I was recently compelled to read “Fifty Shades of Grey” by EL James.  Part of my drive was because I heard it had some extraordinarily kinky stuff in it and, of course, because every woman on the planet seemed to be making panty soup over it.  Naturally, as a man, I was curious to see what all the hubbub was about.  Why did all the ladies love this book so much?  What secrets did it contain?  I mean, if all the ladies loved the book it surely meant I would finish it and be much more in tune with what makes them tick, right?

Assuming that’s true, I can only assume that women are morons.  No, I don’t believe that women are morons, but if an alien race landed on Earth today and asked the wrong woman about the greatest literary achievement of our time and she answered “Fifty Shades of Grey” we’d be destroyed.  Wiped from the universe without a second thought, and with good reason.  This book is terrible.  T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E.  How terrible is it?  I’ve had it in my possession for nearly two months and finally, after finishing Chapter Three last night, have decided I can go no further.  It’s that bad.

The story, from what I can tell, centers around a dimwitted emotional wreck with daddy issues named Anastasia.  Let’s stop there for a moment.  EL James picked her names out of a fairy tale.  “Anastasia”, “Christian”, etc.  Give me a break.  What’s wrong with “Phyllis” and “Carl”?  Anyway, Anastasia is a literature student at a university in the Pacific northwest (the name of the school might have been mentioned but I ignored it/missed it/didn’t care to remember).  Her roommate Katherine (“Taming of the Shrew”, anyone?) edits the school newspaper and gets herself an interview with the billionaire entrepreneur Christian Grey.  Unfortunately, Katherine has the plague that day and sends Anastasia to conduct the interview.  Of course, Christian’s amazing office is all grey and metal and cold and every person who works there is described like she just stepped out of Robert Palmer’s “Addicted To Love” video.  She conducts the interview and leaves, flustered because he’s so commanding and handsome (nay, “hot”) and all that crap.

Keep in mind that Anastasia has this running internal monologue that is even more vacuous and almost as annoying as she is. “Oh my god he’s so hot! No, Anna, don’t think that! Be professional! Stop blushing!” It’s just awful.

Anastasia works part-time at a hardware store which is a matter of convenience for the author because, sure enough, billionaire playboy Christian Grey shows up there a day or two after the interview (“Oh my god, maybe he likes me? God he’s hot! No, Anna! Stop blushing!”) to pick up rope, masking tape, and zip ties. Anastasia is unable to figure out why he keeps talking seductively and smirking while he shops for these items with her, but I can only assume she finds out later when she is bound and gagged.  Unfortunately, she isn’t bound and gagged from the beginning of the book.

That’s about as far as I got, to be honest.  I cannot stress enough how horrible this book is.  Because I want to give you a very solid idea of what to expect if you decide to read it, I’ve taken the liberty of searching the internet for reviews from people who had the strength to make it through the novel.  Here are some highlights:

Meymoon writes:

“About half way through the book, I looked up the author to see if she was a teenager. I really did because the characters are out of a 16 year old’s fantasy. The main male character is a billionaire (not a millionaire but a billionaire) who speaks fluent French, is basically a concert level pianist, is a fully trained pilot, is athletic, drop dead gorgeous, tall, built perfectly with an enormous penis, and the best lover on the planet. In addition, he’s not only self made but is using his money to combat world hunger. Oh yeah, and all of this at the ripe old age of 26! And on top of that, he’s never working. Every second is spent having sex or texting and emailing the female character. His billions seem to have just come about by magic. It seriously feels like 2 teenage girls got together and decided to create their “dream man” and came up with Christian Grey.

Then come the sex scenes. The first one is tolerable but as she goes on, they become so unbelievable that it becomes more laughable than erotic. She orgasms at the drop of a hat. He says her name and she orgasms. He simply touches her and she orgasms. It seems that she’s climaxing on every page.

Then there’s the writing. If you take out the parts where the female character is blushing or chewing her lips, the book will be down to about 50 pages. Almost on every single page, there is a whole section devoted to her blushing, chewing her lips or wondering “Jeez” about something or another. Then there’s the use of “shades of”. He’s “fifty shades of @#$%% up,” “she turned 7 shades of crimson,” “he’s ten shades of x,y, and z.” Seriously?”

DS From LA adds:

“I enjoy erotica and heard so much about this book that I had to give it a shot, but I’m five chapters in and just can’t take it anymore. This has to be the most appallingly atrocious writing I’ve ever seen in a major release. The pseudonymous British author sets the action (such as it is) in Washington State… for no reason than that her knowledge of America apparently consists of what she read in “Twilight”… but the entire first-person narrative is filled with Britishisms. How many American college students do you know who talk about “prams,” “ringing” someone on the phone, or choosing a “smart rucksack” to take “on holiday”? And the author’s geography sounds like she put together a jigsaw puzzle of the Pacific Northwest while drunk and ended up with several pieces in the wrong place.

And oh, the repetition…and the repetition…and the repetition. I’m convinced the author has a computer macro that she hits to insert one of her limited repertoire of facial expressions whenever she needs one. According to my Kindle search function, characters roll their eyes 41 times, Ana bites her lip 35 times, Christian’s lips “quirk up” 16 times, Christian “cocks his head to one side” 17 times, characters “purse” their lips 15 times, and characters raise their eyebrows a whopping 50 times. Add to that 80 references to Ana’s anthropomorphic “subconscious” (which also rolls its eyes and purses its lips, by the way), 58 references to Ana’s “inner goddess,” and 92 repetitions of Ana saying some form of “oh crap” (which, depending on the severity of the circumstances, can be intensified to “holy crap,” “double crap,” or the ultimate “triple crap”). And this is only part one of a trilogy…

Thanks to the many other perturbed readers who have shared their own choices of the most annoyingly overused phrases in this masterpiece. Following up on their suggestions with my ever-useful Kindle search function, I have discovered that Ana says “Jeez” 81 times and “oh my” 72 times. She “blushes” or “flushes” 125 times, including 13 that are “scarlet,” 6 that are “crimson,” and one that is “stars and stripes red.” (I can’t even imagine.) Ana “peeks up” at Christian 13 times, and there are 9 references to Christian’s “hooded eyes,” 7 to his “long index finger,” and 25 to how “hot” he is (including four recurrences of the epic declarative sentence “He’s so freaking hot.”). Christian’s “mouth presses into a hard line” 10 times. Characters “murmur” 199 times, “mutter” 49 times, and “whisper” 195 times (doesn’t anyone just talk?), “clamber” on/in/out of things 21 times, and “smirk” 34 times. Christian and Ana also “gasp” 46 times and experience 18 “breath hitches,” suggesting a need for prompt intervention by paramedics. Finally, in a remarkable bit of symmetry, our hero and heroine exchange 124 “grins” and 124 “frowns”… which, by the way, seems an awful lot of frowning for a woman who experiences “intense,” “body-shattering,” “delicious,” “violent,” “all-consuming,” “turbulent,” “agonizing” and “exhausting” orgasms on just about every page.”

EBeth22 comments:

“Once upon a time…
I’m Ana. I’m clumsy and naive. I like books. I dig this guy. He couldn’t possibly like me. He’s rich. I wonder if he’s gay? His eyes are gray. Super gray. Intensely gray. Intense AND gray. Serious and gray. Super gray. Dark and gray. [insert 100+ other ways to say “gray eyes” here]
I blush. I gasp. He touches me “down there.” I gasp again. He gasps. We both gasp. I blush some more. I gasp some more. I refer to my genitals as “down there” a few more times. I blush some more. Sorry, I mean I “flush” some more. I bite my lip. He gasps a lot more. More gasping. More blushing/flushing. More lip biting. Still more gasping.
The end.”

And, finally, Bookdweller sums it up with:

“I have a thing about violence against women. About women that are abused, demoralized, and dehumanized for the enjoyment of others; call it a silly quirk of mine. There is nothing fun, or flirty , or sexy about the BDSM in this book. This man enjoys inflicting pain on woman for his enjoyment, he states it over and over. The hero *cough, cough* wants to inflict as much pain on this girl as she can tolerate for his pleasure. He stalks an innocent, young woman, and then spends the entire book trying to convince her that it’s a freeing experience to be hurt and humiliated, and how much she’ll enjoy the experience. I’m sorry, I just don’t get it. This man is no romantic hero, and he is beyond flawed. I’ll stick with writers whose alpha males are flawed, but don’t need to abuse women for their enjoyment.”

There you have it.  You can never go broke underestimating the taste of the public, that’s for sure.  The woman who loaned me the book (we’ll call her “Lauren”) even said that she felt like she should bill EL James for all of the time she wasted reading this turd.  Run – don’t walk – away from this book.  You’re welcome.