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

Fifty Shades of Misrepresentative

Not a bad read. I wouldn't say it's a complete abomination to the BDSM world. It's fun, it's fiction, it's fantasized. Grey becomes a romantic character that you want to love and hate. However, as someone who practices BDSM with my Dom, I simply can't give a higher rating to something that paints Doms and subs to be damaged or "abnormal." Grey truly isn't as 'extreme' as Anastasia's mind makes him out to be. This is a love story with whips and control involved and you can't expect much more.
Well made, Descriptive words
Misrepresentative of BDSM relationships, Repetitive
Rating by reviewer:
extremely useful review

About author

I have no experience reading any other work by British author and mother EL James, as this is her only series and I've only read the first book of this series. She's currently working on a new book, and lives with her husband and two children in London.

The author originally meant this story to be a Twilight Fan Fiction, but decided to adapt it into a series.
    • Engaging

Content / Style / Audience

Anastasia Steel's best friend and roommate Kate has caught a cold, and therefore needs Anastasia to fill in for her at an interview for the college newspaper in which Kate works for. Unhappy to oblige, Ana, as she's called, meets the wealthy and put-together entrepreneur Christian Grey. It is in this instant that Grey begins an endless spell of flirtation and desire for the plain jane tool-store worker.

Through a series of mini-dates and quizzing encounters, Anastasia and Grey begin to make the first official steps towards a budding romance, however, Grey's controlling nature has Ana's eyebrows raised and she looks further than the surface for answers. It is here she finds something dark, mysterious, and foreboding about Grey - his sexual lust and her gravitation toward him that she cannot understand.

Something evolves between them and they are thus tangled into an entrapment and fascination for each other, leading Ana to a door she never thought she'd enter - into the world of BDSM.

Each page unfolds ever so slightly Ana's discomfort with the idea of belonging to anyone under such conditions of a Dominant and submissive relationship. She's a mild, non-drinking, literature loving virgin and delicately falls into the lap of Grey over time. It is there she discovers that this relationship may or may not be for her in the long run and questions her ability to be with Grey.

It is then that the story twists and delves into Grey's work of "darkness," and Anastasia is left to explain to friends and family why it is she's so out of tune with life ever since she encounters Grey.


That's basically the synopsis the author would love for you to feel suites the book, but in all actuality, this book is Pretty Woman with whips and chains. This is Twilight with a less indecisive female lead and no blood shed. This book is addicting, but on few terms. I can only hope such a novel will help those who have been judgmental of BDSM a little less so.

The lack of maturity in the writing won't be reflected so much in Grey, but in Anastasia and her fleeting mind. Around every corner, she's shocked and expresses Grey's interests to be "abnormal," "strange," and finds the smallest details impossible to wrap her mind around. Then, Grey sweeps in with his dick and fucks all the thoughts away until the next page. You do begin to like them as a couple, but the story is lacking sustenance in important areas.

In this novel, Ana is a virgin in her early 20's, attending college and who has a few close friends, one of which, Jose, who likes her as a bit more. Ana has turned down his offers to date her, as well as others, and seems to snub just about any male who gets within a 10 mile radius. Then, she meets Christian Grey, and suddenly, she begins thinking sexual thoughts as if it isn't out of character whatsoever. Expect a protagonist that loves to play the damsel in distress that is rescued and refuses to accept the help. It's pretty infuriating. Grey, however, adds an air of romance in the story as he gains closeness through Anastasia.

I hate to compare it in any way to Twilight, but here we go again with the lead female who seemingly has no self respect and allows herself to become so enamoured with a male so much that she throws away all sense of logic and trusts her loins to do the talking. Ana has a "subconcious" and "inner goddess" in the book that are consistently arguing against Grey's way of manipulating and pushing her to succumb to his wants, so I suppose it's nice to know she isn't completely surrendering her rights to a free mind, but still allows Grey to change her entire sense of self compass in a relatively short amount of time.

We're expected to believe it to be cute that Ana tries to argue with Grey buying her things at times, yet surrenders herself completely when he touches her just so. It's a joke that she has a shred of know-how in standing up for herself throughout the book, when essentially, she's changing everything about her sex life for someone she's known less than a month because he's so enthralling. We meet all people we love or click with, it happens, but this kind of lifestyle amongst BDSMers is generally taken a bit more carefully and most of the time, more slowly so that there aren't emotional break downs like Ana's that hint that this lifestyle is really not for her. In the book, she even asks Grey, "Why do you have to hit me at all?" admist crying. He feels bad, he sleeps over, gives her some cuddling, and everything's fine the next day. Ana is represented to be immature and shocked at even the most soft limits that are present in a BDSM relationship. Her mind yells "Holy shit," ten times a chapter like a tween when Grey does or says something she finds particularly enticing.

James has an extensive vocabulary and is great at description, but seems to have only one word for the pinkness in Ana's cheeks; "I flushed. I flush. Flushing, I, ect." This isn't completely bothersome, but it makes the sex scenes somewhat repetitive after the first.

From the first page, I thought this book would be well suited for housewives or Mommies to be to read about things they've yet to try or they wouldn't normally be curious about. Now, I think this book would be much more suited to someone who is unsure of what they'd like to try. Though this book represents a BDSM relationship in the worst light possible, it does give a rough outline of what one might entail; the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Sure, there are men like Christian Grey who can be controlling and caring at the same time in the BDSM world, but to be completely realistic, they mostly search for women they don't have to -convince- to love them for who they are. In the book, Grey explains he's been with fifteen other women, all who knew his lifestyle and that Anastasia is "different," and somehow more alluring than the others. That's all fine and good, but if that were so, he'd give up on submitting her to a BDSM relationship and let her talk to others about what they share versus alienating her from friends and family and love her as is.

I thought the sex scenes in this book would be much more intense and longer. However, I found most lasted a page at most and left me craving a bit more. Calling this erotic may be a bit of a stretch, as most of the erotic scenes are repeats of the previous and leave much to be desired. However, Grey's romantic relationship with Anastasia is interesting as you watch it unnfold through the chapters.

What concerns me is that the cult following gathering around this literature who aren't into BDSM may take this piece of fiction and run with it, thinking that because they like their nipples being pinched that they're to be considered to be 'kinky,' and need to feel the least bit ashamed about their fetishes.
    • Bdsm
    • Fetish
    • Fiction


The design of the book is meant to be sophisticated, classy, while understated, just like Mr. Grey himself. This it accomplishes and has a very discreet cover that may leave an onlooker wondering exactly what it's about. I like the layout of the text and the book as a whole. It isn't shotty or cheap and is well put together.

The cover features a dark background with a silver tie going across the left corner. I believe it might be a tie described in the book in which he ties Ana up with.
    • Discreet cover
    • Well made

Personal comments

As someone who is in a serious BDSM relationship themselves, I feel it's poorly represented in this series but I can't blame the author for following the 'sex sells' craze. However..

The book drops hints all along that Christian Grey is this way because he was abused as a child. He is controlling because he didn't have control, and he doesn't like to be touched because he was abused, and therefore, ties his submissives up, (a main factor in being a submissive,) and basically puts BDSM in this ugly stereotype that is fought against ALL the damn time. People who are practicers BDSM are often questioned to be damaged, or are believed to be a product of abusive childhoods and sometimes, that's simply not the case. I just wish the author had left Grey's troubling past out of it. But plot line is plot line.

x "Hearts and flowers" is what Anastasia describes as a "normal relationship." A BDSM relationship is alluded to be excluded from this, as the book only gives us instances in which a BDSM relationship is fucked up and confusing.
x Lack of maturity in writing; "Holy shit, Holy cow," Excessive drinking to deal with pain.
x Links BDSM to trauma
x Takes a shit all over feminism and Ana knowing who she is as a person individually
Follow-up commentary
I still really hate it. I keep trying to open my eyes toward the positive notes to the story, but there simply aren't any. Those who do like this book are those who really just enjoy a slow paced read and don't make much out of small details. However, for those who take closer looks at what they're reading, everything about this story's depiction of a healthy relationship, not to mention a BDSM relationship, is really juvenile.
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Do you like this review?
  • Izzaba
    thanks for the review
  • animepanda89
    Great review
  • Zandrock
    Very detailed review
  • SkylarrStarr
    Thanks for the review. This book just seem to be what other think BSDM to be rather than what is really is, as Twilight seems to be a vampire story. I have not read 50 Shades, nor do I actively practice BSDM, but from what I have gathered, it is not my speed, nor is it accurate, per say. It is unfortunate that many would have this book as the first introduction to BSDM, and I am actually quite glad I did not read it, as someone who might be interested in experimenting with it. From what I have gathered from reviewers who practice, this book is kind of a fairy tale, whimsical look at the fetish, just as Twilight is is a romantic look at vampires. Just my thoughts on the matter...thanks again for a well written review!
  • gypsymama
    Thanks for the review.... I have been wondering about these books but havent had tome to read them yet.
  • Huff
    Great review, thanks
  • ToriTastic
    Good review, thanks.
  • Terri69
    Great review! Thanks!
  • Iamconfused1
    Great review! I've been thinking about picking the book up, but after reading so many reviews like this one I might just wait until the library has it in stock. Thanks!
  • tina&me
    "Originally meant this story to be a Twilight Fan Fiction" (!!!) realy says it all. Thanks for the review!
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