian a few outliers – after all, he’s supposedly much more worldly than she – but, really, in Anna it’s unforgiveable. The language isn’t just anachronistic (some of it is, believe me; no 20-something Brit talks like them, either – they talk like 50-year-olds), it’s like reading a transcript for last night’s news broadcast on the BBC.

    I’m heavily into scene and setting and believable characters (even if they’re fantasy and living in some AU very different from my own), and the lack of any of that in this book was what really kicked it for me. I could pile on what everyone else here has said about how she’s a Mary Sue and he’s just bizarre, but it’d only sound recycled.

    Really, I’ve been wanting to rave a bit about the whole linguistic thing, and this gave me a place to do it. (Sorry!) I read another book (an el cheapo I bought for 99 cents on Amazon called ‘London Falling’ – as I said, I have no problem with escapism) where the opposite problem existed: the author was obviously American and had no clue how Brits sound; the prose was jam packed with phrases you might hear in 197os Brit sitcoms being rerun on PBS, back when the BBC boradcast everything in ‘standard Queen’s English’, but you’d never hear any of it on the streets of London in this century from someone in their mid-thirties. And that book also pissed me off for the same reasons (poor plot and lack of believability again notwithstanding).

    These books would’ve made great fanfic (now that I know that’s their true origins, I can completely see it), but as a formally published work, they’re woeful. And anything the publisher says in backtracking only sounds as if they’re covering their butts. Why on earth would you just publish something without editing first? Because I can’t believe any serious editor reviewed this stuff before it hit the presses.

    As a private joke with myself, I located – and subsequently downloaded – the MOTU versions last night. And yes, they’re pretty much the same as the FSOG’s – except for names and a few sentences.

    The only thing these books have made me want to do is read the ‘Twilight’ books – I never did – and I’ll keep in mind that they were actually composed for young adults, not grownups, and give some possibly poor writing a break (anything, and I do mean anything, that inspires a fourteen year old to actually PICK UP A BOOK seems pretty OK by me these days). Does that mean I’ll accept those as prime examples of tweenage lit? Heck no – so don’t misunderstand me there. My understanding is Bella, who tells the story, is meant to be 17 years old, so I feel sure some flexibility is called for. Some things are forgiveable when I’m not the target audience (or I’m at least old enough to have given birth to a member of said target audience!). I am, however, in the apparent target demographic for FSOG (I’m 39), and I don’t find them forgiveable. At all. If they were used as a tool within the story – if Anna was being presented as the ingenue in an HONEST manner, then great, I’ll buy in and see where it goes. I don’t see where she was. The only win for ELJ is I bought the stuff in the first place – she certainly doesn’t have another five star Amazon rating from me to feel smug about even if she got $7.48 from my bank account (25% of my paying price, which is apparently what she gets for each e-book sold). School costs money. Lesson learned.

    I shall now step from my soapbox… :)

    ReplyReply

  29. JenP
    Jul 05, 2012 @ 00:39:31

    I whole-heartedly agree! Touché and AMEN!

    ReplyReply

  30. Natalia
    Jul 07, 2012 @ 08:39:36

    WOW, I want to marry with your post.

    Fanfiction made book with too many Mary Sue characters. I read the three books and thank god I didn’t pay for them (thank you, sister).

    ReplyReply

  31. Remittance Girl
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 00:19:31

    “The narrative wants to occupy a position where we get to take the moral high ground sexually speaking but at the same time get to be thrilled by the eroticism of BDSM.”

    Of all the reviews and critiques I’ve read, this one sentence almost entirely encapsulates why I have such strong negative feelings about the book. Yes, the writing is pedestrian. Yes, the characters are badly drawn. Yes the conflicts are predictable and quotidian. None of those things would explain my visceral abhorrence of this book.

    The outcome of the strategy the author has used is to make the reader into a willing participant in what is a prevalent and degrading sort of hypocrisy. Like the very worst tabloid journalism, it presents the subject in such a way as to titillate the reader while allowing them to also enjoy the moral self-righteousness of condemning it.

    ReplyReply

  32. Deliriumtree
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 00:30:34

    Outstanding review! The matter of Ana’s subconscious bothered me greatly. I think yours was the first review I’ve read that addressed that. I enjoyed reading this, thank you!

    ReplyReply

  33. Happy Wife
    Jul 11, 2012 @ 22:31:30

    @harrysmom:

    Finally, someone who takes the book for what it is…a soft porn book that really does increase the libido and entertain, at least for this long time married wife. It wasn’t written to be any type of great literature, just some entertainment and a spark to help build the fire!! That’s why I read them, all three, and it worked for me. Just ask my happy hubby!

    ReplyReply

  34. inthestars
    Jul 12, 2012 @ 11:47:36

    ok…. I read all three and had to jump back on here to be fair. I miss Ana and Christian now thats over. There I said it. And I think that perhaps the masses are reading too much into all this. Its just, as some other person said, junk food for the brain. Once I submitted (lol) to the ride and didn’t want it to be anything else, I loved it. Darker and Freed were more tolerable then the first. James referenced some awesome literature through out her books but its clear she is no literary wiz herself – that being said, I gotta give her props….. she created two characters who I ended up liking and caring about.

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  35. Lemon
    Jul 13, 2012 @ 11:20:19

    Loved your review and do agree with your explanations as to why. I must confess: only made it as far as Chapter Nine. Couldn’t stomach it anymore. For me, it was one of the worst books I have ever read (or attempted to, anyway). That whiny, insecure little character known as Anastasia Steel made me nauseous, and I know 14 year olds who can write with more fluidity and grammatical correctness than E.L. James can. I simply would not recommend this book to anyone. Not even my worst enemy.

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  36. Fiona
    Jul 13, 2012 @ 19:28:54

    Great review! I just read Fifty Shades Of Grey on a whim, and needed to ease my pain by reading critical reviews. That being said, I basically devoured the book at top speed…. Yes, it’s horrid. Damn amusing though! Some nice light silly candy reading that I take with about a handful of salt an keep thinking…. Oh yes, this was once a Twilight fanfic, I can really tell. 

    I did have one thing to correct you on though (perhaps someone else has already stated this?) – When it comes to the subconscious, you can actually be somewhat aware of things in this mental place. The subconscious is not the unconscious, it is rather between the unconscious and the conscious. You can assess things rather easily in the subconscious If you try, pay attention, focus. Freud actually did not use the word actually, but preferred preconscious. People have differing opinions on how to define the subconscious… So it makes it difficult to argue about. I do agree that It was use a little liberally in Fifty Shades, but not necessarily wrong. Pardon me, I’m an obsessive patch student with a new to prove myself. 

    Thanks again for the review. Great read! 

    ReplyReply

  37. Betty
    Jul 14, 2012 @ 17:38:14

    I wanted to punch someone in the face every time someone fucking murmured!! I hate that word now!

    ReplyReply

  38. Doug Wilson, The Gospel Coalition, and Sanctified Rape Culture | Are Women Human?
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 13:11:13

    [...] There are serious problems with 50 Shades of Grey. It portrays controlling, abusive behavior and domestic violence as romantic and loving. It takes to a whole new level the rape romanticizing [...]

  39. Annie J.
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 19:55:51

    This review is hilarious and bang on. It reflects all my sentiments!! I could not agree with you more!

    Did you happen to read/review the second and third books? I think your reviews would be hilarious to read :P

    ReplyReply

  40. Megan
    Jul 29, 2012 @ 18:25:39

    I’m not a big reader since college, but I like sex just as much as the next person, so when a few highly educated women I know recommended the book it sparked my interest.

    And then I had to read the first six pages three times before I could remember what happen! I was bored, irritated, and did not appreciate Ana’s school-girl claim to every moment of her adult life. Seriously, no wonder Tiger Woods had 20 mistresses! Sometimes I try to give women credit but if the 5 star reviews of this book hold up like they already have it just goes to show the naive path women would rather take in life! And without trying to sound arrogant, for an extremely attractive female, I think I’m starting to realize why I’m still single at age 31 and am perfectly fine with it! Men abuse there power, not because they can, but because women are just stupid enough to like it!! After reading the first chapter and skimming the second, and refusing to buy the rest, I do not think I could sit through an entire conversation with E L James. Anyone naive enough to write this and think its good enough to publish would annoy me to no end and I would have to politely excuse myself, forever!! Thank you all for agreeing, I starting to think I was the only one who hated the book! Even my best friend is in love with it… I told her I’d rather watch a good porn!! Lol

    Ps: Mom, sorry for making you read the book before I did!!
    Love Megan

    ReplyReply

  41. Reading List by Jennie for June 2012
    Jul 30, 2012 @ 11:16:00

    [...] review is here. I’m reading this for a book club thingie. Hold me, I’m scared (I just started it; [...]

  42. Kelly Sifford
    Aug 03, 2012 @ 19:39:24

    Your review hit the nail right on the head. I unfortunately got caught up in the hype and tried to read the book. Boy did I try, but I started skipping large chunks of it. The characters were not believable or likable. I can’t understand why anyone would find this book erotic or romantic. It’s garbage.

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  43. How I’m Learning to Live With and Love 50 Shades of Grey
    Aug 07, 2012 @ 06:40:15

    [...] 50 Shades success has been hard to swallow. There are so many things that are wrong with the book beginning with the shady provenance. Has EL James ever come out and admitted the truth about its origins? Paid homage to the fan culture that elevated her? Has Vintage stopped lying about how it isn’t exactly like the original fan fiction called Masters of the Universe or (MOTU). What about it’s terrible presentation of BDSM – that is the a perversion of normal sex brought about by abuse, a disease to be cured by the love of a good woman? Then there is Ana and her eating disorder and the self presentation of vapidity. (articulated well in lazaraspaste’s epic review here). [...]

  44. Rosanne
    Aug 07, 2012 @ 13:27:15

    It is a very sad commentary on our present society that this book or trilogy is popular. I was looking for a summer read, heard someone where I workout mention it and looked it up in Kindle version (for free) from my local public library. It listed it as one of the most popular reads presently. As a 57 year old grandmother who has been an avid reader for most of my life I was stunned to read a book that glamorized domestic abuse. Even if this author has a low IQ, has she never watched Oprah and learned how abusers start to control women in their life? The situation gets worse and worse. Trust me, I know, I grew up with a mother who was a victim of domestic violence. She stayed with him until the bitter end and to this day defends that decision 20 years later. Her life was a free fall. I thought of every criminal case where the wife is murdered and wondered if these guys were like this “Christian” character. How ironic a name that comes from Christ who was about peace, love and goodness. To glamorize being controlled, manipulated, beaten for an orgasm was one of the most disgusting premises I have read in a long time. I shudder to think of one of my granddaughters reading this type of book and thinking this constitutes a healthy relationship. I hated the book from the very beginning and kept reading it hoping there would be some plot or this dummy would realize that if you meet a man and think you can “change” him you are in for the disappointment of your life. He changes you and it is always for the worse. I came to your site as I was googling the author to find out what was wrong with her to write a book like this. I did not know this book was about BDSM and only got 20% into it and KNOW I will never read one like this again. Thank God I didnt pay the author $10 for it and got it free from the library. The sex scenes that were meant to be a turn on were disgustingly embarrassing. I should have looked into it more. From what I hear it got 5 stars in review but look at our society. Kids growing up watching bad reality television, they adore poorly behaving celebrities, many never spend any time in church or in any way try to honor the God who created them. My generation fought for women’s rights in the 70′s. And here 40 years later a college student did not run from a man the minute she heard her wanted to own and abuse her. She couldn’t even have a conversation with a man or get a massage. That kind of possessiveness is so unhealthy so dangerous and this dummy was turned on by it! How many men will think it’s okay to beat a woman because not only did she tolerate it she LOVED it. So disgusting on so many levels!!! Please anyone reading this don’t give this author any more money. Rumor have it they are going to make a movie out of this! God help our society.

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  45. Dee Bee
    Aug 11, 2012 @ 01:36:59

    Thank you for giving me a place to give my opinion. Sadly, I bought the trilogy after hearing all of the hype about it. I am a fan of BDSM fiction. The “Sleeping Beauty” trilogy and “The Story of “O” will always be favorites to me. I don’t know anything of the Twilight series (never read a book/never saw a movie), and have no knowledge of how this story stemmed from it. I just heard so much hype about this trilogy that I bought it, and immediately regretted it. I am so bothered by the transparent characters, but what’s worse is that time, and time, and time again, the author shoves down your throat the premise of the book through very obvious means, which begins during the first few chapters. It became so redundant, I continuously rolled my eyes every time I saw it happen again. I never made it past the first book. I should have known better than to buy this trilogy, being it made it to the “Best Sellers” list.

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  46. Dee Bee
    Aug 11, 2012 @ 01:43:03

    @Betty:
    Ok, I didn’t write that in my comment, but that is spot on!

    ReplyReply

  47. GiGi
    Aug 28, 2012 @ 02:56:36

    Hi everyone,
    I know I am coming late to the review but I wanted to add my thoughts about the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. I have to say that I really enjoyed the series. I realized that when I started reading the books, I did not have a point of reference for the BDSM scene, so I took that information with a grain of “salt”. I classify these types of books as fantasy (one person’s point of view of a situation).

    I had the opportunity to read through many of the comments and a few issues have come up:

    1. Many people have been upset about the lack of accuracy with the BDSM scene. Until I read this book, I wasn’t aware of the difference between vanilla sex and BDSM sex. I am not sure that this book is meant to portray a specific sexual genre as such but one man’s interpretation of how he adapted to this “lifestyle” and introduced someone else to it.

    2. Several people have classified the Christian character as being very abusive. I would caution people to be careful before painting someone with a malicious broad stroke. I would absolutely agree that the Christian character has serious flaws and very controlling tendencies, but if a person were to read through the entire book and series of books, they would begin to understand why he has those issues. The reader would also see the evolution of the characters and how; with love, trust and understanding, the characters are able to realize the flaws within themselves and move towards positive behaviours.

    Someone who is abusive would not care in the least about their partner’s orgasm, making sure that a person was protected, sheltered and loved. Let’s also realize that at any time the Anastasia character could have walked away from the relationship. Although she is not responsible for Christians’ behaviour she is absolutely responsible for her own behaviour. There were many times in the book when Anastasia had the opportunity to say “Stop” or use her “safe word”, etc. and did not. Christian cannot be held responsible for the outcome if she wasn’t willing to communicate honestly. If a woman is old enough to enter into a sexual relationship, then she is responsible for what “she puts into her body or allows to be put into her body”. We cannot cry damsel in distress. In the end, the only person that we can be responsible for is ourselves. Christian was very clear from the very beginning about who he was and what it was that he was looking for.

    I think many people are upset by the fact that Anastasia compromised herself in some ways (perhaps did not speak up or object to situations) in the beginning because she really wanted to be with this gorgeous man. I think that concept is completely realistic. How many people can honestly say that they have never come across a woman/man who slept with someone hoping that they would like them in return?

    In order for a relationship to work, each party has to communicate openly. When that communication does not occur, relationships run aground which is exactly what happened in the first book.

    There are many positive aspects with this book though. This are many literary references that are quite lovely; Thomas Hardy for one. Emily Bronte, etc as well as movie; The Thomas Crown Affair, The Lover, etc. All of those pieces of literature were a reference to the character’s state of mind. When faced with a challenging situation Anastasia herself would wonder what her literary heroes would do. I also found that the music mentioned in the book was great. I read the lyrics to many of the songs and it helped me to better understand the characters, thereby adding another layer of complexity for me.

    Overall I thought that this book was a light summer fluffy read. I don’t think that it will go down in the archives of literary history. I am not sure that in a hundred years people will be engaging in deep discussion about the complexity of the story line, this book allowed me to dream for a while about a flawed man, who was very skilled sexually and had many flaws who eventually found the light and love.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. I look forward to the discussion from everyone. ?

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  48. Yvonne
    Aug 28, 2012 @ 07:53:10

    OMG. Thank you so much. Although the idea of the sex was interesting, I felt as if I was reading a book written by a elementary school child. It was terribly written. Thank you for saying it. And nothing happened. I finished wondering what’s next. What did I miss? I won’t be reading the next 2.

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  49. Tanya W.
    Aug 30, 2012 @ 21:21:13

    Is this what the girls want to attain to. Bondage, SM, Submission? I find it sick fantasy. I think it is a bored house wives book. If you are tired of missionary you should think of something else but practicing sick behaviour should not be an alternative. My god the girl graduated college and was to take control of her life and what does she do but sell herself into bondage. Ladies, Love you guy, treat him good, expect to be treated good, live peaceable. Married 25 years to the same guy and still madly in love, I might know what I am talking about.

    ReplyReply

  50. Tanya W.
    Aug 30, 2012 @ 21:23:17

    @Carol Joan Haney McVey: Love your review!!!!!

    ReplyReply

  51. 1 + 1 = 2: Why I’m Not Looking for My “Other Half” | Brute Reason
    Sep 17, 2012 @ 11:55:17

    [...] domestic ineptitude, skirt-chasing, substance addiction, emotional numbness, and even, apparently, a propensity for BDSM. All ills, it seems, can be cured by falling in love with the right [...]

  52. Why I Will Never Read “Fifty Shades of Grey” « Love The Bad Guy
    Sep 27, 2012 @ 17:12:26

    [...] “…why did this infuriate me so? … [It] was because the way in which the clichés and elements of genre romance were deployed served to reveal a troubling and repugnant worldview. … The artless way in which they were written simply laid bare the problems, exposing a terrible underlying ideology. Whether James realizes it or not, intended it or not, she has written a book whose ultimate message is this: the only people who deserve love are those who are perfect and normal. Redemption is nothing more than learning that you were always already chosen, always already perfect.” – Angela T., DearAuthor.com (Full review here) [...]

  53. GiGi
    Oct 03, 2012 @ 00:32:43

    Did anyone see the Katie Couric Show recently? She interviewed EL James. It was a very interesting interview. I think EL James did a very good job of explaining the premise of her books. I would be interested to know what everyone else thinks. Thanks. :)

    ReplyReply

  54. Dee
    Oct 17, 2012 @ 07:54:53

    The one thing I was dead certain of after reading the review was that I wasn’t paying for this book. After an insane wait, got the omnibus set eBook from the library and finished it (w an extreme amount of skimming through).

    Wow. That is about all I can say, other than I couldn’t agree more w the genius reviewer.

    Oh, and that this has also killed any push towards cracking open Twilight ever. :)

    ReplyReply

  55. Janell
    Nov 03, 2012 @ 21:57:03

    “Anything For Georgetown And Other Stories” is erotic fiction with a focus on the fetishes of spanking and tickling.

    Monica is a spoiled Catholic schoolgirl with wealthy, successful parents. Despite her background, she hosts stripping parties for the boys of St. Veronica’s. She also bullies other students. She is a bit of an enigma at her school. The new guidance counselor finds out about her background, and offers her a deal: give up her racy past, and agree to be punished “his” way, and he will help her get into Georgetown University, her first choice college. However, the deal they strike becomes unbearable. Does Monica get into Georgetown?

    The other three stories in the collection focus on a woman who places a personal ad to jump start her sex life. Rebecca, who is almost a 40-year-old virgin, finally knows what she wants. But will she find a man to satisfy her, as well as one she can trust enough to fall in love with? The ebook is available on Smashwords.com. (Please deactivate the adult filter.) The print book is available for only $7 (excluding shipping and handling) through November on Lulu.com.

    ReplyReply

  56. Fifty Shades of Grey (Cinquante nuances de gris) : le verdict «
    Nov 17, 2012 @ 01:19:43

    [...] y compris chez des blogueuses amatrices de romance dont je respecte beaucoup l’avis : SBTB, Dear Author, In need of Prince Charming. Je craignais d’avoir affaire à un nouveau Twilight, [...]

  57. Crystalusagi
    Nov 22, 2012 @ 06:21:24

    So glad you thought this book was horrible too. I didn’t even get all the way to the first sex scene, because the parts leading up to it were so boring and cliched that I ended up just skipping to the part right after the contract just to see what all the fuss was about. And that was, indeed, very bad. XD God, I could write better porn than that in my sleep.

    ReplyReply

  58. 50 Shades of Twilight | V5 blog
    Nov 29, 2012 @ 15:38:18

    [...] for vagina) and her subconscious. Her subconscious is constantly scolding and admonishing her. As this review points out, that’s not what the subconscious does. You are not actually consciously aware of the [...]

  59. E.L. James ‘Publishing Person of the Year’ by Publisher’s Weekly « Stumbling Towards Ecstasy
    Dec 04, 2012 @ 17:20:00

  60. Stephanie Sullivan
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 07:13:34

    I am SO THANKFUL to read this review! I was starting to wonder, from listening to all of my friends and colleagues, if I was the only one who despised this book. I couldn’t even get past the first chapter. James’ writing technique is horrendous. Thank you so much for your honesty and candid review. Perhaps others will read it before wasting their money or valuable time on this book.

    ReplyReply

  61. Henry Cavill
    Apr 26, 2013 @ 20:31:10

    This is the freshest review I’ve read of these books, and a take I’m surprised isn’t more common. When I read these books I was surprised at the hype they generated. I found the quality appalling.

    Imagine if EL James wrote these novels on a different subject to BDSM. Imagine the books were about a more normal love affair? If that were so then these books wouldn’t get a look in, being sold in airport newsagents with all the other lovey dovey tosh.

    Fifty Shades of Grey became a sensation not because they’re well written novels, but because of the subject matter.

    I might’ve been slightly despondent when I read the first book, but I’d just put down a Wilbur Smith novel. It was like going from an encyclopedia to a Sunday tabloid.

    ReplyReply

  62. Listly List - Shades of Grey Reviews #top #book #best
    May 26, 2013 @ 13:02:46

    [...] REVIEW: Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James [...]

  63. Mini- Review: 50 Shades of Grey | RubyG
    Jul 10, 2013 @ 19:23:32

    [...] Dear Author Review: 50 Shades of Grey  [...]

  64. Adell
    Aug 25, 2013 @ 01:38:21

    Hey would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re working with? I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m having a difficult time selecting between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique.
    P.S Apologies for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

    ReplyReply

  65. Larcar419
    Nov 14, 2013 @ 06:24:18

    I LOVED the trilogy and so far have read it twice. My biggest fear with any movie that follows a book is that it won’t have enough time to do the story justice. Something of this magnitude deserves to be a mini series, allowing two hours per book. Has this even been considered? Between now and the release date I hope to read the trilogy at least two or three more times. Anxiously awaiting February 2015!

    ReplyReply

  66. Jeannine Lehmkuhl
    Dec 31, 2013 @ 07:42:41

    I absolutely LOVE this book! Each of us are entitled to our opinion. I am surprised at how much hate some have for the book. At the end of the day – it’s a book. It’s not a true story and the author does not have to check facts. She can make it out to be anyway she wants, which is the beauty of our own creativity and imagination. I could not put the book down and read all three books in three days. I cannot wait for the movie so I can compare how my imagination is to the movie. It resembles the movie, “Pretty Woman” a millionaire interested in someone not his ‘type or his stature’, we get to ride along to see their relationship unfold, the problems each has as they learn to deal with them and mold themselves from two separate individual people into one very happy unconditional couple, their love and need for each other growing daily. I’m a romantic who wants to be swept off her feet – a girl can dream :)

    ReplyReply

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