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1.0 out of 5 stars Unadulterated tosh, 20 April 2012
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This review is from: Fifty Shades of Grey: Movie Tie-in (Kindle Edition)
I downloaded this one morning whilst listening to BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour and hearing E.L James being interviewed.

I'll confess: I did read it from end to end, and I must also confess that my Trollope took a backseat for a couple of days. But when I'd finished 50 SoG, it was a relief to go back to some proper literature, feeling saddened, cheapened, almost used, by having read it. Make no mistake: 50 Shades of Grey is utter rubbish!

The central theme is that a rather naive college student, Ana, is swept off her feet after a chance encounter with a fabulously wealthy business man, Christian Grey CEO. (He's ok though because his company sends aid to Darfur.) Not only is he immensely rich, but he has the looks to match - of which we are constantly reminded. He has "two penetrating gray eyes". Yes, that'll be both of them, and they combine to give him a "penetrating gaze"; he has "beautifully chiseled lips" and a square jaw. This together with the way his gray sweat pants hang off his hips "in that way", leave the poor girl wobbly at the knees.

His penis of course is equally magnificent. Indeed it scarcely ever appears without her being bowled over by its "impressive length". His erection (permanent, it appears) is "impressive". And of course he only has to enter her for her to have an an orgasm that causes her body to "convulse and shatter into a thousand pieces". Next time she "shatters again into tiny fragments", before "her traitorous body explodes in an intense body-shattering orgasm". She wonders will her body withstand "another earth-shattering moment". At least he is polite enough to comment in a moment of untypical post-coital congeniality, "You're shattered, aren't you?".
And so it goes on. The book does not reveal the mechanics by which the tiny fragments of the orgasm-shattered Ana were constantly put back together again. The secret of this process might have served Humpty Dumpty well.

The twist in the tale is that Christian is a sadistic sexual dominant who likes to tie his women up and thrash them before intercourse. It's not entirely clear whether this is consensual - but having been gagged Ana doesn't manage to say "no", so at least it's not rape. The agonising decision that Ana has to make is whether to lose him, or sign a contract submitting to his perversion.

As an undercurrent there is a suggestion that Christian himself was abused as a child, and this may explain his brutal treatment of women. Although she discovers that she is his 16th submissive partner, his own sad childhood engenders sympathy in Ana's mind - and so being whipped, spanked, gagged, tied up and forcibly screwed is the least she might do for him.
The man is not totally thoughtless: he arranges for her to be seen by his ice-cool, blonde doctor who prescribes contraception. After all, what fun would it be thrashing a woman who was pregnant? In the meantime he carries an endless supply of condoms, referred to by James as "foil packets". So he "grabs a foil packet"; releases her hair in order to rip a foil packet; and this delightful passage:
"You want it, you got it, baby," he mutters producing a foil packet from his pants pocket while he unzips his pants. Oh, Mr Boy Scout. He rolls the condom over his erection and gazes down at me. "I sure hope you're ready," he breathes, a salacious smile across his face. And in a moment, he's filling me [...] I groan... oh yes. "Christ, Ana. You're so ready," he whispers in veneration.

Again it would be wrong to traduce Christian while ignoring his good points: he replaces her ageing and much loved Beetle with a new Audi and takes her for a trip in his helicopter; and he buys her a first edition of Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Yes, he's not a total arse: he likes Delibes and Pouilly Fume and can play the piano with haunting melancholy - before his thoughts inevitably turn to sex. ""Maybe on my piano," he whispers. Oh my. My whole body tightens at the thought. Piano. Wow." I kid you not.

The story is desperately thin: poorly written, repetitive in its descriptions (there is an almost unbelievable amount of eye-rolling and lip-biting - both offences that lead to a spanking), one dimensional characters, and it's frankly stupid. Nothing really happens: rich man woos innocent women; he shags her; he beats her; she wonders if she is doing the right thing. That's about it.

Apart from using orgasms as some kind of punctuation, the book also features unbelievably tedious e-mail exchanges between the two characters. After reading a couple of lines I found myself skipping the rest. They are just puerile. You are, I suppose, to take note of some of the subtleties of these conversations: his use of "shouty capitals" and the funny way that he signs himself "Christian Grey Palm-Twitching CEO" after he has given her a good spanking. Oh dear! So endearing.

At a risk of sounding repetitive myself, how many times do you think an author might use the expression "my inner goddess" in one book? Once or twice might suffice, but Ms James uses it 65 (yes, 65) times. Example:

"Ha! My inner goddess is thrilled. I can do this." (She manages to get the Impressive One into her mouth.)
"My inner goddess smacks her lips together glowing with pride." (He gives her an 'A' for swallowing.)
"... he looks at me hungrily. Jeez, my inner goddess swoons"; (He "squeezes carnality" into her name. At least that is one you can try at home.)
"My inner goddess polevaults over the fifteen-foot bar" (she didn't wear her panties when she meets his parents for dinner);
"My inner goddess is still basking in a remnant of post-coital glow. No - we are all clueless. I towel-dry my hair...".
By the end of the book I was ready to strangle the inner goddess and the external part too.

The book ends inconclusively. At first I thought that maybe the author had got bored with the whole thing and decided to pack it in. Then I discovered that there are two sequels. I also didn't realise until later that the book had originally been posted as fan-fiction. I don't pretend to know much about this, but I guess it may explain the lack of structure and the repetition. If you are turning out a couple of hundred words at a time for serialisation, maybe there is no imperative to write well.

As a piece of titillating light-hearted fun, this might keep you amused for a little while; but as a piece of literature worthy of the author making the hallowed interview seat on Woman's Hour, NO! It's awful.
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Tracked by 16 customers

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Showing 11-20 of 362 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on 24 Apr 2012 20:55:24 BDT
jelly 1960 says:
If you've written in this genre yourself you ought to read 50 Shades of Sh-te. At least you'll know what the worst book ever written reads like.
I've read some other erotic novels on my kindle, and they were dismal, but quietly and humbly dismal. It is a mystery how E.L.James managed to get hers promoted to the top of the charts. I only heard of it through Woman's Hour which is a venerable and much respected bastion of the BBC schedule. I listened to ELJ being interviewed in complete seriousness as if she had made some telling contribution to literature. I looked the book up on Kindle and saw I could have it for about £3, so I bought it. It's unbelievably banal.
There must be a market for this kind of thing and ELJ has identified that. I don't know, but I think she may have some kind of background in publishing or marketing, so she clearly knows a thing or two about promotion. You have to give her credit for that. She is the tailor who fashioned the emperor's new clothes.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Apr 2012 20:58:05 BDT
jelly 1960 says:
Thanks! I appreciate that.
You ought to read the book - then you can say that you've read the worst book ever written.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Apr 2012 21:05:31 BDT
jelly 1960 says:
I hate to think that I might have turned someone from literature to chocolates. But then I remember what I'm talking about and realise that if you ate one peanut treat instead of reading 50 Shades you spent your time well. Many thanks for your comment - I appreciate it!

Posted on 24 Apr 2012 22:30:19 BDT
booksy says:
I'm intrigued now and feel compelled to read it, although I'm sort of loathed to pay for something that's utter rubbish! I think there could be worse books than that out there though. Check this out (take a look at the 'see inside' part): Animal

I simply had to review one of them (based on the tiny part I read the other day). I didn't know whether to laugh or cry - and this woman seems prolific in how many books she's had published. Self-published though, by the look of it!

Posted on 25 Apr 2012 14:09:20 BDT
Claudia G. says:
I think your comment has spoilers. But because of it, I want to read this book so much more! Why is that?

Posted on 25 Apr 2012 14:47:37 BDT
Mahin says:
I could not stop laughing while reading your review! "By the end of the book I was ready to strangle the inner goddess" this is amazing. Just to let you know.
Thank you for shedding some light on the book =D

Posted on 25 Apr 2012 14:58:47 BDT
Brilliant review Jelly1960 and yes, very funny. You should become an author.
I have to agree with other comments that I think you have saved me from a slow death-by-boredom. I don't do chick lit normally but sometimes it comes up as a book club choice and I guess this one will surface at some time. I shall have to find an excuse to be absent that day.

You have also saved me from an expensive triple download so for that my credit card thanks you. But, surely the worst book ever written was The Birthing House? Nothing could beat that, could it ????

Posted on 25 Apr 2012 16:18:46 BDT
Possibly one of the best reviews i have ever read. Also quite possibly better than the books. Kudos.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Apr 2012 20:41:11 BDT
jelly 1960 says:
I see what you mean! That makes E.L.James positively Shakespearean. Maybe I've done the poor woman a disservice.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Apr 2012 20:43:42 BDT
jelly 1960 says:
You're kidding. It's not possible to spoil 50 Shades of Grey.
Don't let me put you off reading it. For £2 you can download it. Worst case scenario you will think it awful and delete. Best case scenario, you'll enjoy it.

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