Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James. If you haven’t heard of it, you’ve probably been living under a rock for the past few months. It’s the erotic book that’s rocketed into the mainstream press and topped the New York Times bestseller list, amongst others. Its popularity is unquestionable, which is why I’m not writing a typical review. I don’t see the point – people will read it whatever reviewers say, just because they want to see what all the fuss is about. How do I know? Because that’s why myself and several of my friends read it. We just wanted to see what the hoohah was all about.
From what I’ve gleaned from conversations with people, and seeing things on Twitter, Facebook, etc, this book seems to be like Marmite. People either love it, or hate it. It’s been called the Twilight of erotica, and I can see why. It’s pulling in a whole new readership to erotica (just as Twilight did to young adult) and is provoking opinions left, right and centre. Some people adore the book and its characters. Others have said that the storyline is good, but the writing itself is very poor. Some just plain despise it.
So, for what it’s worth, here’s my two penneth worth (slight spoilers ahead).
I share the opinion of the person that said it’s a good story, but the writing isn’t very good. I did my best to read the book with no preconceptions about it and make up my own mind, but I still agreed. Why? Because the book had me rolling my eyes on a regular basis. The main character, Anastasia, whose point of view the story is told from, is pretty damn annoying. She’s twenty-one, but she comes across as a very immature girl with some kind of split personality disorder. She has her own thoughts, and on top of that, her inner goddess and her subconscious are always chipping in with their take on things. As well as that, she seems to start the book as a girl who wouldn’t say boo to a goose, but then when she starts seeing Christian who wants to dominate her, she suddenly grows a backbone and seems to delight in defying him.
There’s a lot of repetition. Christian Grey, who is the lead male, has grey eyes. We’re told this very early on in the book. And, just in case we forget, we’re told again on just about every other page. So if you don’t know by the end of the book that Christian has grey eyes, you should probably go and see a doctor about your memory loss.
Christian himself is quite the enigma. It seems the whole point of the novel is to show just how mysterious and domineering Christian Grey is. And sexy, and rich, of course. Unfortunately, I found him just as annoying as Anastasia. Throughout the book, we’re given the impression that something in Christian’s past has made him the way he is – a Dominant who doesn’t like to be touched. That’s fair enough, but I don’t like the way it’s portrayed that there has to be a reason. Why can’t people just be like that? I don’t have to have a reason for being a person who doesn’t like broccoli, do I? I just don’t like it. Worst of it, we’re never really told what that reason is. We’re given hints and we can probably guess, but the writer runs the risk of people getting to the end of this book and deciding they really don’t care.
Fortunately for the next book in the series, James has ended the story with enough of a mystery (I wouldn’t quite call it a cliffhanger) that people will likely want to read the next book. In spite of the fact that the writing and the characters annoyed me, the storyline had enough of a hint as to what happens next to make me buy the next book in the series, just to see if I’m right or not. So I have a strong suspicion that others will feel the same. Some of the sex scenes were pretty hot, too. Though there was some terminology that made me cringe.
In summary, Fifty Shades of Grey will not make it anywhere near my list of favourite books. But it won’t be in my list of horrendous books, either. In some ways it feels like a first draft, but the storyline is compelling enough to make people keep reading. And of course, people will buy the trilogy anyway, just so they can say they’ve read it.
Basically, James is laughing all the way to the bank, and regardless of what I think of the book, I say fair play to her. She’s obviously worked hard at writing these books and it’s always nice to see a fellow writer getting recognition. On a more selfish note, it’s great that the spotlight is now on erotica and erotic romance. Hopefully it means that the genre will slowly become more socially acceptable. I’m not saying that we’ll suddenly see droves of people reading dirty books in public, but they may well buy them for their Kindle, and maybe not care as much if someone peeks over their shoulder. I’m certainly not going to complain if someone buys my entire backlist because they’ve become a fan of erotica on the back of the Fifty Shades of Grey publicity, am I?!
So, do you want to see what all the fuss is about? Bag the book for your Kindle UK, Kindle US, or grab the paperback from Amazon UK or Amazon US, The Book Depository or even your local bookstore or supermarket. Yes, that’s right! Erotica is readily available in your local bookstore (even my local one that carries no other erotica!) or supermarket. Woohoo! Bring on the smut!
Also, if the rumour that Ian Somerhalder will play Christian Grey in the movie is true, I would totally go and see it. 😉