2011; 514 pages. Book 1 (out of 3) in the Fifty Shades trilogy. New Author? : Yes. Genre : Erotic Fiction; Romance. Overall Rating : 7*/10.
It must’ve been love at first sight. Anastasia Steele fell head-over-heels when she met Christian Grey. Actually, she tripped and fell flat on her face as she entered the room to interview him, but that’s pretty much the same thing, right?
And it apparently worked because Christian obviously became very interested in her – finding ways for them to cross paths, etc. Yet he’s also warned Anastasia to stay away from him, because he has a darker side that she might not like.
But our protagonists are smitten with each other. And that’s pretty much the same thing as being in love, right?
What’s To Like...
Fifty Shades of Grey is both a piece of Erotic Fiction and a Romance novel, and it delivers in both categories. The erotic parts are plentiful and, well, erotic. However, this is not smut. Things get kinky, but there’s nothing hardcore here – stuff like bestiality, excrement, disfigurement, orgies, etc, What is present is … well, I’ll let you read the book to find out.
Our two protagonists are frankly stereotypical and over-the-top. Christian is infinitely rich, incredibly handsome, and, as in any piece of Romance fiction, a tireless stud. Yet he feeds the poor in Darfur, and always wears a condom. Anastasia is a senior in college, strikingly pretty, intelligent, yet has somehow managed to stay a virgin, more by chance than by choice. Indeed, she’s never even kissed a guy, so she’s an orgasm waiting to explode.
Yet Fifty Shades of Grey is a Romance too. Not every page is steaming with sex. The rolling-in-the-hay episodes are balanced by going to dinners, helicopter rides, a graduation ceremony, flying in a glider, and meeting the crazies in each other’s family. The POV is first-person, Ana’s, but E.L. James cleverly works Christian’s thoughts into the story via e-mail exchanges. Ana has lots of conversations with her “inner goddess” and “subconscious”. Think of them as the “little devil” and “little angel” from those cartoons you watched as a kid.
The supporting characters are less stereotyped, adequately developed, and interesting. I especially liked Taylor, the chauffeur. The story ends at a significant and logical point, but obviously everything is not tied up, since there are two more books to go. Needless to say, this is a book for mature audiences only.
Kewlest New Word. . .
Profligate (adj.) : recklessly extravagant or wasteful in the use of resources.
Others : Concupiscent (adj.).
“First, the technology to track cell phones is available over the Internet. Second, my company does not invest or manufacture any kind of surveillance devices. And third, if I hadn’t come to get you, you’d probably be waking up in the photographer’s bed, and from what I can remember you weren’t overly enthused about him pressing his suit,” he says acidly.
Pressing his suit! I glance up at Christian. He’s glaring at me, eyes blazing, aggrieved. I try to bite my lip, but I fail to repress my giggle.
“Which medieval chronicle did you escape from? You sound like a courtly knight.” (pg. 67)
“You’re a sadist?”
“I’m a Dominant.” His eyes are scorching gray, intense.
“What does that mean?” I whisper.
“It means I want you to willingly surrender yourself to me, in all things.”
I frown at him as I try to assimilate this idea.
“Why would I do that?”
“To please me,” he whispers as he cocks his head to one side, and I see a ghost of a smile. (pg. 100)
I’m going to Seattle by helicopter with Christian Grey. And he wants to bite my lip. (pg. 75)
Fifty Shades of Grey gets regularly blasted for its poor writing, and there is some merit to that, especially in its irritatingly repetition of a slew of clichés, among which are: faces “flushing”, eyes “rolling”, habitual lip “biting”, heads being cocked, brows being furrowed, Anastasia forgetting to breathe, and electrical "touching".
But here are some startling figures regarding this book. Over 30,000 people have reviewed it on Amazon. Over 68,000 people have reviewed it on Goodreads. More than 1 million people have rated it on Goodreads. That’s a lot of people taking time to read it and then being inspired enough to give their opinions about it.
The truth is, the writing may be mediocre, but the storytelling is superb. This isn’t the literary porn usually spawned by Erotic Fiction writers (think Penthouse Forum). It’s about a Dominant-Submissive relationship where the “Sub” can get positively uppity at times. From the Romance aspect, we know that the relationship will go on for two more books – Ana championing “Love”, Christian championing “Lust”. But whether the two will ultimately live happily ever after is very much up in the air.
E.L. James has succeeded overwhelmingly in writing a provocative book/trilogy that resonates with female Romance readers who are not of the “vanilla sex for me only, please” persuasion. As a male reader, I found the book dragged at times, especially the long conversations Ana has with her inner goddess and subconscious about love, passion, romance, and commitment. But I recognize such musings are an integral part of any Romance, which is why I avoid reading the genre as much as I can.
7 Stars. This is a “male rating”. Add one star if you’re female, another star if you’re hooked on reading love stories, and a third star if “vanilla” just isn’t an exciting-enough flavor for you.