This is NOT a review – merely my own personal observations. For those intending to read the novel there may be spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned…
50 Shades of Grey seems to divide people into one of two reaction:
“I want my own Christian Grey” – a majority of the female readers.
“50 Shades of Shit!” – quite a few men who wouldn’t read it even if you held a gun to their heads.
There is a third reaction of “I’d never let a man do that to me.” But the general consensus seems to be that the ladies like Mr Grey.
I’m of the opinion that you shouldn’t judge something if you have no experience of it. That was the attitude that led me into reading the Twilight books (and my opinion of them never changed).
I read 50 Shades of Grey this week over two days with the assistance of a beer or three to help me along. I’ve had the book a while and speed read it once which drew me to thinking it was as terrible as I’d expected. But I figured it deserved a chance so I went for it again.
Bear in mind that I know I’m not the target audience here.
It’s not a bad book and while it certainly isn’t great literature I can see some of the appeal it has. It has flaws certainly and I felt the first third was clumsy with stilted dialogue that would have been more at home in a Brontë classic. I felt it needed another re-write and some tight editing.
There were missed opportunities too. The most glaring for me was when Ana and Jose met for a coffee after his clumsy pass at her. That could have been developed into a great exploration of the character’s friendship and how it stood afterwards. Sadly it was reduced to a few lines of dialogue and then skipped completely. There are several scenes that end before they’ve begun and I felt that it would have been a smoother read if this was addressed.
The book certainly picks up after the introduction of Christian Grey. He’s an interesting character; flawed, with dark secrets in his past that may be revealed further down the line. Some of his dialogue seems off at times such as his constant use of the word “baby” which initially seems out of character.
Ana is less interesting to me but I do like her internal struggle with what she is experiencing. Her “Inner Goddess” musings seem to come from left field but after a while you accept them and it gives insight into her feelings.
Highlights for me are the emails which are a fun way to propel the story and offer something fresh. The message titles and the way they are signed off – “Two palms twitching CEO, Grey Enterprise Holdings Inc.” – are entertaining and provide a lighter side to Mr Grey.
The conversations between Christian and Ana can be sparkling and amusing at times and when they are they flow nicely and feel right. Sadly that isn’t the case all the time but it’s early days yet.
The BDSM (which sparked a LOT of comment) sits uneasily at times but is explored adequately. The sex is relatively graphic but it works in the context of the story and doesn’t seemed to be shoehorned in just to titillate.
One danger of this does strike me (sorry) in that with so many ladies saying they want their own Christian Grey men could be drawing the potentially eroneous conclusion that any girl who’s read this book will want kinky sex in their very own Red Room of Pain. That could get kind of awkward.
The book does wear its original source material in plain sight if you know what to look for:
The beautiful but enigmatic male lead with his adopted siblings and successful parents.
The deliberate emotional distance he places between himself and others and how he is drawn against his will into forming a romantic attachment.
The clumsy, unsure of herself female lead, unaware of how beautiful she is.
The childhood friend with a crush on the girl that she does not reciprocate.
The hero saving the girl when she’s in danger and rushes to be at her side.
The list goes on but you’re only aware of the similarities if you know that 50 Shades started life as a Twilight fanfic. It does provide unintentional amusement if you read one of the kinky sex scenes with the characters original names in it though!
The main standout for me was the ending. We don’t get Star Wars where we celebrate and everyone’s happy. Instead we get The Empire Strikes back with a traumatic event splitting our heroes up, leaving us wondering how the situation can be resolved in book 2. It’s a solid cliffhanger and a bold decision that I totally approve of.
I honestly don’t think 50 Shades of Grey is worth the attention it’s received; it’s a flawed book that I felt needed more work. But it’s also not worth the derision it gets from people that haven’t read it (that’s you men I’m talking to now) and as a first novel it a good attempt by an untested author.
It did succeed in one thing; I want to find out what happens next. Getting your reader to want to turn the page is probably the greatest achievement an author can have.
So it’s not the best thing I’ve ever read and I don’t think it’s really deserving of all the attention but it’s also not he worst book I’ve ever read either. And yes, I’ll be starting in on 50 Shades Darker later today – feel free to judge me all you want.