Fifty Shades of Grey book 1 - erotic fiction by Vintage Books - review by SMichelle

Fifty Shades of Grey... I just can't make up my mind about you!

After hearing about this novel for ages, I had to give it a try. It's not completely terrible, but I can see why many people will hate this took. The writing isn't that good, and it doesn't display BDSM relationships well. For those in vanilla relationships, though, they might like it. Me? It's okay, but I won't be re-reading it.
Parts turned me on, Some comical bits, Some sweet parts
Childish writing, Repetitive, Doesn't display BDSM relationships well, Characters don't seem "real"
Rating by reviewer:
extremely useful review

About author

Fifty Shades of Grey was Erika Leonard's first novel. You might know her better as E.L. James, as that is the pseudonym that she chose to write under. For the purpose of this review, I'll review to her as E.L. So moving on. This was her first novel, so I was not familiar with her, of course. Doing a bit of research, I discovered that E.L. describes Fifty Shades of Grey as being her mid-life crisis, and all of her fantasies put down on paper.

I also found that she once worked as a television executive, and that she had two teenage children. She's also a British author -- which kind of explains why her dialogue for her American characters just seemed a bit off.

I didn't care much for her writing style. It seemed very juvenile -- to the point that I was shocked that she was born in 1963. Along with being juvenile, I also found her writing to be very redundant.

Her own personal website says that she is working on another love story. Good for her for becoming a well published writer, but I won't be anxious to purchase anymore of her books after reading the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy.

Content / Style / Audience

When you to go read this book, it's important to keep in mind that this book is incredibly mainstream. They discuss it on the news, you can find it in just about any bookstore you go to, and chances are that you've seen people reading it in public. In fact, my very first exposure to this book was flipping the news on to see them talking about how this book was causing the sale of BDSM toys to increase.

Now, the fact that book is encouraging the sale of sex toys is kind of cool, but you still can't really expect a dark kinky sex story from such a mainstream book. If you open this book expecting to read something really dark, the chances are that this is going to disappoint you. On the other hand, if you've no exposure to the world of kink, this might be a nice introduction -- though the novel tends to leave out some important aspects of BDSM relationships (trust, for instance). But, to give you an idea of how intense this novel gets... the most intense, dark, kinky thing is when Christian hits Anastasia with a belt 6 times, after she asks for him to do his worst to her.

Serious BDSM lifestylers are likely to be highly irritated by this book. I'm involved in a BDSM relationship - albeit one that I'd describe as being "light" -- and even I found myself irritated by the way this book approaches BDSM.

Let's get into some things that really annoyed me about this book, and that may annoy you, too.

1. Christian Grey. Every time I hear women discussing Christian Grey, they seem to paint him as some romantic hero. A co-worker of mine recently told me that she wants to find her own Christian Grey, and a few of my clients have told me that they think they love him. To which I say.... seriously? There are times in the book when I do like Christian's character, but in general? He's a stalker. He tracks Anastasia down at her work, and shows up out of the blue. He immediately seems to be possessive of her, before she even agrees to be his. He uses her cell phone to track her location down, and shows up out of the blue. He even shows up to surprise her at a bar in another state, when she's visiting her mother. Sorry, ladies, but that is not romantic -- that's creepy. Let's not mistake stalking for romance, okay?

2. Anastasia Steele. Ana is in her early 20's, and she's a virgin until Christian. She is constantly battling with her subconscious and her "inner goddess." Her subconscious wants her to stay away from Christian, whereas her inner goddess encourages the relationship. Her general character just has a tendency to get very annoying.

3. The term inner goddess itself. It used over and over again in the book, and it makes me roll my eyes every time I read it.

4. The actual writing! Oh my god, the writing. It's repetitive, and it reads like a teenager might've written it.

5. The story seems to make it look like trust is not really an important aspect of a BDSM relationship. Ana tells Christian she trusts him, but she is almost constantly in fear of him. Christian knows Ana is unsure of their relationship, and though it troubles him, he continues anyway.

There are other things, too, but you get the idea.


I actually read this in e-book format, but I did have a chance to look over the book design. The book is discreet, though it's so well known that everyone will know just what you're reading about.

Personal comments

As I said above, there are things that really annoy me about this book. That being said, there are things that I did enjoy about it. There were a few scenes that did turn me on, and there are parts that made me smile.

As a result, I'm kind of throwing my hands up saying, I just don't know what to think about this book! In the end, I'm going to say that I think this book is worth a read as long as you know not to expect a great kinky novel, or a well written novel. There are much better novels out there, though.
Follow-up commentary
Nothing special. I've re-read parts of this book as everyone I know seems to talk about it, but I just can't stand it. Definitely not a keeper for me.
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Do you like this review?
  • SMichelle
    This is my very first book review, and I wasn't really sure how to about writing it.. please let me know if there's anything I left out that you'd like to know. I'd be glad to answer any of your questions.
  • Sodom and Gomorrah
    Thanks for the great review! Too bad you didn't absolutely love it!
  • ksparkles16
    Great job! I have the same feeling about it as you do. I did like parts of it and I'm on the last book right now. I hate the inner goddess thing too! Sometimes I just feel like the whole series doesn't have much plot: just lots of sex, lol. Are you going to read the next book?
  • dsumrow1
  • Bex1331
    Thanks for the review! I pretty much feel the same way you did
  • skeeterlynn
    Thank you
  • Kitka
    You did a great job on your first book review! Thanks for sharing it with us
  • PeaceToTheMiddleEast
    Still working on reading these. Great job on your first book review.
  • SMichelle
    Thanks for all the great comments, guys!

    ksparkles -- I've started reading book two, so yes, I plan on reading the whole series. It's not an awful read, as long as you know not to expect much from it.
  • chikisses
    I love the series.
  • Rory
    Nice review! Thanks! I've read so many reviews that hate it and a few that liked it. So now I'll try reading it and if I don't like it I'll give it away!!
  • ASpiritedSlut
    Thank you! I'm SO glad to see honest reviews of this awful book! I'm not sure why people think it is the end-all-be-all of smut, but it isn't. Definitely important to note all of the creep tendencies that seem to so often get overlooked!
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