SPOILER ALERT - If you haven't read the book yet, please don't read this review unless you want to know things that are important in the book. It does have several spoilers that I would prefer you read in the book.
I truly wondered how I would feel about this book. I borrowed it from a neighbor, as I truly could not bring myself to buy it. I’d heard the hype, read the bad reviews, the good reviews and the comments about the horrible writing. I think that was the pull for me. As an author I wanted to see what others called horrible writing.
Every book written will be loved by some and hated by others. Entertainment is a matter of personal choice. I think had I been 35 years younger and naïve about love, life and what goes on in the real world I would have loved this book. Fiction is fiction, but there is always an underlying element of truth or it has to have a small possibility for belief unless you’re reading fantasy. Readers are normally turned off by an everyday man or woman on the street who can run three miles in three seconds. We know that isn’t possible, so if we read it in a book we tend to turn away. Thus, age and experience does make a difference in our views on books.
Rating—I would probably give this book 5 stars for two main reasons. 1) Ms. James wrote the book in 1st person, which is difficult for any author to carry off and do it well. Ms. James did it very well. 2) She created characters that give the reader a reason to read on – what made Christian the way he is? What will an innocent like Ana do when faced with the reality of his world?
I didn’t find the writing horrible. I think the book is well written, although there were some parts that I found irritating on a personal level. For instance – I. Want. You. So. Much. I know this was done for emphasis, but truly found it rather irritating. I’m not sure how many times Ana calls Christian beautiful without really giving us any clue to what he looks like, but I found that irritating. It also made Ana appear a little shallow to me as she seemed so captivated by his beauty. Perhaps it was purposely done in order to throw in a little analogy on men being captivated by a female’s looks. It didn’t work for me. The repetition of the rules, the contract and the lists also was irritating to me and I skipped those pages. The constant discussion of food and eating and making Ana eat was irritating. Those are all personal preferences though, as I prefer to stay in a story with the characters and that type of thing takes me out of the story.
Ah, the Erotica. This is where age became a problem for me. I’m 57. And here I found myself laughing just a little. I mean what man doesn’t want a woman who just by the heat in his eyes becomes all panted breath and willing to jerk her clothes off and do anything anywhere. And what woman doesn’t want a man with an energizer bunny battery that can keep going and going and going…well, I think you get my point. Although the erotica portions are well written (if you like erotica) and very informative about the Dominant/Submissive community, it wasn’t really my cup of tea. And yes, there were points were I saw Christian Grey as a sexual predator. One of course with “good” qualities that can be hopefully “saved”. That’s how the book is written. That is the underlying basis of following Christian and Ana to the end through book one and hopefully into book two and three. Can she save him? Does he want to be saved?
I did have some problems with the age of the characters. At 27 Christian Grey is a billionaire with huge corporations. Now he has a good side and truly wants to feed the world. Perhaps there’s some underlying issue about wanting Ana to eat, however, if so his character at least in book one is not fleshed out well enough to give us those reasons. Secondly Christian served as a submissive in the Dominant/Submissive world from the age of 15 through 21. He credits this woman (an older friend of his mother’s) as saving his life. He can’t stand to be touched which is related back to his birth mother who was a crack-head whore. He was adopted by the Greys at the age of 4. Something here doesn’t mesh for me. 1) How much memory of his real mother would he have from the age of four? And if he was adopted at the age of four he was probably somewhere in the system for at least a year or more before that, so he would have been less than four when taken away from his mother. He’s raised by what appear to be loving, well-adjusted, rich parents. He’s given a great education, he can play the piano, fly a helicopter and he virtually excels in every area of his life. And yet he’s screwed up because of his birth mother. That doesn’t work for me.
Perhaps if I take the time to read book 2 and 3 I’ll find out more of what makes Christian Grey tick.
Truthfully, I’m not that interested. It’s an age thing. I’m much too old for the Christian Grey story to capture and hold my attention, and sweet Ana doesn’t do it either. One minute she’s the innocent who is terrified, the next she’s begging to be f*****. Not exactly the language I would expect from a sweet innocent. And although I don't mind a little sex in a good romance or mystery or even horror book--erotica is definitely not a reading preference of mine.
You may be asking yourself why at this point I would give this book 5 Stars. Well, let’s look at a book review and what it should be about – the book. The book itself is well written, it does have a decent story underlying the erotica, and the characters do have a certain appeal. Secondly, this isn’t a book I would normally pick up or read and I read it simply to find out what all the hype was about, so in fairness to Ms. James I’ll keep my review and rating based on the book itself as I’m sure there are millions of readers out there who would not be irritated by the things that irritated me, and would totally enjoy the book. After all a fiction book is supposed to be entertaining, and I did find it entertaining although perhaps not in the way it was written, but more as a fantasy love story. Had this all been a dream for Ana—well, it would have been a fantastic dream and easier for me to believe. I probably won’t be watching the movie, but it also won’t bother me if it grosses millions at the box office. As a reader and an author I can clearly see the book’s appeal. I think perhaps I was just a little old for it, and perhaps a little jaded in the subject matter from my work with the judicial system and law enforcement. Not every Ana finds a Christian Grey, and the stories don’t usually end on such an easy note.