Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James is one of those books that I put off reading because I expected to love it or hate it. Since the majority of my friends adore the book I was tempted to read it at their insistence, but since some hated it I was afraid that after reading the book and reviewing it I would leave some of my personal circle unhappy. After seeing the movie, almost (literally) running into a billboard promoting the latest book Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian in the airport, and constantly stumbling across articles or blog posts about the series. I finally decided to read the book myself and, now that I’ve finished the book, I am ready to write a review.
Followiwng a romance story line that is becoming increasingly popular Fifty Shades of Grey introduces the reader to Anastasia Steele, a young woman who meets a handsome billionaire named Christian Grey while conducting an interview for her college roommate. The two begin an unusual courtship as Christian decides he wants the sexually inexperienced Ana to become his submissive. Rather than a straightforward romance the two engage in a series of correspondences, contract negotiations, and (for Ana) sexual experimentation. Christian uses his wealth to shower Ana with expensive gifts and take her on elaborate dates. Even though Ana is attracted to Christian, enjoys spending time with him (in and out of bed), and seems to love him she must decide whether or not this particular BDSM relationship is what she wants. Christian is also nonplussed as he finds himself breaking his “rules” for Ana time and time again.
What I Enjoyed
There were parts of the book that were cute, almost sweet, that made me chuckle. Ana’s character often reminded me of that bumbling, awkward, slightly uncomfortable person we all knew in high school or college. Also, I am always happy when I see a self-published author succeed in a highly competitive industry that still tends to look down on non-traditional authors. James should be an inspiration to new and struggling authors who dream of having a bestselling book.
What I Didn’t Like
I had to give credit where credit is due, but there were so many things about Fifty Shades of Grey that I just did not like. For starters, I do not believe that the author had any experience or knowledge of BDSM other than what she read in fantasy novels. That could be said about any fiction authors, but most of the time I turned pages feeling mildly concerned rather than excited. If Christian Grey worked at a fast food restaurant and lived in a trailer Ana would have been calling the police not falling in love. A lot of the story was more creepy than romantic. To be clear, I enjoy romance, fantasy, and have read my share of billionaire love stories but I was often baffled rather than entertained by this story. Reading required the suspension of belief that I usually reserve for hard core science fiction or fantasy novels.
In my opinion Fifty Shades of Grey is a light read that you should pick up for no other reason than to say that you have read it. There are a lot of phrases, plot points, and characters that will leave some readers (myself included) scratching their heads while mumbling “what the f$#@ did I just read?”. However, I do completely understand why this series has such a strong following. For good or for ill it is a definitely a page turner. Once you start reading you will continue because you love it or because you are horrified.