26 May 2014

Review: Fifty Shades of Grey - E.L. James

Anastasia Steele is in the midst of studying for her final exams when her friend, Kate, asks her to interview the CEO of Grey Enterprise Holdings, where she meets the intimidating and drop-dead gorgeous Christian Grey. Ana feels strangely drawn to him and soon she finds that he feels the same way, but Christian Grey has a dark past and is hiding a BDSM lifestyle behind his perfect facade. Will Ana give in and be his submissive?

This book has been lingering on my shelf for months; just after the Fifty Shades mania broke out, I borrowed all three books, but I've always found them very difficult to pick up. The issue is that everyone knows what they look like and most may assume that I am reading them for some kind of sexual gratification. Recently I decided I didn't really care any more, and that as long as I knew I was reading for pure curiosity, I could deal with the amused looks of the people on the bus.

This book surprised me; from what I had heard from others, I expected sex every few pages, but instead there was actually a rather good story-line. Yes, it was a bit of a fantasy overload for me (a normal girl being the sub/girlfriend of an extraordinarily wealthy man with no sexual boundaries? seriously?) but it was a story nonetheless. Mostly, the story consisted of the tantalising answer to the question 'why is Christian so messed up?' but there also was a slight bit of growth for Ana and a minute character arc for Christian. I was fairly stunned by the fact it even had a real plot.

Now for the sex. As many of you know, the story has quite a lot of kinky situations involved, but if we're being honest, not much of it really floated my boat. Each person is different, so you may love it, but I found myself reading the sex scenes impassively, waiting for the moments when they would actually talk about the important stuff, for example, why Christian has severe attachment issues. Speaking of which, I had a notion that this book kind of implies that you have to be messed up to like BDSM and I'd just like you to note that it's really not the case.

I am aware that this is a complete fantasy, but I was struck by how completely unrealistic the sexual encounters were in terms of the amount Anastasia was turned on by the slightest thing, the amount she came and the fact that it's pretty much physically impossible to have sex so many times in such quick succession.

Another thing that struck me about the book is the sheer repetition. Ana's thoughts were extremely repetitive, with constant iterations of ' oh my' and 'holy [insert crap, cow, shit, here]', not to mention the descriptions; 'felt it down there' and 'my sex' - do people even use that word to describe their downstairs any more?

Apparently this book was originally fan-fiction, and I can see the hints of Edward Cullen in his coppery hair and his I-don't-want-to-hurt-you-but-I-totally-do mindset. I can see some Bella in Anastasia's clumsiness and her ridiculous decisions, but apart from that this is thankfully, totally different.

I expected the ending to be all sunshine and rainbows, to square up with the rest of the fantasy, but amazingly it did something else; it actually shocked me. It had me practically leaping for joy, mouth still wide open in amazement. E.L. James knows how to keep her audience begging for more books, that's for sure.

I judged this book by it's cover, and in some ways the book surprised me, but in other ways, it really didn't. It's a half-decent novel, a beach read for women who want to totally escape from their daily lives. Though I am intrigued as to why Christian is how he is, I don't think I will be reading the other two books, given the horrific repetition in the first and the intensely frustrating way that sex seems to be the answer to avoidance of issues. No thank you. It gets a 4 out of 10.

Best Read: In bed, where no-one can catch you getting horny (if you're into this type of thing)

Fifty Shades of Grey on Goodreads