20 April 2012
Book Review: Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
Unworldly and innocent, Ana is shocked to find she wants this man. And, when he warns her to keep her distance, it only makes her want him more.
But Grey is tormented by inner demons, and consumed by the need to control. As they embark on a passionate love affair, Ana discovers more about her own desires, as well as the dark secrets Grey keeps hidden away from public view …"
You simply must have seen the hype about this new book from E L James - if not, where have you been?! It's first went viral in America, and has since been published in the UK and shot straight to number 1 on the bestselling charts. The author, E L James, has appeared on numerous shows both over the pond and over here in the UK, from serious broadcasts such as Newsnight to breakfast TV 'Lorraine' almost defending her book, which certainly piqued my interest. Why has this book caught the public attention so much? And how did something that started off as a Twilight fan fiction end up being a global hit, especially given the subject matter within. Despite my initial reservations, I decided I just had to take the plunge and read the now infamous Fifty Shades of Grey... and I was more than pleasantly surprised.
The book tells the story of two people, Anastasia Steele, or Ana as she's known throughout the book, and Christian Grey. The two meet when Ana is sent to interview Christian in place of her friend, and she doesn't realise how much she has caught Christian's eye. Things develop between the pair, but as Ana starts to consider a relationship with Christian, he has a confession to make. Ana is shocked and uncertain that she wants to get involved in the things Christian enjoys, and the pair embark on a love affair, each trying new things with each other and Ana trying to come around to Christian's way of thinking. What exactly are Grey's secrets and can Ana cope with his demands and expectations?
Now, before I go any further, it isn't spoiling anything in the book to talk about what Christian's secret is, and to be honest it's been covered so much in the media, I don't really think it's a secret anymore. Christian is into BDSM - bondage, domination, and sado-masochism. This isn't a topic I know anything about, or have read about in any previous books I've read, but I was willing to be open minded and read this. Now I've read it, it wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be, and was certainly eye-opening. Yes, there are a lot of graphic sex scenes throughout the book, some involving BDSM and some not, but they were tastefully done and covered the topic of BDSM well. Another interesting point to make is that Ana was a virgin before her relationship with Christian, and as the book is told her from point of view, we almost learn about the topic with her from Christian, and it's dealt with quite matter of factly. There are checklists involving the things Christian likes and wants to do with Ana, with hard and soft limits, safe words, and other things covered that I had no idea about at all.
While the storyline of the BDSM relationship between Ana and Christian is what has hit the headlines, and I'm sure helped the book soar up the bestseller charts, for me that wasn't what I enjoyed about the book. For me, I liked that it was a proper love story, slow burning yes, but a love story none-the-less. We have a naive young girl who falls in love with a strong minded, more experienced man, and the relationship blossoms before our very eyes. Although Christian has his wants and needs in the bedroom, we see he is a very insecure man with a hidden past that isn't really revealed much in this book, and his relationship with Ana exposes his softer side. Some of my favourite bits of the book were the emails exchanged between the pair, and show a funnier, softer Christian than other parts of the book, say the sex scenes, would have you see. And yes, I do rather like Christian - he's described as very handsome, strong and sexy - he is what made the book so readable, and I can see why Ana doesn't want to give up on him! He's a flawed hero, and I think that is what is so likeable about him - he can't see why Ana would love him and yet as a reader, I could.
Don't write this book off because you think it isn't going to be your cup of tea. Yes there are graphic sexual scenes throughout the book, and while some comment that they don't really add anything to the story or move it along - they aren't supposed to move it along, and yes they do add something it shows us Christian's hidden self and brings Ana out of her shell far more. Some won't like the topic covered in the book, and that's fair enough, but I am glad I was able to look past that side of it and delve deeper into the heart of the book which is a love affair between the two least likely lovers, and how they help each other grow in many ways throughout the book. Although it was written as Twilight fan fiction, I tried not to make comparisons in my head between Ana and Bella, and Christian and Edward, and to be honest, after a while, I didn't even remember the Twilight link and just read it for what it is - a really interesting, and readable novel. I'm currently reading Fifty Shades Darker, the second novel of the trilogy and have to say that is just as good. If my review has at all persuaded you that Fifty Shades of Grey might be more than just a kinky book full of sex, then I urge you to pick up a copy and try it - I'm sure you won't be disappointed! And yes, that silver tie on the cover is quite significant... ;)
You can buy Fifty Shades of Grey in paperback or as an eBook now.