Cuffs, Whips, Chains…Oh My!
You’re reading the first post of YOU READ WHAT? Book Reviews (No, that doesn’t mean you get a prize).
As you can tell by my interesting title, I’ll be critiquing an equally interesting book that has garnered not only popularity and criticism but controversy as well. Fifty Shades of Grey is a book that has everyone talking and in this review I’ll also be discussing the other two books in the trilogy as well: Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. Written by E.L. James, it is the author’s first ever book series and in the near future we’ll expect to see it on the big screen. Um…Yay?
So here’s a quick synopsis:
The story follows the relationship between a recent college graduate, Anastasia Steele, and a billionaire, Christian Grey. Ana soon discovers (after signing a confidentiality agreement, I might add) that this sexy man has sexual tastes that involve bondage, dominance and sadism (BDSM) stemming from a childhood abuse that left him a severely damaged individual. She’s required to sign a contract that will allow Grey to have complete control over her life as his submissive. Ana agrees to the experiment but has difficulty reconciling who she is (a virgin with no real prior, and normal, relationship to use in comparison) with the person Christian wants her to be: a submissive.
Quite the read, right? Now we’re at the part of the review where I say to all of you who don’t want spoilers to not continue on.
Yay! You stuck around which means you’ve either read the book(s) or could care less about the spoilers. Both are fine with me. Now let’s get to the review and my opinions.
I really didn’t like this book. First off, the writing was terrible in every sense of the word. It felt amateurish and there was too much telling and not enough showing. What does that mean? An example of this would be:
Character 1: I’m so broken. I’m emotionally scarred due to the childhood trauma I faced so long ago.
Character 2: I trace the scar on my hand and shut my eyes as unwanted flashes of before come streaming in.
The first example is TELLING and the second is SHOWING. These aren’t perfect examples but they do show the differences between the two approaches. As writers, we’re told that our readers aren’t stupid. Of course, there are times where important information needs to be outright given for the story to make sense but most of the time (or half the time. It’s not an exact science after all) readers can infer to what’s going on in the story through the actions of the characters. The book is told in Ana’s perspective which means we have access to her thoughts but a lot of her thoughts are far too repetitive for my liking (including particular words like MERCURIAL which appears in the book over a dozen times to point of being noticeable) and ends up becoming annoying. It’s like having Kim Kardashian’s voice in your head constantly and never shutting up.
Another reason why I disliked this book was the subject matter. I don’t care what two people do in the bedroom as long as they’re both consenting adults. With that being said, the relationship between Ana and Christian is unhealthy. He’s controlling and Ana does stand up to him a few times but mostly, when she does, she ends up backing off because “he loves her” and he’s so damaged that all he needs is time to figure his shit out. They have this almost I-Can’t-Live-Without-You vibe going on with each that reminds me of the relationship between Bella and Edward from Twilight which, again, isn’t healthy. Throw in his S&M fascination and you have a seriously messed up couple.
Overall, I couldn’t connect with any of the characters and couldn’t understand why anyone (like Ana’s parents for one) weren’t wary of the relationship more or spoken out on how Christian treated Ana sometimes. I was irritated by her constant plea of, “Don’t be mad, Christian” that had me wanting to bash her with some common sense. I found the sex scenes annoying after a while since they happened so frequently and for no real reason other than to fit some sort of unspoken sex quota. I was more intrigued by the mystery surrounding one of Christian’s ex-submissive, Leila, and Jack Hyde’s vendetta against him rather than Ana and Christian’s relationship. Lastly, Ana and Christian’s entire courtship (or dating or whatever you call it) lasted as long as Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries marriage which makes no sense to me especially when you’re dating someone as messed up as Christian Grey.
I’m not sure why I’ve injected two Kim Kardashian references but hopefully you’ve gotten my point. I do have to give James some credit though. She had a unique idea that stood out amongst the throes of books currently out there. She published a book which, in of itself, is a feat worth praising because any writer can tell you the amount of dedication needed to write one.
I give this book 1 1/2 stars out of 5.
Thanks for the read and I hope you’ll catch my next review.
Keep on reading,
A. A. Omer
The opinions expressed here are mine and readers are welcome to disagree. In fact, I encourage it! I never believed in putting particular books or authors on some sort of universal pedestal but you’re free to put it on your individualized pedestal because I most certainly will.