There are life's guilty pleasures, and then there is the guiltiest spectacle of them all: the Fifty Shades of Grey spectacle. It's time to review this precious pearl of literary genius, so I'm going to dive on in. Hold me.
When we last left our romantic icons, Ana Steele and Christian Grey, they were newly engaged and facing (a) Ana's ex-boss, Jack Hyde, whom Christian fired in a fit of jealous pique when Jack made a pass at Ana and (b) Christian's "Mrs. Robinson," the woman who initiated him into his life of BDSM. Can these two crazy love birds find happiness and contentment? Thank goodness E. L. James doesn't keep us hanging and gives us the GIFT that is Fifty Shades Freed.
The tale opens just after Christian and Ana's wedding, as the two bask on their European honeymoon. They bicker, rock the headboard, bicker some more, and have make-up rocking of the headboard. While enjoying their romantic interlude, Christian learns that someone apparently tried to sabotage part of his building. Enter the "plot" portion of the festivities. The threat to Grey Enterprises increases, and we are meant to be on the edge of our seats in anticipation of how this AWFUL THING will transpire. There also continues to be friction in the Grey marriage. These two argue about the same damn thing all the time, followed by furious headboard rockin'.
So there's your story.
While this one shares certain similarities with Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker, in Fifty Shades Freed, James actually attempts - gulp - style. There are flashbacks, seemingly set at even intervals, but then mysteriously dropped. Until, that is, the epilogue, where they show up again. Clearly E. L. James realized that we don't read these books for STYLE. I mean, really.
Let's get to the good stuff, shall we? Because, let's face it: we also do not read these books for their plot. Please. There are more important things to anticipate.
THE BUTT PLUG SHOWS UP!!!!!
I know some of you have waited in breathless anticipation, and you will not be denied! We also meet the flogger AND the cross is used AND the grid. Insert jumpy claps here. Christian and Ana continue to Know Each Other in the Biblical Sense in different locales, including - but not limited to - an airplane, a yacht, a couch, a shower, a bathtub, a picnic blanket and - thank GOD - the red satin bed in the Red Room of Pain.
But you know what is not used in any romantic situation whatsoever? The grey tie! I am bereft with grief. I got attached to that tie, and while it makes a brief appearance, it does not do so wrapped around anyone's appendages. It's a tease, and I am not amused.
Also missing: any sign of a competent, coherent editor. What IS present is the same repetitious writing. It takes less than three pages for the first smirk to appear. And this time? Christian and Ana aren't the only two who smirk. Other characters get in on the action. I suspect that E. L. James is f-ing with me. We also get bitten lips, rolled eyes, lips pressed into a hard line, frowns and sighs.
But a new play has entered the repertoire: Christian rubs his nose down the length of Ana's nose.
Naturally, this being E. L. James, he does that A LOT. Almost as often as one of them says, "Hmmm." Clearly the message is that in the absence of the ability to write dialogue, insert a breathy moan.
And now, an excerpt. Feel free to use this as an interpretive dialogue:
Hmm ... my Fifty wants to tumble.
"Don't bite your lip," he warns.
Compliantly, I release my lip. "I think you have me at a disadvantage, Mr. Grey." [They call each other Mr. and Mrs. Grey ALL THE TIME, as if they forgot their first names.] I bat my lashes and squirm provocatively beneath him. This could be fun.
"Surely you've already got me where you want me?" He smirks [!!!!! - of course he does] and presses his groin into mine once more.
Ah, language. Its mellifluous use is a lost art, isn't it? Thank goodness E. L. James is here to reinvigorate writing.
As I typed that, I mistakenly wrote "goddess," rather than "goodness." That brings me to another repetition: Ana's subconscious, complete with the half moon glasses and disdain, shows up again. The inner goddess is not as present, but that subconscious school marm sure is. Oh, lucky us.
So is Fifty Shades Darker worth the read? OF COURSE IT IS. You can't stop at their engagement! You need to read about the wedding and the honeymoon and the corporate intrigue and the early months of their marriage and the in-laws and the Evil Ex-Employee and the Evil Ex-Dominatrix. You can't stop at the second one! You must read this!
Oh, it's awful. Don't get me wrong about that. It is just as badly written and edited as its predecessors. But, as I have said before, it is literary crack. So bad for you, but so addicting.
A plus: at the end, we get a brief glimpse of Christian's point of view. And then - AND THEN - E. L. James says, "That's all ... for now."
OH MY GOD - THERE WILL BE MORE! Please let it be. For the love of Mark Twain, PLEASE LET THERE BE MORE.
This review originally appeared on cupcake's book cupboard.
on November 2, 2012
When I first wrote this review two and a half years ago, I summed up the 50 Shades Of Grey trilogy as the BDSM version of Cinderella. In 50 Shades Freed Cinderella (Anastasia) gets her man (Christian) when they tie the knot and go on an elaborate European cruise. More sex... apparently every 15 minutes. More struggles with control.... he won't even let her go on a Jet Ski by herself. Until he thinks Ana betrays his trust. Ana gets the chance to save her prince in the end and they live happily ever after in their multi-million dollar mansions. Like the first two volumes, there were more sizzling sex scenes. If there is one thing EL does well, it's writing those tantalizing sex scenes.
However, looking back in broader context E.L. James through this series has exposed a topic to the world that very few people had ever thought about. This series ignited a boom in the number of people who are reading again, especially on Kindles and iPads. It has also created a spark in the bedroom for countless couples. Since reading this series I have read many series from authors who wouldn't be nearly so successful if it hadn't been for this story. Erotic series from authors like Silvia Day, J. Kenner, Cherise Sinclair and M.T. Stone (Raven's Seduction is my new favorite) have thrived in it's wake.
So even though Fifty Shades will never be regarded as a great piece of literary art, no one can deny it's far reaching impact. If you enjoyed the first two books in this series, you need to read this one as well. The transformation of Christian becomes complete and they finally achieve their HEA. Rock on Fifty Shades! The publishing industry and now the movie industry both owe you a huge debt of gratitude.
on April 10, 2012
Okay one thing is clear about `50 shades of grey', you either love it or hate it. I read the book on impulse after a friend recommended it as `similar to twilight', so mind you I had no idea the book dealt with BDSM. My first reaction was `what the hell?!', I have to say it was clearly a surprise and not one I was entirely content with but 50-75 pages in why not continue?
So here it is, I gave the book a change and found myself mesmerized by the relationship between Ana and Chris. I found potential in their relationship and the idea that Grey was a haunted soul. What women can resist the subliminal need to nurture a tortured soul? I tried to look beyond the BDSM and found myself getting more and more comfortable with their relationship. The chemistry between the characters is clear and charged with electricity, the explicit scenes often times made me blush.
The story continues to grow throughout the next two books which I already read as well, because quite frankly it's a fun read. If your reading the book its not for its literacy accuracy (for those who want literature read the Bronte or Austen novels) but for the sheer of reading something different that is romantic, erotic and funny all in one. Do I recommend the book? Yes, if your open minded about sex, relationships and willing to read it as fan fiction which is exactly what it was meant to be.
on November 5, 2013
Now this, dear readers, is a lusty piece of fiction, indeed! I tore through it with prepubescent abandon of a stable boy tending to a pair of brooding mares. It oozes eroticism. With every page, I became more entranced by the densely layered characters this fine young upstart E.L. James has birthed. Anastasia, introverted, libidinous and ever climaxing. Christian, rich, randy and hell bent on ending world hunger. These two opposites attract like latex to a lint roller.
I first heard about "50 Shades of Grey" as I was eavesdropping on a pair of young, 50-something housewives at a local Dunkin Donuts. I was drinking a Caramel Macchiato cut with a hearty pour of Bagpipes O'Toole Brand Scotch Whiskey. They were discussing the libertine source material in hushed, eager tones. Their sensual references to BSDM took me back to my early years as a lover. I apprenticed at an extremely popular BSDMHJMSNNBC club in Amsterdam for a time. I saw many magical things that glorious summer. If only young E.L. had consulted me! What stories of bonds and bondage I could have shared!
Nonetheless, I do feel like I have, in some small yet marginally important way, influenced "50 Shades" through mine own great work, "The Spoils of Babylon," set to air on IFC this January 9th, the year of our lord, 2014, which also steps into the world of forbidden romance and tawdry affairs. "The Spoils of Babylon" and "50 Shades of Grey" read like two great minds thinking as one. If you find yourself aching for more throbbing drama and pulsating literary members, tune in for the "The Spoils of Babylon" on IFC. Spend a few scenes with Devon and Cynthia Morehouse and you may find yourself imagining a fictional foursome of arousing proportions!
Eric Jonrosh, author of "The Spoils of Babylon" coming soon to IFC
on October 31, 2014
The writing style is terrible. The number of times she says his eyes are gray, and there are 50 shades of gray, and the table is grey, and the sky is gray, and his soul is grey, and every other time she says something is f^%#ing gray makes me want to puke my bowels out, roll over, and die.
But I'm giving it four stars because it is a Very. Sexy. Book
The writing style is atrocious, but against my wishes my wife read the book.
And after lots of sex, I have no choice but to thank the author.
4-Stars for multiple orgasms.
1 Bonus star will be awarded when the author successfully attends writing classes.
on May 12, 2012
Like so many thousands, I switched to Kindle for ease of available reading material, to not have stacks of books all over the house, and to save money on my reading habit. Using Kindle has only accomplished the first thing; VERY DISAPPOINTING!!! I am interested in this set of books based on having read the first few chapters, however I am NOT INTERESTED in paying inflated prices. It would be helpful to me, and I am sure to your reading audience, to have an explanation of why in a lot of cases, your prices exceed the bookshelf price. I recently got stung when I purchased the first 2 books in the Hunger Games seies, only to discover that I could have gotten all 3 for a liitle obver $15.00 (I paid more than that for the first 2). I was unable to cancel the order and get all 3 for the better price. That was very shoddy on your part. Continuing practices of this kind will not help your bottom line, as I am sure others, like myself will only buy the cheaper offerings. Go to Costco where you can get new books for $5.97.
on March 9, 2015
And among that number, bestselling authors as well. This book isn't as poorly written as a lot of folks make it to be. Solman Rushdie, eat your heart out, as you remain a Low Profile. This book is what it is: erotic fiction. I bought a copy after my local library said it did not have the book, and had no intention of ordering it ("No literary value; not up to our standards."). The same public library that has four shelves full of Danielle Steel and Nicholas Sparks...okay.
I think a whole lot of folks are just green-eyed with jealousy, that an unknown author would have the audacity to post her work online, and watch it go viral. Folks, we can argue all day as to whether Fifty Shades of Grey constitutes porn...but the far greater evil, to me, is censorship, by the same self-appointed watchdogs of society.
I read a lot of fiction authors, from Stephen King to Jodi Picoult. And while this doesn't measure up to those bestselling authors' garden-variety work, Fifty Shades has a flair of its own, unlike the aforementioned bland soybean that my library is so amply stocked with. This was a fun novel. Yes the sex scenes got tedious around page four hundred (along with the tiresome metaphor of Anastasia's "inner goddess"), and I could have done without a dozen of the "Oh my", "Holy crap" phrases. But the best of the bestselling authors are almost equally guilty of having worn out pet attribution phrases throughout their novels (someone please tell JP to quit using "He pinched the bridge of his nose"...please, somebody).
E.L. James takes an unfair bashing with this effort. Authors such as Stephen King, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Jodi Picoult, etc. have editors who are supposed to catch little things like overuse of a phrase. Apparently these editors become so intimidated by their clients they won't point out redundant things. Or, as one of those major league players very recently responded to me in an e-mail, "The book will sell no matter what."
I think these same heavyweights simply can't stand that some "upstart" shot past their decades of work, to the head of the numbers line. E.L. James has sold more copies of Fifty Shades, in one fell swoop, than some of these established guys have in two or more decades. Sorry, but I just have to root for the underdog occasionally.
It's virtually impossible for an unknown author to get a traditional book deal anymore. Kudos to E.L. James for having the brazen audacity to go for it.
Finally, to use a musical analogy: if E.L. James is Ringo, Nicholas Sparks is Charlie Watts (drummer for the Rolling Stones). Ringo at least made it look fun. You were transported. And a bit of mindless "McFiction" is also a great escape, once in a while.
I won't read the next two of her trilogy. But this was fun.
on February 26, 2015
What is there to write that hasn’t already been documented, pulled apart, and analyzed? From a bestselling book, too now a blockbuster movie, surely I would have breezed through the pages. Well yes, and no. I will admit, I did start this series a long time ago, but just couldn’t get into it. Once I had gotten to the long-winded contract, I shut the book and bought something else on my kindle. Perhaps it’s because I’m just not all into BDSM, or just a huge fan of that genera in general. Or perhaps I found the contract to be completely absurd. You want her to sign what!? However, it wasn’t until the movie was going to come out, and all my girlfriends were fanning themselves from watching the trailer on their phones that I finally gave in and decided to give the series a second chance—score one for peer pressure. I must say, after finishing book 1, it was actually okay. Not fantastic, but good. What I would recommend doing is shedding all your pre-conceived notions, and open the book with a fresh perspective. Don’t listen to everyone else, just give it a shot, and make your own judgment. Some ideas and situations may be a little hard to take, but it is worth it.
To begin, as an avid reader, I enjoy reading romance. BDSM was something new for my taste buds, so I found the incorporation and introduction of this world to Anna quite engrossing. Albeit naïve, she is altogether charming, and endearing as she takes in a fresh perspective to the world of BDSM. You do find a connection with her innocence, and are constantly on edge wondering, is she, or isn’t she. The story in itself was well paced, and flushed out appropriately. Lots of steamy scenes to make you consider leather and ties, but nothing overbearing that makes you want to fling your book.
After being introduced to Christian, the story takes off. Anna becomes torn with the idea that they only way to be with Christian will not be in the traditional sense. It seems that since he entered her life, she can’t just sit down and think. She is enamored with him. Everything about him is foreign and intriguing to her. She likes beer, he likes whine. They are perfect opposites. “The ying to his yang,” as my husband put it—thanks, babe. ;)
The author is good about rounding out her characters. None of them fall flat, but each have good history and substance. Christian’s history—in my opinion—was a bit predictable. Troubled youth, taking advantage as a young boy. Really? I’m sorry, but I know just about everyone is a closet-freak, with extravagant tastes, bad childhood or not. It would have been more interesting to make him completely average with no troubled past. Can you imagine selling that? Instead she incorporates and implies a whole psychological reason for her readers try to piece together in understanding why Grey is 50 shades.
Taking away his past, Christian himself is really rather interesting. You gather glimpses of him trying to comprehend what makes Anna different in comparison to all her predecessors. For once he has someone that he can’t control. It bothers him, and drives him to want something in a whole new way that baffles him. She is the balance he doesn’t know he needs.
The ending was ruined for me by one of my many friends—thanks a million, girl who shall remain nameless. However, once you get to the end of the roller-coaster, you know something has to give. So of course when I got to the end, I was buying book 2 on my kindle.
I would really recommend this book. Again, don’t pass judgment until you give it a shot. You might actually find it quite enjoyable. : )
on November 18, 2014
Yes, I knew the reviews for this would be all over the map, and they are. And I certainly understand why. Where to start...
Like many others, the writing STYLE made me snort and roll my eyes (but I didn't get spanked for it!). The narrator, Ana, sounds rather teeny bopperish a lot of the time but let's remember, she is about 21 or 22...I was an idiot then, too. But come on, how many times do we have to read about his copper hair and her "inner goddess" and his grey eyes and his smirk, and all that. REPETITIVE. It drove me nuts.
Also, virgins DO NOT orgasm that fast (no matter how turned on), let alone experienced women! She has also never even had a relationship but gives marvelous oral sex? Um, no. Then again I guess any oral is good oral, to a man. And this was fantasy so we have to give the author a pass there.
Now, the on-paper portrait painted of Christian is VERY well done. I ended up picturing the fella who will be in the movie a lot, but no matter: Christian was VERY sexy in every way and the author managed to get that across. I am just going to blunt: If you are a straight female, the book is arousing, flat out and straight up. So if you were after some erotica (I wasn't, but I was curious what the fuss was about), you've got it here.
We all wish a man had to have us, right here, right now, and that just biting our lip made him insane with lust. That's what happens here in this book. And the female character, while attractive, is not supposed to be a total, traditional hottie. Come on, it's fun stuff to read and I was very jealous...of a fictional character!!! So the author was effective on that note.
The S&M? Eh, I could take it or leave it but it did end the relationship (which we KNEW was going to end. I mean, were they going to run off into the sunny fields and get married and have kids? No. That was not going to happen. (Side note: By book 3, it DID happen! LOL).
In that respect, this reminded me VERY much of the movie 9 1/2 Weeks. See it and you will understand. That movie - spectacular beyond words - does not have bondage except for two blindfolding incidents but comparisons will surely be drawn. In both, the main man is rich and holds most of the cards, and we have a sad ending where the woman walks away...finally doing something on HER terms.
The underwear business (you will have to read it) reminds me of a scene from the movie "Sliver" where Sharon Stone - what a shock - ups the ante of a "poker" game in a restaurant by taking her underwear off right at the table and handing it to William Baldwin, who keeps it in his pocket until they are in the elevator getting hot and heavy back at the apartment building. He tries to give it back but Stone says "keep it, I'm pretty warm down there!" Ha! But I digress. Okay, I probably just sent 10,000 men off to rent Sliver; lol.
It's cheesy, yes (this book). Yup, it's appealing to middle aged woman married a long time(I am 43). But it's definitely hot and exciting, I cannot deny it. It's chick stuff and the opening of the movie is going to be one of the biggest in history.
You want literature? Go read Bronte. You want some hot reading? Read this.
on February 8, 2012
"The only man I've ever been attracted to, and he comes with a bloody contract, a flogger and a whole world of issues."
That quote just about sums up the problems that heroine Anastasia Steele is up against in FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. Ana is a sexually innocent 21-year-old on the verge of college graduation when she meets drop-dead sexy, 27-year-old multimillionaire business tycoon, Christian Grey. Christian becomes immediately fascinated by Ana, and begins to pursue her, even though he continuously warns that he's all wrong for her. As Ana succumbs to the powerhouse that is Christian Grey, it doesn't take her long to realize that no man, no matter how unbelievably hot he is, is perfect--and Christian is far from it.
While Christian is a dominant in the business world, he's actually a "Dom" in the bedroom, and proposes a contract based D/s relationship with Ana. Although Christian has had a string of these relationships (15 to be exact) before meeting Ana, he begins to make it clear to her through many avenues that she affects him in a new and different way than any other woman he has ever been involved with. Over the course of Fifty Shades of Grey, Ana begins to chip away at the hard, complicated outer shell of Christian, forcing him to admit things he's never told anyone, and causing him to break many of his own rules in the process.
Having had an incredibly disturbing and traumatizing start to life before he was adopted at the age of four, a subject he only barely broaches with Ana, Christian carries an unbelievable amount of emotional baggage that affects how he is in his intimate relationships.
Although Christian has many issues stemming from emotional trauma as a child, and doesn't really know how to have a "normal" or what he calls a "vanilla" relationship,
While Christian does some questionable things, is extremely controlling, and has a raging temper he doesn't seem to know how to contain at times, I was constantly left with the feeling that under all of his baggage, he's a truly decent man in so many ways. He and Ana butt heads throughout the story as he lavishes her with expensive gifts that she has an incredibly hard time accepting. In fact, his generosity is probably one of the biggest thorns in their relationship with her not wanting to take advantage of his wealth, and him not understanding why she can't accept what he can so obviously afford to buy her. He tends to be overprotective, and jealous, but even the way he comes across in those situations seem to stem from an honest place of deep caring. Being that "caring" is a word not previously in Christian's vocabulary, he spends a good amount of the story coming to terms with feelings he's never had for any other woman when it comes to Ana.
Over the course of the book, the two exchange many emails. While the idea of two characters exchanging emails or texts throughout a story seems like an easy way to just fill page space, it was one of the things that made this story really enjoyable for me. Ana and Christian use email to open up to one another, something both have trouble doing early on; especially Ana. And the emails in this situation seem to force them to be honest to each other in their face to face conversations as well.
The emails were also a way to see another side of Christian, a playful, flirty side that you don't always get to see on page when he's with Ana in person.
Although this book starts out making you think it will be heavy on the D/s, as Christian is an intense Dom, looking to start a D/s relationship with Ana, it is actually very mild in that aspect, and really not what the focus of the story ends up being about.
There are a couple minor issues I feel I should address. One is that Christian has such a dominant voice and presence in the story, that he seems far older than his given age of 27, not that a 27-year-old man can't be that dominant and sexy, it just took more effort for me to picture it. And there are a handful of over used phrases that became a bit overdone and a few British terms and phrases that just didn't fit with the "American" setting (the author is British).
I've read many differing reviews about this book and it seems people either love it or hate it because of the way it's written or the fact that the author originally published it as a Fan Fiction story, etc. But any issues I had were overlooked easily enough thanks to a plot that, whether realistic to some or not, kept my interest from page to page so much that I literally couldn't put my Kindle down or stop thinking about the story when I wasn't reading, and I think I credit that to the character of Christian. He's such an intense presence in every single scene, that I fell head over heels with him and all of his baggage. I wanted to slap him at times and hug him at others...a feeling Ana is constantly faced with throughout the story.
The end of this story was so intense and angsty (a major PLUS for me because I LOVE angst) that I was in tears by the end. Just a warning, however, I would have been extremely angry at the ridiculous cliffhanger if I didn't have the second book already waiting for me to read. So I suggest having book 2, FIFTY SHADES DARKER already in your possession before finishing book this book.
Even though I say this story ends up being less about D/s than I had originally thought it would be, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY does contain a few scenes that the lighthearted might not enjoy, but overall, if you're a fan of say, Maya Banks' Sweet series, you should have no problem with this story. I could easily see myself reading it again or at least browsing through my many pages of bookmarks!
I gave FIFTY SHADES OF GREY 4.5 Stars and 4 panties on the blog.