Book Review: Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
June 26, 2012 50 Comments
Rating: 3.5, maybe 4 /5 stars
Number of pages: 528
First published: 2011
I got this book: bought it myself
Language: I read the Dutch translation (Vijftig tinten grijs)
Genre: contemporary fiction
I only read this book so I could make some derogatory comments about it. But now I can’t. I think it’s mainly that I had been so put off by other people’s remarks and reviews that I expected a badly written, totally unbelievable story with lots of sex. Well, it’s not. Not really.
Fifty Shades of Grey: What it is about
The book is about Ana who has just finished college and is about to find a work experience place. She meets an extremely rich man, Christian Grey, who is only 27 but very dominant and controlling. He’s also very handsome, and she can’t help being attracted to him. Turns out: he is attracted to her, too. But he’s never had a proper relationship. His previous relationships have all been on his terms with the woman either agreeing to these terms, or being dumped.
But Ana is different. He says he will drop her if she doesn’t agree to do things his way, but she isn’t sure she wants his sort of relationship, involving mainly S/M sex. She hasn’t really had a boyfriend before so what she wants is a normal relationship. The remainder of the book involves bargaining for the kind of relationship they might have. She has a taste of his idea of a relationship, and he gets a taste of what she wants. Will Ana be the woman who can make him change his attitude?
During the book Ana finds out about Christian’s dark past. A lot has happened to make him the person he is now. She uncovers only some of it, but it helps her understand him better.
Fifty Shades of Grey: What I thought
I found the book not so badly written as I expected. It’s not literary by any means, but as someone who has read absolutely loads of books, I can honestly say that the writing didn’t bother me, I didn’t notice it being bad. So, it can’t be worse than say, the average chick-lit. I must add that I read the book in the Dutch translation, and who knows, maybe that’s better than the original.
The book did something to me: I was angry with Christian for his unreasonable insistence in having the relationship his way. Why not try something different for a change? Especially given that he found Ana to be different from the other women he’d been seeing. And by the way, his ideas were totally unacceptable to me. I almost gave up reading when I saw his full list of demands.
Ana, not having much relationship experience, is so worried that Christian will walk away, that she’s willing to go at least some of the way. That was SO bad! Dear Ana, if he would really walk away for that reason, what sort of boyfriend is he anyway?
So, my blood boiled. And that made me realise that the story became sort of real to me. While the premise is completely unbelievable, when you get over that, there is a story with real characters that do things that I have an opinion about. That made this a good book. Not brilliant, but good enough.
By the way, there are some very explicit scenes in this book because Ana and Christian cannot keep their hands off each other, but these scenes did serve a purpose on the whole. They were not just gratuitous sex scenes to spice up the story – generally what happened during those scenes was important in the next parts of the story, too. So, I think that was well done. I didn’t care all that much about these scenes, but I was happy to see they served a purpose.
Not good: the book ended too late, or too soon. A conflict was resolved, but when the book ends, a new one had started. It was just about OK, but I did feel the story wasn’t complete. I know there are two more books, but they’re not this book. The ending in this book wasn’t quite right, I thought.
I don’t think I’ll read the next books, but I’m not saying I definitely won’t. What I especially liked about the book was that it made me angry, and therefore, there was a certain suspense: will Ana give in to that horrible Christian, or will she be sensible? Recommended for anyone who is curious about the book.