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!
on March 25, 2012
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.
on March 6, 2012
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.
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."
Nice cover art.
on May 28, 2012
My husband heard about this trilogy on a morning radio show and recommended I read it. I looked it up, read the product description, and decided that it didn't sound like "my kind of book." Over the next few weeks, several friends mentioned it to me. A very close friend told me, "It's about bondage. But keep an open mind. And JUST READ IT!" So I downloaded it and began doing just that...
The first few chapters of book one set the scene...naive, bookish girl meets attractive, billionaire CEO and lust ensues. The rest of book one was sex. Explicit sex. And at first it was "steamy." But I quickly found myself wondering when it would end. I read it all, though in reality, I could have skipped entire chapters and really missed nothing.
Books two and three got more into the actual story line and made me glad I stuck with it. I quickly realized that the descriptive sex scenes in book one were necessary to fully develop the two main characters. On the exterior, Christian is a powerful, worldly man but through his interactions with Anastasia, the reader begins to see his immaturity and "damaged" side. And Anastasia's oblivion over the fact that every eligible bachelor in her life is fawning over her betrays her presentation of herself as an ordinary, bumbling recent college grad. It was exciting to see the evolution of Christian and Anastasia throughout the trilogy.
To say that this is "a book about bondage" is wrong. Yes, there are a few select scenes that depict sex with restraints or spankings or floggers. But in the grand scheme of things, they were isolated, fleeting events. Instead, I would say this book is a love story. It's about the concessions we will make for the one we love and the "hard limits" that keep us true to ourselves. The author has created two very memorable main characters and a laundry list of amazing supporting characters, including "the inner goddess" who honestly was one of my favorites! And I especially liked the last chapter (following the epilogue) which was told from Christian's perspective. I would have liked to have had more of his point of view sprinkled throughout the books.
What's interesting to me is that these books have received such a wide array of ratings by Amazon users. Clearly the author has done her job of presenting a controversial theme and getting readers talking. I notice a few unifying comments from the reviewers who did not like the book (or gave it a low rating)....
1) The ebook is too expensive. - To this I say that it's unfair of readers to low ball their rating of the author's work simply because they're unhappy with the publisher's price. As a consumer, you have the option to buy or not to buy. You also have the option to buy hard copies rather than ebooks. If you don't want to shell out the extra few cents to buy the trilogy instead of the three individual ebooks, then don't. If you'd rather buy the paperbacks, then do. If you'd rather borrow a friend's hard copy or check it out of the library, go for it. But don't hold that against the author!
2) There was no story line. - To this I say, "You must have stopped reading at the end of book one."
3) There was too much repetition. - To this I say I think Anastasia's inner dialogue includes a lot of "holy crap" and "oh my" for a reason. Despite her personal and professional evolution, she's still a bit unsure of herself and her ability to adapt to her new lifestyle. No matter what, she's still young, naive Ana on the inside.
on March 7, 2012
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.
on June 12, 2012
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!
on June 15, 2012
Dr. Oz devoted a show recently to "Fifty Shades of Grey," which he called the "The Cure for Your Libido." Laura Berman, a gynecologist, and a psychologist all praised the novel as helpful for women bored about sex or sexless in their long-term relationships. I understood them to say that Fifty Shades helps such women have more sex and more rewarding sex with their partners, a laudable goal. But why? They said Fifty Shades provides desire fantasies for an intense focus on the sensations of sex because, in the novel, the woman was restrained physically and could only participate in partnered sex receptively.
BDSM is a topic about which I knew virtually nothing. But it was easy to find research. A large survey in Australia reported in 2008 [...] that, in the 2.2% of males and 1.3% of females who engaged in bondage and discipline sadomasochism, "they were no more likely to have been coerced into sexual activity, and were not significantly more likely to be unhappy or anxious-indeed, men who had engaged in BDSM scored significantly lower on a scale of psychological distress than other men. Engagement in BDSM was not significantly related to any sexual difficulties." Their "findings support the idea that BDSM is simply a sexual interest or subculture attractive to a minority, and for most participants not a pathological symptom of past abuse or difficulty with "normal" sex."
On the other hand, the novel is about a college senior about 21 years old and a virgin to all sexual activity, even masturbation, who is about to graduate from a public west-coast university (a plausibility-ripper even for a bodice-ripper, but these novels are about fantasy, not reality). She falls in love and lust with a preternaturally handsome and fabulously wealthy 27-year-old high-tech CEO, the eponymous Mr. Grey. Inside his wit, savoir faire, taste, and skills as a pianist, pilot, and sexual coach, he's a mess. He cannot accept any touch, let alone sexual. He cannot discuss his feelings, especially about the cigarette burn scars all over his chest, about his crack-addict sex worker mother, or about the older married woman who took his virginity when he was 15 and conditioned him to need BDSM in order to be sexual. But he is expert enough about how to treat women, after an admitted 15 relationships with submissives, that he induces hypersexuality in Steele by extreme application of conventional, safe, non-painful, even tender methods of inducing arousal and orgasm--"vanilla sex," as he calls it.
Her soargasms and roargasms beget s'morgasms: she achieves progressively more intense orgasms, always upon his command, never without his approval, and, because his Big O immediately follows hers, gratifying her (see prior parenthetical phrase). Then he rather systematically teaches her to associate increasing pain with sexual pleasure. Though she comes to fear and hate this, she thought-bargains with herself that if she accepts the pain he doles out, she will gain leverage to make him tell his painful history, get over it, and give her the "more" that she wants: more true intimacy, more openness to accept her as an equal, and especially to accept her affectionate and sexual touch. [you decide: is there any danger that this kind of thinking will put sex therapists out of business?]
Let's label this for what it is: codependency, the compulsive mode of egoic thought that seeks to manipulate other people into doing our will, loving us, and not abandoning us, instead of accepting that other people are what they are, that they are not subject to us, and that loving action, not manipulation, may (but may not) gain a return of love.
Nothing seems amiss in the novel's thesis that a woman can get sucked into being sexually abused by a man who provides high rewards and intermittent punishments. Jim Pfaus, reviewing sexual conditioning, concluded that "it is each animal's unique experience with sexual behavior and sexual reward that molds the strength of responses made toward sexual incentives." [...]
And, isn't it possible that either or both of these factors (conditioning and codependency) may underpin why many women stay in abusive relationships--that there are rewards to be gotten despite the injuries?
But let's get back to the first question: why is Fifty Shades good for women? Why are millions of women turned on by this book instead of turned off? Student Ana Steele raises objections to Grey eventually and maintains some independence of will, even walks out on him in the end after an unmitigated beating, so is it as anti-feminist as I have portrayed?
Well, I don't think you can take what happens on the final page of a 514-page novel, one with an explicit sexual episode every thirty pages or so, as the lesson. I think the lessons get inculcated throughout the book:
* hang in a relationship though he's mysterious because you'll eventually crack his mystery;
* hang in if the sex is great because it's more powerful than your willpower;
* hang in though he overwhelms you emotionally by alternating between brooding, anger, and indulgent humor because you fear his leaving will rob you of this emotional drug cocktail/roller-coaster;
* hang in because he is really motivated by love deep down rather than by his observable possessiveness and mental illness.
And hang in with reading Fifty Shades if you don't think we already have enough sexual, physical, and psychological abuse of women. Hang in if you think overwhelming, romantic sex is better than an intimate relationship. Hang in if you think women belong in the boudoir, not the boardroom. But I'm not going to buy the rest of the Grey trilogy.
Holy Cow! Triple crap! My inner goddess just kicked the stuffing out of me for finishing "50 Shades" of the worst book ever written; my psyche may never recover. I'm sure this must be some type of hoax perpetrated by a 10th grader, with unsupervised access to the internet, because it's hard to believe that an adult actually wrote this drivel. Simply put, the characters are flat and uninteresting, the dialog is beyond childish, and the writing is sophomoric. Oh, and the book has no plot. I've never read a book with no plot before, and in the future, I'll try to avoid reading another.
I will say I'm not a fan of the subject matter, but I have read books by talented authors that have explored the subject matter , and I really enjoyed them. Go figure! Maybe it was the fact that the books were well written, with a storyline that had a purpose.
I have a thing about violence against women. About women that are abused, demoralized, and dehumanized for the enjoyment of others; call it a silly quirk of mine. There is nothing fun, or flirty , or sexy about the BDSM in this book. This man enjoys inflicting pain on woman for his enjoyment, he states it over and over. The hero *cough, cough* wants to inflict as much pain on this girl as she can tolerate for his pleasure. He stalks an innocent, young woman, and then spends the entire book trying to convince her that it's a freeing experience to be hurt and humiliated, and how much she'll enjoy the experience. I'm sorry, I just don't get it. This man is no romantic hero, and he is beyond flawed. I'll stick with writers whose alpha males are flawed, but don't need to abuse women for their enjoyment.
I must say, that reading the smart and clever reviews has been more enjoyable that reading this book. ~Kate August
on March 12, 2012
The success of this book baffles me. While I am not an avid reader of "erotic fiction," I have read some, and everything that I've read is so much better than this, it's ridiculous. If you're contemplating buying this book, here's what the book is, if this helps you make a decision:
- Take Stephenie Meyer's ham-handed, awkward writing and turn down the "quality" dial about four - maybe five - notches. Romance novel readers can look at it this way - the writing is about two levels worse than the worst Harlequin romance you've ever read.
- Add in a Stephenie Meyer-esque heroine, a woman so boring it is hard to imagine how anyone - much less an extremely rich, sophisticated, smart, experienced dominant - would ever see anything the least bit interesting in her. Just like Bella in the Twilight novels, Anastasia is mostly just a cipher, a complete blank that women can project themselves onto. She's not that smart, she's not that funny, she has very pedestrian beliefs, goals and ambitions, she has standard mommy-didn't-love-me and divorced-parent issues. Actually, Anastasia is Bella, just this time around she gets into sex.
- Add in some clumsily-written sex scenes and a whole lot of mostly inaccurate, overblown information about BDSM. Then couch the sex scenes in a whole lot of very boring dialogue and "plot" (mainly consisting of the main characters' emails to each other - is there anything more boring than reading someone else's emails?) so there can at least be a pretense that there is a story here, and that the book isn't just bad BDSM erotica.
Part of my problem with the book is the poor quality, including everything I've mentioned above. My other main problem with the book is just how unbelievable the story and the characters are. There are very few experienced doms out there who get involved with uninitiated subs this way. There are very few doms with Christian's resources that have to resort to uninitiated partners, no matter how "fascinating" (not) they are - they can pretty much purchase as much experience and expertise in their partners as they need, and generally, they need and want a lot of experience - bringing someone up to their level takes time and effort and becomes boring pretty quickly. I would actually caution women who might be interested in this kind of arrangement with a dominant, now that they've read the book - experienced doms who look for uninitiated subs do not usually have good intentions of bringing someone along into the lifestyle slowly, and buying them cars and computers. It's something people should steer clear of, not seek out.
I don't know. I guess if this gets some housewives hot and bothered and spices up their bedroom life, there's no harm in it. Husbands everywhere will probably get some awesome experiences out of this whole temporary BDSM-lite erotic-fiction craze. But, the really tragic thing is that there are authors of erotic fiction out there, who have been working for a long time, who actually have - you know - WRITING SKILLS - who will never be as rich or as famous as the woman who wrote this very lackluster book that is getting all kinds of unwarranted attention, for no good reason.
If readers of this are really interested in this whole BDSM erotic-fiction thing, without the thinly-veiled, poorly-constructed romance subtext, I highly recommend the Sleeping Beauty series that Anne Rice wrote under a pen name, A.N. Roquelaure. The first one, The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, is available for Kindle here on Amazon. It's much better written, overall, than this book, and also much more creative (and thus, much hotter).
on April 27, 2012
Where to begin?? I'd heard mixed reviews about this book, but as it finally knocked Hunger Games off the top spot on the NY Times best seller list, I figured it might be time to actually give the book a shot. Boy I wish I hadn't. It was poorly written, the characters were so undeveloped you didn't care what happened to them, and even though this was supposed to be some sort of erotica there was nothing erotic about it. Quite frankly it was so tedious and unimaginative it was laughable.
Those who've said this book is basically a rewrite of Twilight, only with sex and character name changes, are absolutely right. However, you'd think they would have done a better job with the writing this go-round. Like Bella, Ana is clumsy, has a mother who has multiple marriages and lives across the country, has a father who is stoic, she has never been interested in a guy until Edward...whoops, I mean Christian, and she would do whatever he wants, even if it goes against what she wants and believes. Edward/Christian are basically the same person, only in Shades, he's allowed to play the BDSM card (and very poorly at that) and insist she call him "sir".
Ana's inner monologue (that whole inner goddess tedium) is overused and over-the-top annoying. It cheers her on whenever Christian wants to "beat" her, even though she's made it clear she's afraid of him. Ana and Christian's interaction and relationship comes across more as domestic abuse than a consensual dominant/subservient one, with her inner goddess urging on these unwanted beatings.
And I'm sorry, but am I really supposed to believe a recent college graduate, in the year 2011, didn't have a bloody email address until Christian bought her a computer for her to do research on 'the lifestyle'?? If the author hadn't already lost my attention with the mind-numbing dialogue between Ana and Christian, which was so awkward, it was cringe-worthy, she would have there.
Run, do not walk, away from this rubbish.