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Fifty Shades of Grey

by E L James

genre: erotica

Synopsis from Goodreads

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 the 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.

Review

This book contains mature material, but the review does not.  I’m very uncomfortable assigning a rating to erotica novels.  Ordinarily, I wouldn’t even review them at all, keeping them a guilty pleasure tucked away in the back of my bookshelf, so there won’t be any commentary on the more mature aspects of this book.  However, I am not policing the comments even though I would prefer everyone keep it clean.

Editing

This is one reason I don’t want to assign a rating to this novel.  I am harsh on books with poor grammar and this one suggests it was never seen by an editor.  Even though the writing processes has opened my eyes to just how many mistakes authors, editors, and an army of beta readers can miss, it disrupted the flow of the story in several places.

Also, I have nothing against British authors, but I was smacked in the face with English (as opposed to American) terms while the characters are American in college… in America.  As much as I think we should change to the metric system, no US college student not deeply involved in the sciences will use the kilometers to describe distance.  There were some other terms, but I didn’t mark them.

Plot

Absolutely fascinating.  I will admit, I picked it up as a guilty pleasure book.  I wasn’t expecting much of a plot and audibly scoffed when I heard it was originally written as Twilight fan fiction.  My expectations were not high.

As the synopsis suggests, the relationship is not a traditional one.  The most surprising aspect of Fifty Shades of Grey was that the relationship doesn’t sound that bad.  Don’t judge or throw tomatoes at me until you read it.  I wouldn’t have believed me either, but there are rules in the contract that can be editing.  Hard and soft limits with safe words let Ana decide what can and cannot be done to her body during their time together.  It wasn’t the dominant-submissive dynamic I had built up in my mind and in the context of the story, it didn’t make me uncomfortable.  I think someone (either in the book or someone I was discussing it with) compared it to role play, where up front you set up rules so everyone knows what the expectations are and what lines cannot be crossed.  Even now I’m not sure how I feel about that, but that’s what makes this a great book if you ignore the editing.  Good books keep you entertained, great books make you question yourself or the world.

Stick with it, it gets better

It took time for the book to surpass my low expectations.  A good chunk of that is because of the editing, the rest was because I was unimpressed by the cliche rich troubled handsome man goes after naive and insecure plain Jane dynamic.  However, as the book progressed, it got better.  I became emotionally invested in the characters and started psycho-analyzing them.  Disturbing as it was, I actually got happy butterflies at one point.  The fact that this book about a potentially abusive relationship that makes me uncomfortable on so many levels managed to give me happy butterflies speaks volumes.

Didn’t finish

I’m currently at 96% (thank you Kindle).  I’ve been told as soon as I read the last page, I’m going to rush out and have to start the next book.  I’m at a good stopping point, trying very hard to be productive and not get sucked into another for fun book when I’m back-logged on reviews.  I have no doubt in my mind that the last few pages will only make the book better, (one more reason to not assign a rating yet), but since it may be some time before I get to it, I wanted to go ahead and write the review and throw in this disclaimer.

-Eliabeth


Have you read it?  Without being graphic, what did you think of the limits?  Was it what you expected?

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