Friday, 4 May 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James

Oh, hello there! I'm updating this review 2 years later because it was originally written at 3am and was a long and rambling mess and my thoughts are less jumbled now (the movie trailer just came out and it made me curious about what I'd originally written about the book).

Fifty Shades of Grey
by E. L. James

Summary: When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.
So this book actually surprised me. I was expecting it to be beyond terrible, but it was just...well, terrible. But kind of entertaining at the same time (although, mostly not in a good way). I guess rock bottom expectations made my end opinion slightly less negative, which isn't saying much.

I'm still not sure how I feel about it being a published Twilight fanfic, but I don't want to talk about that in this review so you can read the discussion post on that if you want.

So yes...the book was entertaining. Sometimes it was in the same way trashy TV shows that you know are awful and yet don't change the channel are, and sometimes it was because it was so bad that it became hilarious or infuriating. But it did hook me. It never bored me, is what I'm trying to say really (I can tolerate a lot in a book, but boring is one of the worst things a book can be to me).

Their email exchanges were amusing. Ana wasn't as much of a doormat as I expected her to be (she actually stood up for herself sometimes--but again, rock bottom expectations...).

Also, if I ignored the fact that it was supposed to be romantic, their relationship was interesting. Interesting like, his character is screwed up and their relationship is screwed up and the fact that they want each other is the only thing they seem to genuinely agree was interesting watching that play out (the fact that it's romanticized is baffling though...I would genuinely love for anyone who thinks their relationship is romantic to answer this question: if he was described as being ugly instead of ridiculously attractive and that was the only thing about his character that changed, would you still think it romantic? Or creepy?)

Now, why is it a bad book? There are too many reasons to list really, but I'll give the main ones:
  • It's supposed to be romantic when the relationship is actually unhealthy, controlling and abusive.
  • It's supposed to be about BDSM, it's marketed that way, people view it that way but it is a horrible misrepresentation of what a Dom/sub relationship actually is or should be (for one thing, Ana is not a submissive, it's not her kind of thing and she only tries it because she wants him and sees giving in to what he wants as the only way to have him).
  • The writing is absolutely terrible (Ana seemed to blush at least once every page, sometimes multiple times per page, and there was an excessive use of synonyms for said thrown in there--seriously, it's distracting reading it when, in one short conversation, a character randomly goes from squeaking to whispering to gasping words out...if you picture it happening, it's just really funny and hard to take seriously).
  • Personification of Ana's "inner goddess" and her subconscious (the point of your subconscious is that it's the part of your brain that you're not aware of, it's "the part of the mind below conscious perception"//"acting or existing without one's awareness" - meaning you shouldn't know that your subconscious is grinning like a Cheshire cat while she eats a banana and does the conga around the room...hyperbolic example, but only slightly).
  • The "erotic" scenes were laughable (and sometimes gross or infuriating).
I'd give it 2.5 stars out of 5 for keeping me entertained, even if my reactions while reading were laughing, facepalming and frequent eye rolls. If I rate it based on quality, it gets 1.5 stars out of 5.



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