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I read the first book on a dare, and I wish I'd never agreed to it. Somehow, it managed to be even worse than Twilight (which I'd also read on a dare. Don't take dares.)
Now, I'm not in the demographic the book is marketed to. I'm a young(ish) woman, but I'm no fan of romances or erotica. That said, even a person who isn't a fan of a genre can still recognize crappy writing, and this is beyond crappy. Anastasia isn't just an Extreme Doormat — she's a completely unrealistic human being. If she had been raised in a strictly religious and/or conservative household, her immense ignorance might have been explained, but to all appearances she had a normal childhood. Her total naivete isn't endearing, it's embarrassing to witness. She's just as whiny and needy as Bella Swan, but comes off as even less intelligent.
Christian is likewise unrealistic, as well as being a complete sociopath. A billionaire at 27? While that does happen, it's usually limited to people who create unique inventions, and the text doesn't suggest Christian has any real talents. For a CEO, he seems to have abundant time on his hands to stalk, threaten, and sex up Ana, whether she wants it or not. Apparently all of this is considered romantic, solely because he's devastatingly attractive. One could be forgiven for assuming he's a serial killer just waiting for the right moment to slaughter Ana and bury her beneath his 'playroom'.
Which brings up the so-called 'erotica'. IKEA Erotica doesn't begin to cover it, and it doesn't help that Ana seems incapable of referring to her own genitals as anything other than 'down there'. Though Christian gets her off the first time they have sex, he very obviously takes sadistic pleasure in the pain that actual intercourse causes her. The scenes vary between boring, squicky, and both, and E.L. James' terrible prose doesn't help at all. It's so creepy that it can't even be laughed at.
I couldn't recommend this book to anyone. It's a waste of the paper it's printed on, and is a disturbing, ugly story that might be called Unfortunate Implications: The Novel.
As a man who has never read Twilight or romance novels before, I have to say that I found this book series to be very enjoyable, minus the opening to the first chapter, where the writing is so horrible it's cringe-worthy. Once the reader is able to adapt to Ana's narration, the story flows relatively smoothly. I found myself unable to put the books down, and read the whole series in record time; I finished each book in under 72 hours.
As far as the characters go, I found that I identified a great dead with Christian Grey in the aspects of his desire for control and self-loathing. Unlike the person who wrote the main page, I don't see Christian as evil - he's an antihero. I am also totally enamoured with the character of Anastasia. E.L. James does not have much skill in character naming though (Katherine Kavanaugh, ugh), but we'll let that one slide.
As far as the sexual content goes, any man will tell you that this book series is relatively tame. If you've been on the Internet before, then almost nothing in these books should be new to you. I'm actually glad the BSDM was pretty mild, because I think that's about as far as anyone would really go with that line of fetishism if they weren't into it specifically. The sexual content also blended into the story fairly well without overshadowing it - I didn't feel like there was too much or too little and found it refreshing when James pulled off some "fade to black" cuts, because Ana and Christian have a LOT of sex.
When it comes to story there is nothing exceptional, but nothing too bad either. The first book doesn't have much of a conflict besides Ana & Chrisitan's relationship, then James pulls a last-chapter-disaster that practically ruins it. This crisis is recovered quickly however and James steps into less jarring cycles of rising tension and light-hearted interludes. Essentially, there are two plots running side-by-side: Ana & Christian's tumultuous relationship and the investigation into Christian's past, which blends into the attempted murder sub-plot of books 2 & 3. The third book is MUCH better with its story, having moments of high tension and a satisfying enough conclusion.
So, in conclusion, these books are a nice read and one should check them out before passing judgement on the books or the people that read them. I, for one, really liked them.
This title may sound drastic, but it's true. As of now, I have never read anything as poorly written, riddled with Unfortunate Implications, or less entertaining than this.
First of all, the "romance" that EL James wrote - or tried to write - is just disturbing. Ana is a Love Martyr to Christian, an abusive stalker who threatens her, stalks her, raped her...Not to mention that this was unintentional on the author's part.
Now, the way the novel was written is what I have issues with. The writer has no interest in exploring a healthy, consensual BDSM relationship(which actually had decent plot potential) and genuinely doesn't appear to see how toxic it is. All she appeared to be interested in was the erotic part, which was completely ruined thanks to the terrible prose. Ana's narrative is stilted and frankly strange at times("down there"? "Holy crap"? Really?) Christian's backstory would be interesting if we got some more exploration into how and why he is such a troubled and screwed-up character; but obviously James is too busy writing about Ana and Christian fucking to bother making her story the slightest bit intriguing.
All in all, the reason why I have issues with this book is because it achieved the exact opposite of what it set out to do: the sex was uninteresting and poorly written, the series appears to glorify emotional and physical abuse, the BDSM is poorly represented, and all in all, the writing is just bad. It's as though the author never bothered refining the story from the fanfic it originally was.
The story could have been a nice representation of the BDSM lifestyle, but it was written by EL James, who clearly did not do any proper research. Any bondage is presented as if it was extremely perverted and 'dark' when it's actually among the tamest of things, even things that people who are not into this particular lifestyle might do to spice up their sexlife.
Anastasia reads like a little girl who has no idea about anything sex-related, seeing it as dirty and only okay if one is absolutely, positively in love with the other person. Her lack of any knowledge in terms of sex does not make her appear innocent, it makes her look dumb. And the fact that Christian repeatedly takes advantage of this, makes it disgusting to read, like an older predator going after a little child.
The books are riddled with grammatical mistakes, pointless drama that really serves no purpose except try to give us drama, but it's quite clear that James does not want drama and just wants to write, quite bluntly, of nothing but fucking.
Speaking of the sex scenes, they could be cut out. They are no written erotically, they are cut-copy-pasted with repeated words, nothing is ever treated differently... and if your Porn Book does not contain good porn, what is even the point of writing it?
The story had potential... if James had bothered to actually create proper character development and believeable drama. As it is, she won't. Christian is a whiny toddler who blames all his problems on his dead birth-mother and refuses to change. And Anastasia (and, by extent, James) insults any person who partakes in Bondage or the lifestyle by implicating that Christian's preference for BDSM is like a disease that needs to be cured.
This book is disgusting. It's insulting to everyone, women, men, the BDSM lifestyle and is practically the opposite of a 'woman discovering her sexuality'.
Don't read this. Burn it. Please. Trust me. I haven't even gotten into the part where Anastasia keeps thinking of Christian as a little child, which she finds an absolute turn-on. Short form: She does. Repeatedly. And it's horrible that thinking of her husband as a baby makes her horny.
When I say that the plot is wasted, I mean that even with bad writing and the just-as-bad case of Artistic Licence - Geography she has going on, the story might have been enjoyable if these three things were changed:
1. It was supposed to be a story about a man using BDSM as an excuse to/a cover for abusing women
2. Kate was more active in the story as the actual Intrepid Reporter she's supposed to be.
3. Stop calling Christian "(my) Fifty (Shades)" like it's his name
Kate was a wasted character. Had her Intrepid Reporter attitude actually been a consistent trait throughout the story, it would have improved the story. Kate is clearly interested in the fact that Christian has been a lifelong bachelor, but she doesn't take interest in the fact that Christian is very interested in her best friend and flatmate, Ana.
While you could argue this was because Ana is her friend, Kate is later concerned Christian is bad for Ana even though Ana denies it. She seems to think he's abusive to Ana, noting that Ana cries all the time since getting with him and refusing to let him see her (though he forces his way in). If Kate had followed this despite the fact that she doesn't feel comfortable invading Ana's life, and despite the fact that Christian is doing everything he can to stop her, while not letting Ana know (lest Kate rat him out), this might have been interesting and less horrifying. Keep the story from Ana's PoV, but have her aware that Kate is up to something and noting odd behaviour in Christian as well that ties in to Kate doing everything she can to get evidence against him. Have Ana come in to Escala and smell burning, which is Christian disposing of evidence Kate gathered against him, forcing Kate to start anew and have Christian threatening to kill Ana if Kate keeps trying to nose in after Ana finds out Kate thinks he's abusive (and has thus, put the idea in Ana's head).
It would be a very hard story to write, and I don't know how positive it would be (as Kate does much of the work to expose Christian to the public, not Ana, I suppose inadvertently sending a "someone will get you out, you don't have to work" message), but surely it would be better than not even acknowledging the abuse? Make it a story about not keeping quiet about abuse you witness.
Point 3 was just something that I found really annoying.
I just donīt know why this is popular. I mean, even when I donīt like Twilight, at least I am able to see why it was popular. I canīt say the same about Fifty Shades of Grey, a book without any single redeeming value from my point of view.
The "story" (or lack of it thereof) is unspeakably boring, with lots and lots of padding (There are entire chapters were absolutely nothing happens.) The narration is incredibly tedious and annoying, and the reader is constantly reminded about how incredibly gorgeous and handsome Edward...I mean, Christian Grey is.
Most of the characters are totally flat and uninteresting. The only exception was Christian Grey, who is an unlikeable Jerk Ass and one of the most irritating and annoying characters ever made. If he was ugly and poor, he would have been considered a sexist pig and a disgusting abuser, but since he is rich and handsome, the book seems to justify his horrible behavior. The sex scenes were the most anti-erotic stuff I have read in my entire life, and I think that even Tara Gilesbie would have written something better.
For me, reading this book was like reading Twilight all over again. Except than worse. Much, much worse (if you can believe that)
This is probably the worst book I have read in my entire life. It is dumb, is boring, is poorly written and has horrible characters. I honestly think that even The Eye of Argon, My Immortal, Christian Humber Reloaded and even Twilight were better than this.
Could have been a lot worse... but...
I found myself intrigued by the idea of sadistic/control-freak/billionaire chasing after a virginal schoolgirl, simply because unlike most novels with romantic conflicts this one seemed so obviously doomed and rocky from the start.
BDSM is negatively portrayed, because everyone involved in it has Freudian issues (esp. the Grey).
Everyone who reads will either think:
A) it's indulgent
or B) it's excessive
i chose the later because sex is just not a viable substitute for punctuation. Seriously, the first few sex scenes were like eating icecream out of the carton: you feel a little guilty, but its also kinda liberating. By the end of the book, the icecream is melted and your being waterboarded with it. Suffice to say, good sex in a book has to either be a significant moment for the plot, or reveal/reinforce significant aspects about a character or relationship... Majority of the sex in this book doesn't do either, so I ended up skimming through most of it like a textbook.
Most of the sex comes off as an expression of James's fantasy, in that most erotic fanfiction writers that create 2 characters often can't help themselves but make them have sex as often as possible. However, most people have the restraint to imply or otherwise omit such encounters that don't benefit the plot or the exposition in some way.
Is the writing fantastic? no, but that can be ignored if the narrator is presumed unreliable, and the reader is limited to that which has the narrator's attention (only a marginal solution).
OTHER THAN THAT (and people's criticism of 'good writing' or w.e) i liked the book and the series, and thankfully the author matured a bunch by the 2nd and 3rd (choosing to imply more sex instead of adding more pad).
By the third book, most of the original conflict is resolved so there's a shift into more conventional drama and thrill (i.e. car crashes and high speed chases and explosions and extortion and kidnapping and shootouts etc etc)
The book had generally positive messages (or otherwise had conflicts resulting from a failure in) involving communication, honesty, and trust.
As well as unconditional love, and the metric tons of condoms (and other safe sex references) that get used throughout all 3 books.
CONCLUSION: better love story than twilight ~7/10
I read this book out of morbid curiosity and found it to be atrocious. If you've read Twilight, the characters here are almost exactly the same. It was painfully obvious who everyone was supposed to be. Plot-wise..there is no plot outside of the sex. I have no problem with explicit scenes in books, but the sex in Fifty Shades is excessive if nothing else. Ana and Grey are having sex in every other chapter, and when they're not, she's thinking about it. This is slightly more acceptable if the story is being "published" at the rate of 1 chapter a week, but in one sitting it just seems overdone. Also, the descriptions of all of Christian's "toys" are almost laughably over-the-top. The man is richer than God. He has his own helicopter, he buys Ana's company just so he can watch her at work (figuratively), he goes gliding on a whim..and he's done all of this before his 30th birthday. And don't even get me started on the "stalking=love" angle that's even more obvious here than it was in Twilight. As an Alternate Character Interpretation, it might work in the hands of a competent writer. Here, it comes off as creepy.
Drinking game (will lead to alcohol poisoning): Take a sip every time the phrase "inner goddess" is used. Or when Ana discusses feeling something "down there."
I'd heard nothing but bad things about this story for months, but because I prefer to judge literature based on my own personal opinion of it, I got my hands on a copy and read through it in about a day. And while I had a feeling that it was going to be terrible, I had no idea that it was going to be as terrible as it was. Its Twilight roots are clear as day, and as if that wasn't bad enough, its writing is even poorer than that of Stephenie Meyer's. The characterization is awful, most of the sex is incorrectly written (for example, the fact that Ana and Christian managed to have sex while she was on her period, on the first day, with no mention of any kind of pain or discomfort), and Christian's issues with control, which are meant to be sexy, come across as... well, really creepy. I had read it expecting it to be terrible, yes, but I was hoping that there would be a "so bad it's good" quality to it. However, there wasn't, and it only came across as extremely dull and boring when it wasn't particularly bad. The worst part is, this story's premise isn't that terrible, and if it had been written by someone else, it may have even been good. Sadly, that is not to be, and we're left with this horrid piece of literature instead. All in all, this story really does deserve its place of infamy in the BDSM community, because really, there's nothing redeeming about it.
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