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Customer Review

1,996 of 2,115 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unadulterated tosh, 20 April 2012
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This review is from: Fifty Shades of Grey (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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Showing 81-90 of 362 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on 5 May 2012 22:03:42 BDT
Lindsay Tay says:
Hi, yes I too had heard about this author and her book many months ago but allowed myself to be 'persuaded' by other peoples opinions. (Which is pretty shallow isn't it especially when we do not know the negative reviewer, their personality, intelligence levels nor reading preferences). It would be very different if they were close personal friends whose judgements we respected. I think we have to remember that we are all looking for something different to read and entertain us and I don't think it is a valid point to compare this new author to well established authors, especially of a different genre. Like I said peviously I am lovin this book! (Up to now). Cheerio

In reply to an earlier post on 5 May 2012 22:06:30 BDT
Sazzy says:
Just to add; it was originally a mammouth book, which needed to be split down into three books for publication purposes, I guess it had to be split somewhere.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 May 2012 22:36:38 BDT
booksy says:
Not the only thing that's being split somewhere from what I know of the book!

In reply to an earlier post on 5 May 2012 22:58:20 BDT
Lindsay Tay says:
And just out of interest, what is it that 'you know of the book?'. I am going to presume u r another 'blind reviewer'? If its not ur cup of tea fair enough and\or u haven't taken the time to read it you are not really qualified to comment are you?

In reply to an earlier post on 6 May 2012 08:23:43 BDT
booksy says:
It's what's called a 'joke' Linda. Or is there no sex in the book at all? No, I haven't read it. I think there are probably better erotic books out there - but this one has got a lot of hype, so good for the author, and good for those who happen to enjoy it. However, I found Jelly's review very valid and she has expressed very well (and fully) why she didn't enjoy the book. For what it's worth, there is never any excuse to re-use a word/phrase/expression to death in a book. This might not be high literature but, even so, the ongoing use of the term 'inner goddess' is something I, as a reader, would get irritated by very quickly.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 May 2012 08:45:44 BDT
Lindsay Tay says:
Hi Booksy, thank you for your reply but I am still not seeing how you can comment 'I think there are probably better erotic books out there', and 'I found Jelly's review very valid' How did you find it valid? - You haven't personally read the book, You are being led by one person's opinion. The thing that I like about this book is that although it is based heavily on SM there is a real love story there, which attempts to fill a gap that so many erotica novels fails to even try and do. The SM almost becomes second party to the story of a damaged young man and young girlfriend. I take your point about the constant re-use of the 'Inner Goddess', it is rather silly but to be honest, you are so involved in the story of these two that you quickly learn to skip over these words.

I have 20 pages left to read, (fell asleep at 1pm last night and could not finish it - Not because it was boring though! :-)

So believe it or not I set my alarm for early this morning to finish it.

And I plan on buying the next book as soon as I have finished it.

A bit of advice - 'splash out £2' and see for yourself what all the fuss is about!!

Its not Jane Austen - No but it is a great week weekend filler and you can balance the opinions of others.

Regardoes

Linda B

In reply to an earlier post on 6 May 2012 08:57:08 BDT
booksy says:
From the re-hashing of one phrase alone, that is enough for me to form the view that there will be better erotic books out there (I am quite familiar with the genre). Bad writing is bad writing, and an author who is on a loop with one phrase is, in my view as a reader, probably not the best writer there is. For this reason, I have formed the view that it probably isn't the best piece of erotic literature on offer. However, I could well be wrong - it might be the best bit of smut ever written.

On your second point, it is perfectly possible to find a review valid even if you haven't read something or bought a product yourself. Consumer opinion is often a very good steer as to what a product is like (especially when it's as well written as Jelly's view). It's the reason people read reviews; they aren't necessarily to debate the merits of a novel, book-club style, but to give consumers a guide as to whether the product will be for them.

I realise it is only Jelly's opinion and a lot of people like the book - however, she has given reasons as to why she found the novel poor; reasons which, even in the absence of having read the book, would put me off reading it. Will the writer lose a reader (me) because of Jelly's opinion? Possibly - but I'm sure E L James, and I, will live with that. Alternatively, your view (which is also valid), may well make me give it a go. However, you cannot argue, just because a reader finds someone's view 'valid' that they are being lead by one person's opinion (I have read more than just this one review). To my mind, a 'valid' review is one that's well written and states its case clearly (as opposed to one which says 'I just didn't like it'). I assume you would like your positive review to be considered 'valid' even by those who are in the process of considering a purchase? In the same way, Jelly is entitled to have her review endorsed as valid.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 May 2012 09:21:09 BDT
Lindsay Tay says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on 6 May 2012 10:40:47 BDT
booksy says:
Well 'luv', firstly, it's not me who started out being 'contemptuous and snotty'. I merely replied in kind. If I'm going to be cross-examined online as to 'how' I found a review valid, I'll let you know why. If you care to look, you'll see that I have never actually made a comment on the novel itself, nor am I 'full of disdain for it'.

I think, if you look back generally, the responses Jelly has received for her review, and the subsequent comments on it (both by myself and a number of others) form a light hearted banter, simply because her review was humorous, well written and interesting. My comment, which you replied to, could have actually been made about any book containing sex. It was a generic joke. Maybe Sid James would have got it. I don't believe I've made any comment at all about S&M. Frankly, I love being tied up, whipped and shagged to within an inch of my life, so I shouldn't imagine that I've griped about S&M!

If you look up the Veet for men review (you'll know the one when you see it), it's garnered responses from blokes and women alike who've never used the product, merely been amused by a review. Perhaps they shouldn't be commenting though, having not actually smeared it all over their 'knob and bollocks'. So, to clarify, I'm not taking an interest in the book - merely the debate surrounding it, as provoked by one amusing, well written review.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 May 2012 10:45:27 BDT
Lindsay Tay says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]