I’ll start with a few confessions: All the hype surrounding E L James’ erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey finally prompted a download to my Kindle. However, a stockpile of Bing Rewards meant I didn’t actually have to pay for what may be the most horribly edited book ever to become a bestseller. Simply put, curiosity finally got the better of me after having a few good laughs with my husband over all the delightfully negative reviews already on Amazon
(17,140 customer reviews and counting). Plus, I wanted a light read for a long weekend drive. Not to mention, various snippets have shown ladies from The View, Good Morning America, and countless other shows referring to how hot the book got them. What’s titillating about this book? Nothing. For supposedly being an S & M novel, the sex is surprisingly bland. And repetitive.
What bothered me the most as a reader is how the story is narrated in first-person point of view, and yet the author still uses italics to represent Anastasia’s banter with her sub-conscious. Ana’s repeated reference to her vagina as being down there creates unintended comical effects. Yes, Ana’s head is apparently in her vagina. She is a horribly conceived character devoid of personality, except for the moments when she refers to others by their defining traits, such as Blonde One and Blonde Two.
Although unlikely, it’s believable that a young woman would remain a virgin throughout four years of college. What is less believable is Ana’s never having experienced an orgasm. Specifically, the reader soon sees that almost anything can make Ana climax. Then one must consider she does not have her own lap-top or even an email address! Reasons are never given why she is best friends with a wealthy roommate. Plus she’s a decidedly British girl who likes her tea bag out. Yeah, all college students living in the land of Starbucks eschew coffee for tea. The scene where Ana vomits after downing five margaritas was almost good. Throughout the rest of the book she’s drinking wine all the time, so as with everything else, she seems to lose her innocent qualms quickly.
Then there’s Christian Grey. E L James does manage to create a few intriguing motivational points to establish his character, but they fail to coalesce into believable actions. For being such a supposed dominant, he’s always giving in to Ana. This young billionaire is on the phone a lot, but it’s never clear how he made his fortune. Given his age, the author should have fashioned him after Mark Zuckerburg. The way E L James incorporates the clauses of their contract and emails between Christian and Ana read as filler and the sure mark of an amateur writer. But it’s shame on the editors and publishers, not the author.
Holy Cow! Fifty Shades of Eye-Rolling Mind-Numbing Bad Writing!
Even if Fifty Shades of Grey did get started as Twilight Fanfiction, there is no excuse for how shoddily it reads. E L James obviously knows little about the geography of North America, and much of the gallivanting about did little to advance the story, particularly the narrator’s trip to her mother’s in Savannah, Georgia (My guess is that it might be the one place in America the author has some familiarity with since she was specific enough to put the mother’s house near Tybee Beach.) Alas, a re-write could have set the novel in and around the author’s London home rather than the far-flung Seattle location. Perhaps then the setting details would have added, rather than, detracted from the story.
All novels show promise. It’s just extremely disheartening that Fifty Shades of Grey was published with such rough edges. Anyone who gives this book a passing score really needs to re-think their criteria for good books. Or maybe this book precisely appeals to its niche. Just like Edward and Bella make for trite and boring lovers, so too do Christian and Anastasia make for dull and uninspired sex fiends.
You can connect with E L James and her social sites via her website. (The YouTube soundtrack to the book is actually quite an interesting add-on!)
What was your reaction to the book? What other works of erotica would you recommend over Fifty Shades?
For more insight, read my Book Review Criteria. Please share responsibly. Jeri Walker, 2012.
So glad you trashed this. The only saving grace about this book is that it gave Neal Patrick Harris a great one liner at the Tony’s (aka “50 Shades of Gay”). I’ve even heard it compared to “9 1/2 weeks”. Seriously?
Thanks for an honest review. It’s very sad trees died for this book.
And to think, enough trees had to die for an entire trilogy!
I really had no desire to read this book. Unfortunately my book club is has selected it for our next book. Now I have to join the masses and read it. Thanks for the warning! I really dislike wasting time with a book that isn’t well written.
At least it shouldn’t take you too long to read since it’s such a piece of worthless fluff 😉
The book has been a curiosity to me. I have not downloaded it for all the many reason you mentioned in your review. All that said, I will be looking for other books to be entertained by. Thanks for a very well written review. It helped make my decision. 🙂
I wanted to keep the review around 500 words, but there was just so much venom to spew about this book that I had to keep going. I’m glad you found it helpful.
I have heard a ton of hoopla about this book. I was curious about it as well, with all that hoopla, but after reading your review, I won’t bother. I hate it when a book is not well-edited. It’s very distracting to me and makes it difficult for me to get into the story and the characters. Worse, if the characters are as unbelieveable as you suggest, that ruins the whole thing for me. I will trust your judgement and not spend my money. 🙂
It was a fun book to hate, but I certainly won’t be reading the other two.
Thanks for the warning about this book. I never intended to read it but now for sure I won’t. No excuse for poor writing, no matter the topic. I guess an author thinks that if you write about a topic that is sensational you’ll get readers even if the quality of the book is poor.
It really is disheartening how low the quality of writing is in Fifty Shades. Thanks for visiting and thanks for the feedback on the Bloggers Helping Bloggers thread. I do plan to change the dark background, but want more than just a white background, so I’ve been hesitating since disaster will probably strike when I make the switch!
I didn’t have any interest in reading the book, anyway. But I have to say, the real shame is not just that it got published in such a state, but that people keep gobbling it up!
Don’t you think that this will encourage other publishers to put work out that they believe will be titillating/popular without much regard to whether or not it’s actually well written?
It’s definitely a growing trend. Last year, I read the final book in the Clan of the Cave Bear series and was extremely disappointed, but so many issues weren’t addressed by the editors because Jean Auel already had such a huge following in place.
I must admit, I haven’t read this book, and don’t plan to. I’m mildly curious as to why there’s such a fascination with it – by the world – it kind of reflects where society is right now, sadly. If it’s not vampires and wizards its…
hehe, I think you trashed it more than some others I’ve seen!
Some books definitely deserve a sound thrashing! It was my pleasure…
“…the most horribly edited book ever to become a bestseller…” I had absolutely no interest in reading it either. I don’t tend to be bandwagon jumper, so I tend to wait a bit. Thanks for telling what others seem to be so afraid to say. I’m sure as she matures as a writer some of the issues will disappear. But you have give it up to the PR for the book. It definitely had everyone talking.
Thanks for noting that I was able approach the book’s inherent weaknesses. As I get ready to do more book reviews on my blog, especially reviews of indie authors, I really want to aim to remain as objective as possible in judging a book on its litrary merits rather than on PR and reader hype alone.
I have not heard or read one good word about this book. I am so NOT going to be reading this one. Thanks for the honest review. 🙂
It was easy to be honest since the book was so astoundingly bad!
A well-written and balanced review! Thank you for reading this so we don’t have to.
My pleasure, or pain, depending on how you look it at 😉
I haven’t read this book and I don’t plan on it. With all the negative I have heard, there is no way I am going to support it. Not when I think about the countless books I have read that are written beautifully but are lost in the dust of this trilogy.
It’s almost as if many people think she’s invented a new genre or something! If only folks could get their hands on some good erotica, not to mention getting their hands on some decent writing in general.
I have a lot to say about this book. I think its unfair that it gets more attention press and purchases then books authors actually created from scratch. It is originally a fanfic, reads.like one but problem is a lot of people who havent read anne rice or any other good erotica are clueless. I wish the book would.encourage people to check out others in the genres rather than give it a bad name.
I know it’s made me want to seek out more erotica, so hopefully reading it will encourage others to do the same. That way even those who might not realize how horribly written it is will be really floored when they get their hooks into something superior.
I know I’m late to this post, but I just came across it and COULDN’T AGREE MORE. The sole purpose of this book (series) was to prove that sex sells, even when the writing is as incredibly bad as this was. I truly believe E.L. James would fail miserably if she had to write something of substance, rather than sex. As a side not, even the sex was lacking…
I bought all three at the same time, curious to see what the hype was about. Somehow, I made it through the first one. Only picked up the second to see if there were any redeeming qualities. By midpoint, I was skimming… Never finished. Book three has gone unopened. And I’m still left to wonder what all of the hype was about.
K, thanks for stopping by to leave a comment. Bad writing, bland sex… I really can’t see what the appeal of this book is at all.
Jeri, yes, I’ve read it…just because all the women at work were &
we could sit around the break room and laugh & wonder about beads and shit.
After reading 50 Shades, I thought, “OMGGG, if they publish this, I might have a chance in hell to publish one, too!”
What’s her name gives us all hope.
xxx from MN. thinking of you.
Kim, haha. Indeed. I can’t help but wonder how the editing process on the book went 😉