May 9, 2012

Book Review: Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

**I may or may not be writing some spoilers in here.  I cannot seem to write about this book with adding some specifics.  You've been warned**

I finished Fifty Shades of Grey in about 4 days last week.  I struggled very much with this book; however, I could not put it down.  I was constantly thinking about it when I wasn't reading it, which is normal for most books I read, but this one really got to me.



The basic premise of the book: The sweet, naive Anastasia Steele meets mega rich and good-looking Christian Grey.  She instantly catches his attention and before long, they become romantically entangled.  Ana soon learns that Christian has a dark and kinky secret involving whips, chains, and a Red Room of Pain.

It's not hard to tell that this story is Twilight with a (dirty) twist.  Clumsy, brunette, doe-eyed Ana lives with her Dad in the PNW and works in a hardware store...I mean, come on.

My thoughts:  Like I said, I couldn't stop reading this book.  At times I was grinning like an idiot, other times my jaw was dropped in shock, and then there were a couple moments when the book was almost thrown across the room.
In case you have been under a rock and hadn't heard, there's a lot of sex in this book.  If you're not into reading stuff like that, then you probably won't like it.

I had a hard time with their relationship, which I think was to be expected.  Conflict is normal, but this relationship felt very one-sided.  It bothered me how she let him treat her. I'm not proud to admit this, but I actually liked him more than her.  He didn't pretend to be anything he wasn't.  He was frank, blunt, strong, and genuine.  I hated that she only cared about how hot he was, and would pretty much put up with anything to keep his affections.  I hated that she was more worried about physical pain than her dignity.  I hated that every time she spoke to him it came out as a "whisper". She was supposed to be this intelligent woman, but she appeared to be so inconsistent and weak.

Don't judge me for being so hard on her.  I feel like we have come far enough in women's literature to create some strong and sexy female characters. I know we're not supposed to judge fan-fiction like it's literature, but if this is making its way into millions of hands around the world, it bothers me that this is how we are being portrayed.  I honestly did want Ana to have her fun with Christian in the Red Room of Pain, I just wanted her to be a little more assertive about it.

Another problem for me was that it was incredibly insensitive at times.  *SPOILER*  Christian expected Ana to be completely obedient to him in all things and would physically punish her when she so much as rolled her eyes. Hello, nightmare!  Sure, the relationship was consensual, but she was so naive that I couldn't help but feel it was borderline abusive.  That was a major turn off for me and I feel like it just went too far at times.

This led me to wonder...what was the author's intention?
Did she want her readers to identify with Anastasia?  Were we supposed to feel sorry for her? Be angry at him?  Be turned on? I was so confused about how I should be feeling.  I really just wanted Ana to challenge him more.  I really wanted her to freak out on him like I was.  There was just something missing here for me.

I should add that I didn't despise it, in case it sounds like I did.  There were plenty of things I liked.  I mean, if I didn't care about the story or characters, I probably wouldn't get so worked up about it.  I thought they had a sweet relationship at times and I did feel his genuine adoration for her.  And she did have her moments too when I felt she reacted appropriately.  Believe it or not, I was rooting for them.

And there were plenty of fun scenes to look forward to...those didn't suck. *no pun intended.

Rating:
I gave it 3 out of 5 stars.
I appreciate a book that causes me to reflect on the level this book has. And like I said, I couldn't put it down.
I did not give it 5 stars because I was not (and still am not) sure if any of that reflection was intentional.

Chances are, I am just over thinking it.

So basically,
I had a serious love/hate relationship with this book.
I wish I could have taken my stubborn emotions out of it and just enjoyed it for what it was.
I definitely will continue in the series.  I just hope it doesn't get pointlessly drawn out, like another series I recall.

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8 comments:

threetimesf said...

So I started reading, but once I'd seen the quick outline of the plot I was scared to continue because now I want to actually read the book without having seen any of the spoilers!

Anyway, talking of books - how about your favourite childhood book, or a book that you didn't think you'd like but ended up loving, as book chat prompts?

Sweet Green Tangerine said...

Awesome. Thanks for the suggestions!
Yeah I was really worried about spoiling it for people who haven't read it. I'm glad you chose not to read the review lol :)

Katie Price said...

HA, no those didn't suck. No pun intended. So, are you reading #2 now? I know it's hard to believe, but I feel like she does get a little more intelligent in the second book. I liked it even better than the first.. possibly because it felt like there was more story & less Red Room of Pain.

Olivia Grace said...

I totally agree with Katie! I am loving the second book so much more because she has finally woken from her shy, sex bewildered slumber. And of course because Christian is finally opening up and softening. Ana annoys me for the very same reasons Bella has always annoyed me: I just want to scream at them to WAKE UP!! Talk louder!! But that's the whole appeal, I guess. The first book was hard for me to get through for all of the same reasons you outlined. Second book: much better. Great review!!!

Megan C. Stroup said...

I'm impressed by this review. Thoughts = definitely coherent. Kudos! Also, I agree. I liked Christian way more than Ana. But in the Twilight books, I always liked Edward more than Bella, too. When people would fight about Team Jacob vs. Team Edward, I always said let the two of them run away together and leave Bella out of it. That would be much more satisfying for me. :)

Also, your pun at the end was pretty gross.... but I like the way you think! Haha.

Serena said...

I agree with most of what you wrote about the book. I also took issue with the whole "dignity" part of Ana's character but felt like I didn't know enough about that community to know whether that was normal. From what I've heard after, it sounds like the author didn't know much about that community either. I was more frustrated with some of the author's writing ticks and things that just came across as a weak writer. When reading a book, I don't want to be focusing on things like that :-)

Canada said...

I clearly enjoyed the first book so much that I could not wait to start the 2nd. I must say that I didn't enjoy this as much. I got overwhelmed by all of the drama in the story line that made me constantly wonder "how can Ana stay in this 'relationship'?" While I was captivated by their love story, the drama just became too much for me which made me wonder how realistic could this be. That being said, the way the story ended I will immediately start the 3rd one.

Natalie Juns said...

I felt very similar to you about this book! I got half way through it and couldn't finish it. I really felt like their relationship was semi abusive. It bothered me that she felt so conflicted and couldn't stand up for herself or create any boundaries. It made me upset at times. I decided not to finish it because of that.

Oh well, there are better books out there for me!

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