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

It has been at least two years since I actually read this book, jumping on the bandwagon as the 50 Shades mania was at its height. The main reason I read it is because I knew I couldn’t criticize or judge a book if I hadn’t given it a try. Friends were recommending it and my Facebook was being bombarded by everyone else’s opinion.
So eventually I took the plunge (with an open mind), downloaded the novel and read it in one sitting. So this is what I thought…

I hated it! Yes I jumped straight off the fence into the hate camp. But I’ll try my best to tell you why.

Firstly as an avid reader, writer and English language and literature student I was appalled that such a badly written, clichéd and frankly unimaginative book had been published! I struggled at first to even get through the first couple of pages, had it been a paperback I would actually have edited this book as I went along.

Secondly, I have read many reviews of this book and plenty of people seem to think we all need to lighten up when it comes to feminism and sexism. I completely disagree! Not only should we not lighten up we should take it more seriously. I don’t mean to go off on a tangent here but maybe if we all took it a bit more seriously then sexism wouldn’t exist…

Anyway where was I? Right feminism or lack there of. I’m fed up of reading books with a bumbling, clumsy, stereotypical female lead (*cough Twilight cough*). I have only read the first book so maybe she improves…maybe she becomes a strong, confident woman who doesn’t need validation from a man…I can only hope!

Thirdly I would just like to state that although erotica is not a genre I would usually read, I am not opposed to it. I don’t think it is smut and I don’t think anyone should feel embarrassed or ashamed to read and enjoy it. However this book did not have me marching down to my local B&Q to stock up on bondage supplies. As I have already mentioned the writing is extremely poor and unimaginative and this extends to the sex scenes. It is shocking really to be reading such badly written sex in an erotic novel…even laughable. Worse than that is how difficult parts of the novel were to read. For me I felt extremely uncomfortable with particular parts that read to me like rape. Maybe its just me but he felt TOO forceful, it was too much. Especially as she was an inexperienced virgin who’s only experience now of sex and relationships is a violent one. Personally I don’t think this is the kind of precedent that should be set for young girls reading the novel (because we all know they’re reading it too). I don’t think I would have objected so much if Anastasia had been a more experienced, stronger character but she wasn’t, she was led too forcefully and quickly into this kind of relationship.

There is so much more I could say but I shall stop my ranting and raving here. But for whoever is still here with me and hasn’t wandered off to make a cup of tea I’m going to try balance this a little…

So no one can deny just how successful this novel is. I congratulate E. L. James on bringing erotica to the masses in such an explosive way. I know plenty of people who never read but read this (similar to Harry Potter in that way!). However, I am positive that there are thousands of erotic books out there which are far better written and a lot less cliché. I do hope that people aren’t put off and that more writers of erotic fiction get the appreciation they deserve.

Okay so that wasn’t very positive and neither is this…I give it 1/10 which I think is generous. The 1 is deserved because I didn’t get up half way through reading and burn the book…though that might be due to the fact that I read it on my kindle. If I had owned it in paperback this might be a whole different story!


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