Quite honestly, I had this curiosity and it was something I just couldn’t shake for the life of me. I wanted to know why this book had everybody absolutely obsessed. People were rushing to buy copies of it and go home. A lot of women wanted to try BDSM because of this book and a lot of people who were already into that scene were outraged with how badly it portrayed it. This book has caused so much controversy and there were a lot of mixed reviews, particularly bad. So, of course, with all of this in mind, I went to my local charity shop and found the entire trilogy for £1 and thought “Why not?”
I sat down on my bed, opened the book and read the first page and already, I knew what I was letting myself in for. Already, the style of writing is bad from the descriptions of mundane items or characters to the feelings and emotions of Anastasia Steele, the main character of the book.
Basically, think of this book like a Reese Witherspoon rom-com on a bad day. You have Anastasia (or Reese Witherspoon), a clumsy, mundane woman who has absolutely nothing interesting to do or say until she meets the charming Christian Grey (or the actor who would play Reese Witherspoon’s love interest). Of course, they have a few conversations and then she sees a little more that he’s different than the other men. He’s into ‘kinky’ stuff (something I’ll get to in the review, I promise). Basically, they both ‘make love’ even though he wants rough stuff with her and he draws up a contract which states she will give herself to him as a submissive and he will be her dominant.
I swear to you, the entire book basically revolves around her getting some nasty and umming and aahhing about whether to sign the contract or not. It’s very frustrating and yet I didn’t want to put the book down for all the wrong reasons. I genuinely carried on because, like an idiot, I believe in hope and I hoped that this book would actually get better. Alas, it didn’t. It was pretty much like a paper version of nettles being thrown into my eyes and then having an eyewash with salty water. Let me tell you why as there are several reasons.
This is basically Twilight with no vampires but added sex. The characters are extremely similar and I am aware that this is actually Twilight fanfiction but still, at least have the courtesy of giving the characters some identity away from the Twilight franchise. Anastasia is Bella (clumsy, mundane, moans a lot, moons over boyfriend and pretends that nothing else but him exists and feels she can’t do anything herself without him). Christian is Edward (moody, possessive, a little angry, rich and controlling) and Jose, the photographer who has been hardcore friend-zoned by Anastasia, is Jacob (obsesses over someone he can’t have and weak). It just feels like there is absolutely no originality. We find absolutely nothing out about the characters. We know very little about Anastasia except for that she obsesses over Christian. There were little snippets of her character but it’s quickly pushed for, yep, you guessed it, more obsessing over Grey! As for Christian, all we know is that his mother was a ‘crack whore’ and that he loves rough sex, whips and chains…kinky…if he actually used them…which he never…instead, he uses his work tie…words fail me.
The other thing is the sex. Everybody can high-five about this because she finally gets some and I’m expecting to see some really nasty, kinky stuff considering, let’s face it, this is what we’re reading it for. However, all we get is bland sex. The kinkiest thing he does is ties her up, blindfolds her and makes her listen to classical music while he does the deed with her. Of course, there’s a short scene where he spanks her but it’s very disappointing and considering this is supposed to be erotica, it’s very childish. Anastasia seems to not be able to say what she has when it comes to her private parts even though she is able to say what Christian has. All she ever calls it most of the time is “down there” and you feel like screaming. Another thing that is mentioned too many times is her inner goddess who seems to be talented as she does backflips, cartwheels, dancing and bites her lip. On every page after she gets down with Christian, all she ever bangs on about is “My inner goddess is grinning from ear to ear, doing cartwheels and licking her lips”. What I would like her inner goddess to do is calm down, make herself some green tea, sit down, stick on Loose Women and SHUT THE HELL UP!
Can we please talk about the story for just a second? It’s a complete mess! Drivel! They meet, they have sex, he makes a contract, she thinks about it, they have sex, she meets his parents, they have sex, she goes to see her mom, they have sex and some other stuff happens but I can’t remember. The scenes were either too bad that my memory served me well and protected my brain cells by erasing them or they just weren’t important enough to the story. The pacing is pretty awful as well. I can say, hand on heart, that there’s better pacing in Spot the Dog books. It seems that E.L. James forgets that there needs to be a beginning, middle and end. There’s no suspense when meeting Grey for the first time. Within a few pages, she’s met him. There’s no build-up towards it, which I think would have made the book better. Also, the ‘build-up’ towards Ana finding out about Grey wasn’t so great either.
You’re probably wondering if there are any pros I have for the book. I’m really struggling…hopefully Fifty Shades Darker is better because, surely, it can’t get any worse.