Reading Challenge Book #3, Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

Date started: April 16, 2012

Date finished: April 17, 2012

Honestly, I wish I had read the description for this one a little more carefully before beginning it. I had seen this book on the New York Times Bestsellers List and figured if it was good enough to make the list, it was good enough for me to read.

Boy, was I wrong.

Fifty Shades of Grey began as fan fiction based on the Twilight series. It was originally titled “Master of the Universe” before the author rereleased it as an ebook and changed the title and names of the main characters from Edward and Bella to Christian and Anastasia. The novel is set mainly in Seattle and the protagonist, Anastasia Steele, meets Christian Grey when her roommate, Katharine Kavanagh becomes ill and asks her to take her place interviewing Grey for their student newspaper. Anastasia does, and thinking she blew the interview with her clumsy entrance and too personal questions, never expects to see Grey again. But when he shows up at the hardware store where she works, the two begin a complicated relationship which would bring the virginal Anastasia into the world of BDSM. Throughout the novel, Anastasia has to decide whether or not she can learn to become a submissive for the sake of the relationship.

My rating: 3/10

I have so many issues with this book that I don’t even know where to begin. My first issue is largely from a technical standpoint — as a publishing major, I still have some trepidation about books that are self-published or published by “virtual publishers.” They simply don’t undergo the same process of editing as a traditionally published novel, and that lack of traditional editing and publishing is entirely evident in Fifty Shades of Grey. A good editor would have gotten rid of the repetitiveness of certain words and phrases — Anastasia is forever “flushing” and someone is always “gaping” at someone else — and tightened up the language so that it didn’t read, well, like a work of fan fiction. Also, even though Anastasia is a literature student who loves British classics, the fact that she sounds more like the protagonist of a Hardy novel than a Southern girl who attends college in Seattle is a bit ridiculous to me. Yes, the author is English, but Anastasia is not, and even if the novel were the result of a midlife crisis and whatever unfulfilled fantasies the author has, the two are not the same person.

My second issue didn’t come until I was almost done with the book, and it’s such a silly thing to get upset about that I’m a bit loath to admit it here, but I have to. This one line, “Jeez, I hope it’s not rap,” made me want to throw my Kindle across the room. Grey puts headphones on Anastasia before he is about to flog her, and she has this thought before he turns the music on. Really? OK. What purpose did that line serve, when nowhere else in the novel is there any mention of her disliking rap? Or was this just another instance of the author inserting herself into Anastasia’s place again? Again, I feel like a good editor would have gotten rid of that line, or made it into something less ridiculous.

Really, the only saving grace of this book, for me, is that it it funny in some places. Even though I despise her Tess Durbeyfield affectations, Anastasia has a smart mouth, which is the only quality of hers I can even remotely relate to. Other than that, I found her incredibly annoying, always saying “Oh my” or “Holy f***/s***” to every little thing, and always commenting on the way Grey’s pants were hanging “in that way.” I get it. I know what “that way” is, and I don’t need to reminded every ten pages of how he’s wearing his pants. Part of me was glad for the ending because I personally wanted to beat Anastasia a couple of times while reading.

It’s a shame that this is the first of three. I hate leaving series unfinished — even after I was told not to read the last two books in The Hunger Games, I still did and enjoyed them — I don’t think I’ll be picking up Fifty Shades Darker or Fifty Shades Freed to see how Anastasia and Christian’s story ends. Maybe I’ll change my mind after my annoyance at how awful this first book was wears off, but I doubt it.

I think I’d like to read something a bit more intellectual for the next book in my challenge.

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2 Comments

  1. That one line took me over the edge as well! What the EFF does that have to do with ANYTHING, other than to expose the author’s own bias. I was so irritated, I actually stopped reading.

    • I’m so glad I wasn’t the only one annoyed by that! I want to know what she was thinking when she wrote that. But I guess she wasn’t thinking at all. Ridiculous.

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