Review: Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

Hello, I am the only 40-something woman in America who doesn’t think this book is impossible to put down. In fact, I’ve had it on my Kindle for a month and stopped reading at about 80%. “What is Fifty Shades of Grey?” you ask. Mom porn. It hurts me to type those words, as they are two words which really should never be used together, ever. Seriously, sorry.

I realize that people aren’t reading this book for its fine literary merit. And while it’s true I am an avid reader, I am also a regular gal, so I won’t pretend I haven’t read my share of smut over the years. What surprises me is why this particular series of smut has taken off to the degree which it has, and I can only conclude that there are a vast amount of women out there who either never knew such naughtiness existed or never picked up a book past high school. And for some reason, this upsets me. It upsets me that women I like and respect are calling this drivel “good” and turning this ding dong author into a millionaire with movie deal. It’s kind of like witnessing people who’ve never eaten ice cream in their life suddenly discover McDonald’s soft serve and they think it’s the best ice cream in the world and all they keep talking about is, “OMG, have you TRIED this amazing ‘ice cream’ from McDonald’s? It is SO GOOD! I can’t believe how amazing this ice cream tastes!” Painful, right? What can you even say to that?

His voice is warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel… or something. — Fifty Shades of Grey

When it comes to saucy books, I lean more towards the classics: Sidney Sheldon, Judith Krantz and Jackie Collins being the unholy trinity. Or, if you prefer, check out some of the more respected romance writers. Anne Rice writes under the pen name A.N. Roquelaure for her Beauty trilogy, which I haven’t read myself but hear is quite good. At least you get a legitimately interesting story woven in with your sex. Heck, even picking up a Harlequin Romance at an airport newsstand has to be better than this. So, you see, I am trying to establish some street cred here, homies. I sometimes read trash, too. I don’t think I’m better than you are for reading trash. But let’s be clear: my trash is higher brow than Fifty Shades of Grey, which is so trite, one dimensional, sloppy and cliche-ridden it makes the plot of any Lifetime movie seem like Anna Karenina.

It is the justice-seeking part of my brain which is the most offended. I am not a real writer and don’t pretend to be, but I am a real reader. And I know there are some truly talented authors in this genre who have been toiling away for years, and those people deserve your dollars and appreciation. So to see such sloppy, overwrought Twilight fan fiction making my otherwise smart and sensible friends go gaga? Fifty shades of grey matter from my head exploding.

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15 thoughts on “Review: Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

  1. I have been hearing so much buzz about this book and I appreciate your review. I think I’ll pass on this one. I am currently obsessed with the first book in the “Game of Thrones” series. I put it up there with “Pillars of the Earth” as far as an epic read.

    • I kind of want you to read it so we can talk about it, MK!

      People LOVE Game of Thrones. I enjoyed season 1 on HBO, but I am wondering if my feeble brain can keep up with all the characters in book form. Seems like a lot of alliances to keep straight!

  2. Thank you for this review! I usually don’t like Bestseller books (as I think the norm in society is to read crappy books!) I couldn’t decide whether or not I wanted to pick this book up, but from the quote you listed within the book – that is enough to NOT read it!

    • Oh, that quote wasn’t even the worst one there! It really is laughably bad. My favorite part is that the main character is from Seattle but uses various English words like pram for baby stroller since the English author didn’t bother to get an editor.

  3. Great review! Believe it or not, I never heard a thing about this book until yesterday when I heard it discussed on two separate occassions. Of course, I did a little research, read several reviews on Goodreads which were quite polarized, and decided it wouldn’t be worth my time and effort. Like you, if I’m going to read smut, I want it to be packaged in quality writing and an absorbing story. Love the connection to McDonald’s soft serve. My husband and I had a good laugh this morning. Thanks!

    • Thanks, Stephany! It kills me to be out of the loop (I know, real mature) so despite all the warnings, I needed to see what all the hype was about. I don’t know that I’d ever suggest anyone spend money on this book, but if you can get your hands on a borrowed copy, it might be entertaining (but for the wrong reasons!).

  4. Oh my! I can’t believe you aren’t enjoying this… Oh my! Holy crap! Did you just… ? Oh my! Thanks for saying what needs to be said. This book has been on my Nook for well over a month. I’ve read four books in between picking it up and putting it down. One hundred pages to go… Only sticking with it because it’s a bookclub pick. Worst book I’ve read in years.

    • Kim, when I started this post, I originally was going to credit you, Queen of the Jingle Balls, with first mentioning it to me (and therefore upping your trendsetter cred even further) but then I thought, no, I really should not associate Kim with this publicly. But I hope you and your team of experts get cracking on those tipsy cupcakes soon! xo

  5. But I said…. “Someone please read this and let me know I’m not alone in my feelings about it!” lol. My inner goddess will get cracking on the tipsy cupcakes!

  6. LOL, this was the best, Dawn:
    “so trite, one dimensional, sloppy and cliche-ridden it makes the plot of any Lifetime movie seem like Anna Karenina.”

  7. I’ve been reading the buzz on these books and I have to say, they appeal to me not one whit. I don’t get it…

  8. Love your review! As an author, I wholeheartedly agree. The book is trite, poorly written, and the characters one dimensional and cliched to the extreme. With so many better written books out there, one has to wonder why so many got into this one. Guess its just an appeal for the naughtiness, which is really all this series is about. I just read the “Look inside” at Amazon and immediately knew this wasn’t something I was interested in.
    There many amazing offerings out there now from Indie authors. There are a lot to dig through but finding the treasures make it well worth your time. 🙂

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