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

2 May, 2013 Reviews 91 comments

Review: Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. JamesFifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
Series: Fifty Shades #1
Published by Knopf on 3rd April 2012
Pages: 514
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too – but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success – his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family – Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by a need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.

Before I really get this monster of a review started, I’d like to first take a moment to rewrite the above summary, as I feel as though it isn’t quite accurate.  Forgive me the repetition, but let’s go over that blurb again.  If you read carefully, you’ll notice that I’ve made some changes, albeit very slight ones:

When quirky and loveably vapid supermodel Mary Sue goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian “I Have Emotional Issues and a Great Jawline” Grey, she encounters a man who is sex incarnate, and a world-class emotional predator to boot.  The stupidly naïve Mary is startled to realize that she wants this man’s rockin’ bod and, despite his irrational mood swings and unsettling obsession with her ovulation cycle, finds she is desperate to get close to him.  And by “close to him,” we mean “have a great deal of degrading and emotionally unfulfilling sex with him.”  Same thing, really.  Unable to resist Mary’s inability to think for herself and charmingly uninteresting personality, Grey admits he wants her, too – but on his own stupid, stupid terms.

Shocked yet aroused by Grey’s grossly humiliating tastes in eroticism, Ana (she changed her name – just roll with it) spends the entirety of the novel hesitant to accept his conditions.  Seriously.  That’s essentially the entire plot.  For all the trappings of success – his unspecified but conveniently lucrative businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family (the Cullens, only with less backstory) – Grey is a man tormented by demons, and a tragic past that acts as an easy excuse for his ridiculously inappropriate behavior.  Sure, he’s messed up.  But it’s all right, because he’s a TORTURED SOUL.  A TRAGIC HERO, if you will.  He’s also EXTREMELY GOOD LOOKING, so that helps.

Anyway, where were we?  Oh, right.  When the couple embarks on a daringly idiotic, nightmarishly physical affair, Ana discovers Christian “My Abdominal Muscles and Childhood Traumas Free Me from All Relationship Responsibilities” Grey’s secrets and explores her own messed up desires.

And did we mention the RAW SEXUAL APPEAL?  There’s quite a lot of it!  Hot stuff!  Try to read this WITHOUT getting aroused!  Possible?  Doubtful.  You’ll want to avoid pulling this out in a public space – the results are likely to get you slapped with “public indecency” charges!  Woo!

As erotic as a burnt piece of toast, as amusing as a stubbed toe, and as deeply moving as an expletive scratched into a bathroom stall, the Fifty Shades trilogy is a tale that will likely drive you to murder.  No, really.  Save yourself, before it’s too late!  We haven’t much time!  Quick, before—

No!  Please!  Don’t do this!  I wasn’t doing anything!  AAAA—

*eerie silence*

Did you catch my revisions?  Don’t feel bad if you didn’t.  It may not be perfect, but the publisher’s description is really very accurate.  There were only some small details in need of fixing, and I think that I took care of them nicely.

In all honesty, though, this book is awful.  Really, truly, mind-bogglingly awful.  I picked it up in the belief that it would be one of those “so bad, it’s good” ventures, terrible for the brain but enriching for the soul, in the sense that we all need a good laugh every now and then.  Yes, I honestly expected to find Fifty Shades of Grey funny.  I honestly expected to get a decent number of chuckles, if not outright guffaws, from it.

Instead, I got 500 pages of pure, unadulterated rage.  Whether I was giving it only a few minutes or an hour of my time, I wound up either yelling at the book or valiantly struggling with an urge to throw it at the nearest wall every time I picked it up.

So let’s just get this out of the way right now:

This book is not romantic.

This book is not sexy.

And, while we’re at it:

Christian Grey is not an attractive, desirable, likeable, or sympathetic love interest.

Anastasia Steele is a pathetic excuse for a heroine and is a disservice to strong female characters everywhere.

Honestly, the popularity that this book enjoys astounds me.  I can understand why a reader would find it, if nothing else, entertaining on some carnal level.  There is a lot of sex to be had here, and if steaminess is all you’re looking for, then I suppose that you’ll have little to complain about.

I don’t see this as an acceptable excuse, however.  You want hot?  Fair enough, but could you not find such titillation elsewhere?  I don’t read erotica, but I’m sure there is plenty of it out there that is not only sexy, but genuinely well-written and romantic.  You can’t just dismiss the inferiority of this book on the basis that it’s porn meant for mindless enjoyment.

“It’s just entertainment, you can’t take it seriously,” you might say.  Bull.  Why should E.L. James be allowed to popularity and commercial success for contributing little in the way of genuine writing?  Why should she be allowed to avoid criticism and even be encouraged to release more of the same?

The answer is that she shouldn’t.  Nay, I say!  Nay!  Bare flesh is not a free pass.  You can’t use sex as an excuse for mediocrity and twisted mockeries of what real relationships can and should be.

Let’s break those mockeries down a bit, shall we?


The Characters

Christian Grey

…is a vile excuse for a leading love interest.  Yes, he’s handsome.  So?  Is that what really matters here?  I’m not saying that partially basing one’s attraction to another on their looks is a terrible and shameful thing.  It’s not.  We all do it, and romance isn’t going to work if you don’t find your partner physically appealing.  The problem comes in making looks everything, or as a means of excusing whatever ugliness might lurk behind it.

Grey might be attractive, but having stunning cheekbones and a sculpted physique does not somehow make up for his mentality.  This man is controlling and obsessive, using Anastasia’s phone to track her and constantly showing up in order to make sure that she behaves in the way that he wishes.  Concern for another’s wellbeing is one thing, and then there’s stalking.  Grey slowly tightens his hold on Anastasia, cutting her off from her friends and social life so that he can have her all to himself.

Here are some examples of Christian Grey’s particular brand of affection:

  1. He is hostile to any other man who may spend time with Anastasia and possibly threaten his possession of her.
  2. He makes Anastasia send him emails and text messages so that he can know where she is and what she’s doing at all hours of the day.
  3. When Anastasia takes a trip via plane, he buys out the seat next to hers so that nobody is able to sit with her during the flight.
  4. When Anastasia goes out of her way to avoid him, and he turns up anyway, manipulating her family so that they not only approve of her dating him, but actively encourage her to spend more time with him.
  5. When Anastasia wishes to talk seriously about their relationship beyond its sexual component, he shuts her up with, well, more sex.

What’s most annoying about this behavior is that it is, for the most part, portrayed as being something romantic and desirable.  It just shows that he cares!  That he truly loves her!  That he wants to be with her despite everything!

No.  This is not, ladies and gentlemen, touching, nor is it something to seek out in a potential relationship.  You deserve better.  I don’t care how “great” the sex is.

Ah, the sex.  Fifty Shades of Grey contains plenty, and none of it is seductive in the least.  On the contrary: It’s unpleasant, it’s creepy, and it’s exceedingly uncomfortable.  Grey pulls Anastasia into his fetishes despite her hesitations, leaving her feeling demeaned and disparaged on more than one occasion.  After “punishing” her for the first time, spanking her whilst simultaneously assuring her that she will find enjoyment in it, Anastasia is so horrified and embarrassed that she has to call her mother and sob into the phone.  Of course, she can’t mention any specifics, because he forbids her from speaking of the true nature of their relationship.  Hooray!  Lies!  Humiliation!  Coercion!  The stuff that dreams are made of!

This is not moving or erotic.  This is downright disturbing.  Grey is reducing Anastasia to an object designed to satisfy his own desires.  Oh, sure, she enjoys their trysts as well (for the most part), but that’s secondary to his needs.  And does he not have to ensure that she get something out of their agreement?  If he doesn’t, she’ll leave him, after all.  Curious how it all comes back to his gain, isn’t it?

So Grey is domineering and manipulative, attempting to control everything from Anastasia’s diet to how she spends her every free moment.  His moods swing so wildly and so often that Anastasia lives in a constant state of fear, worried that he may at any moment become upset and punish her.  When he acts like a decent human being, she’s genuinely relieved, though only to an extent.  Who knows what might set him off, after all?

Yes, this is clearly how a loving relationship should work.  One party should base their every waking moment on the whims of the other, afraid of what might happen if they do not.  A romance for the ages!

BUT WAIT.  Any issues that Anastasia may take with the situation are all ultimately unfounded, because Grey was sexually abused when he was younger and had a less-than-loving mother.  Of course!  Because of his tragic past, his lack of decency is justified!  Plus, he listens to opera and plays the piano.  Clearly, a depressing backstory + sophistication = good boyfriend material.  Right?

I don’t think so.  You can’t justify emotional and physical abuse on the basis of some past trauma.  Having been taken advantage of by an older woman as a child does not make Grey some kind of tragic hero.  Of course he wasn’t able to escape the experience unscathed.  Of course he needs help.  But that assistance should not have to come from a girl, far out of her depth, who is trying to cope with the stress brought about by an overwhelming and frightening sexual relationship.

Speaking of which, it’s time to take a look at:


Anastasia Steele (“Mary Sue”)

…is an uninteresting and incredibly frustrating protagonist, because there’s so little substance to her.  She’s obviously gorgeous, and yet she’s constantly bemoaning her plain looks and how much prettier her friend is.  She’s also clumsy (*gasp*), which is apparently some kind of horrific tendency to have.  Why do writers insist that being generally uncoordinated is a genuine character flaw, that this trait alone singlehandedly makes an individual realistic and well-rounded?

And this truly seems to be the only “weakness” that Anastasia suffers from.  She’s stunning, yet sees herself as ordinary, and therefore requires constant reassurance from Grey (and everyone else) that she’s lovely.  Humility!  She believes that nobody will find her attractive, despite the fact that every single male character in the story besides her stepfather wants to date her.  Loveable naivety!  She’s not like other girls, because she would rather spend her nights curled up in an armchair reading Bronte and Austin.  How very bohemian of her!

Give me a break.  So you read English novels.  This does not make you some special little snowflake, better than all of your peers and somehow more of an individual.  Get over yourself, and stop acting as though an appreciation of books puts you above others.  It doesn’t.  And considering how many authors like to try to pull the “she reads old books, therefore she is quirky and like no other” trope, it isn’t original in the least.

Once Grey comes into the picture, Anastasia loses any sense of identity that she had (and that’s not saying much).  Once again, we get a female character whose entire life becomes defined by the man that she’s enthralled with.  She eats, breathes, and sleeps Christian Grey.  There is nothing else in her world that has any sort of significance.  When she does stand up for herself, whether it be to voice her concerns about the “arrangement” that Christian pushes on her or otherwise, she’s immediately pacified by his sexual appeal.

This I find particularly infuriating.  Every single time Anastasia actually attempts to think for herself, Christian swoops in with a smoldering glance or sly smile, and she gives up.  Good God, woman!  Learn to control yourself!  She has such trouble thinking straight when she’s around Grey because the smallest glance from him sends her into paroxysms of desire.  I get that he’s good looking, and that his appearance gets to you.  But you cannot honestly tell me that he is so bewitching that you lose all self-control around him at the most minute provocation.  Heaven forbid he glance at you while you’re out and about in public.  You may just rip off your clothes and take him right there in the supermarket check-out line.  At least wait until you get to the parking lot!

As for the other characters: Forget about them.  They’re one-dimensional and serve no real purpose other than to set up the next scenario in which our duo can get it on in new and wildly inappropriate ways.

And, similarly flat and useless in design and execution, we have:


The Story

Between the many scenes of smut we have a plot so threadbare that it would service as adequate material for a Lifetime film.  The story essentially boils down to this:

Christian: Have sex with me.

Anastasia: I’m uncertain!  I want more from this relationship!  We need to talk!

Christian: *smolders*

Anastasia: Nevermind.


Christian: I want to be your dom.  Sign this contract.

Anastasia: No!  It makes me uncomfortable!

Christian: Your resistance only makes me want you more.


Anastasia: You frighten me!

Christian: Did I mention that I had an abusive childhood?  Also, I’m working to end world hunger.

Anastasia: Your story has moved me!


And that’s about it.  The entire book literally consists of these exchanges interspersed with orgasms and Anastasia’s stupid “inner goddess” doing backflips.

Things conclude on a happy note, however, with Anastasia breaking it off with Christian after he punishes her too harshly and she realizes just how messed up he truly is.  I’m guessing that an ending in which the protagonist is left sobbing in anguish is supposed to be tragic, but I found the whole affair a positively cheerful one.  Good for you, Ana!  You’ve moved on and can now find someone new, someone who treats you right!

Of course, there are two more books, so my hopes of her not ending up with Christian are slim.  But I can dream.


The Writing

Last but not least, let’s talk about the writing.

Guess what?  It’s bad.  Shocking, I know.  Insultingly simple in both style and form, and filled to the brim with details being told instead of shown.  James also apparently thinks that throwing in the occasional dictionary-necessitating word is enough to give her “tale” a classy and sophisticated air.  Well, it isn’t, and the attempt comes across as silly and contrived because of this.  The end result is a work that seems more like an unusually well-written fanfiction than a genuine piece of literature.  Appropriate, considering the series’ origins.

James also likes to reuse the same phrases and scenarios every chance she can get.  Let’s take a look at some of her favorites:

  1. Christian demands that Anastasia eat something, and Anastasia says that she is not hungry in response.  Threats, double entendres, and weirdly sexual mastication ensue.
  2. Christian instructs Anastasia to stop biting her lip, else he loses control and takes her immediately.
  3. Christian reprimands Anastasia for rolling her eyes.
  4. Anastasia compares her orgasms to the feeling of shattering into pieces.  (Sounds painful.)
  5. Anastasia describes Christian’s jeans as hanging on his hips “in that way.”  (Wonderfully descriptive, James.  Good job.)
  6. Anastasia’s roommate realizes that something is not quite right about her relationship with Christian and attempts to get Ana to open up.  Anastasia tries to redirect the conversation by asking about her friend’s activities.  This tactic works every single time.
  7. Anastasia says “oh my” or some more colorful variation of the phrase during sex.

The last object on this list is undoubtedly the most annoying.  It’s used every other page, and it drove me absolutely insane.  It got to the point where I would actually tell the book to shut up every time the accursed exclamation made an appearance.  A drinking game could be created around this particular tendency alone, though I fear that doing so would lead to severe alcohol poisoning and madness.


To Conclude…

I’d like to extend my strongest contempt to the following parties:

-E.L. James

-Random House


-Everyone involved in the upcoming film adaptation of this garbage.

Don’t read this.  Not even as a joke.  It’s just not worth it.  And if you feel that you must, I suggest tackling it in small increments.  Reading more than a dozen or so pages in one sitting may very well lead to a whole host of unpleasant side effects, given the intensity of the mental anguish that will surely result.  I still haven’t been able to fully rid myself of the twitching.

And, for God’s sake, try to refrain from rolling your eyes.  We wouldn’t want a certain someone showing up to punish you for your nerve.

Paul Beimers

Paul Beimers

Reviewer at Cuddlebuggery
A reviewer, blogger and trope enthusiast who isn't nearly as consistent with his reading as he should be.

91 Responses to “Review: Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James”

  1. NoseGraze

    Hahaha oh god.  I went into this the same as you: I thought it’d be entertaining and “so bad it’s good”.  So I bought the whole series.  Then since book #1 was so shit, I had endure the awkward “Returning the rest of the 50 shades series to the bookstore” moment.

    Seriously this book is beyond awful and I think it sends a terrible message.  Ana never wanted the “pain” part of the deal, but he gave it to her anyway.  To me, the moral of the story sounds like, “It’s okay if your boyfriend hits you and inflicts pain on you… as long as he makes up for it with buying you nice things.”  Barf.

    • LW

      I agree–I would only say that what was infuriating was not that Grey “gave” her pain, but that she insisted she had a problem with his sadism and continued to accept it.

    • M Brent

      Besides the bloke el James stole the idea for the story from a movie called Secretary starring James Spader and Maggie Glygennhall in 2000

  2. jaimearkin

    is there a ‘contempt’ line because I need to be standing in it behind you. Thank you for this. It made my day.
    I struggle to keep my mouth shut when someone tells me how sexy Christian is or how romantic this story is. Or you know… when someone says this is a good book.  *shakes my head* I get the whole escapism aspect of romance books, I do, but there are plenty out there that are deserving of the adoration of readers and this is not it. I don’t get the obsession people have with this series at all.
    <s>Edward and Bella</s>…I mean Christian and Ana are ridiculous caricatures and so detestable I cringe every time I see a mention of them. 
    you rock. 🙂

  3. zarischka

    *laughs out loud* (For real.)
    I never wanted to read this. I thought it sounded like a bad excuse for a fanfic/pwp-story without brains. Oh, and with a scary-ass-“hero” who degrades women. And a “heroine” who’s basically TSTL and a seriously bad role model. …like someone else I won’t name *cough*BellaSwan*cough*, actually…
    Now I KNOW it’s all of the above. Also: I bet this review made me laugh more than the entire series would have. Thanks for saving me! 😉


      you know i would understand adults thinking the book is shit but i as a teenager i have every right to express my opinion and i think that the book is amazing its romantic, sad and moving and if you look past the sex you would see that but no some people only think about sex.
      The book is about a dull innocent, plain girl who changed the life of a powerful, rich guy and its actually an inspiration. I mean every girl dreams of having the kind of love that they have.

      • Elana

        You, as a teenager, should not be reading this junk. Someone needs to call Child Protective Services on this poster’s parents.

      • Anonymous

        If you dream of having this kind of “love,” then I suggest you put the phone number of your local police department on speed dial. This is not a loving relationship. This is abuse.

  4. Staraptorkiin

    One of my favourite pass-times is reading reviews just like this about Fifty Shades of Grey, just so I don’t have to go through the pain myself. Let me assure you that you have done all folks like me a kindness! Thanks so much for this review, it really got my morning started on a hilarious note. c:

  5. Staraptorkiin

    One of my favourite pass-times is reading reviews just like this about Fifty Shades of Grey, just so I don’t have to go through the pain myself. Let me assure you that you have done all folks like me a kindness! Thanks so much for this review, it really got my morning started on a hilarious note. c:

  6. Jenny

    This is my favorite Fifty Shades review so far!  I read the excerpt of this one and that was enough for me. The writing was so awful I don’t know how anyone could get through it.

  7. tkhalliday

    I read all three books. After the first one which left me desiring adult beverages, I read the second thinking it HAS to be popular for a reason. And the then third. I was pretty ticked that I didn’t have any alcohol in my pantry or fridge when I was finished. I wholeheartedly support this review, every single word of it.

  8. stars__cascade

    You missed the most disturbing scene I’ve ever read in any book, disturbing because in a horror/thriller it would be fitting, perfectly done even. But as the romantic lead……..not so much.The Rape. Yes, Rape. Ana emails him saying she *might* want to end it. He breaks into her house (disturbing without the feature rape) and proceeds to rape & abuse her while she cries & REPEATEDLY says NO. (So much for safe, sane consensual) he spanks her before leaving her alone. No aftercare whatsoever. – not appropriate D/S behaviour at all. This is ROMANCE? How…I just, there are no words.

  9. A

    “Reading more than a dozen or so pages in one sitting may very well lead to a whole host of unpleasant side effects…”
    Yeah, no kidding. My friend made a bet where I had to pay her 10 bucks everytime I stopped reading (to bang my head against a wall/write angry rants/scream in frustration/lose even more faith in humanity). I thought she was kidding and come on, nothing could be *that* bad. 
    I’ve never lost that much money in my entire lifetime :/

  10. Rashika

    I’m so sorry you had to go through that. I tried reading the book thinking I’d get a good laugh out of it…. I was wrong. I had a mini-break down. 
    I worry for the people who want the kind of romance that was in the book and are looking for their very own Christian Grey. Although I’ve noticed it’s not only Christian Grey that uses the excuse of a bad childhood to act like an asshole.
    Anyways great review 🙂

  11. saldelmaz

    “And, for God’s sake, try to refrain from rolling your eyes.  We wouldn’t want a certain someone showing up to punish you for your nerve.”
    At least you read it! Obviously, it’s warranted for people to want to avoid it, but I don’t appreciate when people hate on something they haven’t read or watched. So I applaud you for reading it, because it gives your reasoning justification. 
    I’ll still go see the movie though. It might be the only case where the movie is better than the book!

    • IolaGoulton

      saldelmaz Surely reading this review is enough for me to hate it without reading it myself? Please?
      The negative reviews I’ve read for this have all been well-thought out and written by obviously intelligent women (including the one by the sex therapist, who seemed to think these books will keep her in work for years).
      The positive reviews are a lot less discerning. IMO.
      One review detailed the amount of alcohol CG forced Mary-Sue to drink and implied she went along with his demands because she was under the affluence of ichohol, that she wasn’t actually mentally capable of making those decisions). Thoughts, from anyone who has read it?

      • stars__cascade

        That’s accurate, at one point he admits he needs her drunk so she’s more cooperative. She goes from being a non-drinker to downing a bottle of wine a night or 5 glasses in an hour. She spends the entire book drinking nothing but alcohol. Not once does she have a non-alcoholic drink. Most of her alcohol is supplied by the abusive Grey.

      • saldelmaz

        IolaGoulton Of course you can hate it! This review is spot on, so I don’t blame you for not wanting to read it. I was just referring to when people voice their opinions about it as if they’ve read it, and they haven’t. You hate it because of the negative reviews it’s received that you’ve read, which is fair.

  12. Danny_Bookworm

    *giggles* I absolutely adore this review!:) And holy yes  you are so right with everything you said.. This book is trash and I just do NOT get why everyone loves it so much??? 
    It’s horribly written and all this “Inner Goodess” and .. “My Fifty” makes me actually vomit. (sorryy..)

  13. Neyra

    Bwahaha, I love your review! I truly do not understand the magnitude of this book’s success. At. All. With so many people loving this series, I just had to check it out myself, so I added it to my tbr, then I noticed Stephanie’s review and got curious, until I just had to get it. Result? I ended up mad at myself for buying this book. Worst 15$ I ever spent in my life!! Christian is one psychotic motherf***** and Anastasia is one of the most pathetic heroines I’ve ever had the displeasure of reading. And the story! Oh God! What happened to the damn plot line? O.o Truly, if readers are looking for hot and sexy, I can direct you to such reads. If you want TRUE DOMS, pick up the Rescue Me series by Kallypso Masters. These are DAMAGED individuals that despite said trauma NEVER ABUSE their Subs. SAFE, SANE AND CONSENSUAL! Key words here fellow readers. Then there’s Cherise Sinclair’s Masters of the Shadowlands series or her Master’s of the Mountains series. Again, TRUE DOMS here. Now, if you’re not looking for BDSM but want a HOT STEAMY read Olivia Cunning is the author you’re looking for.
    I just… I can’t even. Smh -.-

  14. wigent25

    Finally! Someone who agrees with me. I hated this book so much. I kept reading the series thinking it would get better. It didn’t. It also ruined “Oh my” for me. That phrase was used so many times I literally cringe when I read it in other novels now. My personal opinion is, even if you are just looking for a sexy read, look elsewhere. There are much better written ones than 50 Shades of Grey.

  15. Amanda

    Ahahaha! I’ve never read Fifty Shades, nor do I have any plans to. But I must admit, I’ve been curious to learn what the story is really about, in addition to the dysfunctional s&m relationship…and apparently not much. Your review makes me feel enlightened enough though. And just sad about how something like this could turn into such a big phenomenon.

  16. veela_valoom

    Can I post a positive response gif or does that not work with livefyre. (Experimenting) It’s a celebratory fist-pump. 
    <a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”” border=”0″ alt=” photo Calairpunch_zpse5b40cf6.gif”/></a>

      • veela_valoom

        Steph Sinclair Thanks!  It’s a Coach Calipari gif from when we won the NCAA. Seemed fitting.  I always want Coach Cal (his sideline body language is hilarious) gifs but tumblr does not seem to be as into coach/sports gifs as I am.

  17. KKTrotter

    This is the greatest review I’ve ever read. I mean it. I was worried about humanity when this thing got so … popular. That Ana — uuuuughhh. And that guy? THAT GUY? Girls are supposed to want THAT GUY?! Edward Cullen was a bad love interest — he was controlling and a creeper — but THIS GUY is so much worse than that.

    Great, great review. Thank you so much for sharing it.

    • Michelle Bastian

      It’s not really necessary to pick on Edward. Sociology 101 teaches us not to judge people by the times in which WE live but the times in which THEY lived. Me were expected to behave that way back then. That’s the one thing that hack Meyer got right. It was also the one and only time I’ve ever seen films that were far and away better than books. I absolutely abhor her preachy Mormon “just say no to premarital sex” writing style. It was like being continually bashed over the head with a large ball peen hammer. That series of books had SO much erotic potential had the characters just been older and had it not been written for tweeners. What a waste…what a waste… No one will ever out-do Anne Rice for erotic undertones, which were far more captivating that anything Meyer or James scribbled. I have now wasted far too much time on this series.

      • Alex

        Edward Cullen is relevant because 50 Shades was originally a Twilight fanfic. I think I heard from my friend that this is probably one of the few Twi-Fics that is somewhat close to the plot of the series… Kinda. (The real question is was Anastasya a replacement of Bella or an OC???)

  18. deadtossedwaves

    My thoughts exactly!!! While reading this book the only feeling I had was utter rage. I was SO F*CKING PISSED OFF THE WHOLE TIME!!!! And ‘Oh My’ grated on that very last nerve that was preventing me from committing murder. This book is trash. Utter and complete GARBAGE!!!!

  19. Ivana

    Just thinking about this book and everything connected to it makes me angry, so I’ll just say excellent job, Paul!

  20. aprilmom00

    All the bad reviews of this book is why I haven’t read it , and the fact it used to fan fiction. 🙁 Great review and won’t be reading this trash .

    • Alex

      I’ve read some amazing fics before (and have written – not posted – some mediocre ones as well) it’s books/fics like these that give us writers bad names…. :c

  21. jazchau

    I loved your synopsis! Except I would change “Grey admits he wants her, too – but on his own stupid, stupid terms.” to “fucked up terms”.
    I skimmed the first book and read the endings of the second and third ones. What I read I cannot unsee for as long as I live. In my defence I had no idea they were BDSM or what they were about and had only heard they were amazing. Thank GOD I didn’t buy them. 
    But honestly, did we expect anything more from Twilight fanfiction?

  22. Christine Reynier

    I didn’t read your full review as I have 50 shades staring me down from my bookshelf…just haven’t quite found the time yet, but I loved what I did read! I have been so excited about this book for so long now, I think I have talked it up in my mind way too much for me to ever truly enjoy it now, as I will be expecting perfection! lol.  
    I also recently picked up a copy of “Vampires in the Lemon Grove” which I’m also super excited to delve into.  It’s a new book just released early 2013. just released their list of <a href=” “>The Best Books of 2013</a>.
    It’s number one on their list, so fingers crossed!

  23. Christine Reynier

    I didn’t read your full review as I have 50 shades staring me down from my bookshelf…just haven’t quite found the time yet, but I loved what I did read! I have been so excited about this book for so long now, I think I have talked it up in my mind way too much for me to ever truly enjoy it now, as I will be expecting perfection! lol.  
    I also recently picked up a copy of “Vampires in the Lemon Grove” which I’m also super excited to delve into.  It’s a new book just released early 2013. just released their list of The Best Books of 2013.
    It’s number one on their list, so fingers crossed! 
    Here’s the the link if anyone is interested 🙂

  24. allmessedupoverthis

    Mr. Beimers, I have just read my first three romance (because that’s where the library has them) novels before reading your review.  It was purely out of curiosity because I kept hearing reference to 50 shades.  I want to Thank You for letting me know that all Romance Novels aren’t this fucked up and I can expect more should I decide to explore this genre again.

  25. Abigail

    The whole trilogy is GARBAGE. Specifically Anastasia ruined it. Her character is repulsive. I found it completely absurd and disturbing that this dumb anorexic bitch would never want to eat. She spent 3 days with just eating yogurt. I think that was in the 2nd book .Also she eats a banana and a granola bar and says she is full. -_-.
    does anyone remember how insanely jealous she gets when a curvy woman pops up in the scene? This dumb broad contradicts herself. She wishes she had curves but has a poor appetite. Lol she actually thought she was fat when Christian told her she gained weight. This idiot completely ignored the fact that he wanted her to gain weight. She thought he was insulting her but he made it clear that she was TOO thin.There was a period of time when this sick bird got even THINNER. Jose and others all noticed but she insisted she looks and feels great. smh….I recall somewhere she said that she was happy she got even thinner! Keep in mind this is the same chick who envies curvier women and gets insecure when they are around Christian. *sigh* Additionally the same bad personality traits she complains of christian having she has them herself but worse. Did I mention that she is veryimmature, whiny, irrational, and pathetic? I also noticed that she doesn’t seem to grasp the importance of a complex situation. It’s just too much too type when describing how idiotic this dumb chick is. I can go on but I won’t.

    • Alex

      I recently saw a girl saying she was 156 lbs but wanted to be under 100 for some reason and wanted tips on getting *thinner.* I’m sorry but if she thinks being under 100 is healthy for an average teen, I will slap her and educate her. Similar thoughts on those that want itty-bitty waists and mess up their insides by wearing way-too-tight corsets… :/

      Sorry, that’s been bothering me for a while now and it was relevant so… :’)

  26. FiftyShadesofAnnoyed

    *spoiler alert*
    Like NoseGrase, I, too, read the first to “see what the fuss was about” and then read the second and third for retribution: the series can’t possibly be this bad without some sort of redeeming plot twist or improvement in grammar and story telling. I was wrong. 
    Love the review, but would like to add that one of most annoying aspects of the books was Christian’s Batman-like ability to always be wherever Ana is when she needs rescuing. Being assaulted at a bar? He shows up. Sexually harassed at work? He ‘s there. Held at gunpoint at your apartment? Oh you’d better BELIEVE he’s there.The worst part is, he’s always supposed to be somewhere inconveniently far  away, making it seemingly impossible for him to swoop in in the nick of time (eg supposed to be in another city, state, time zone)  BUT he left work early, missed her so much he was already on his way, or thank GOD he wrapped business up ahead of schedule and took an earlier flight etc etc etc etc etc etc etc ETC

  27. Jill Lee

    I totally agree with this critic’s review – what a pathetic attempt at writing – my teen grandson could do a better job.  I didn’t even make it through this “novel” -threw it in the trash half way through.  Erotic??  I think not  (gasp – gulp).

  28. Mel @ thedailyprophecy

    I’ve never wanted to read this book and now I’m very happy with that decision. I’ve never been curious about the fuss, because it’s obvious that this book is nothing for me. From the bad writing-style to the horrible characters, it sounds horrible and it makes me sad that this book is so popular. I think you are right: if you want to read something erotic, there are probably so many better books out there. I hate the whole bad-boy trend. Having a troubled past doesn’t give you freedom to abuse other people.

  29. Abc Xyz

    I tried to read this book. I really did. But this book is just plain bad. I found it extremely boring. I tried to dredge up some sympathy for Ana, but she’s such a wimp and being constantly subjected to her every thought is a special kind of torture. After the first few chapters of Love At First Sight and High Voltage Electricity, I skipped to the steamier parts of the novel and just felt… uninterested. I’m glad to learn that I didn’t miss any crucial plot twist. It’s not romantic and it’s not erotic.

  30. OliviaB17

    I read this series over a year ago, and I am STILL ANGRY.
    I thought the purpose of publishers/editors was to weed out truly awful literature, so that only good writing gets published. If it was good writing with a weak plot, it would be a little different, but there is actually NOTHING good about it. James uses terrible metaphors, uses words in the wrong context, her characters don’t even deserve to be called characters, the only one with any strong personality traits is Christian – and I don’t even want to get started on him because he’s the kind of person that if I knew him in real life I would constantly fantasising about ending him violently (in fact, I fantasise about that anyway). Oh my GOD I hate this book. And the series. You’d think, because it’s an erotic novel, that at least the sex scenes would be good, but THEY’RE NOT THEY’RE NOT THEY’RE NOT! It is infuriating that sitting amongst all the good novels that are out there are these pathetic excuses for books. They’re like one really dirty person sitting amongst a crowd of happy, clean people.
    I’m starting to hyperventilate now, so I’m going to go. Worst books I have ever read, and I have read LOTS of bad books.

  31. MelissaMichelleWray

    I wanted to give this series a chance last year. But when I heard one of my favorite YouTubers read an excerpt, my inner goddess immediately wanted to smite that bitch E.L. James for contributing to the weak, spineless “heroines” and pompous, douchenozzle “heroes.”
    Did I mention that I now have a dislike for “classic” romance novels?
    On a more positive note, James has shown me what NOT to do when developing the characters of my stories. Sadly, more women are devouring this like it’s the best damn thing since Skinemax.

    • Michelle Bastian

      “SkineMax”! That is the PERFECT metaphor! That’s precisely what the series is. Like the cable soft porn network’s late night lineup, the plot is ridiculous. The characters and (ugh…please) dialogue are completely shallow and unsympathetic, and even the erotica is so fake and lacking in true affect that it fails utterly to stimulate the senses or the imagination. If anything it’s something to watch, or in this case read aloud, for giggles. It truly is literary “SkineMax”!

      Our society has become so plastic and superficial and the lives of bored housewives who sold out for money rather than love so dreary that this dreck passes for popular literature. And I thought Stephenie Meyer was a gods awful writer… E L James makes her look like George R. R. Martin! (Please forgive me, Mr. Martin.)

    • Alex

      Pfft, I think I’m gonna have to send a link to this page to my best frie-n-emy (frienemy? It’s hard to use a word popular in, well, pop culture if you only ever hear it instead of reading it…) and have her take a long look over her shelf afterwards. I think I’ll help her burn the books and the movie ticket. C:

  32. Lira_Maria

    I couldn’t agree more.. The trilogy is awful from start to finish..I couldn’t grasp the truest sense of eroticism the book is trying to invoke. The characters and the plot falls between crap and disgusting. I understand the rage of those readers who’re used to good books, this piece is a waste of time and money.

  33. alexiatessier

    you are great Writer EL James…..
    Ian Somerhalder is a very possible casting choice for Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey
    <a href=””>Christian Grey</a>

  34. Inota

    I’ve only read the first book and already I am happy to say it was loaned to me! i can’t believe the nerve…no I can’t believe a grown woman wrote this book. It reads like a 13 year old girl wrote it.  Even if it were more descriptive the story line still reads more like a dime store romance novel. Very predictable!  I’m curious to know who started the rumor that this book was worth reading and completely resent the author gaining any popularity and fortune over it!

  35. A K SHAH

    I could not read “Fifty Shades …” beyond 200 pages. Then I read its summary on Wikipedia & read the last chapter. I went through the its analyses on various  sites, but, I must say, yours is the best. It is a pity that such trash catches the imagination of people & becomes commercially successful.
    A K Shah, Mumbai, India

  36. wdj1257

    If the author of this atrocity of a book was fined fifty cents for each misuse of the word “smirk.” she would be bankrupt.

  37. lolli

    I’m currently struggling through it and Mr. Beimers is absolutely right — it is impossible to read more than a chapter or so at a time. There is some comedic gold in there (unintentional on the author’s part), but overall it’s just depressing.

  38. ClementAna

    Oh, thanks God, that I found people thinking the same way as I do. The book is a big shit and I can’t believe that it is a bestseller. The review is ideal, I was laughing to death 😀

  39. Gen

    This may be the works book I have ever read. The repetition killed me, especially the overuse of ‘hot’ and ‘sexy’. That chin-grabbing and lip-thumbing made me make a disgusted face each time. This is not literature.

  40. talia

    I could not agree more! I have read the first book, and everything you have said here is so true. I have been complaining the wholetime about these random words which require a dictionary!!! The author is clearly a terrible writer and just thought something like “if I look up synonyms for regular words that are most unpopular, I’ll look smarter than I am”. I read often and I felt stupid at first having to use a dictionary, until I recognized the trend. And the use of the phrase “oh my” come the f$#@ on. By the 10th sex scene I just started to skip through them, eager for some sort of actual story-needless to say, there wasn’t much left to read and what was left was anti climactic. What is more bothersome is how many women went crazy over this book! !! Is this what the world has come to? I cannot believe it. How sad.

  41. Gloria Avishai

    What the popularity of this book worldwide really shows, is that the masses are asses.

  42. Sandra Kraus

    Thank you for sharing your humorous and candid review. A friend had loaned me the book and I only made it about a third of the way through the first book, but with massive sales, what does this say about the state of society? I compare the hype to that given to Miley Cyrus’ recent behavior, where quality content and presentation are overlooked for voyeuristic fantasy. They are both laughing all the way to the bank. Sad.

  43. Nat

    I wish I had read your review a year ago. I myself am an avid reader and it was suggested to me by a close friend,. After reading the first book I thought to myself ” no more”. I should have just stopped after book one, but somehow I let my friend convince me to finish reading the entire story and give it a shot, and I went on to read all three! Anastasia became more and more pathetic as time went on, especially since she could not for one moment exhibit any self control when Christian was around, and I hated how she constantly referred to her “Inner goddess”, it reminded me of my 14 yr. old niece describing how she felt when she got her first kiss! There were some serious flaws with the story not to mention how unbelievable it was as the entire time frame of the entire story, takes place over a matter of months. Seriously?! In mere months, Christian, with his commitment phobia, sexual abused past, and some serious mother issues over comes all his issues! It would be more like years and years of intense therapy before someone such as Christian would be able to commit to someone. I wasted a week of my life reading those books, it was obvious that the author is clearly awful writer, there were some scenes stolen from 9 1/2 weeks, random use of large words (for no reason), changes in the character use of language (like in book two and three when they start speaking to each other like Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice) and characters from “Twilight’ that were redeveloped. In future if this woman continues to write (which I am assuming she will given that she has made a ridiculous amount of money on the books and now the soon to be coming movie) I hope she does some research on writing.

  44. Michelle Bastian

    THANK you for a spot-on review! All this hysteria over the same old tired “Svengali” story–older man introduces young ingenue to her deepest, darkest desires…is laughable. The book, what I could force myself to get through, was a yawn fest. The story would have been so much more appealing to women, at least intelligent professional women, had the female been at least a bit older and maybe even slightly imperfect, and the man younger (and more attractive). Far too little literature is devoted to the very real concept of the current generation of young, internet-educated men who naturally go through an “older woman” phase as part of their maturing process and want to try out some of what they’ve seen with an older but in some ways more naive lover. Some of these men even have the good sense to realize older women have much more to offer than air headed, indecisive, shallow twits (which we all were at some point) and form loving, lasting relationships. This, I think, would have been more compelling twist on the dull old theme in “Grey” and made for far more satisfying reading.

  45. Julia Bell

    I loved this review and well done Paul. I agreed with every word. The first book was forced on me (literally) at work as I write historical romances for Kindle and my colleagues thought I ought to know what real ‘romance’ was all about. I was appalled at the poor writing and the insipid character of the heroine. And don’t get me started on him! An attractive, sexy man, does not a hero make. The only bit I loved was at the end when Ana walked out on Christian and for the first time she showed some balls (feminine variety). Unfortunately, my criticisms were brushed aside and my colleagues at work refused to listen to my critique of, amongst others, ‘show don’t tell’ and ‘repetition’ etc etc calling me ‘picky’. What! I declined the offer of reading the second and third books simply because I didn’t want to spoil that last image i.e. Ana showing she did have a mind of her own. What a pity it didn’t happen more often. But hey! I’m an optimistic person. Perhaps E L James’s next novel will be brilliant and we’ll all be eating our words. You never know.

  46. Neisha Chetty

    I don’t believe this is a love story nor is the true ending a happy one. I think there must be a reason why EL James uses symbolic references like Icarus, Tess, The Doomed Courtesan. Why is she referencing tragedy ?

    How can someone like Christian change in such a short space of time ? How can a person change in 26 days (since they met to the time he proposes to Ana) ? Tell me does that sound logical to you ?

    “How can your compulsion just go, Christian? Like I’m some kind of panacea, and you’re—for want of a better word—cured? I don’t get it.”
    He sighs once more. “I wouldn’t say cured . . . You don’t believe me?”
    “I just find it—unbelievable. Which is different.” Fifty Shades of. Grey Darker.
    See what I mean ? Ana doesn’t believe it too !

    There must be something more to it. In fact I believe the BDSM is a distraction for the real issue.

    Here is my theory to explain the absurd timeline and to prove to people it isn’t truly love and Christian’s apparent change (“As we talk. It strikes me that he’s turned from Hardy’s Alec to Angel. debasement to high ideal in such a short space of time”). I had to go down to the subtextual level like I would with any Hardy novel- look at subtextual and intent and read all the clues. Tell me what do you think ?

    Christian’s Pov
    “Are you gay, Mr. Grey ?”
    Shit! that’s going to be in a newspaper. People are going to start questioning, maybe they’ll find out about my lifestyle. Fuck !I don’t want that – it could really tarnish my perfect public image and it would be bad for business. Okay, damage control… Let’s see .. I can’t use any of subs or give them more because they are trained and people would recognise them as belonging to that LIFESTYLE – maybe I’ll use Ana Steele – she doesn’t have one assertive bone in her body- she can be trained as my sub, she’s a virgin, no boyfriend -never had one (press would think we dated all along in secret) and she looks like my crack whore mother- perfect. I will take every photo opportunity to pose with her so the press would know I am not gay. I will give her more … “Have you had to sacrifice your family life for work, Mr Grey” – Fucking great idea, bag yourself a trophy wife and a family say in five months- the world would love the wholesome family man image. Make this trophy wife believe in this illusion( remember the poster on the wall The Matrix, Fight Club, Truman Show). She is an idiot who can’t put two and two together anyway. Strong woman ?!!! What woman needs an assistant to take care of scheduling her own birth control shots ???

    All this is merely Christian’s diabolical plan to conceal his BDSM lifestyle. Ana is just the woman who walked in with the right criteria at the right time to be his fulfil the trophy wife role. This adequately explains the short space of time and his so called change.

    Grey solved … And that’s romantic hero, ladies !!! Christian doesn’t give Ana the space or time to think clearly.

    Trouton Abstract may hold a clue.
    “They are exquisite – a series of mundane, forgotten objects painted in such precise detail they look like photographs. Displayed together, they are breathtaking.”

    Look like photographs – deception -image of something- superficial view (Ana’s)- erotic romance

    But painted – has some real element or truth behind the illusion (Christian’s) – a diabolical plan of deceit.

    Forgotten objects- when we let our desires over rule our jugdement – Icarus- we lose our true selves, our moral core.

    Tess represents – true self.
    Angel – image, idealism. Public self
    Alec – corruption

    Ana – desire
    Christian – corruption of the truth, image and illusion.

    Ana can be easily corrupted because her values are misplaced – her inner Goddess is actually her libido.

    Appearance versus reality.

    Ana should have ran away – like Icarus she was she so overcome by that giddy feeling of desire that she couldn’t see danger ahead. That’s the recklessness of youth – if only she listened. “A strong woman who recklessly throws away her strength, she is worse than a weak woman who has never had any strength to throw away.” Tess of the D’urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

    If you want the tragic factor, look at the history behind Elena, history always repeats itself to Hardy.

  47. Yumi

    Nice review, although maybe a bit extreme ?

    I’d like to see a honest, unbiased review of this book. Either you find reviews of people saying it’s great and has only qualities, or people saying it’s terrible and has only bad points. Middle ground, anyone ?

    Like twilight, this book has a GREAT IDEA behind it, but like twilight, it has an AWFUL WRITING to spoil it, as well as a lack of plot, some over the top scenes that make it unbelievable, characters lacking dept etc.

    I seriously enjoyed the first 25% of the book. The sex scene were arousing (the first time around), Christian Grey delightedly execrable, Anastasia Steel a perfectly naive and stupid victim whose misfortune could be genuinely enjoyed. The next quarter my interest dropped due to the repetitions in every way and increasingly unbelievable characters and descriptions. However at this point in the book, I was totally expecting Christian Grey to murder brutally Anastasia Steel, and that would have made a good book. Sequels would have been good too. I would have loved to read how Christian recruit his next victim and what happens to her, especially if she had been a tad more interesting than Ana. Or, I could have been pleasantly surprised if Ana had killed Christian, and then turned into a dominant/murderer in the sequels. Would have been believable and entertaining too. But apparently not…

    Fifty shades of Grey is more or less what Ai No Corrida would have been if Nagisa Oshima had been a poor writer instead of a genius movie director, and if Sada Abe had been unbelievably romanticized instead of real.

    E L James can’t write and it is a pity. However let’s not take away from her the excellent idea the book is based on, it can be recognized too.

    • LSA

      Excellent idea?!!? There’s NOT one original idea presented. The entire book is a rip-off of 9 1/2 Weeks down to the man’s last name. I’m failing to understand why the copyright holder of 9 1/2 Weeks hasn’t sued. BIZARRE.

  48. 2014: Year of the Buggery | Cuddlebuggery Book Blog

    […] Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James Even when read with prior knowledge of its infamy and a bracing for its dire quality, James’ debut excuse for a fictional romance is a vile and thoroughly unpleasant experience. Poorly written and offensive, a disservice to every theme and topic that it tries to handle, this courtship of one very stupid girl and her revolting monster of a suitor lacks even the “so bad, it’s good” quality to make it remotely worth picking up. […]

  49. Stef

    Oh god! This review couldn’t be more spot on with how I feel about this book! I tortured myself through it and then could only read the first 30 pages of the second one before I HAD to stop! What a terrible set of characters and such a crappy plot!

  50. nayatha

    broke down when I saw the book on my sis computer …. I reached the first ‘stalking’ at her job and couldn’t go further….smdh…. decide instead to read reviews…. thank you for yours…. I think you have saved my life (well my sanity at least)

  51. Melanie

    I’m beyond thrilled to have my own feelings so vehemently confirmed. I too, am an avid reader and I’ve have read absolutely brilliant books with immersive plots and characters, meaning that I am actually a little sad when a book comes to its end. However, with this one, I can not get there faster.

    After hearing about these books over and over again, I was really keen on reading them. I practically salivate over the possibility of a good read. I heard my first bad review from a friend, who said that, after hearing all the hype, it’s not what you expect. I didn’t understand what she could possibly mean but I had already started the first book. Unfortunately, for myself, I am the kind of person that always tried to finish a book, regardless of how terrible it is, just to see what happens at the end.

    My first impression was that of an naive adolescent’s narrative as a result of the awful first person telling. And the constant repetition drove me insane. What also confounded me through the entire series was what would this attractive fucked up man see in Anastastia. As far as I can tell, she is never actually described really well in any point in the book. Only fleetingly through bits and pieces by herself and Grey. There are just many things that make no sense or go unanswered. How does Grey achieve his wealth, you know, how does he get started…how does Anastatia become editor…after a week?! (Apparently Christian did not meddle). And oh, besties dating and committing to brothers…with the sister possibly dating the brother of Ana’s bestie…keeping it in they family hey…

    Ah well, I am close to completing the last book into inane series and will be glad to be done with it. Then I can spend the rest of my life trying forget what a truly awful book this was, however, I have a feeling…it will stay with me forever….

  52. Nikita

    I got great pleasure out of reading this review. I actually was hoping to find an outpouring of negative reviews for this series when I typed ‘Fifty Shades of Grey reviews’ in the search engine. I knew it couldn’t just be me. This book is just terrible. Like many people, I’m all about guilty pleasures and such. I read fanfiction and watch soap operas. However, even this book cannot quench the thirst for a good guilty pleasure. It’s extremely repetitive, lacks any substance or depth, and is embarrassing in its attempt to be rich with culture (classic Brit Lit references and Christian playing melancholy Chopin/Bach pieces on the piano, a true tragic romance). Seriously, if it’s erotica people are looking for, this isn’t the place. For God’s sake, Ana is still saying things like “he touches me…there…” two books in, when she’s had sex plenty enough with Christian to be a little more forthcoming about her anatomy. *smacks forehead* I’ve read better erotica for free on fanfiction websites. In fact, I’ve read better stories in general on unpublished fanfiction websites where the authors receive NO money and have NO recognition besides their small community of loyal readers. Though, I rented the ‘Fifty’ books from the library, thank goodness, because if I spent any money on them I’d be fuming.

    I noticed the pattern of word repetition early on in the first book and prayed to God it was just me being picky and it’d stop. Nope. The characters are nearly always murmuring, muttering, mumbling, or whispering (it’s amazing they can ever hear each other). Ana is always “Oh my”, “Holy cow/shit/fuck”, and “hmm….(insert random unimportant observation)”. Christian is always “No, stop biting your lip or I’ll fuck you”, “Eat”, “Come (haha, get it? Double meaning, eh? -_-)”, “What are you doing to me, Ana?”…..yeah.

    Being on the third book now, I’m just wishing it would end with one of them dying, preferably Ana, so there’s no chance of another book between two people with zero sexual chemistry/depth/anything that makes characters interesting. Ana is by far one of the worst, if not THE worst, female protagonists I’ve ever read, and I have read Twilight (a series I’m personally not a fan of, but even Twilight is written better than this). Whenever she asks herself what Christian sees in her, I find myself asking the same thing, because she is just….zero. Really. A pretty face is simply not enough to keep up interest in a book series spanning over 1500 pages. I like characters with some meat to dig my teeth into, amirite?

    I could write a small novel just tearing this book apart and its false media image of being this life changing, earth shattering, controversial-book-of-the-century behemoth. In the end, you have to read and judge for yourself. Anyway, it’s not the simple fact that people may enjoy this book that gets me the most: it’s the notion that this book was not only published but became an international sensation, while there are so many undiscovered/rejected authors or current authors who don’t get this kind of press when they really deserve to. It’s a shame, really, that other people’s dreams and accomplishments get trampled by the stampede of people running to worship this book and eventually the films that are being made. No thanks. I’d rather curl up with the Harry Potter series, a Kinsey Millhone novel, or Lewis Carroll’s enchanting Alice in Wonderland (a classic in British Literature, wonder if Ana would approve? >.>)

  53. Tina

    Sometimes I am ashamed of what becomes popular in the US. This is one of those times. The fact that kinky Twilight fanfiction hit the NYT bestseller list makes me sad. There are much more deserving books out there. Books of actual quality. Sigh.
    Tina recently posted…Tow Dolly RentalMy Profile

  54. Christine Summers

    This is so true. I just read it. It has literally become the worst book I have ever read in my entire life. I thought to myself initially, these are only the first few pages, it can’t be that bad and of course it just goes on and on. And did you notice the redundancy. James will say this like, I liked the ring but I don’t thing it was appropriate for him to buy the ring for me. It drove me insane! I feel like it is a great story if a better writer took over and changed the characters to make them more realistic and admirable. Ana Steele and Christian Grey are easily two of the worst people fathomable. If a good writer like Elizabeth Christopher or Lisa See rewrote the book, it would probably be one of the greatest books of all time.
    Fifty Shades of Grey is an insult to author, literature, and the women.
    When reading this book, I became so fed up, I’d skip every e-mail and scene. They made me feel uncomfortable and besides, it was just more of the same.
    While this was a horrible book, E.L. James is not an author. This is just a fan fiction obviously based off of Twilight which I now know that I will never read. This is a pretty impressive work for someone who is not a professional author (went to school for literature).
    Christine Summers recently posted…Cuddlebuggery Survey Results: Part 2My Profile

  55. Julibub Hollibrand

    Ha ha. Thanks for this comprehensive break down of the worst book I have ever read. There are worse books which have been published (self-publishing?? z-grade internet erotica??) but I have never read them as they were not major book/movie releases through Random House. It is worth noting that Random House do describe (in their online blurb) the first novel as ‘amusing’. I have absolutely no doubt they have found publishing this thing highly amusing as it has guaranteed their salaries for a lifetime without paying for any editor’s time or services. I decided to read this vomit because I thought it was great for an erotic book to be so popular. I took it as given that it would be professionally handled as other blockbusters have been (Harry Potter etc.). I was astonished to find it was worse than most Mills and Boons and offensive to boot, not from a feminist perspective but from a humanist perspective. If you’re going to write about a co-dependent, abusive relationship, write it as one and don’t pretend it’s beautiful romance. There’s a difference between bedroom kinks and the rest-of-life, sicko, power tripping mind fuck portrayed here. Writers striving for greatness or even formulaic commercial success everywhere must be rolling their eyes and not giving up their day jobs anytime soon.

  56. Liz

    I had never heard any of the negative reviews before I read the trilogy. I read it because everyone I knew (friends, cousins, aunts, my grandma) was raving about it was such a hot and liberating read – like thank god erotica is finally mainstream. Their partners were raving too because apparently the books got them all hot and bothered and the real life sex improved noticeably in the immediate aftermath of reading a few pages. So I figured, “What the heck. I’ve never read erotica. Everyone says this is good. It’s probably a good place to pop my literary porn cherry.” Holy crap (channeling my inner Ana, obviously) was I wrong. The language and styling were immature, as were the explorations of trauma, deviant sexuality, and even “vanilla” (vanilla, seriously?) sex. I mean, what grown adult refers to her vagina as “down there” and her ass as her “bottom”? At one point I seriously looked up the author to confirm that she is, in fact, a full grown-ass adult. I should have taken it as a sign that no one in my office talks about the trilogy – after all, I work in a counseling office. The whole trilogy is wrought with text-book abusive manipulation and I can’t for the life of me fathom why the women in my life got so hot and bothered by it. I guess if they were just going in purely for the sex, then maybe that’s why, but even that I quickly found repetitive and boring.

  57. throwing up in my mouth a little bit

    OH MY…what an awesome review (I’m biting my coy yet desirably insecure lip right now, as I roll my smoldering eyes and slap my inner goddesses “behind”)

    I do not read “romance” novels (predictable plot: “no, you gorgeous beast! Leave me alone, I hate you!” gorgeous beast then tosses alleged heroine against the wall and pins her down, which awakens her rape fantasies and causes her to swoon and fall into his eyes and arms, blah, blah, blah). I rarely read fiction at all. But I kept peripheraly hearing about this piece of garbage book, and when I saw it on sale tragically I actually purchased it. Please forgive me for putting money in E. L. James pocket.

    I didn’t go into this book knowing what it was about. I had no idea at all, except its immense popularity. I actually thought it was going to be something else (note to self: ALWAYS look for the genre label!!!)

    when I got 30 some pages into it, I started thinking “uh, this seems like a romance novel or something. When is the actual story going to begin?” Needless to say, it never did.

    As readers, we are expected to accept the premise that stupid women with no self esteem are wildly desirable (finger knotting, lip biting, and blushing all prove extremely attractive innocence as well), and that love overcomes mental illness and personality disorders.

    Much like cheap pornography, 50 shades has no plot, no storyline, prop like one dimensional characters, and horrible dialogue. But the sex isn’t even as good as in a stomach turning cheap porno. Too much blushing (oh my!) and finger knotting (holy shit!)

    for a cringingly insecure, confused, and scared virgin character, Ana is certainly uninhibited sexually! After gagging so much over the lame yet creepy “story”, it’s too hard to feel any arousal over the explicit sex, sex, sex.

    Ana is a disingenuous self absorbed borderline personality disorder, perfectly matched to a creepy narcissist. This book made me throw up in my mouth a little bit.

  58. Jennifer Mcley

    I’m a FANATIC of this story since It was in the book, but now it was in the movie, it’s so intense to watch every episode. By the way, if anyone is interested in the adult toys they used, then here’s your chance to have it now, but don’t forget to use the coupon code SHADES10 at the checkout to get 2 of the following manual gifts if you spend $17 or more, plus Romance Kit & plus Professional Ladies 6-Pack. For more info just visit this link of

  59. Gabby

    I personally liked the book. There was no rape, no one was forced to do anything they didn’t want to. It was all consensual. Anastasia didn’t even sign the contract. But she did sign a nondisclosure saying she couldn’t talk about what they did, and that’s pretty much it. The rest of the time she’s exploring her sexuality, like that’s wrong because she’s a young women.

    The way someone grows up effects how they act in their adult life. Christian was a neglected child with a horrible mother who died in front of him. It took three days for the police to find them. That can effect someone, a child no less, more than anything. They’re going to have issues in there life no matter how good their adoptive parents are to them.

    Anastasia has said no to Christian on more than one occasion, if she didn’t want something he didn’t do it. He gave her warnings to not get involved with him but it was her choice to. She chose to peruse the relationship because like a normal human being she was curious about the things he liked and wanted to try them. Not once did he severely hut her.

    This book doesn’t demean women, I mean half the movies and books that actually demean women are loved and praised but this book that shows a different side to sex is horrible and shouldn’t be promoted. That’s very close minded, American promotes violence and abuse like there’s tomorrow.

    I’m not saying people can’t have their own opinion but what I’ve seen just doesn’t make sense to me. Half the people haven’t even read the book, and some were thinking it was a romantic comedy. Christian straight up said he doesn’t do romance. It was right there in black and white. He explained what it was she was getting herself into and she still did it of her own free will. If she had said no he would have left her alone but she didn’t.

    All I’m saying is there are different perspectives of Fifty Shades like there are different perspectives about all books. This book just introduces a different world. This book isn’t about religion so I’m not sure why anyone would throw that out there and its not fan fiction because it’s not based on of another author’s book or movie. This isn’t even meant to be a love story, it’s a book about a girl who meets a powerful man who perused because he was interested in her, that’s it. And if you can’t see that I don’t know what to tell you.

    • DifferentPerspective

      I personally think you’re an idiot. The book is based off Myer’s Twilight. It’s all over the Internet that EL James started her trilogy off as Twilight fan fiction.

      What version of 50 Shades did you actually read, because the version I read has rape and coercion, especially in the first two books. Grey also uses alcohol to lower her multiple resolves. Ana turns into an alcoholic because of this.

      I am very concerned that you think a bad childhood is free license to treat others like property, and stalk them, and be allowed to have constant jealousy and rage fits (present throughout the series.)

      Just my perspective, cupcake. No hard feelings!

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