Book Review : 50 Shades of Grey, 50 Shades Darker, 50 Shades Freed by E L James

Yes, I read all 3 books. If you haven’t heard about the phenomenon that is the 50 Shades of Grey books by E L James, then you must be living in a cave. The book is highly successful, mostly due to the fact that it’s super popular among the suburban (elder) housewives demographic. The “mommy porn” is now in the midst of being made into a movie, and castings are underway.

A bit of background on the “50 Shades” trilogy of books by E L James:-

  • The author is one Erika Leonard James (E L James), 49 years old housewife to a screenwriter husband and 2 teenage sons, from London, England
  • She initially set out in 2009 to write a “Twilight” fan fiction novel, that eventually became the 50 Shades trilogy
  • 50 Shades of Grey is her first published book (2011) has sold over 60 million copies worldwide
  • In March 2012, Universal Pictures and Focus Features secured the rights to produce the film adaptation of the trilogy of books
  • In Sept 2012, EMI Classics released the album, handpicked by James, inspired by the book, with its album titled “Fifty Shades of Grey : The Classical Album“, which shot to #4 on the Classical Music Album in the Billboard’s charts
  • Only producers for the film adaptation is secured; but rumours of casting includes Angelina Jolie (as Director / Elena aka Mrs Robinson) and Ryan Gosling (as Christian Grey)
  • Read more from the Wikipedia page for “Fifty Shades of Grey” here.

It took me a super long time to finish all 3 books in the trilogy, with so many pauses in between, at times wanting to abandon the book, but I powered through. After several months, I finally finished the books – all 3 of them! Here’s my honest opinion on the book, as someone who, 1) don’t fit into the target demographics of the book; and 2) reads quite a bit and knows good literature.


Click on the link and check out Amazon’s book descriptions, other readers’ reviews and buy the whole trilogy “50 Shades of Grey” (Book 1), “50 Shades Darker” (Book 2) and “50 Shades Freed” (Book 3) by E L James in paperback box set or Kindle edition.

 

Fifty Shades of Grey (Book 1)

The first book introduces you to the main characters in the book. The main female character is Anastasia Steel, a 22 year old college senior, in her final years living with her best friend, Katherina Kavanagh. While taking over an interview task when her room-mate, Kate is on sick leave, Ana meets the young (and handsome) tycoon, Christian Grey.

Attraction is immediate from both sides, which resulted in Christian subsequently started courting Ana. Ana is then thrusted (pun intended) in to the charms of this young entrepreneur, where he reveals his dark sexual lifestyle in BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Sadism, Masochism). Eventhough, our young innocent Ana is a virgin!

After losing her virginity “vanilla style” (aka straight sex) to Christian Grey, Ana slowly starts to fall for him and eventually, submitted herself to Christian’s interest in the dominant-submissive sexual relationship.

My opinion:-

  • Poor young and innocent Anastasia Steele falls for a guy for her first time and she ends up being a pervert. This is a sad story of a young girl being manipulated by a complicated stranger.
  • If not for the fact that Christian Grey is a handsome billionaire, the plot would’ve just been sick!
  • The writing is horrendous! It’s almost the writing of a teenager, who’s English is so mediocre, you wonder how she got a book deal.
  • Once the first sex scene starts (which is rather early in the book), every other page turn is almost always another sex scene. A poorly written one at that.
  • Ana says “Oh My” a little too much – almost every time when something remotely sexy is about to happen.
  • I kept reading on, dreading the sex scenes, only for the hope that the characters will develop some more. Character development is highly crucial to me in any fictional book. In this case, Christian Grey’s character is a dark character, strangely confusing and closed. Not much of his past is revealed, but it keeps you wondering.
  • Sex scenes are almost always repetitive. The portrayal of BDSM was meant to be shocking yet erotic in nature. However, maybe because I’m (a little) more exposed to wilder scenarios, I don’t find them shocking at all. Aside from the presence of some toys and the dominant-submissive roles, there was nothing arousing whatsoever. I blame the writing.
  • With all the back and forth of Christian’s uncertainty and weird personality, you wonder what draws Ana to him so much, other than just good sex!?

At the end of the book (spoiler alert), Ana leaves Christian because the mood swings on Christian’s part became too much for her to handle. The emotional drain is completely understandable on my part. He would drive anyone crazy with his personality disorder and dark past, which was never revealed.

Which was what makes me pick up the second book. Having hoped for better character insight into Christian Grey, and not getting the answers in the first book. I continued to hope that Book 2 would shed some light.

General consensus at the Reader’s Review section on Amazon.com has an almost equal feedback of 1 star and 5 star. There’s quite a number of negative reviews, with a lot of comments like “Don’t waste your time, money and brain”, “Every time I read one of these lines, I want to put the book down”, “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” and “Bestseller? Really?”.

You get the idea.


Click on the link and check out Amazon’s book descriptions, other readers’ reviews and buy “50 Shades of Grey” (Book 1) by E L James in paperback or Kindle edition.

 

Fifty Shades Darker (Book 2)

Book 2 titled “Fifty Shades Darker” picks up where Book 1 left off. If you enjoyed Book 1, chances are you’d pick up Book 2. If you didn’t quite enjoy the first book, which most of my friends fall into this category, you’d likely have no interest in continuing with the sequel.

Ana, from where we left off is miserable without Christian Grey. Having started her first dream job with a Publishing House, and moving to the big city in Seattle with her best friend, she should be happy and living life as an adult after graduation.

After encountering Christian Grey again, he proposes a new arrangement for their relationship. While the last one was very business like, where he proposed a legal agreement, this time round, because he was enchanted by her as well, he proposes to “try harder” with the emotional aspect of their relationship. In return, Ana will learn to control her jealousy about Christian’s past lovers.

*rolls eyes*

Then, there’s a small sub plot at play, where Ana was sexually harassed by her sleazy boss at the publishing house. Jealous rage boyfriend, Christian Grey, used his money and power to get this sleazy boss assaulted and fired. Oh, did I mention that his control freak nature also went to buy the company Ana is working for?

Again, if not for the fact that Christian is rich and powerful, this guy is straight out physcho!

OK. My opinion on this sequel :-

  • This time round, the sex scenes happens a lot more constant. If it was too much the first book round, this time, you’re gonna be presented with it even more.
  • Unfortunately though, you’d think that since they’ve had prior sexual encounters before, this time round, they should be able to take it to another level? No. Same ole same ole sex, although slightly heated sex, trying desperately hard to be BDSM, but it’s just not.
  • Like the first book, E L James writing is very repetitive. Ana continues to bite her lower lips a little too much, she continues to say “Oh My” every single time they’re engaged in some naughty talk, she continues to roll her eyes too many times, causing Christian to raise his eyebrows and reprimand her. Every. Single. Time.
  • Good news is that there’s a little bit more on the character development on Christian Grey’s part. You find out a little more about his past, his painful childhood of having witnessed his mother’s death and his fear of emotional and physical intimacy. You also find out about Elena (aka Mrs Robinson), an elder woman, who was a family friend, who introduced Christian to “kinky fuckery” when he was a young 15 year old boy.
  • Ana’s character is like another bipolar teenager. Back and forth, from wanting him (sex is good, we get it), not being able to satisfy his dark needs (she was a virgin before him after all) to never ever leaving him (yes, sex is THAT good). This woman girl cannot make up her mind. If you think only men think with their genitals, well, this woman girl here is the same. She had a good first time, now she just wants more… Reminds you of every other horny teenager, no?
  • Another badly written book, another repetitive scenes and phrases. At least, there’s just a wee bit more character development here.

There’s now talk of marriage. I believe, at this point, the two have only known each other less than 6 months. Throughout the whole time, they’ve been having sex, oh, at least 3 – 4 times a day, non stop. Forget the fact that they barely know each other (they really don’t talk much), with both of them having flip-floppy personalities all the time, how the hell would you want to get married?

As I mentioned, you’d likely only read this book if you enjoyed the first book and you wanted more. So, reading the Amazon.com’s Readers Review, you’d find quite a lot of positive review, with majority of them rating this good 5 star ratings. General sentiment, “It’s awful, but oh so addicting”.

Click on the link and check out Amazon’s book descriptions, other readers’ reviews and buy “50 Shades Darker” (Book 2) by E L James in paperback or Kindle edition.

 

Fifty Shades Freed (Book 3)

The book starts and the couple have completely tied the knot. Yep – they went ahead and got married in a small-ish (but lavish, of course, because Christian is a billionaire) ceremony at his parents’ house. The book starts off in a weirdly disconnected tone, where it relies on flashbacks this time round.

Hmmm… what inconsistency in writing style here. But hey – with such bad writing, nothing would surprise me here, Ms E L James.

Now, Ana is the wife of a billionaire. She has all the wealth in the world, honeymooning in Europe, private island getaways, sharing his yacht, getting expensive sports car and expensive watches and such as presents, swiping her Black AMEX card and learning the lifestyles of the rich and famous (apparently, the papparazzi follows them around, too?).

From last book, (spoiler alert) there was a small incident where Christian Grey’s private helicopter crashed, although he survive (duh). This time, the story delves deeper into this incident. Christian, suspecting foul play, ordered extra security for himself, Ana and his family members. This paranoia proved useful, when you discover more plot twists that there is indeed someone out to get Christian.

The revelation is all here, in the final book. You find out about Christian’s mom, how he came to be adopted, growing up as a silent child, not fitting in with his peers, his teenage years seduced by an older woman, how she introduced him to BDSM and how he continued to do it with over 15 women until he met Ana.

Oh yes, more spoilers? OK. Ana gets preggers!

My opinion on this final trilogy :-

  • More story this time round, which is highly welcomed on my part, because – enough with the sex already!
  • Although the plot was meant to be thrilling and gripping, it wasn’t really. If you think E L James is bad at writing an erotic novel, she is equally bad at writing action / thriller scenes. Blergghh.
  • There plot of the mystery person wanting to harm Christian ties back to his past, where you find out more about it. Why he’s so silent and reserved about his past drug addict mother.
  • Repetition, repetition and horrible vocabulary. Lots of “kinky fuckery”, reference to Christian’s biological “crackwhore” mom, more lip biting, more of the same old writing, phrases and vocabulary. And more “Oh My” again and again.
  • Finally – a closure to the character development I’ve been waiting for in all 3 books, was only finally revealed in the end. And it was no shocker and didn’t give me any satisfaction whatsoever. What killjoy!
  • I don’t even feel anything or will comment on the sex anymore at this point. It became something I learn to live with! Can you believe it? It’s so annoying, that I just learn to live with the fact that every other chapter, it’s gonna pop up. I’m just numb already.

Click on the link and check out Amazon’s book descriptions, other readers’ reviews and buy”50 Shades Freed” (Book 3) by E L James in paperback or Kindle edition.

 

Have you read the books? The first one, at least. I know some of my friends did and just got so frustrated going through it. Is that the same as your experience?

Or did you, as dumb as myself, read all 3 of the books, hoping for more like me, but get disappointed again and again?

Or did you like it? Let me know.

  • As per our tweets, I didn’t enjoy the first book but persistently flipped through for curiosity sake. It however didn’t compel me enough to go reading book two.

    From your synopsis, I can save my time from reading the remaining 2 books. Conclusion, such a weak plot that definitely isn’t worth my time lol! So thanks Winnie for the reviews.

    P/s Your labelling of Ana as a pervert made me laugh.

    • I read some more reviews and seems some people who endured through all 3 books prefered the 3rd book, as there’s (slightly) less sex and more insights on Christian’s character. Well, that’s true. So, if you want to pick it up and continue…?
      You won’t miss much anyways, the writing is rather unbearable at times.

      PS. I think Christian is perverted. Ana is just… well… having good sex and thinking with her pu**y.

  • Thanks for the ebooks.. Now on to the 2nd book. Between mummy duties and sleep, the only reason I’m already on to to the 2nd book is purely from skipping pages! While C.Grey’s the ultimate bad boy for any dreamy girl..Ana puts any insecure whiny girl to shame! Gosh. I’ve been mentally trying to picture who will be perfect cast Kristen Stewart springs to mind but no boobs or booty..Ruan Gosling? Hardly hot or dark enough…hmm… A young Christian Bale wld be perfect..

    • Yeah. Ana is a frustrating girl. And I mean, girl.
      I think Matt Bomer, although gay, has the look for Christian Grey. His name was also rumoured but people protested because he’s gay. Pppffftt.
      For Ana, rumours include big names like Emma Watson.
      Guess we’ll just wait and see. Wonder if it’ll be porn-ish or it’ll just be more focus on the characters. If they follow the book, it’s easily porn.

  • shirleychunk

    Some of your review rings the same as the review I’ve read when the book came out. I know I’ll be wasting my time picking up thee book but on the other hand I’m curious to see how bad ly written the book is. I for one, love a book yes for the plot but most importantly for the writing style and Fifty Shades seems to have neither.

    • Well, Shirley. Judging by the good books that we read, I’m not sure if you’ll get through the first book. You might find it so frustrating that you just abandon it. Or you might power through. Guess you’ll be reading it once you get your Kindle back and find out.
      Good luck!