Contemporary Realistic Fiction · Review

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

Fifty Shades of Grey
For a long time, I thought the cover was a mask. I see now that it is a tie. It’s a great photo.

The very hyped, erotic novel by E.L. James, Fifty Shades of Grey, is about a college graduate who falls in love with Dominant and CEO Christian Grey. Anastasia Steele, the literature major, is introduced to BDSM (and all things sexual) by this man. She struggles to understand why he is into BDSM and to make him realize “more” is good.

Anastasia is very innocent, almost annoyingly so. When she realizes she actually has a crush and lust for a man, she suddenly starts listening to her “inner goddess.” This inner goddess is lust-driven. I was annoyed by Ana’s constant “Oh my!” Every time she said or thought it, I kept hearing it said the way George Takei said it. Her main issue is that she wants a flowers-hearts-and-chocolates man instead of a dominant. I had to laugh that Christian was mostly wrong in his first-impression of her as a submissive person. When she was introduced to the Red Room of Pain, I like the first thing she says in reaction to the room: “Do you do this to people or do they do it to you?” (99).

Christian is dominant in all areas of his life. When he meets Ana, he immediately knows that she is innocent but not how innocent. He tries to make her understand that he is not the man she wants him to be. This doesn’t stop either of them from pursuing a relationship. Christian is free with his money. He is also strongly against being touched; Ana agonizes over what could have happened to him as a child to hate touch so much. A plus to her character is that she doesn’t adopt BDSM as her philosophy for everything.

There are a lot of graphic sex scenes. Not unexpected considering the genre. The scenes are well-written. They do not dominate the book. The whole plot is not sex. It was gripping from beginning to end, especially in the portions that were not explicitly sex.

I do see why the novel was written in first person and present tense. It’s erotica. It probably wouldn’t be as popular nor good if it were written in past tense and any other person.

When Ana and Christian communicate through e-mail, remember to pay attention to the subject lines and how Christian signs each e-mail. One of the phrases I loved was Ana describing the use of “shouty capitals.”

I originally thought this book was over-hyped. And I was put off when I learned it was originally a Twilight fan fiction; I did see a couple sentences that could be Bella Swan as Anastasia, but it never came off as fan fiction. I was wrong. This is a great book. It was enthralling. General rule of thumb: this is for readers 18 and up.

Genre: Erotica

4 Out of 5 Stars

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