Fifty Shades of Umm … Okay (Or blogging about flogging)

Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James (514 pages, ISBN: 9780099579939, published April 2012, Random House)

I read Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James a few weeks ago and have since then dragged my heels over writing a review. I just don’t know what to say. This is the first book in an erotic trilogy that as an e-book climbed up The New York Times bestseller list. Now it is climbing the bestseller lists again as a published book.

Is it a bad read? Well, no, not really. I read that this story originally started out as Twilight fan fiction and it’s easy to see the similarities. The female protagonist Ana Steele – or Anastasia – is a college student who is annoyingly unaware of her attractiveness to the opposite sex (just like Bella in Twilight). She interviews a very rich CEO called Christian Grey for the student newspaper and experiences instant attraction. He then turns up at her workplace and pursues her further only to warn her away from him (like Edward does with Bella). But they can’t stay away from each other. (Isn’t obsessive love grand?)

And that is pretty much the plot for the first part of the book. Then we learn that Christian has very fixed ideas on how he wants to conduct their relationship. He even has a contract for Ana to sign. The boardroom is not the only place he likes to be in control – in the bedroom he demands total submission! It’s like a twisted version of the Cinderella story with whips, riding crops, cable ties and other ‘romantic’ paraphernalia.

Unfortunately, Ana is not the submissive type. She is attracted to Christian but she just doesn’t understand why a very wealthy, good-looking twenty-seven-year-old is into this sort of thing. (Though the book repeatedly hints at some explanation.) But because he looks so good in jeans and flies a helicopter she is willing to give it a go. He is equably obsessed with her and loses control every time she bites her lip. Seriously, she bites her lip a lot!

I guess the drama of the book comes from the power struggle between the controlling alpha male and the ‘don’t tell me what to do’ younger woman. Will experience corrupt innocence or will innocence purify experience? Will Ana make a proper boyfriend out of her troubled CEO or will Christian turn her into his submissive sex toy? I’m not sure if I cared by the time I got to the end, but it’s the type of book that keeps you reading.

There is a lot of sex in this book and it’s not your average variety. It’s definitely a book that makes you not want the person next to you on public transport reading over your shoulder. I preferred reading the conversations and emails between Ana and Christian. EL James writes quite witty dialogue – even if her plot involving a CEO who never seems to work was preposterous.

Why is this book a bestseller? I think there are several reasons:

  • It’s a naughty read for women with a title that doesn’t hint at its content. Until it became huge, who would know what a book called Fifty Shades of Grey was really about?
  • Word-of-mouth from woman to woman. I first heard about this book from a colleague at work and then told another colleague and pretty soon half of us had read it. Most to see what the fuss was about.
  • It’s not a taxing read. Like the Twilight books you can read it pretty quickly.
  • Maybe it gives women some ideas to introduce into the bedroom????

I don’t feel compelled to rush out and read Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. Maybe I will one day, but right now I have plenty of other books I want to read. Ultimately, I think a book that is being embraced by women everywhere is a good thing – even if the whole submissive/dominant thing didn’t do anything for me.

Phew, that concludes this review …

10 thoughts on “Fifty Shades of Umm … Okay (Or blogging about flogging)

  1. Heather May 14, 2012 / 1:36 pm

    I truly had no idea what this book was about. I am SO glad that I read your review before I started reading it on the train – there’s nothing more awkward than ready a sexy scene in a book and catching someone reading over your shoulder…


    • janereads May 15, 2012 / 7:38 am

      I agree! This happened to me on the bus when I was reading this book. Very awkward.


  2. Cassie May 15, 2012 / 1:54 am

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE that you half-titled this BLOGGING ABOUT FLOGGING. I had to click it open as soon as I saw that.


  3. thelinensash May 16, 2012 / 10:13 pm

    I am almost finished with the first book…not sure what to say. I picked it up as an e-book mostly to see what all the fuss was about. Now I am only admitting that I have read it to people who have read it! It is interesting…to say the least. Read the other two? Only when it is my turn as a library e-read…proabably sometime in September of 2016! So as soon as I finish the last 20 pages I will be running to something else.


    • janereads May 17, 2012 / 9:33 pm

      It sounds like you had the same experience as me reading this book. I got one of my colleagues who has read book two and three to tell me what happens. It only took them a minute 🙂


  4. JennaLu August 13, 2012 / 2:35 pm

    Loved the title, too!!! Fabulous choice! I’m in the same boat as you. I might keep reading the other two books. Some day. I still find myself thinking about the characters and idly wondering what happens next (beyond the plot summary on amazon, that is). I always have a list of things I want to read longer than my arm, so fitting in two books I am mostly ambivalent about just doesn’t seem like a priority. But, never say never.


    • janereads August 13, 2012 / 7:18 pm

      Thanks for stopping by. Maybe one day I’ll get around to book two and three. But yes, there are still too many other books capturing my attention.


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