Book Review: Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James

Let’s start with the aesthetics of the book. E-readers this may want to turn you back into old-fashioned book readers [Did I just say old-fashioned??? man how times have changed]. I love the tie on the cover. The symbolism of the tie for me lies within what happens when a tie comes off. The vision of  a man who knows how to work hard and play hard. And simply put, a tailored suit and how classic it is. [I love tailored suits]

The Courier font used on the cover is fitting. It’s the type of font you’d find in a classic typewriter. It’s a personal kind of font. And it subconsciously conjures up thoughts of the personal kind…those words had life behind them…they were typed to capture the gyrating pulse of raw emotion in moments. A single sheet of paper was placed on the paper-rest and pulled taut around the platen for just the writer’s words.

The variation in grey tones on the cover is a rightfully obvious choice. And even more so now after reading the book, I realize how fitting was the use of the color Grey. The color brings to mind ‘i’m feeling grey today’, ‘that’s a pretty grey situation’, or ‘it’s not as easy as black and white, it’s sometimes grey’. It’s one of those ‘maybe’ colors. It’s neutral. It can be solid or fluid. But one thing’s for sure, it’s a thin line from one shade to the next.

I’ve heard so much talk before, while, and after reading the book. It’s been good talk, bad talk, and cheap talk. It seems this series has infiltrated our lives in all aspects. Standing in a line at the bookstore noticing that at least 3 other people are buying the same exact book as you are. Catching up with an old friend on the phone while she gushes about reading it on the beach. Texting with your girlfriends about who will make the best ‘Ana’ and ‘Christian’ in the movie. Getting pervy looks from weirdos on the train as you slyly try to cover the book’s cover. and the most embarrassing of it all, Trying to forward an email containing all three books attached from your work email to your personal email and having said email flagged by compliance while they cc your  CAO reminding you that copy-written material is not to be forwarded outside the company. Fifty Shades of Grey is everywhere.

The content. I liked it. Plain and simple. Is it the best thing since sliced bread? No. I enjoyed the descriptive structure which you totally need for an erotica book. I loved the dichotomous relationship between Ana’s conscience and sub conscience.  In listening and reading critics reviews, I think many took the book wayyyy to seriously. In one corner you have feminists or wannabe feminists  shouting from roof tops that this is an affront  to all women. ‘It makes us look like we are desperate’ or ’emotional sadists’ they say. In another corner you have others saying the writing sucks. It’s all fooey, I say. Let’s look at the root of books and writing. Writing is a form of art. It’s subjective. It is expressive. There really isn’t one way to write. I mean you can say hey the punctuation is wrong here or there or what not, but writing is writing. When you’re writing to publish work and have it relate to others it’s all relative. And frankly just because you buy a certain book it doesn’t mean you agree with all its mantras. Some of us just like reading about certain things versus living them.

A few words on Ana. I can relate to Anastasia Steele. And i’m not ashamed to say it. At one time or another many of us have fallen for THAT wrong person who felt so right. We may have experienced that early on or later in our dating lives. It was a time when you would hide it from friends because we knew they’d say what are you doing, are you crazy letting someone treat you like that? It was a time when, like the song says, ‘you could get addicted to a certain kind of sadness’. And it was a time when their touch made all the difference even in the most dire of times. I’ve been there, and chances are so have you admittedly or not.

A few words on mr. Fifty Shades. Christian’s character as a whole was a great inclusion in the book because it serves the purpose of great conflict. You don’t know whether to love or hate him. I gotta tell you there were moments I really hated him. I thought UGH that self-richeous bastard, how dare he. But then I’d get a dose of his charm and I began swooning again. His character actually also reminded me of many of the men i’ve encountered. Men who can be calculating. Men who can treat you like crap without a second thought. Men who justify that crappy treatment with the disclaimer ‘I told you I was just looking for  a casual thing’. Men who exude charm even without trying. Men who instinctively know a woman’s body without being told which parts like roughness and which ones like gentleness.

A downer. I will admit there were a few moments in the book where I just didn’t believe Ana was feeling certain ‘Real’ emotions. I reference this disbelief to her emotions when she first had sex with Christian. Without giving away too much of the that revealing moment, it lacked reality to me. But you can be the judge of that for yourself.

An upper. One of the best things James did in the first book was she kept Christian as a mystery. I kept wanting to know more about him. I wondered why was he like this, just like I had wondered why many of the men I’d dated were the way they were. I jumped from page to page to see what other part of his personality could I piece together, could I figure out. And this is what I feel totally made the first book a page turner. And even more importantly, made me want to go onto the second book.

I’ve just begun reading Fifty Shades Darker. I’m intrigued and very happy to see we get to learn more about Christian.

Final words. I liked the book enough to read the next in the series. It was funny. It was generally relatable. It was entertaining. And if you let your mind be a vivid and wild thing, it makes you feel a bit steamy here and there.

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