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3.5 out of 5 stars
Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy
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25,984 of 27,000 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon April 15, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I really don't like writing bad reviews. I admire people who have the courage to put pen to paper and expose themselves to the whole world, especially those writing erotica. Having just finished this book, however, I feel compelled to write a review.

About half way through the book, I looked up the author to see if she was a teenager. I really did because the characters are out of a 16 year old's fantasy. The main male character is a billionaire (not a millionaire but a billionaire) who speaks fluent French, is basically a concert level pianist, is a fully trained pilot, is athletic, drop dead gorgeous, tall, built perfectly with an enormous penis, and the best lover on the planet. In addition, he's not only self made but is using his money to combat world hunger. Oh yeah, and all of this at the ripe old age of 26! And on top of that, he's never working. Every second is spent having sex or texting and emailing the female character. His billions seem to have just come about by magic. It seriously feels like 2 teenage girls got together and decided to create their "dream man" and came up with Christian Grey.

Then come the sex scenes. The first one is tolerable but as she goes on, they become so unbelievable that it becomes more laughable than erotic. She orgasms at the drop of a hat. He says her name and she orgasms. He simply touches her and she orgasms. It seems that she's climaxing on every page.

Then there's the writing. If you take out the parts where the female character is blushing or chewing her lips, the book will be down to about 50 pages. Almost on every single page, there is a whole section devoted to her blushing, chewing her lips or wondering "Jeez" about something or another. Then there's the use of "shades of". He's "fifty shades of @#$%% up," "she turned 7 shades of crimson," "he's ten shades of x,y, and z." Seriously?

The writing is just not up to par, the characters are unbelievable, and the sex verges on the comical. I don't know what happens in the remaining books and I do not intend to read them to find out. But given the maturity level of the first book, I imagine that they get married, have 2 perfect children, cure world hunger, and live happily ever after while riding into the sunset, as the female character climaxes on her horse causing her to chew her bottom lip and blush fifty shades of crimson. Jeez!
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17,394 of 18,178 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I enjoy erotica and heard so much about this book that I had to give it a shot, but I'm five chapters in and just can't take it anymore. This has to be the most appallingly atrocious writing I've ever seen in a major release. The pseudonymous British author sets the action (such as it is) in Washington State... for no reason than that her knowledge of America apparently consists of what she read in "Twilight"... but the entire first-person narrative is filled with Britishisms. How many American college students do you know who talk about "prams," "ringing" someone on the phone, or choosing a "smart rucksack" to take "on holiday"? And the author's geography sounds like she put together a jigsaw puzzle of the Pacific Northwest while drunk and ended up with several pieces in the wrong place.

And oh, the repetition...and the repetition...and the repetition. I'm convinced the author has a computer macro that she hits to insert one of her limited repertoire of facial expressions whenever she needs one. According to my Kindle search function, characters roll their eyes 41 times, Ana bites her lip 35 times, Christian's lips "quirk up" 16 times, Christian "cocks his head to one side" 17 times, characters "purse" their lips 15 times, and characters raise their eyebrows a whopping 50 times. Add to that 80 references to Ana's anthropomorphic "subconscious" (which also rolls its eyes and purses its lips, by the way), 58 references to Ana's "inner goddess," and 92 repetitions of Ana saying some form of "oh crap" (which, depending on the severity of the circumstances, can be intensified to "holy crap," "double crap," or the ultimate "triple crap"). And this is only part one of a trilogy...

If I wrote like that, I'd use a pseudonym too.

Like some other reviewers, what I find terribly depressing is that this is a runaway bestseller and the movie rights are expected to sell for up to $5 million. There are so many highly talented writers in the genre... and erotica is so much more erotic when the author has a command of the language and can make you care about the characters. For examples, check out the "Beauty" trilogy written by Anne Rice under the pen name A.N. Roquelaure, or any stories by Donna George Storey or Rachel Kramer Bussel. Just stay away from this triple crap.

*UPDATE*: Thanks to the many other perturbed readers who have shared their own choices of the most annoyingly overused phrases in this masterpiece. Following up on their suggestions with my ever-useful Kindle search function, I have discovered that Ana says "Jeez" 81 times and "oh my" 72 times. She "blushes" or "flushes" 125 times, including 13 that are "scarlet," 6 that are "crimson," and one that is "stars and stripes red." (I can't even imagine.) Ana "peeks up" at Christian 13 times, and there are 9 references to Christian's "hooded eyes," 7 to his "long index finger," and 25 to how "hot" he is (including four recurrences of the epic declarative sentence "He's so freaking hot."). Christian's "mouth presses into a hard line" 10 times. Characters "murmur" 199 times, "mutter" 49 times, and "whisper" 195 times (doesn't anyone just talk?), "clamber" on/in/out of things 21 times, and "smirk" 34 times. Christian and Ana also "gasp" 46 times and experience 18 "breath hitches," suggesting a need for prompt intervention by paramedics. Finally, in a remarkable bit of symmetry, our hero and heroine exchange 124 "grins" and 124 "frowns"... which, by the way, seems an awful lot of frowning for a woman who experiences "intense," "body-shattering," "delicious," "violent," "all-consuming," "turbulent," "agonizing" and "exhausting" orgasms on just about every page.
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7,182 of 7,663 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I downloaded the book to my Kindle because it was on the best seller list and had 4 stars overall rating on Amazon. I wish I'd taken the time to read some of the reviews. As it turns out I agree with the negative.
I found myself thinking "Twilight, plus some spanking, minus the sparkly vampires." Here, I'll save you all some time (SPOILER ALERT):

Once upon a time...
I'm Ana. I'm clumsy and naive. I like books. I dig this guy. He couldn't possibly like me. He's rich. I wonder if he's gay? His eyes are gray. Super gray. Intensely gray. Intense AND gray. Serious and gray. Super gray. Dark and gray. [insert 100+ other ways to say "gray eyes" here]
I blush. I gasp. He touches me "down there." I gasp again. He gasps. We both gasp. I blush some more. I gasp some more. I refer to my genitals as "down there" a few more times. I blush some more. Sorry, I mean I "flush" some more. I bite my lip. He gasps a lot more. More gasping. More blushing/flushing. More lip biting. Still more gasping.
The end.

The bad:
It was an interesting concept - for a romance novel. However the story is weak, the pace is slow and awkward, the characters come through as more schizophrenic than complicated, the "romance" is a juvenile and dysfunctional crush, and the "erotic" scenes alternate between Penthouse Forum and something that sounds like it was written by a painfully shy and sheltered 13 year old. I have now read through some of the rave reviews and I have to assume that these were posted by people easily shocked and/or titillated. I can't imagine what fans are comparing this to when they describe this as "good."

The good:
Nice cover art.
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842 of 896 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Forget reading the book and just read the negative reviews ABOUT the book! They're far more entertaining!
Awesome job guys! You guys are hilarious!
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10,917 of 11,707 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
First, a disclaimer. I am a male senior citizen, a semi-retired gynecologist whose customary literary fare is spy novels and military techno-thrillers. I have never read a romance before, except perhaps for junior high's "A Tale of Two Cities" (or was that a classic?) But after the recent hullabaloo over James' "Fifty Shades," I opted to give the genre a glance.

The book's protagonist is college student Anastasia, who has never had sex or even "touched herself." I had to suspend disbelief at the social and sexual naivete of this twenty-one year-old, but I guess this implied vulnerability makes her more attractive as a romantic heroine. Yet it doesn't take her long to rectify this situation, and soon she is having orgasm after orgasm at the behest of her "dominant" partner, Mr. Grey. At my age, my arthritis flared up just reading about Ana's sexual gymnastics. And for some reason, I kept thinking about her contracting genital warts. Soon, however, Ana's endless pyrotechnic climaxes resembled repetitively watching porn: after a while, it leaves me bored and yawning. That said, there was a definite infectiousness to the plot; and taking Viagra to stiffen my resolve, I persevered.

James' strong suit is her ability to elicit sympathy in the protagonist. I wanted to find out what happened to Anastasia, and that lent the story a compelling, page-turning quality. James is a polished novelist. Her dialogue is crisp, her prose poised, and her paragraphs well-parsed. The author's considerable skills notwithstanding, would I pick up an erotic romance like this again? Probably not.

But that's just me.
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333 of 353 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
**I wanted desperately to like this book. I struggled against common sense to like this book. "It did not work" in a Johnny-Depp-Dark-Shadows-type-of-voice. I am also working to finish my English degree in Creative Writing and have seen better fiction from my workshop classes (or my cat).**

I thought this book was going to be fantastic, but I was sorely mistaken. I have NEVER experienced a more obnoxious main character such as Anastasia Steele. I would say she is one dimensional, but even THAT is pushing it. Can she be a quarter of a dimension? Is she a 21 year old girl, or 14? Is she British or American? It goes back and forth quite a bit, so it's a little hard to decifer.

1. The author has distracting phrases repeated; ad nauseum, such as these gems: "Oh my... oh my!!!...Holy F, Holy Cow, Holy Moses, Holy Crap!, Holy Sh**, Holy Hell. Basically, just insert whatever word you want after "Holy", because it's on every page at least twice. It was ridiculous.
2. We readers totally caught on that Christian Grey has a, "long index finger." She said it so much I was thinking it SURELY has to be the focus of some steamy scene later on since it was drilled into our heads, but not really. How many times can she repeat that?
3. Who internally thinks their friends names by first and last? If she thought, "Katherine Kavanagh" or "Katherine Kavanagh Inquistion" ONE more time...
4. Her personal thoughts range from incredibly sophisticated woman (possibly British!) to obnoxious fourteen year old girl; using a word such as "avuncular" followed by the word "jeez." (Avuncular means able, in short)
5. If I were the editor, I would have made sure this "Inner Goddess" nonsense was no where to be found.
6. Gosh, how could Christian Grey POSSIBLY understand how birth control pills work. Jeez, how embarrassing! Oh my!!! (Really Ana? Really? He has this elaborate sex contract for you to sign and you think he's not fully aware of how birth control pills work? Didn't you notice the Red Room of Pain? I'm pretty sure you did.)
7. Ana is written to be SO ridiculously naive. A 21 year old woman who has supposedly never explored her body or had "The Big O"?? Please.
8. A female cat would have more intelligent inner thoughts than this one.
9. Are they British? American? Do they have dual citizenship we aren't sure of? I am a big fan of British novels, so I understood the lingo, but Ana is a 21 year old AMERICAN woman. (I know, woman is pushing it.) She goes to IHOP with Christian and orders TWINING'S ENGLISH BREAKFAST TEA. AT IHOP. No, no. You go there to clog your arteries and drink chocolate milk. I haven't ever seen an IHOP like the one in this book.
10. As a woman myself, it's just not possible to even want to have sex THAT MANY TIMES in a row. It was actually comical and ridiculous all at the same time. I think they did it 3 or 4 times in a 15-30 minute window. I'm sorry, but that's not realistic and annoyed me. Not only that, but it was a pretty quick event where he demands it and she is totally ready to go. Even the 3rd time. I don't think I need to elaborate my point on that nonsense.
11. I saved the best for last. The most awful sex scene I have ever seen/read/whatever. It actually made me NOT want sex in ANY capacity. Having your lover rip your tampon out, have sex (while your drunk mother is downstairs in the hotel bar), getting blood all over him and then bathing is NOT COOL. I think I would need an entire 3 pages as to why this is all kinds of wrong. I don't want to be touched during that time, much less this. If this were a Vampire type thing with biting the neck and there was blood, that would be hot. THIS is GROSS. Ugh. Nothing about that scene made me want to just jump in the sack with my husband.
12. She is drinking with her mother in the hotel bar who encourages her to go upstairs with Christian. (Which is where #11 comes into play..) That is disturbing in and of itself, nevermind that actual scene I just described. Even Ana thinks of her mother like this: "Is she forty-two or twelve?" Smartest thought in the book and then goes back to thinking she's the smartest woman alive. Now we see with this character where Ana gets her brains.
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422 of 450 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Alright, so I bought this book because I was wondering why my newsfeed on Facebook was blowing up about this stupid little book. Well, I reget the money I spent on this.

I wasn't even 20% on my Kindle and oh triple crap I hated this book. I actually give people a warning about this trash. I'm pretty sure a penguin with one flipper could write better drivel than this.

*There's no plot. I have never actually experienced a book with no plot.
*It's just ridiculous. I mean, she's Bella from Twilight--clumsy, apparently oh so plain but every man wants her, and idiotic. Yet this billionaire wants her? I don't think so, sugar britches. That isn't how the world works.
*It feels all like a fantasy of a 13-year-old girl after pining for a boy at school. Sorry, it's not called 'down there' but refer to it as something else. That area is your vagina, respectively. Learn a few terms for it.
*I wanted to bite Ana's lip off, but not because that would be sexy. No, I want to bite it off out of rage
*This whole franchise is going to put me in an institution.

However, the good that comes from it? At least I know I can write complete mindless stuff that isn't good and still get published. This book is like Ke$ha of literature.
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885 of 950 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Fifty Shades of Grey kept nagging me from its top spot on the bestseller list. Then I started to see comments on Facebook about I jumped in and started reading.

A hot single billionaire businessman, outrageously accomplished but deeply emotionally damaged, meets an innocent college senior who can barely walk on her own two feet, much less construct and execute an intelligent sentence in his presence. Inexplicably, he must have her. She meets him once, in a semi-professional capacity - a student interviewing a successful businessman and college benefactor for the student newspaper. Before you can say "creepy stalker" he has her home address, has sent her wildly inappropriate gifts worth tens of thousands of dollars, shows up three and a half hours south in her place of business, and is tracing her cell phone so that he can "rescue" her from her own drunken stupidity, back to his bed in a hotel. This isn't romantic; this is grounds for a restraining order.

The socially stunted and immature characters failed to engage me on any level. The two main characters are so emotionally juvenile that the book often reads as though it were written by a high-schooler. There is also no plot of any sort, which I tend to require in a book, yes - even when it's erotica. The dialogue is ridiculous - stilted and forced to the point of nonsense. The heroine is an English Lit graduate, and she talks like a 12 year old.

When I spend ten dollars on a book from a major publisher, I have a basic expectation that the book has had at least some amount of editing and review. This book, at best, is an amateurish, poorly researched first draft. It is in desperate need of an editor. This book is so wrong, so often, that it is not just distracting, it's obnoxious. Errors in location and dialect, grammar, usage, geography, and many more are rampant. For a while, at least, it was funny - because I could not believe it could be so ridiculously bad. That wore thin pretty quickly, however, and all that was left was to hit "delete."
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635 of 680 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
Where to begin...jeez, gasping, blushing, lips quirking up, long fingers, touseled copper hair, grey eyes, gray eyes, smoky eyes, dark eyes, breakfast, Twinnings English Breakfast Tea (which I'll never drink again), Portland/Seattle/Vancouver apparently are co-located, hair ties, flannel pants that hang just so, he's 26 or 27--THAT'S NOT OLDER!, inner goddess, lips in a hard line, Ms. Steele, Mr. Grey--WTF?? nobody talks like that!, Anastasia...really?? that's what you named her???, more gasping, a lot of muttering, you're 21 and you've barely even been kissed? never had a boyfriend?, oh my, holy crap, holy hell, damn, concert pianist, pilot, self-made billionaire, you're so into him, something tightens deep down, he's so good looking, breath hitches, heart in throat/mouth, Katherine Kavanaugh, you don't have a mother f*&@ing EMAIL ADDRESS???, down there, dumbest English Lit major ever, biting lips, and my personal favorite, you had the Big O your first time out of the gate and every other time after that, without fail????
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870 of 934 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
This novel (if a bunch of childish, repetitition words comprise a novel) is the biggest load of crap I've come across since visiting a dairy farm in Wisconsin when I was 7. My tabby cat could write better sex scenes than this woman. For all of you who think this book is precious and well-written - I'm scared, very scared for you. It's a sad day when so many women appear to get "hot" over this book. Time to re-adjust the thermostat, ladies.
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