Friday, 27 April 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey

Level:  Explicit
Genre: General Fiction > Erotica > BDSM
Obtained: Borrowed from a friend
Reviewed by: Nic Echo

About the Book:
Ana Steele has never really found herself to be attracted to anyone before. At least, not in that head over heels, butterflies in the stomach type way. Not until she meets Christian Grey, and what's not to like? He's gorgeous beyond belief, extremely wealthy, and (as Ana soon finds out) excellent in bed. Of course, there is always the saying, "It's probably too good to be true." Well, Christian Grey is no exception. Although Christian Grey causes Ana's heart to catch in her throat, she's not sure if she can handle the arrangement he desires: a Dominant/submissive relationship ... with Ana as the sub!

Rating: 4/10
I was introduced to this by a friend who has a fascination for reading BDSM books to see how bad (or good) and accurate they are. We both agreed that this was a very lack luster book. It had potential. It really did, but it should have stayed where it started - as a fan fiction. Now, don't get me wrong. There are some fan fictions out there that are written very well. However, Fifty Shades of Grey (originally Master of the Universe) is not one of them. 
Honestly, I cannot see why this is such a huge hit. The sex scenes are subpar, the characters annoying and bland, and the writing is on the same level as Twilight. Speaking of the writing, dear gods was it repetitive. I lost count of how many times Ana bit her lip, rolled her eyes, or thought, "Oh my." Add the massive amount of text devoted to how Christian's eyes are grey and Ana's constant chattering of her subconscious and "inner goddess," and you have a very long and dull book. Not only was the text very repetitive, but the storyline was literally nothing more than Ana and Christian and the hormones in between them. Again, there are several books, which purely focus on a relationship between two characters, that manage to be quite intriguing. Fifty Shades is not one of them. What's worse is that this is only part one of three, and these aren't short 200 or so page books. Nope. Fifty Shades of Grey is a whopping 529 pages. Yes, we have over five hundred pages of little more than, "I don't really like being a sub, but I 'love' him." The sad part is that Ana's internal issues could be quite the hook, but we are led over the same lines throughout the novel, which created a very boring read. 

It was more than likely this minimal insight that led to such flat characters. Granted, the main character was originally Bella Swan so it's not surprising that Ana fell short of a fully developed and likeable character. Then, since Ana was originally Bella, we get to witness some of her .. er ... exceptional qualities such as her absurd clumsiness and virginal attitude. Still, I have to give James some credit. She, at least, had her main character get up and do something. Next, we have have Edward Cullen... I mean, Christian Grey. Okay, to be honest, I can barely remember anything about these demmed characters, which ought to tell more than words alone. All I can really recall is that Ana was irksome, her friend even more so, and Christian was your perfect git. Oh, I also remember that Christian and Ana really need to work on their jealousy issues.

Now, let's get to the part that most of the fans were raving about: the sex. I've read many negative reviews that claimed it was some of the worst sex ever written. I wouldn't go that far. In fact, I kinda liked the first scene. No, it didn't get me hot and heavy, but I highly appreciated that James focused on more than just the "sexy" body parts. Hell, I give her kudos for that. However, it still failed to give me that special tingly feeling so E.L. James didn't quite get the gold star. Granted, I had strong issues with the characters and could not get behind them (no pun intended) so that more than likely coloured my view a bit. However, even if these scenes didn't get a rise out of me, I was very pleased to see that James was promoting safety. She has Christian using condoms, which is something you don't often see. James also showed a good insight into the BDSM world. She ends up showing that even though there is power play, both parties give consent in all forms of play. She also shows how important communication is in such sexual aspects and even goes into safe words.

All in all though, this book had great potential, but the writing and characters made it short of something enjoyable. Not even the sex made up for the lack luster plot. Yes, it is better than Twilight, but that's not saying much. It may have been okay for fan fiction, but as a published novel ... well, save your time and money.

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