Author: E. L. James
First Published: 2011
Page Count: 514
Film/ TV Adaptation: Yes*
Rating: 1/5 Stars
Note: Book 1 in the Fifty Shades series
Unlikable characters, a dull plot, and poor prose are the ingredients for Fifty Shades of Grey, a book that fails to deliver the “wow factor” that has propelled it to fame.
*Somewhat provocative sex scenes
*Ridiculous characters *Laughably bad internal monologues *Redundant plot action
“I gasp, and I’m Eve in the Garden of Eden, and he is the serpent, and I cannot resist.” Anastasia Steele is a college student who has never had much of a romantic life until she meets the incredibly handsome, young CEO Christian Grey. From there, Grey introduces her to a new, intimate world that Ana both fears and relishes. However, Grey has secrets. Not only is his past a mystery, but he has a very particular taste when it comes to relations with the opposite sex. Ana has to decide whether it is worth taking on Grey’s baggage and becoming a part of his unique lifestyle.
I’ve never picked up a book from the erotic romance department but not because it disgusts me or I’m against the genre; I’ve just never been interested. But with the nonstop coverage of the release of this book on everything from E! News to the Dr. Oz Show, my curiosity was more than a little piqued. So with a mixture of excitement over the hype and a bit of naughty curiosity about what I might discover in this book, I popped over to Target to pick it up. What a waste of $12. The only positive thing I can say about Fifty Shades of Grey is that it does deliver on the steamy sex scenes, but for a book whose reputation is built on the shock and awe factor of its mature content, I really expected more.
If you know anything about the background of the story, Fifty Shades of Grey started out as a work of fan fiction based on the Twilight series. Well that’s what it reads like – straight fan fiction. I’ve also never read/ written fan fiction because, again, I’ve just never been interested, but I have nothing against it. I suppose, though, I didn’t expect a book that managed to go from an internet e-read to a published work in brick and mortar book stores to come off so obviously as a spinoff of another book. I know many people either loathe or love the Twilight series (frankly, I read it in high school and remember enjoying it, so until I reread them that’s my stance on that subject), but Fifty Shades of Grey takes a story that at least some readers might find enjoyable, and mangled it completely into a joke of a book. The main characters are nails-to-a-chalkboard annoying that it’s almost unbearable to read. Anastasia Steele is sometimes painted as an extremely attractive woman and other times she is a shy, clumsy student who must be the only twenty-something in the 21st century that doesn’t understand how to use a computer, email, or the internet. Christian Grey, on the other hand, is selfish, controlling, and there really isn’t enough back story to explain why he treats women the way he does. The entire book is like a predictable rollercoaster; there are the high points where Grey exposes Ana to his naughty, intimate world, and then there are all the dull low points in between that feel like filler until the next sex scene. Even these so-called “high points” become redundant by the end of the book as the author pelts the reader with some final racy scenes that just seem like an attempt to keep the reader’s interest instead of move the story to some kind of climax and resolution. And after all of these negatives, there is my greatest fault with the book which almost made me stop reading completely. Anastasia Steele has many internal conversations and almost all of them consist of the phrase “oh my,” which becomes incredibly irritating after the hundredth time you read it. The author’s creation of an “inner goddess” for the main character is silly, unnecessary, distracting, and most importantly, annoying.
Don’t pick up this book, whatever you do. Like I said, I haven’t read any erotic romance books before, but I’m sure there must be better alternatives in this genre if that’s the type of story you’re after. And if you are teetering back and forth on whether or not you should read it so you can know what all the hype is about, opt out of this one. I have absolutely no idea what it is about this book that makes it popular since even its sex scenes, the whole reason for its fame, are nothing especially exciting. Save yourself $12 and a lot of wasted time and skip Fifty Shades of Grey.
*Film Adaptation: (Starring Dakota Johnson 2015)