50 Shades of Grey Trilogy *SPOILERS* Why I can’t recommend it.




I have noticed a lot of traffic on this site related to searches for information about EL Jame’s runaway bestseller and so-called “mommy porn” Fifty Shades of Grey,which is turn has led to many views of the two posts I have already devoted to the subject. This is an expanded version of an email response to a fellow blogger who had questions for me concerning the controversial trilogy.  It does contain spoilers for the plot, so be forewarned. And considering the subject matter of the books–a BDSM relationship–it naturally contains mature content.

Fifty Shades of Grey at SeaTac newsstand

Fifty Shades of Grey at SeaTac newsstand (Photo credit: rachelkramerbussel.com)

OK, 50 Shades . . . I seriously wondered if I wanted to read the third book after reading the first two and not exactly being enthralled—frustrated and at times, very troubled, is more like it—but I felt I needed to complete what I started.

I decided to consider what I invested in time and money to read them “taking one for the team” in hopes of helping others know whether or not they would be interested. And as a writer as well as a reader, I needed to see what James did with these characters.

She has clearly intended for this to be the first three in a series of books on these characters. She includes a chapter at the end telling of their meeting from Christian’s POV, which frankly creeped me out with its predatory qualities.

I know that BDSM is not considered sexual deviancy by psychiatry today.  I have no problem with a bit of consensual light bondage, light-hearted spanking and that sort of thing between two well-adjusted adults. I’ve included it in my own erotic romances. It adds a nice bit of spice to the sex.  Writing and reading about sex is fun, indeed. Nothing wrong with some steamy escapist fantasies.  And there is no doubt some of the sex scenes in 50 Shades are hot.

However, I believe someone who has an overwhelming urge to beat a series of young dark-haired women black and blue because they resemble his dead crack whore mother who neglected him and allowed her various boyfriends to abuse her little boy, who ended up living with his mother’s corpse for several days . . . is someone carrying a lot of emotional baggage.

He was also seduced by an older woman who made him her submissive for seven years beginning when he was 15. Before that twisted relationship, he was acting out and getting into fights at school, so supposedly she “saved” him by teaching him to be her sub. But I can’t approve of an older woman manipulating a child in such a manner. Little wonder he was so f***ed up.

He thinks Ana will be the perfect submissive, and of course, she isn’t. She keeps resisting his rules. Perhaps that is part of her appeal for him—the challenge. He thinks he can tame her . . . I find myself asking what intelligent and well-grounded young woman (as she is presented to us) would even consider getting involved with a man like Christian once he had presented her with her “contract” and all its clauses. It is clearly evident at that point he is a major league control freak and a kinky one.

No matter how handsome and sexy and rich he was—I would ask myself, would it be worth denigrating myself and potentially putting myself in real harm’s way? I guess part of my problem is I have never desired to be tied up and gagged or shackled wrists to ankles, spanked or beaten with a belt. I enjoy fantasizing as much as the next girl, but those acts haven’t been part of my imaginings.

Their relationship is based on a strong sexual attraction. She is “different” from the others because, number 1, she is a virgin and so he performs “vanilla” sex with her to get that pesky virginity stuff out of the way; number 2, he ends up actually sleeping with her (as opposed to having sex and then returning to his own bedroom). He becomes obsessed with her very quickly and she with him. Before you know it, they get married and then in a rather ludicrous plot twist, she ends up pregnant.

An epilogue at the end shows them having an idyllic picnic with their little boy, with Ana pregnant with a second child. And Christian is now the loving and doting daddy. Happy families with a mum and dad who still enjoy kinky f**kery on a regular basis in the playroom.

As Servetus says, I think we are supposed to see it as that romantic all-consuming love–not unlike Bella’s and Edward’s relationship in Twilight and remember, this started off as a Twilight fanfic– but it doesn’t work for me on an intellectual or emotional level.

These two fight squabble, bicker and scream at each other at every turn throughout the trilogy. The only way in which they seem to be able to communicate and really find common ground is through sex. They don’t talk to each other; they yell at each other. And I find myself wanting to yell at them to grow up. I don’t think it’s a healthy relationship.

There are constant misunderstandings and false assumptions made on each side. This is her first sexual relationship and it’s his first normal (or semi-normal?) one and you feel as if these two are rushing headlong into something they aren’t ready for. There’s a level of immaturity here that makes it difficult for me to see them being able to so quickly establish a successful marriage and family life. I mean, I can’t buy it that this volatile and mercurial and emotionally immature man who gets upset over the smallest things could have become a captain of industry by 27.  He’s all over the place with his emotions, and so is Ana, albeit to a lesser degree.

Are they equals? Well—at one point when he thinks she is going to leave him he falls in his knees in a submissive pose and acts the role . . . as if he is reliving being Elena’s sub. She agrees to continue to do these kinky things with him, after discovering she has more intense orgasms through it.

But I just don’t buy it all. James describes this story as a fantasy, but she seems to be trying to couch it in reality and it doesn’t gel in a satisfactory or acceptable manner for me.

And I think it sends out a message young girls—who will inevitably get their hands on the “forbidden fruit” and read it—don’t need reinforced: that the love of a good woman conquers all.  How many young women have fallen under the spell of a man who proved to be obsessive and abusive, a stalker, jealous of anyone and anything that takes their attention from the guy?

We hear with heartbreaking frequency about cases of women who have been terrorized, assaulted and murdered by men who supposedly loved them.  Men with anger issues and violent streaks who took it out on the women.

The eternal appeal of the bad boy.  Only, in real life—it doesn’t generally end up happily ever after. That’s why I think there’s a potentially dangerous message here. I don’t believe in censorship and Lord knows, my readers will tell you I am not a prude.  But mommies, your daughters don’t need to be reading this stuff.

Actually, I would like to hear what a trained psychiatric pro who has read them thinks of these books and the behavior of Christian’s therapist, which, if not unethical, is certainly questionable at times.

As far as the quality of writing goes, yes, there is definitely better crafted stuff in the arena of fan fiction you can find online and for free that offers plenty of steam without making one squirm uncomfortably as you read about an innocent young woman being savagely beaten with a belt to give a man “pleasure” (that scene still makes me cringe)  . . .    this is still fanfiction with a questionable message masquerading as a mainstream novel.            I love both; but they are two separate entities.  And one more reason I cannot in good conscience recommend these books.

About fedoralady

I'm an LA native--Lower Alabama, that is. My husband of more than 30 years and I live here on a portion of my family's former farm with two gorgeous calicos and a handsome GSD mix. My background is art education, and over the years I've been a teacher, department store photographer, sales associate and a journalist. My husband, his business partner and I have Pecan Ridge Productions, a video production company, for which I shoot & edit video and stills and manage marketing. I also still write part-time for the local paper. I love movies, music, art, photography and books, and my tastes in all of them are eclectic.

212 responses »

  1. Really enlightening this post. I am grateful for those spoilers.
    I wondered about the turmoil around the novel, success as well as critics, because as a reader of erotic novels I know about BDSM (which is consensuated, of course, or it would be abuse). I was suprised about the success because it isn’t a popular topic (at least, openly *shrugs*) but I was surprised too about the critics. I understand now that someone has explained it. I will never support something or someone that use child abuse in any way just to cause polemics, and less to sell books. After that point, I don’t need to know more.

    • Thanks, Antonia. As I have said, I am very open-minded as both a reader and writer of erotic stories. But there are lines I have to draw. I can’t help but wonder–would there be the same response to this if it had been a teenage girl made a submissive by an older man for seven years? I suspect there would have been much more of an outcry against the story. Somehow it’s more acceptable if it’s a boy??

    • ummm… christian doesn’t consider what elena did to him is wrong until he has his own child. And then he has a confrontation with her and his mother about the issue.

      • Christian has a lot of serious issues. I don’t think in anything approaching Real Life all those issues–his childhood neglect and abuse, the sexual abuse by Elena, his sadistic need to beat the living sh*t out of a series of girls who look like Mama– would have been sorted out into the neat little ending James gives readers. I think that’s what bothers some people the most–She’s tried to take serious real issues that people have had to deal with themselves and incorporate them into her fantasy world of “erotic romance.”

        Once again, I have to say I just don’t find Christian Grey sexy. I know millions of women apparently do. But I see him as a predator, a stalker, a control freak . . . how many women have been charmed into thinking they can be the one who transform the bad boy with their love? Only to have it turn out disastrously?

  2. If ever I considered that I might want to read these books, I can honestly say that I definitely don’t want to now. The Twilight connection had already put me off but I was still curious…thank you for dispelling any doubts I might have had. The thought of young girls being drawn to these books by some misapprehension that they are connected in some way to Twilight…which I understand is aimed at teenagers…is quite frankly deeply disturbing.

    • That’s it another big concern of mine. The Twilight series (of which I am not a fan; never read the books, watched the movies on TV to see what all the fuss was about and still didn’t get it) was indeed, like the current blockbuster The Hunger Games, promoted as young adult fiction and while there were fans of all ages, the majority seem to be teenagers. Impressionable teens still trying to sort out who they are.

      And now they are making a movie (s) . . . you don’t think teens aren’t going to want to see these films with their connection to Twilight? However, there is no way they can stay true to the books and make something a teen can legally see without an adult (or not see at all–they are pretty graphic). I know lots of people adore these books and are clamoring for more, and I doubt I am going to put much of a dent in James’ income 😉 but I felt I had to make a stand on my own response to the story.

      • It will be interesting to see how they adapt them for film…not that I will be seeing them. Film classifications already baffle me so I’ll be interested to see if it’s given a suitably restrictive one.

        • With this it’s not only an issue of the sex, but the nature of the sex, the violence present within the acts. When he is beating her with that belt and she is crying and can’t understand why he is enjoying doing this to her, it just breaks my heart. 😦 I despise seeing the abuse of women on film and that’s what it felt like when I read it.

              • i have heard of these books and wondered at all the fuss ,now having read your article i can honestly say i wouldn’t touch them with a barge pole,nor hungar games or twilight as i consider these to be catering to the lowest comman denominator.child abuse -beatings -violence towards others etc- i believe that what goes on between two mature consenting adults is their own affair but do not sell it to our children as acceptable behavior
                if this makes me old fashioned and a prude then i gladly accept the title

              • Hi, Cristine, and thanks for commenting. Because of the huge popularity, I am sure there will be many imitators (they are already showing up) of this trilogy, but that doesn’t mean I will be supporting them. I dislike being pressured into thinking I have to see a certain movie, read a certain book, watch a show, etc. because “everyone else is.” You have to stand up for whatever you think is right.

        • Yes, Antonia, it’s going to be made into a film. The film company has already payed millions for the rights. HOW they are going to do it and keep the rating such that the Twilight teens who will likely be drawn to it due to its origins can easily see it–I have no idea.

          • How is possible something like that started as a Twilight fanfic? I can’t see the connection. I did read the whole saga (ok they are not masterpieces but they are what it seems to be) and I really think they are really playing with fire trying to attract young people.

            • Apparently, in the fanfic, titled Masters of the Universe, Christian was a revamped (no pun intended) version of Edward and Ana was Bella; Christian had several adopted siblings and a doctor for a parent as did Edward. It takes place in Seattle. Ana is a virgin who has never been stirred in the least bit by the opposite sex until Christian comes along . . . sort of like Bella. I haven’t read the books, only watched the movies, so there may be more correlations of which I am not aware. But this fan fic was always NC-17 from my understanding with lots of BDSM.

      • I agree with your entire article….I finished the series for the same reason as you, must finish what I started….but I am kind of appalled they’re having a movie, I presume the rating will be high, but it’s quite easy to sneak into a R rated movie as a minor. And as you said there’s no way to censor without staying true to the book (and I can’t see the State’s censoring allow most of what’s in the book in a movie).

        • The book is an absolute pile of shit. Repetitive, predictable and boring. The world has gone absolutely mad! They should all be collected, put in a pile a burned.

            • Lee, I am approving your comment, but obviously, you didn’t read through everything or you wouldn’t have made such a rash statement.

              I absolutely am against censorship. I have published blog entries taking a stand against book banning. I do not condone book burnings. Do I think these books would make better kindling than reading? Yes. Frankly, I think they were a waste of some good trees, but that’s just me.
              I have mamy issues that concern me about this trilogy. BUT I wouldn’t deny anyone the right to read these, although I abjectly do not believe they should be in the hands of impressionable youth

              No one here as far as I can see has advocated book burnings. If they did and I didn’t catch that, my hearty apologies for letting that slide.

              They’ve simply expressed their dislike/disgust/disappointment with the books. They’ve appreciated that someone wasn’t out there gushing praise all over James’ work and making them feel as if something was wrong with them for not liking the books. We all have the right to our opinion, just as you have the right to yours.

              Your remark about Adolf HItler, however, showed incredibly poor taste. What if I had been Jewish and had relatives die in concentration camps? Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. A friendly word of advice: you, my friend, need to engage your brain before you hit “send.”

              • while i dont think we should do a book burning (since i have seen many i loved burned ie anne of green gables, black beauty etc cause my mother is crazy) i think the author should have made it very clear this was not a book for young girls. more like women between the ages of 30 and up. im 24 and i think i was far too young to be reading this stuff and if i knew how bad it was i never would have read the first one. i dont plan to read the other two. and she should not have let it have all the press it got. i mean you dont see those old fashioned romance novels getting this much media do you? you know those ones with fabio on the cover (ps if you dont know who fabio is you are too young for these books)

              • These books are definitely not suitable for young people, and they are reading them, of course they are. It’s the appeal of the forbidden fruit. And honestly, I don’t understand how they become such huge sellers and got so much hype. There are other, much better written books with spicy, steamy scenes of that’s what you are looking for. The only thing I can think of is their connection to Twilight brought them a large number of fanfic readers which translated to a large number of interested readers when they were published as novels. Twilight is really big; I am not a fan but many people are. It’s certainly not on the merit of her writing ability. JK Rowlings, she isn’t.
                I also suspect she had some good connections in the publishing/marketing business. She’s certainly making plenty of money from it. If she was hoping to get rich, she achieved her goal.

                And I definitely remember Fabio. 😉

  3. Thanks for the review Angie. I have to say that I did get it and it is on my kindle. I will start to read it at some point because I am curious. I will see how much I can get through. To me, violence is not erotic at all so I am quite fascinated by that whole concept and how it made it into mainstream. They are talking about making a movie out of it and this is what is a little bit worrisome. Selling violence as a form of love to a young movie-going public that may not be mature enough to grapple with issues of dominance, etc. YIKES!

    • That was me, gracie. I was really curious because BDSM is not a lifestyle I have any interest in pursuing–as I have said before, I have enough physical pain to deal with on a regular basis, why would I intentionally bring more into my life? I get pleasure from pleasure, not from pain–and it’s still not something really accepted by the mainstream culture. And yet this has become this huge international hit, first as a Twilight fanfic and then repackaged into its current form. Oh, Focus Films has already bought the film rights from James for $5 million and there are talks about who will be cast in the lead roles. I am VERY concerned with how this will be handled and marketed as a film re young people.

      • Angie, my thoughts exactly! We have enough pain in our lives (emotional, physical), why would we want to cause unnecessary pain to someone we supposedly love or ourselves whom we also should love? It’s always been beyond my understanding, SM, and causing pain for pleasure.

        • I know there are people who have these specific needs and desires and hey, if it’s two consenting ADULTS who want to participate, it’s one thing. I still can’t say I understand it, but I won’t condemn it. HOWEVER, here we have a man who was abused as a young child, who is seduced as a confused, volatile 15-year-old kid and turned into a submissive by a much older woman for years . . . and who in turn wants to wield power and inflict pain on little dark-haired females who remind him of his dead crack whore mother?? Does this sound healthy?? And to suggest that innocent Ana can transform someone who is so screwed up and turn him into a wonderful husband and father in a very, very short time–I just don’t buy it.

          • Isn’t having sex with an underage boy considered an offence punishable by law? What is the age of consent in the US? No, none of this sounds healthy, it does sound SICK though. Very, very sick.

            • Yep. Here if an adult has sex with someone under the age of consent, even if it’s consensual, the adult can be charged with statutory rape and go to jail. The age of consent is decided by each state, and varies from 16 to 18. It’s 16 in Washington state where the story is set. So this means Elena, Christian’s adopted mother’s supposed best friend (with friends like that) broke the law starting the relationship with Christian at 15 (not to mention just being downright WRONG). I can’t blame Ana for despising “Mrs. Robinson” as she calls her before she learns her identity. She just helped “f**k” up a confused kid all the more.

              • Except that Benjamin Braddock was 20 when he started his affair with Mrs Robinson and there was no evidence of any physical abuse in that relationship… This Elena/Christian thing sounds seriously sc**w*d up to me.

              • Exactly, he was of age. And I am pretty sure Mrs. Robinson didn’t truss Ben up on a spreader bar with shackles and flog him with canes. Elena betrayed her best friend, committed adultery, took advantage of a child for her own sexual pleasure and thought she was perfectly within her rights to do it all. A b**ch of the first order.

  4. After reading your early comments and some comments on Amazon, I decided not to waste my money or time. Now I’m really glad I didn’t!! Thanks a lot for taking one for the team 😉

    • Laurie, if I hadn’t read them for myself, I probably would have always been curious. So in that regard, I am glad I did read them and it allows me to share my own thoughts. I would be glad to hear from anyone who has read them and has a different viewpoint, too.

  5. Thanks for this further post on 50SoG, angie. After the previous discussions I had made my mind up to give it a miss, and like Laurie, I’m glad I did.
    A film such as this with vague links to something originally targeting teens is worrying. I believe the same problem has arisen with The Hunger Games; as you said, fiction for teens/young adults, yet the movie is unsuitable for the younger ones who may have read it, yet would still want to see it.
    Here the movie has an M rating, which is for a mature audience.

  6. I think if the teens want to see it they will see it, no matter what the rating is. In my experience, movie theatres don’t ask for an ID when you buy a ticket…They don’t care who goes in to see what film, as long as there are butts on the seats. At least this is the case here in Hungary. It’s a bit like buying alcohol and cigarettes; maybe 1 out of 100 shop assistants would ask for an ID when someone who’s clearly under age attempts to buy something they’re not allowed to purchase by law. Sad, but true.

    • I don’t remember which movie I was turned away from but it was rated R and I did not have my ID with me. I’m actually a young looking 35 but was very surprised that I was asked for an ID then turned away when I couldn’t produce one. So some theatres do care.

      • Kelly, thanks for commenting. Personally, that makes me feel better. It’s been a long time since I was a teen or looked like one. 😉 Sorry you missed the movie, but glad to know there are theater owners who try to observe the restrictions.

  7. And now, 50 Shades is available as an audiobook too- just received a newsletter from Audible, E.L. James was one of the headlining authors (along with Stephen King and Nora Roberts)…

    • Judit,
      Out of curiosity, I listened to the sample from the audiobook. Ugh. It’s like listening to a ditzy teenager read her diary aloud. Very–OMG did you hear what she said about me?-sort of delivery. Of course, the passage is from early in the book before the naughty stuff starts happening. Imagining this person reading all the cutesy inner goddess stuff makes me slightly queasy TBPH.

        • Yes, I was stunned when I saw those two names in the same sentence! OK, I’ve only read 2 Stephen King books so far, Mysery and Green Mile, I absolutely loved the latter (Mysery just wasn’t my cup of tea). E.L.James’ publisher must have a great PR department. The whole thing’s is a bit like the emperor’s new clothes to me. All smoke and illusion and no substance. Just a way of the world these days. 🙂

          • I’ve read several King books over the years and James is a long, long way from being as good as he is. I am thinking this woman, who had worked in television production, I believe, had friends in the right places and then this tremendous word-of-mouth response to the fanfic by all these fans . . . why, I still do not quite understand. I mean–OK, the sex is hot in places, as I said. However I and a lot of other fanfic writers I know writer sex scenes just as hot.

            Plus create more dimensional characters and believable plots and generally better writing.

            Is it the BDSM aspect that is drawing people in? Many of those readers who have commented on the story in a positive manner indicate that they have never read or cared for that subject matter before, but this story, somehow, is different. I confess I am somewhat perplexed as to why there’s all this hoopla. Canny PR and the fact sex sells, I guess. 😉

          • Oh.My.God.I’ve just listened to the sample and apart from being very young I think the narrator is pretty darned awful!!!!! I’m sorry but you could torture prisoners with that voice! Btw, due to copyright restrictions the 50 shades audiobook is not available to buy in Hungary. 🙂

            • She is awful, isn’t she? LOL I could barely make myself listen to the whole thing. It reminds me of Valleygirl speak. “As if! what–ever.” 😉 I don’t remember what the chick’s name is, but I will make a point NOT to order anything she narrates. Maybe no decent actress was willing to do it? I have some books narrated by the wonderful Juliet Stevenson. I think she’s too classy for the likes of this. 😉

              • Her name is Becca Battoe. She has narrated 4 other audiobooks! *shudder* They’d have to pay ME a good sum of money to buy either of those.. And then I could get Lords of the North narrated by our sublime Richard for the money thus earned. 🙂 (Our currency is currently so weak I have to refrain from buying stuff on Amazon. 😦 )

  8. I think the main thing that people need to remember here is this- These are books. They’re fantasy written by a bored woman, intended to entertain many other bored women. I didn’t like the main characters at all, throughout the entire first book (In fact, I remember saying that Christian Grey has no appeal whatsoever), but the story the books told was very addictive. They’re certainly no literary masterpiece, but neither was Twilight- and I would read Fifty Shades a hundred times more, before I would ever pick up that book again. These books are not written for, or aimed toward, children. I don’t think judging a story, a fantasy story, on who will or won’t read it is absolutely unnecessary and it comes off as very unfair. These were not, by far, the best written books I’ve read, even this year. The characters were flawed, the story was far-fetching. But for the entertainment that it is, they were a nice escape for the dreary reality of life. Don’t think so hard about it. Did you question why a boy became a wizard? Have you sat and wondered about the implications of all these controlling, romanticized monsters, that are the vampire these days? Probably not. And those are just like this- stories. They were never intended to send any kind of message to people, never intended to be a literary masterpiece and never intended to be taken at anything more than face value. I understand your concern, but I think you’re putting far too much thought into something that, clearly, took a few weeks to write, and a couple of days to be read and will, eventually, be forgotten about by a fickle audience. They were fun, they were silly, they were entertaining. They were not written to have the deep meaning everyone keeps searching for.

    • Britany,
      Thank you for commenting. I certainly respect your opinion, but I also stand by what I’ve said.

      I have never read the Twlight books, having been advised by friends I wouldn’t like them. Having seen all the movies after they appeared on satellite, I am really glad I never bothered to read the books. They are not the worst movies I have ever seen by far, but I cannot fathom why these books or movies became this huge international hit. I don’t see the appeal. Probably doesn’t help that I think RPatz is weird-looking. 😉

      But then as I said to a friend, “best seller” does not necessarily equal “good writing.’ And I’m not expecting a literary masterpiece for something to be good writing. This struck me as very–amateurish, not the work of a professional writer.I think she had some very savvy PR people in her corner along with the word of mouth.

      This story is based directly on a Twilight fanfic, Masters of the Universe. Twilight was classified as young adult and has many young fans, that’s undeniable. Basically she just changed the names and a few other details when she turned this NC-17 fanfic into what is supposed to be a trilogy of mainstream novels, but they are still couched so firmly in the realm of fanfic. Obviously, these books aren’t for teens (although they have a narrator at audible.com that sounds like she’s about 16.) but impressionable teens will get their hands on them. The eternal appeal of the forbidden fruit.

      I have no problem with graphic sex. I read it. I write it. But I am also a reasonably well-grounded adult. I found Grey to be a f**ked up pervy control freak stalker who should be no one’s idea of a romantic hero. On this, we certainly agree.

      As someone said, Twilight didn’t do the cause of women any favors; these books don’t either. I found some of the sex games played here very disturbing and the whole Elena/Grey relationship was horrendous IMHO. Just as I cannot comprehend the enormous appeal of Twilight, I cannot grasp the number of people who find this romantic and addictive. Maybe I am too old. Or not bored enough.

      But hey, if people want to read it, they will read it. If they want to see the movie assuming it gets made, they will go. I certainly am not saying it should be banned as I am totally against censorship. I had to satisfy my curiousity and I did.
      Having done so, I cannot in all good conscience recommend these books, nor do I plan to re-read them. I have other resources to go to for erotic romance or I can write my own based on Richard Armitage’s compelling, complex and totally sexy characters and it won’t make my skin crawl when I do. 😉

  9. I enjoyed the first book of the series and was disappointed by the second and its lack of a captivating plot. The author was great at holding my interest in the first book and I found myself skimming over sex portions in the second because they became so redundant even in the verb age. I also found that the books were amusing as they were from Ana’s pov, an editor and I found several mistakes. Perhaps it was from the adaptation to an e reader. In summation, I enjoyed the first one and found the second to be a waste of money and time, now that I read the plot spoilers I have no need to purchase the third.

    • Thanks for your comment, Tater. I don’t know how long the original fanfic was, but I really felt the story was padded quite a bit in order to produce three volumes. And yes, after a while the sex scenes were quite repetitive. I confess the constant references to Ana’s inner goddess began to cause me to roll my eyes. I did read that the paperback edition by Vintage was supposed to be copy edited (it’s obvious the Kindle edition wasn’t) so hopefully mistakes were caught and corrected.

      I used to be a newspaper reporter and assisted with copy editing, so I am a bit anal retentive about that sort of thing. 😉

      Her use of Britishisms in a book set in the US with American characters was also bothersome for me. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about and satisfy my curiosity about this former fanfic turned into a self-published ebook and now by a mainstream publishing company. I think James should certainly be smiling all the way to the bank, but I still don’t quite understand how it became such a huge bestseller. I can’t imagine paying $15 per volume for the three books, as I felt $10 per Kindle edition was too much. Ah well, you live and learn.

  10. I am in the middle of the first book (audible). I started by reading the free first chapters then I went ahead and purchased the remaining. The only big complaint I have is the narrarator’s voice. Sort of irritating , whiny and drives me crazy when she reads the emails having to state the date, time who from, who to and subject line each time. Why not just say who from then read the body ? But other than that I like it so far. I imagine Christian as Alexander Skarsgard from True Blood and Anna as Emma Watson from Harry Potter. I am not into bondage and pain, but I do this story is interesting and I am pulled to continue reading. I believe this movie will NOT be open in theaters for any minors, but I look forward to seeing it myself. I am not a lonely, housewife needing sex and attention. I just enjoy reading suspense stories. I have seen all of Twilight and can not compare these at all. I read the comparisons given, but I personally disagree. I look forward to reading book 2 and 3.

    • Thanks for commenting, Gareader. I listened to the sample by that reader and knew I would NEVER order an audio book by her. I am afraid Richard Armitage has spoiled me with his beautiful, resonant voice. 😉 Whiny and irritating are good adjectives to describe the young lady’s voice.
      No, the movie, like the books, will definitely NOT be for anyone underage if it adheres to the books. I will be interested to know what you think of the final two books if you would like to come back and comment.

      • Hi Fedoralady,

        I definitely will do. So far I see it as 2 consenting adults agreeing to a “not so routine” sexual relationship. I personally would never have that kind of relationship with anyone (based on a contract), but I say whatever floats the boat if both parties of legal age agree. Once I get done through the whole story, if I can keep cringing through that voice lol, I will give my thoughts. Have a great night 🙂

        • You are a more generous soul than I am if you can make it through that unfortunate narrator’s voice reading three books LOL She must work cheap. 😉 I am happy to hear from readers pro and con. I will look forward to hearing your thoughts. I should wind down but I am watching an Alfred Hitchcock movie I’ve never seen. I love Hitch. Have a good night!

      • I too, purchased the first book on audible.
        I was curious to see what all the fuss was about. I found myself rolling my eyes & getting irritated by the narrator’s whiny voice (hence, why I stopped reading/listening by the middle part of the book). Ana’s constant references to her inner goddess & the “oh my” left me swearing out loud. The book is poorly written, and I really really cannot understand why her 3 books are best sellers! Shocking! I’ve read better fanfics online. I hope the script for the film will be better written & tweaked (a lot! lol). Though I must admit, the casting director made a huge mistake by casting the wrong actors for the part. I’ll probably watch the film when it comes out on DVD (from someone who will upload it online. Because, I certainly won’t buy it!). Even though I got mine on audible for free (trial offer), I think it was a waste of time downloading it (I could’ve bought better books!).

        • After listening to a friend describe how horrible the audio book was, I was truly glad I just stuck with the regular novels. I endured enough as it is. 😉 You know, in most cases I think film adaptations suffer in comparison with the novel, but honestly, in this case–the right screenwriter could ONLY improve upon EL’s work. Not too sure about the casting choices, either. I really think this was a case of major hype and having some friends in the right places that made these books such huge worldwide sellers–agreed, there is better written fanfic out there for free online.

  11. As a lawyer who works with domestic violence victims on a daily basis, the popularity of this series is a nightmare for me. Most of my clients are in abusive relationships and a shocking number of them seem convinced that they can change the other person through sheer force of will/love. What’s worse is when they contemplate leaving their abuser and then are overcome with guilt of how the other person will feel. Perhaps my work has taken away my ability to view stories like these as just escapism, but I’m still thoroughly disturbed by how this trilogy has become so popular.

    • Jax,
      Thank you so much for your comment. I’m a former teacher and newspaper reporter and I have wondered if my strong negative reaction was due to incidences I’ve seen and known of involving such abuse and if I was “reading too much into it.” Your experiences just reinforce my concerns. How many generations of young women have believed they could change a violent, abusive man through their all-consuming love? And how many have suffered and even lost their lives because of that belief?
      I think it’s wrong to classify this as erotic romance. There is nothing “romantic” about a young man, no matter how handsome, charming, sexy or rich, who enjoys inflicting pain on young women who remind him of his dead mother, who feels the need to control, dominate, to stalk. If you saw the tally of how many search engine terms tied to these books, and how many hits my related posts have taken, you would be appalled. I am. For the life of me, I cannot comprehend why this is so enormously popular, either.

      • I don’t feel like we’re reading too much into it. I’m well within the target audience of the books (I’m 26) and I am actually a fan of the Twilight series as pure escapism. While some areas of those books are troubling, they’re at least pure fantasy and something that can be discussed between the teens who read them and their moms that love it. What’s interesting is that things that were only vaguely creepy about Edward as a vampire are a million times creepier when the Edward character is made human (i.e. stalking).
        The 50 Shades series is a completely different issue because while touted as a fantasy, it’s still grounded in reality. It’s one thing to enjoy BDSM on occasion or as something to spice up your sex life. It’s another thing entirely for someone like Christian’s character to feel an “overwhelming urge to beat a series of young dark-haired women black and blue because they resemble his dead crack whore mother” as you put it. He’s like Dexter only instead of ending up a serial killer he’s a serial sadist. I’d honestly rather spend time chatting up Dexter than Christian.

        • Well, I am old enough to be your mom, Jax, so it is good to hear from someone younger and within, as you say, the target audience for the books. I remember one of our high school English teachers was a big Twilight fan and she and her students actually went together to the midnight premieres of the films and discussed them together. You could NEVER do that with these books.

          I actually find vampires can be very sexy and romantic in novels and films as well as frightening. Of course, it’s all fantasy. Vampires don’t exist; abusive, sadistic, twisted personalities DO.

          When I read that passage where Christian was clearly taking pleasure in beating Ana with a belt, bringing her to tears, obviously causing her pain and humiliation, I was really troubled. Reading the contract requirements also made my skin crawl. Yes, Christian as sadistic control freak stalker was ever so much creepier than Edward the vampire (as seen in the films as I didn’t read the books).

          I cannot imagine marrying and having children with someone like this. I think you’d be safer doing that with Dexter, too. At least he doesn’t channel his desires into hurting the innocent.

          You’ve said what my dear friend and fellow blogger, Dr. Servetus says–It’s fantasy couched in reality and that’s where it becomes potentially dangerous. And that’s why I just cannot recommend it.

          • Thank you sooo much for this article! I know it’s been a while since this posted, but this specific thread conversation sums up all of my problems with both Twilight and 50 Shades. I am 28 and volunteer at a women’s shelter (I entertain the kids while mom goes to class/interviews/counseling sessions etc.) and there is nothing romantic or sexy about either of these franchises. While BDSM is not dangerous if done safely, sanely, and consensually, the problem even these RL people run into is when does it stop being fun or play and go into abuse. In fact, I’ve seen young men and women being told by police they were asking for it so they couldn’t press charges when a session went too far and they were abused (not true by the way, some police dept. need new sensitivity training unfortunately.) And even in “normal” dating relationships, many teenagers feel like there is always something they can do to change the other person’s behavior because they don’t have the experience to know when to call it quits.

            The main thing I always had an issue with in 50 Shades of Grey is that it shows a “contract” BDSM relationship where one partner must always follow the rules and orders of the other partner outside of their sexual sessions or be punished. That is such a fricking red flag to anyone who deals with abuse victims. It becomes about total obedience in “normal” life, not contained to just bedroom sex romp. How can young men and women, gay/bi/straight/transgendered, have the experience and knowledge of themselves to make that kind of distinction when books, tv, and movies portray these real issues so flippantly. Christian Grey as a character is a child abuse and sexual abuse victim who has such deep resentment towards women I seriously feared for the poor girl during the belt scene. He is a Dexter waiting to happen, you called it!

            Yes, this is a piece of fiction, and writers let alone actors are not supposed to be society’s moral compass. But they can shine a light on issues though and make their audience think. If BDSM becomes less taboo because of 50 Shades, maybe those people will feel less scared to get help if they need it and I will be thankful. But you hit the nail on the head when you said the most disheartening thing was the wrapped up bow EL James called an ending. No resolution beyond confrontations and yelling, no therapy with a good sex abuse therapist (possibly psychiatrist as well) and Ana never really was developed fully (even despite all the inner goddess talk) into her own woman beyond a sex object and a mother. A whore and Mother Mary, hmm…this is modern female empowerment? This is where the Twilight shows through IMO. The disservice these types of characters and stories do to any reader is not in portraying these issues or events, it is in how they leave them unfinished or unrealistically “finished” as if to downplay the severity of a real-world problem. As if abuse was all part of the fiction and not a reality. Meyers could fall back on the Vampire fantasy to get away with that behavior to a certain extent since they aren’t real. If EL James had done even a few paragraphs describing the struggle her very human characters had as a couple and as parents, I might have forgiven her poor writing skills. But James didn’t, and honestly Twilight never did either. And that is disrespectful to your audience as a writer and as a person, someone who could say so much more. That is why I think these books rang false to me despite just being written for entertainment.

            Sorry for the novel length post but you inspired me! I hope I didn’t put anyone to sleep! XD

            • Thank you so much, volunteerjeanie, for your comments. I still get a lot of hits here for this article (on a blog actually devoted to an actor who is the antithesis of someone like the Grey character, thank the good Lord!) so I know there’s still a huge amount of interest in 50 Shades. I have had more than one people suggest I “get over it, because it’s just a book and harmless entertainment.” But for me, encouraging people to see a relationship that involves control, emotional manipulation/abuse and violence as a “romance” they should want to emulate is just plain wrong. It leaves me feeling all kinds of uncomfortable. The enormous popularity of these books, coupled with the certainty young, immature and impressionable girls were soaking up this claptrap made me believe I had to be the person to stand up and say, “Hey, wait a minute!”
              Thanks again and thanks for what you do for these women and their families. Good on you!!

              • VolunteerJeanie–First let me thank you for your work. It takes a special person to do what you do. Second, disturbing is a mild description of this book for someone who has lived through this. The fact that they are going to make a movie sickens me. I was glancing at the the responses through the year as I was coming down to yours and noticed someone saying “but you all read the whole things.” No, some of us didn’t. I don’t feel bad for disliking the book and for being disturbed that they would make a movie of it.

              • Sometimes I want to the take the former reviewer at Entertainment Weekly and shake her very, very hard for giving the first book a positive review, and misleading me into thinking there might be something worthwhile there. I really, really wanted to give a fellow fanfic writer a fair shake–I wanted to be happy for her success!– and after investing in the kindle version, yes, I read all three books because I knew in order to write an adequate review of this trilogy, I needed to. So I took one for the team, so to speak.

                It certainly wasn’t because I was enthralled with James’ amateurish writing or her rather unlikeable or annoying characters, who bugged me more and more. No one can say, “Well, you are saying all this negative stuff about her books blah blah and you haven’t even read them.” Oh, yes, I have, and it felt like a bloody punishment.

                But I did and in terms of sharing my views as a sort of public service, I am not sorry that I read them. Certainly won’t re-read them, purchase any more of her books or bother to see the movie. I hope she is giving part of the fortune she has earned from 50 Shades to some worhty charitable causes-including shelters for battered women.

    • I am so glad it’s not just me who finds these books utterly disturbing. I was in an emotionally abusive, controlling relationship for over a year and a half and I found 50 Shades of Grey incredibly triggering for me; Christian’s actions, his demeanour and attitude were so similar to my abusive ex that I felt deeply uncomfortable reading through the book and even worse when I began thinking that there are women who now seem to think that a man like Chrisian is something to aspire to. It’s not. It’s something to run as fast as you can in the opposite direction from, I know that from bitter experience.

      The fact that the couple end up happily married with kids makes me really quite appalled, too. I can’t tell you how many times I tried to leave my ex, but he manipulated me into thinking my love could “cure” him in time and make him the man I longed him to be. So time and again, I went back and he got worse. That’s so often how it happens in abusive relationships, yet EL James is perpetuating the dangerous myth that the love of a good woman is all it takes to heal a seriously emotionally damaged man and turn an abusive relationship into a positive, healthy one. I get that these books are fiction. I understand what “escapism” and “fantasy” mean. But I keep asking myself what would have happened if I had read this book a couple of years ago. Because no doubt I would still have made the blatant connected between my then partner and Christian. I would have read lines like “he only does this because he really cares!” and seen that they end up supposedly blissfully happy and I would have stayed with my ex longer, not because I’m stupid and susceptible, but because I was already thoroughly manipulated by him and would have seen this book as proving him right, in some sick way. That is why I believe these books are dangerous and why I would warn anyone sensitive against reading them. What I experienced in my abusive relationship was enough to leave me depressed, struggling to trust men and in need of therapy. There’s nothing sexy about that and I don’t think I’m “reading too much into it” or “taking the book too seriously” when I say that I found it deeply triggering and very dangerous in its insistence on portraying an abusive man as some kind of romantic hero.

      I’m just glad that finding this blog and others like it has proved that I am not alone in that view.

      • No, you are far from the only one, Emma. I am truly sorry to hear you were put through such hell with that relationship. Far too many women–intelligent, capable women–get sucked into relationships with charming guys who prove to be predators. And that’s what Christian Grey is IMHO–a predator who preys on Ana’s inexperience, innocence and naivety for his own purposes and pleasures.

        He is no romantic hero and in real life, I strongly doubt the “happily ever after” scenario James has given us would ever really happen. Herein lies my biggest argument with the author. She claims it’s all “just a fantasy.” Well, if she had stuck with sparkly vampires and teenage werewolves, OK. But when she introduced childhood sexual abuse and BDSM involving human beings into the picture, the fantasy became couched in reality. And the message she is sending out is horribly skewed and perverse.

        I have to confess, I hope at some point, if it hasn’t already, her conscience is seriously pricked.

  12. The proliferation of “Fifty Shades of Grey”-that book- means that is entirely possible that at least one of my high school students will bring in copy as an independent choice reading text. Of course I will require the student choose something more age- appropriate if this particular book is being read for class credit, but there are many books that teeter on acceptable boundaries. I have had middle school students bring in copies of “Twilight”, “Eclipse”, “Breaking Dawn”; a series built on heart-pounding sexual teasing for three prolonged book lengths. I have seen a 10th grade student engrossed in reading “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, and although I was aware of the steamy material, I saw no such reaction from the student who was being deeply exposed to Swedish misogyny. Popular culture books, particularly steamy popular culture books, are passing fads in literature.

    Naughty book popularity rises and falls with readers. Every year there is some student who could be sneaking ”for mature audience” materials. Teachers too know that a student will at some point in his or her life be exposed to reading materials that may be too mature, or too salacious, for his or her age. We can counter these sensational texts because we know what books will last, what books will transcend the effects of time, and what memorable characters will help our students as they mature and grow into adults. We should be ready to help them make good choices when students are offered choice in their reading, and look for the opportunity to suggest an appropriate title, because we know that the “Fifty Shades of Grey” tucked in the backpack is a passing fad. Great literature endures; fads fall into “what I did when I was young and stupid” wasteland.

    • I fear the hoopla surrounding 50 Shades will drag out longer than some books of questionable content in the past have, simply because of the modern means of communication. We’ve got Facebook, Twitter, blogs–online articles about the books and now, the movie that is planned. I kept thinking maybe it was going to die down here at my blog, but I keep getting hundreds of hits a day related to 50 Shades.

      But I have stated my opinion, I have cited the reasons why I do not recommend buying the books. The writing just isn’t that good. The sex scenes are no hotter than what you can find for free through fanfic online. I find the central male character to be a creep. I don’t like the idea of impressionable young people who won’t be able to resist the forbidden fruit of these books possibly buying into the idea it’s OK to beat women with belts if you give them great orgasms. Yeah, maybe I am too much of a worrywart. But it does sincerely concern me. And there are much better ways to spend $30 (more for the print editions)–for example, buying copies of classic lit.

      I sincerely do hope it all goes away very soon, but I fear it might not. The 50 Shades trilogy certainly won’t become a classic–but it would be a good example of how not to write books. But then again, the author is now a millionaire. Can’t wait to see the onslaught of imitators–not.

      At any rate, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  13. I really enjoyed your review because I began reading 50 Shades but found I could not get through it because it made me too angry. So thank you for the spoilers! I feel compelled to comment here because I am in the BDSM lifestyle. My relationship is not what Christian demands of Anna (24/7 slavery), but I am a submissive. Why this book upsets me so much is because everyone who reads it is going to think this is what BDSM is. It is most certainly not. You do not have to be emotionally scarred and have major baggage to be into BDSM. I am not at all pleased that that is the explanation for why Christian is the way that he is. You can be completely “normal” and enjoy kink. I also hate that he completely takes advantage of Anna’s naivete and basically coerces her into agreeing to be his submissive by using sex as a “weapon.” (She even describes it that way!). This is not a story about a BDSM relationship; it is a story about an emotionally abusive relationship. I am trying to get further than halfway through the first book in order to give it more of a fair trial, but I just don’t know if I can.

    • Thank you so much for commenting, Hutch. I personally am glad to hear from someone who is in the BDSM community and has a good understanding of what it is and is not. And I would dare say the average reader WILL assume James is describing what possibly could be a typical domimnnt/sub relationship.

      While it may not be a lifestyle I would choose for myself, I do understand different people have different needs and desires and I think what two adults do in a consensual, emotionally mature, healthy relationship is their right and their business. Nothing wrong with some kink.

      But Christian is such a screwed-up character who comes across as much more creepy than sexy IMHO, and Ana, who is such a complete innocent when it comes to sex and men, knows nothing of what a normal, healthy sexual relationship should be. She’s being stalked and manipulated in the worst way by this sadistic control freak of a deeply troubled, broken man.

      Frankly, these books give BDSM a bad name. I think James felt the need to sensationalize the whole thing for the purpose of titillation and to sell more books. I am writer, too, and I understand the need to hook the audience with your story, but you do not have to go this route. To me, it smacks (no pun intended) of irresponsibility.
      Again, thank you for commenting and sharing from the POV of a person involved in the BDSM lifestyle. If you don’t object, I may include your comments (verbatim) in a future post. I honestly keep hoping all the hoopla over these books will die down, but judging by the number of views my related posts keep getting, it’s not happening yet. I do feel the need to take a stand against something I believe is misleading and potentially harmful. I am also a former journalist and I believe people deserve the truth.
      I read all three books because I did want to give the author a fair shake, but it just doesn’t get better IMHO. The more we find out about Christian’s past, the more emotionally f**ked up he appears to be, and his actions throughout speak of a very angry, confused man stuck in adolescence. The scene where he is beating her with the belt and she is crying is one I just can’t get out of my mind. It really made me sad. “Emotionally abusive relationship”–exactly.

  14. I would just like to say that your analysis has been one of the most intelligent pieces I have read concerning 50 Shades of Grey, and I greatly appreciate your insight and honesty. I despise being told to read something just because everyone else is, and you have made it possible for me to make an informed decision. So many other reviews have NOT revealed the truth about this trilogy, and I commend you for taking a stand.

    • Shay,

      Thank you so much for commenting. I think these books are proof that just because something shows up on the bestseller list doesn’t mean it’s worth your time and money. I gave a great deal of thought to the books before I began to write about them because I wanted to make clear what my objections and reservations were concerning their content. When I was still writing for the newspaper, I always hoped to give readers the information they needed to make informed, intelligent decisions and I can still do that through my blog.

    • Shay,

      Thank you so much for commenting. I think these books are proof that just because something shows up on the bestseller list doesn’t mean it’s worth your time and money. I gave a great deal of thought to the books before I began to write about them because I wanted to make clear what my objections and reservations were concerning their content. When I was still writing for the newspaper, I always hoped to give readers the information they needed to make informed, intelligent decisions and I can still do that through my blog.

  15. These books are awful phrases like “inner goddess” being repeated throughout grows tiresome, its also boring and there are too many mind numbing sex scenes that are just a rehash of the one sentences earlier.I will not read the final book, utter tripe.

    • Thanks for commenting. I confess I wanted to strangle Ana’s cutesy inner goddess more than once. There is a lot of repetition, as if she is padding the text to stretch it out into a trilogy. I’m still scratching my head over its enormous popularity, frankly. There’s better written sexy stuff out there that don’t revolve around an emotionally abusive relationship.

  16. THANK YOU FOR THIS POST! I started reading the first book, and I just got pissed off. James is a terrible writer, in my opinion. Ana sounds like a nutcase with her whole self conscious and inner goddess bs, and don’t get me started on Christian. Hearing how the ending of the trilogy goes pisses me right the hell off! Happily ever after?! Are you freaking kidding me?! My God this is definitely fanfiction to the max. I’ve been in a BDSM relationship before, and it’s portrayed like we are all abused nutjobs like him, which is definitely not the case. Not to mention, their relationship is just too damned unstable. She never had a man before and he just totally seduced the hell out of the weak-minded little twat. To make a long story short, words can’t describe how much I hate these books and I adore you for the spoilers. Now I can not throw away my money and sell the first book for like a penny on Amazon…Nah, I’m throwing it away.

  17. I haven’t read the books, but was going to. I don’t think I’ll bother now because, like Hutch, I am a submissive and they certainly don’t sound as if they portray BDSM in a positive light. For people like me, who are naturally submissive and only really connect meaningfully with an extremely dominant person, there is very limited struggling with the “inner goddess” (that repetition alone would drive me insane… Just hearing it the once in the spoilers was bad enough, lol). It’s just who we are, dominants and submissives, and neither me nor my partners have suffered any more abuse than any vanilla couple in their past. A good BDSM relationship is usually based on mutual respect and – in my case and most others, love – not just kinky f**kery (although that expression makes me laugh my ass off, lol). I think if I read these books they would just irritate me. Both for presenting this warped version of BDSM presented to the masses, and for them clearly welcoming it with open arms. Grrrrr…

    • Hi, Jojo, and thanks for commenting.

      I think for your own sake you’ll want to give these books a pass. I am afraid you’d just get angry and frustrated. I would if I were in a BDSM relationship. As you say, you’d be upset with how Ms. James has represented (or misrepresented) this lifestyle and the fact it’s making her filthy rich as millions of people buy into it, apparently thinking this story is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I am more than ready for this to all go away.

      And if I never read the phrase “inner goddess” again, I will be perfectly happy. 😉

  18. This post is just what I was looking for! I just finished (struggled through) the first book and can’t believe I was even considering reading the second! I was hopeful it would get better since it seemed Ana was coming to her senses and demonstrated great personal strength! Ugh, to learn they end up together with kids?! No thanks. This book lacked depth, was poorly written and the repetition nearly killed me! Thanks for letting us know how it all turned out – I’m not one for cliff hangers and you saved me a tremedous amount of time and torture!

    • Hi, JC, and thanks for commenting. I am really glad this post has helped serve a legitimate need re these books. I do feel as if people are being sold a real bill of goods with 50 Shades. I think they are falling victim to all the hype and hoopla over a piece of not particularly well-written tricked-out fan fiction with a dubious psychological angle and a terrible message for young women, padded with repetitive passages to create three books and make more money. And you’re welcome. 😉

    • I just finished the first one (free PDF download). Glad I didn’t pay for it. I thought it was terribly written. All the sex scenes did nothing for me. I finished it only because I wanted to know why he was so messed up…more curious about the psychology part. And The book didn’t go much into that. I still want to know more of the background of why he is the way he is, but I don’t really want to read the other two books and probably won’t get the answers that I am looking for.

      And, for what it’s worth, I completely agree with everything fedoralady wrote.

  19. I’m actually so glad that you posted this review. im like 17 and in high school and girls at my school would read this during their spares. it is shocking to me that this book has become so popular and that some people don’t see the abuse in it, they only see the “romance”. other people call me prudish when i say i don’t really want to read this book. but after reading your review (which is more intelligent than most others on the net), i understood a lot more. thank you 🙂

    • And I am glad that you commented, CyCy. It’s good to hear from a younger reader who is concerned over the abuse element in these books. It just goes to show, don’t let people pressure you into reading/watching/doing something you are not comfortable with. I am personally saddened that so many people find this romantic. Being involved with an emotionally disturbed stalker and control freak who uses sex as a weapn is NOT romantic. It’s emotionally abusive. And you can love someone a lot but unless and until they want to change and get help to do so, love will not conquer all and you’ll just be dragged down with them. I am old enough to have seen it happen all too often. Kudos to you for sticking to your guns, CyCy. Trust me, prudish is the last thing I am, too. 😉

  20. I was upset with the books but on another level the guts of the book were entertaining. The ‘story’ was interesting and has me wanting to get to the end. It was cheesy and cliche but it was fiction, fantasy, and enjoyable. That I think is the true appeal here. It’s similar with Twilight, HP, Hunger Games, etc. I found all the BDSM just to be a ‘real-world’ version of how the male lead could be a ‘monster’ that the girl shouldn’t be around. Bella shouldn’t want to be around vampires so Ana shouldn’t want to be around a dom. They talk alot about vamps in Twilight so they have a lot of BDSM here. It’s not something for younger readers or the faint of heart, but if you know about it going in and the fanfic connection it’s understandable. I throw a lot of those parts of the books out when I reflect on it. In fact I skimmed over a lot of ‘those’ scenes, there were just too many. My main issues were with other acts in the books not related to BDSM directly. The way they treat each other, they way they treat others, and how other characters are portrayed. Some situations can relate back to the questions of dominance but even on those that don’t there is a lot to complain about here. I felt those parts of the book were what should really give people pause. I blame the writing but not the author. This is fanfic, it has its place, but that place is not in the main stream.

    • It’s not the explicit sex or the concept of it being built around a BDSM relationship that troubles me, I hope I’ve made that clear. It’s the way she has managed to paint people who choose this lifestyle as being emotionally warped in some way.Christian is a seriously screwed up person, as is Elena and the woman who stalks Christian (sorry, I have forgotten her name). And I’m not into BDSM and have no desire to be, but I have empathy for those who are and feel they have been portrayed unfairly. Let’s face it, there are plenty of gullible people out there who will buy into her faulty logic. The same ones who believe everything they read on the internet is the gospel truth.

      I agree–the relationships here are very worrying–the stalking, the need for control over every aspect of someone’s life, using sex as a weapon, the constant arguing, the complete emotional roller coaster these people are on. It’s not healthy and it’s not good, I don’t care how “hot” and rich Christian is supposed to be.
      I found the premise of Twilight itself a disturbing message for young women. It’s not for younger readers, but they ARE reading it. As an earlier commenter pointed out, teenagaers are devouring these 50 Shades books and many consider them romantic in addition to the appeal of the forbidden fruit.

      There is nothing romantic about emotional abuse.

      I am afraid I am not as generous as you. I blame the writing–which, while entertaining in parts, is clearly amateurish and poorly edited–AND the author. No one held a gun to her head and forced her to pursue getting this fanfic published and into the mainstream, where it does NOT belong. But money does talk, doesn’t it?

  21. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You hit the nail on the head. I swear, the number of young girls looking for that “beauty and the beast love story” is outrageous. It resembles a plague to me and its consequences are frightening. Please keep writing. Also, I’m interested in reading more of your material. Thanks again!

    • You’re welcome. 😀 You’d be astonished at the number of hits these posts on 50SoG get here, and I wonder just how many of those are young girls. If I can convince a few people these books aren’t what they’ve been touted to be–harmless escapic fantasy–then I feel as if I’d made a contribution to society.

      I will always continue to write–I used to do it for a living and now I am working on a novel along with my blog writing–and my reporting background encourages me to take a stand on what I find troubling or misleading, even if it’s not a popular one. Of course, this blog is devoted to the wonderful actor and good man for which it is named, but I also write about books, films, television, music and art, all loves of mine. I love to have fun and laugh but I also like to give some food for thought from time to time, too. 😉 Thanks for taking the time to comment and for your encouragement.

      • I’m always appreciative of writing that is unapologetic. That’s the point of free speech, right? I find it refreshing when an opinion is well thought out and properly portrayed, even if I don’t agree, though with your post about Fifty Shades, I wholeheartedly do. Please advertise for your novel. When its available, I’ll gladly buy it.

        • Thanks. 😀 I am about three-quarters of the way through the novel (a historical romance set in 18th century England) although I haven’t gotten as much done on it recently. Trying to prepare for an upcoming trip. My wonderful blog readers are actually paying my way out to California to ComicCon next month to serve as a reporter for an online site. Hoping to get to meet Mr. Armitage himself. My mind’s going in many different directions right now.

  22. so glad ive found some reviews that align more with my own views (having only just jumped on the bandwagon to see what all the fuss was about) rather than praising it blindly. my biggest problem wasn’t the BDSM element of it (although i consider the relationship to be incredibly unhealthy) its the fact that it is written in a way that is to be taken realistically, and yet we have an inexperienced virgin all of a sudden getting off left, right and centre and raring to go at all times. would hate to think what sort of message this sends to younger readers, like there isn’t enough pressure already to be pretty/sexy/skinny/perfect now we
    have to be hyper sexualised beings who can get off everytime without fail and multiple times in a short space of time? maybe it’s because this really isn’t my first choice of reading genre but i can’t wrap my head around how we’re supposed to buy the constant (so constant it was boring not hot) sex.

    also did you get an incredibly unnecessary but creepy vibe with their comments about the children? can’t remember the exact dialogue but I found it a little disturbing.

    and im not sure what planet the author lives on but no 21 year old girl complains about being “too skinny” and sees it as a negative.

    • Thanks for commenting, Miranda. I am a contrarian sometimes, and when something is forced down my throat as being such a fantastic must-read (or see or listen)–and it frankly isn’t–I just have to speak up. The emperor has no clothes!

      The “fantasy couched in reality” aspect is very disturbing to me. James has described this as a fantasy, and perhaps when it was still Twilight fan fiction featuring sparkly vampires, I could have accepted her analysis. But when she took this story and turned into something different, with purportedly real human beings involved in an already controversial lifestyle choice, I think it left behind the “harmless escapist fantasy” realm to which some have relegated it.
      And that’s what worries me. That the young girls in particular who will inevitably read this will also buy into this very dubious message.

      The whole story ultimately had a truly creepy vibe for me–the stalking, the control elements, the manipulation, the thought this couple was bringing children into the world, the whole “sadist and me and baby makes three and look how love and kinky f**kery conquers all” concept is distressing.

      I found the characters to be unrealistic in so many ways. First of all, this 21-year-old woman hasn’t ever felt any sort of sexual stirrings, who apparently hasn’t even shared a romantic kiss with a man, suddenly falls in thrall with Christian and is ready to do anything he asks of her, basically, because he’s beautiful and “hot.”
      She is supposed to be a bright young woman but it makes her look incredibly naive and stupid. And how in the heck can someone as volatile and emotionally damaged as Christian become this respected captain of industry, fabulously wealthy at such a young age? You have to be reasonably cool and level-headed to accomplish a feat such as that.

      And Elena is one of the most detestable characters I have run across in a book–seducing her best friend’s emotionally damaged son and turning him into her submissive– and yet Christian goes on about how she “saved” him and now they are business partners? Come on . . .

      Erotic romance by definition does include a certain number of sexual encounters, often more frequent than would be possible in real life (I mean, a guy does have to have some recovery time, after all) and generally in a variety of settings. But the problem here for me is there is no real “romance.” This is clearly emotional abuse and an emotionally unhealthy, unstable relationship (they can barely go more than 20 minutes without arguments, let alone sex). And yeah, the sheer repetition and that annoying “inner goddess” popping up all over the place was ultimately more tedious than titillating. I have heard from a number of people who started skipping over the sex scenes just trying to find out how the story finally ends.

      Sadly, I fear the author simply padded the rather thin story in order to crank out three books and make more money. JK Rowlings she ain’t. And now she’s sold the merchandising rights. 50 Shades makeup, bedding, lingeries, home furnishings and “adult products for adult women” . . . give me a break.

      • I threw the book in the trash (which, is a feat for me considering my passion for literature) I’m so irritated with the author. And I guess it feels personal to me. I have an 18 yr old sister who resembles this girl, beautiful, book smart and naive. So I find myself wondering: with the overwhelming response to twilight, (don’t get me started on that either) what could be the more long-term effects of young girls picking this book up and believing this is an acceptable relationship? Bad news…

        Also, I heard somewhere that the story is parallel to James’ marriage. I wonder if its true…? If so, she probably could have gotten a better response from me had she wrote more of a self-help style book.

        • A friend and fellow blogger mentioned something about all the trees that gave their lives for these books . . . glad I went the Kindle route, although I still kick myself over the waste of $30. I can understand where you are coming from with your concerns. I think about my younger family members, about young female friends and the message this trilogy sends that I don’t want them to buy into. And I have watched all three of the first Twilight films on TV and I still, still, still do not understand the overwhelming appeal of those stories for so many. The tie-in to Twilight almost guaranteed this trilogy success, I suppose. *sigh* But I cannot really see mamas and daughters sitting down to discuss THIS.

          Interesting about the possible parallel to James’ marriage . . . hmmmmm.

      • Well I’m certainly glad I found this blog! I threw the first book across the room after the first “steamy” sex scene…not because I’m a prude, but because if all the reading leading up to this was foreplay….I was left unfulfilled!
        I did pick it back up and forced myself to finish the book basically because of all the chatter..”Had I missed something”? NO…so why did I go and but the next one? Again, chatter from people saying how great the second book was: maybe I needed to read that one to make sense of the first one. Not happening. Nothing to make sense about. THERE. IS. NO. STORY. No need to finish the second book or purchase the third.
        The only thing different is Ana’s inner goddess has now become her conscience talking to her. Her vagina is still referred to as her “sex” and a sexual climax is “finding his release”. *Blech*. The sex may have had a steamy component ONCE….but pages of this drivel is certainly skippable.
        I came here to get the spoilers and thank you, I did. So they marry, have two kids and live happily ever after. Sounds like it was written for kids and for very immature adult women.
        Wonder how Dexter would have turned out if he had been made a “sub” when he was 15. HMMM.

        • LOL! I believe I said I’d rather take my chances with Dexter Morgan than Christian Grey. Oddly enough, I don’t find Dexter nearly as creepy and unlike Christian, he’s got a code. 😉 “Sounds like it was written for kids and for very immature adult women.” Good point. Does this harken back to the fact it was originally a Twilight fanfiction? Twilight was, after all, billed as young adult fare although, as with the Harry Potter books, many older fans also read them (that’s the only parallel I will draw with the Potter books, which are a far cry from this stuff in terms of imagination and quality of writing).

          I still want to strangle that inner goddess. Did you also notice she never referred directly to Christian’s penis? She’s writing about BDSM (well, attempting to write about it and not succeeding well, according to those who are in the lifestyle) and she’s being coy about the man’s sexual organs?? Sheesh.

          • Sorry if you had already made the Dexter Morgan/Christian Grey connection. Both are “flawed” characters “messed-up” by mothers who chose to live less than stellar life-styles.

            As for my opinion of this book series being written for “kids” (ok..teens) and immature women, and the Twilight Series…probably so. I only saw the first Twilight movie….but again, that series of books/movies captivated teens as well as immature women. Which brings me to the sad point that droves of “women” are being seduced with such immature images of love/relationships. Kind of scary to think that the height of passion could be induced in middle aged women through such innane writing. Makes me think that many women are emotionally arrested and or sexually repressed, and that by bringing them back to a place of intellectulal safety, they are able to experience vacarious thrills.

            Not to bash sexually/emotionally immature women….we all got to start somewhere, but my god, what does this say about our society?

            Aside from the lame and SUCCESSFUL attempt to introduce sanitized BDSM to the mild-mannered masses….a whole product line of sex-toys has emerged based on this book! Marketing mania at it’s most guiless!

            Yes, inner goddesses à la The Grey series, don’t HAVE to refer to the penis, nor do they have to deal with ejaculations. 🙂 They should all experience a moment of penile ashixiation and gobble some goo. But then the fantasy of being a high priced whore without any of the messy details would be blown.

            • I wonder if Dexter Morgan ever popped into James’ head when she was writing this? I ended up watching all three of the first movies in my attempt to understand the whole Twilight phenomenon. My inquiring former reporter’s mind wanted to know. And I still don’t seem to “get” it. Maybe if I was 15 . . . or maybe not. I think I always had better taste in literature. 😉

              I wrote a separate post on the whole merchandising juggernaut tied to these books– they’ve got to milk that cash cow dry, after all–and the fact that bedding and home accessories tied to films is usually reserved for those made for children and teens. Now we are to be inundated with 50 Shades posters, comforters, lingerie, jewelry, makeup and yes, “adult products for adult women.” *rolls eyes* where will it all end?? And what it says about our society isn’t very encouraging, I fear.

              It’s an unbelievable story with poorly developed characters, faulty psychology, offering a skewed view of BDSM (she’s managed to piss off that entire community by implying you must be an abuse victim. abuser with serious mental health issues to practice it, it seems) and James’ story manages to somehow be both irritatingly coy and downright naive even as it claims to be provocative and walk on the wild side with all that kinky f**kery. And you’re right, no messy fluids ever mentioned that might disturb the prettified view of a emotionally abusive “romance” LOL

              And this woman is earning $1.4 million a week. A WEEK.

              Your mention of high-priced whores made another thought pop into my head. Would women find Christian so appealing if he wasn’t also filthy rich, living in posh digs and flying Ana around in his private helicopter? And I found “Pretty Woman” objectionable If only I had known . . .

              • Oh well, then you HAD to have seen THIS:

                “Miss Ohio: Prostitute in ‘Pretty Woman’ Is a ‘Very Positive Role’ for Women”

                Miss Ohio Audrey Bolte on Sunday cited Julia Roberts’ prostitute character in the film Pretty Woman as a role where women were portrayed in an “accurate and positive way.”

                “Do you think women are depicted in movies and on television in an accurate and positive way? And please give us an example,” Judge Marilu Henner asked the top five finalist during Sunday’s Miss USA pageant on NBC.

                “I think it depends on the movie,” Bolte replied. “I think there are some movies that depict women in a very positive role, and then some movies that put them in a little bit more of negative role. But by the end of the movie, they show that woman power that I know we all have.”

                “Such as movie Pretty Woman,” she pointed out. “We had a wonderful, beautiful woman, Julia Roberts, and she was having a rough time, but, you know what, she came out on top and she didn’t let anybody stand in her path.”

                More @ the link with short video clip and critism from Darryl Hanna:

                Not to de-rail your blog….but can’t you just see 5 years down the line after 50SoG has become a movie and Ms. Washington State is asked about Strong Women Who Have Embraced Motherhood? Why, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ana Steele gets a shout out!!! LOL!!

              • Oh, good GRIEF. Speaking of beauty pageant contestants, have you ever seen Toddlers and Tiaras? Little girls who are made up to look like 25-year-old hootchie mamas crossed with Stepford Wives. I have watched with a sort of horrified fascination. One little girl said very solemnly that “facial beauty was THE most important thing in life.” Obviously mimicking exactly what mama and the coaches were telling her. I am eternally grateful to my late mother for encouraging me as a child to develop my brain and my talents–good grooming was important, too, but my appearance was certainly not what mattered most.

                My husband and I only watched PW because my nieces were visiting and wanted to see it so we rented the movie. Let me say we were not fans. To this day-between that movie and Flatliners–my husband is not much of a Julia Roberts fan. They left such a bad taste in his mouth.

                “Great, a movie that both glorifies and sanitizes prostitution and suggests to little girls if they do become a hooker, there’s a Richard Gere waiting right around the corner to sweep them off their feet.” That’s his reaction and it’s mine, too.

                You know the original ending of PW had the Gere character dumping her? Much more realistic but not something that would have been popular with the masses, one supposes.

                And your scenario with Ms. Washington State sounds all too possible. *sigh*

  23. Well said. I have major concerns about the messages this series will send young girls and boys about intimate relationships. Regarding the literature, I thought the first book was junk, I was annoyed I paid good money for the crap and I certainly wont be wasting more on buying the other two books.

    • Thanks, Nat. The mistake I made was thinking, “OK, I am going to give this woman a fair shake and read the whole thing.” That’s the former reporter in me. And now I feel as if I wasted my money after being sold a real bill of goods. The good aspect of this is I HAvE read the whole thing and thus believe I can give an informed and hopefully intelligent review of my objections to it. ( try to see the bring side of things. 😉 )

      I just wish it would all go away and now, but sadly, I don’t think that will happen nearly as quickly as I would like. 😦

  24. I wish I had read this before I bought the flipping books hoping for a ” New York Time best selling” type of read. I’m a 19 year old girl, who in all honestly is very off put by these characters and their ” relationship”.

    • Thanks, Meghan. I am really going to have a hard time trusting Lisa Schwarzbaum’s reviews anymore at Entertainment Weekly. She gave the first book a B plus there. Which is one of the reasons I decided to give the books a go. Oh, Lisa, what were you thinking, hon???? 😦

  25. Reblogged this on The Rose of Europe and commented:
    In June, the office I temped at was all abuzz about some fiction that featured ‘naughty matter’. Not long afterwards, I read that it is one of the most read/bought fiction right now. Today, I read that the producers of ‘The Social Network’ will produce the film (will it be a trilogy like Twilight? :S).

    Since just about all the women seem to be talking about it, I decided to do some research and stumbled on this excellent blog post which answered all my questions. 50 Shades is not my cup of tea and if I really wanted to read some naughty fairytale-ending fiction, there’s a genre called historical romance.

    • Thank you, Perseverance. I think the case with 50 Shades is the hype–and there is a tremendous amount–far exceeds the actual substance, but people are buying into that hype. The story is so heavily padded with repetitious sex (which manages to become tedious) to stretch it out to three volumes, I do not see how three movies could be made–but then, I don’t see why it is selling so tremendously world-wide in the first place. There are definitely much better options for romantic or erotic fiction out there–with better-written characters and plots which do not focus on emotionally abusive relationships, couching fantasy in reality.

  26. Thank you for this spoiler. I had heard enough about the novels to form the impression they were similar to Exit to Eden/Story of O type material. From what you have said sounds like they have a far more violent twist. No I don’t think I will read them and I hope those who do, read a balance of other materials on this subject matter.

    • Thank you, ariescottrell. I hoped to help people make an informed decision about these books rather than feel they HAD to read them because “everyone else is reading them.” It reminds me of that old saw, “If everyone was jumping off a cliff, would you feel you had to jump, too?” It’s the violence, the emotional manipulation, control issues, the use of sex as a weapon that really troubles me. There is too much violence against women in our modern society as it is; we don’t need to couch it in what parades as erotic “romance.”

      • I agree, have a friend who went through the reality of a Christian Grey type situation. While he was not a billionaire, he was charming and manipulative. She wrote about it on a fetish website, the story breaks my heart. And I do hope people understand this is a work of fiction, because the reality as is usually the case with movies and novels, is quite different. I really appreciate you sharing this informed and intelligent information with us!

  27. Pingback: Setting up a blog – get happy and do it! « ariescottrell

  28. this book is the craziest book ive read. Mostly because women have the power to say no, and not let men take advantage of them. I like the ending of the first part because at the end she left, and thats something all women should do if they feel it doesnt feel right.

  29. My girlfriend has just finished reading the first book and I’m sad to say that she found it arousing, at first I thought this was great, then I read a few passages from the book and I was deeply disturbed, particularly by the fact that my girlfriend was turned on by a character like Grey and the unhealthy relationship portrayed. It’s made me feel very insecure, I was brought up to believe that sex was about love, passion, respecting and caring deeply for your partner but the very fact that this dreadfully written book is being touted as the finest piece of erotic fiction “EVVA” by so many women makes me realise how deluded I’ve been. It also explains why so many girlfriends in the past have left me and shacked up with guys who treated them really badly. All of this has kind of shaken my faith in a large proportion of women. As for the ending, how predictable and passe, they get married, have babies and live happily ever after….. Haven’t I heard that ending before? – Oh yes, in every fairy tale ever written. I was sexually abused as a child, sexual abuse is not sexy when the victims are children OR adults, discovering that my girlfriend thinks it is has really shaken me. E L James amounts to nothing more than an overhyped sensationalist in my eyes. Also, having seen a picture of her online, I imagine her in the heroine’s role and I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder but that vision simply turns my stomach. Thank you for restoring my faith that there women out there who don’t find sexual deviancy erotic.

    • Thank you for providing a male POV on the books. I think my husband would have found the passages disturbing as well–just my descriptions of the general subject matter of the books had him raising his eyebrows. He is a man who is strong enough to be gentle and kind, and has a quiet self-confidence and confidence in our relationship that doesn’t lead him into jealous frenzies. He is a MAN and Christian Grey is a boy in a man’s body.

      I am all for well-written erotic fiction that promotes healthy relationships between mature, consenting adults–but this AIN’T it.

      No, rest assured, all women do not find Christian Grey sexy and irresistible. A manipulative control freak and stalker who has a mercurial temperament that goes from aero to 60 in 8 seconds and a fondness for beating the sh*t out of little dark-haired girls because of his serious mommy issues? NOT my idea of the dream man.

      I am so sorry to hear that you suffered such abuse as a child. I detest the victimization of the vulnerable in our society. And you are right, sexual abuse is not sexy or erotic: it’s abuse. Emotionally abusive relationships a fairy tale romance do not make, and that’s what Ana and Christian’s relationship is.

      I have said the huge success of these books relies on the tremendous amount of hype. All flash and no real substance. And I fear they are sending a terrible message to impressionable young women who might fall into the trip of thinking Christian’s behavior is appealing or desirable in a partner. Or the old saw about marrying the bad boy and reforming him. I’ve known too many women who ended up in abusive relationships because they thought they could “make” them change.
      People don’t change unless they want to change.

      Courage, my friend. And all the best.

      • Thank you for your reply and your understanding. Actually, your words strike a particularly resonant chord with me – My mother married twice, both times to abusive “bad boy” types and she openly admitted later on that she did so feeling that she could change them, her second husband was my father. My father wasn’t the one who sexually abused me, I’d just like to make that clear, he was however very violent, a mentally unstable alcoholic and he was a master of psychological abuse. He was also a serial adulterer and eventually ran off with a neighbour very publicly and spoiled her children whilst letting my sister and I rot which was extremely humiliating. you’re absolutely right, this book promotes the nonsensical belief that bastards can be tamed, something that should be rebuked openly within society, the fact that E L James uses this horrible misaprehension as a vehicle to sell her brand of trash is in extremely bad taste. I’m all for freedom of speech but seriously, the popularity of this book has me deeply concerned.

        • You’re welcome. While it’s now the fastest selling paperback in the world (eegads!!) it’s good to know there are people who are seeing the trilogy for what it really is–a waste of a lot of trees and a case of the emperor having no clothes.

          It’s interesting the variety of people who have commented here: teenage girls who are troubled their friends are reading the books and buying into the “fairy tale”, women who are appalled at the messages contained within these books because they/their friends or family have been in abusive relationships and feel the book romanticizes just such relationships, people who have participated in BDSM as a lifestyle choice and who feel it has been misrepresented by James and that they have all been painted as unstable people with backgrounds of abuse. And I think I had something like 10,000 people just this week alone read this post. She has set off alarm signals for a lot of us.

          There is that eternal appeal of the bad boy and the idea that true love conquers all. Sadly, in many cases that IS just a fairy tale.

          A lot of the problem here is this is a fantasy story she tried to couch in reality, and it’s a unwieldy combination. This story started out as a Twilight fanfic and it should have stayed that way. Instead, she takes out the sparkly vamps and throws in her apparently misinformed views of BDSM and publishes it. She’s making $1.4 million a week.

          This depresses me. And now they are making into a film? Give me strength. Harmless escapist fantasy? I don’t think so.

          I am totally against censorship and book banning and have posted about my views here at the blog. HOWEVER, if I see something I feel is wrong–and having read all three books, I have first-hand knowledge and can make an informed decision–I feel I should stand up and share those concerns. I know I’ve talked a few people out of reading them and given people a place to express their own views and concerns. So I guess I’ve accomplished something. And made James just a little less money. I don’t think I’ll put her in the poorhouse. 😉

          • If there was any justice in this world, E L James’ ill gotten wealth would be directly donated to charities that support the victims of domestic and sexual abuse. If these are her fantasies then she’s a very sick individual and a repugnant opportunist to boot. To profit from such repellant subjects whilst promoting dangerous falsehoods to a potentially vulnerable and impressionable audience is unforgiveable. I hope her money buys her nothing but misery and misfortune, she’s profiting from the real misery suffered by innocent people, misery that scars lives forever so misery she deserves in return. These books are NOT innocent fantasies as they are promoted as being.

            • I heartily agree. And I cringe at the thought of the people looking to make a fast buck who will write more of this stuff–since some people can’t seem to get enough of it. Which I just do NOT understood. It really bothers me that she took a fic based on a hugely popular young adult book series–knowing she had a built-in audience who love anything to do with Twilight–and turned it onto a story not suitable, well, for anyone, but particularly not teens. She had to know it would be the irresistible forbidden fruit to them. Did she ever think of this, or care? I think she has a lot to answer for.

              • I wonder if anyone will have the guts to publicly call her to account? I’d like to see her receive a grilling from a merciless interviewer on live TV addressing the points made above. As you say though, I’d imagine her only motivation is greed. She’d certainly look pretty stupid defending the indefensible though and it might prevent a few sales of her horrid works.

  30. We all want a man who adores us and will look after us but these books have taken the concept a bit far. It is a bit creepy and very unrealistic.
    There are so many other well written books that contain a bit of spice and deserve more attention than these books are getting.
    Lets face it, most 20 something self made billionaires are more like Mark Zuckerberg (facebook) and Bill Gates – hardly our Mr Perfect in every physical way Christian Grey!
    I feel the books have a distinctive Mills and Boon style to it. Which I guess has a particular market, but for anyone that has read a bit, it holds nothing new, inspirational or particularly appealing.
    Keep the books away from the young that may think it is ‘all so romantic’ and may be influenced to act some of it out.
    I read the first book because it was given to me but seriously I don’t think it has made a lasting impression!

    • Thanks, Lydia, for commenting. I wouldn’t waste your time and money to read the others. It just doesn’t improve, it gets more outlandish. You hit the nail on the head: creepy, unrealistic and there are so many better-written stories with erotic elements out there far more deserving of attention than Ms. James’ trilogy. I do worry about young people buying into what is an emotionally abusive relationship and thinking it’s swooningly romantic. It’s not. I am married to a good, gentle, wonderful man who adores me and does his best to care for me and he has no desire to beat me with a belt or anything else. He’s not a billionaire or a matinee idol but I wouldn’t trade him for one hundred Christian Greys.

  31. I was genuinely curious about this series, so (against my better judgement) got the first book on my kindle. I read up until right after Christian took Dana’s virginity. Then it stared getting too weird for me. Glad I saw this site & review before I got further into it!!

        • I would counter that by saying that anybody who finds such appallingly written drivel entertaining is a dumbass or if that they can tolerate the multitude of faults with the english and the prose because they fantasise about physically and sexually assaulting women, they are deviants. Which are you, a dumbass or a deviant?

          • I almost replied moments ago to the same comment but was looking for just the right words and trying to keep my temper. I think you expressed what a lot of people who did not find this “entertaining” feel. Thank you.

        • Obviously, many people disagree with your view here. You have the right to your own opinion and the right to state it, but what you do not have the right to do is to come on my blog and tell other people to shut up. That comment has therefore been trashed. Thank you.

  32. I was just like Elizabeth, but I didn’t buy the book (I don’t think my parents would have let me) but instead found the fanfic version and changed the names. I’m 18 and because of all the hype it sparked my interest. I only read a little after Christian took Ana’s virginity and had to stop. I was confused that even that far in, there was NO apparent romance between Christian and Anna when it was deemed to be a ROMANCE.

    That is what upset me the most and made it impossible for me to even attempt to continue. And, thanks to you, now I know that there is absolutely NO romance but just straight up domineering, violently destructive sexual encounters between an overly controlling, abused boy trapped in a man’s body and a naive, unsuspecting young woman.

    I feel like I may be the only one, but I felt HORRIBLE for Anna because even in the short amount I did read, Anna made it apparent that she still held onto hope for a real relationship involving true feelings. How sad when you realize that it would never happen.

    But the worst was her conscious, berating and bringing up the fact that Christian only wanted her for sex. THAT was the worst part and made me feel sick and depressed. Because it was completely TRUE yet Anna thought she could change that!

    Ignoring all the BDSM and sexual encounters, the underlying message that would be seen by other young teenagers was clear. Because Christian was abused, it’s ok for him to use that same abuse towards other women (especially Anna) because he will end up finding his true love who will change his ways and they will live happily ever after. It’s like a twisted type of fairy tale.

    I’m a very open-minded person, which is why I gave this “book” a chance but in cases like this, I completely regret it. It makes me angry knowing that the writer is making money from unsuspecting teens and adults who don’t realize there is truly no type of romance in this “romance” book.

    I am soooo glad I stopped reading and came to your blog. I thought I was the only one who was disgusted by the use of abuse to justify actions and have that be ok.

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    • Thanks for your thoughtful and articulate comments. It restores my faith to hear from young people like yourself who do not buy into the clearly disturbing message James is promoting through this trilogy.

      I have friends who consider this harmless entertainment; I just can’t agree. I feel it’s false advertising to call this an erotic romance. As you say, set aside the graphic nature of the sex scenes and the BDSM elements and you still have a very unhealthy, emotionally abusive relationship with an immature man who, in my mind, is a sexual predator, a stalker and a complete control freak, and a very inexperienced and frankly naive young woman. Sorry, but the “love of a good woman conquers all” angle just doesn’t cut it for me. The scene in which he gleefully beats her with a belt and then can’t understand when she cries just did me in. I, too, am a very open-minded individual, but this wasn’t erotic or romantic for me. It was disturbing and more than a little sad.

      As a fanfic writer myself, I honestly wanted to like these books and be able to recommend them. But I didn’t and I can’t and I won’t back down from my position.

  33. I’ll admit to being something of a book snob and this isn’t something I would normally consider reading. But as a submissive I was ordered to read 50SoG by my dom as punishment (punishment doesn’t have to involve physical pain 😉 ). And really I can’t imagine being given a worse punishment. It was absolute torture! I’m going to be a good girl from now on because he’s threatened me with the second book.

    • LOL! Thanks for commenting. I find it really interesting that James seems to have managed to upset and alienate both those involved in BDSM and those who suffered abuse as children and teens through her less-than-professional writing. Be a very good girl, because, trust me, it doesn’t get better, my love. I began to feel quite masochistic making myself finish them all. Ah, taking one for the team . . .

      • And on a more serious note: The general feeling within the BDSM community, as I’m reading it, is that whenever BDSM is portrayed in the media it is always done so in a negative light. There are abusers in all walks of life, and while it may be relatively easy for an abuser and predator to hide his abuse under a cloak of BDSM, it is still abuse and is far removed from a real D/s relationship.
        I found the Grey character to be very manipulative, and although the element of consent was emphasised, it was obvious Ana wasn’t at all comfortable with the whole concept and felt pressured into agreeing for fear of losing her perfect man. But really, what was perfect about him? What personal qualities were we supposed to admire? Did he have any redeeming features? In this consumerist world is wealth and good looks all we aspire to? I found it all quite depressing.

        • Yes, BDSM is controversial to begin with in mainstream culture–these books didn’t do the lifestyle any favors at all in terms of the average person having a better, more informed grasp of what it really is all about. I suspect the author doesn’t have a particularly good grasp of what it’s all about. Perhaps she just doesn’t give a damn as long as she’s getting rich. And now many will think everyone involved in such relationships is either an abuser or has been a victim of abuse. Which, just from the comments we’ve seen here. is clearly NOT the case.
          I posted yesterday an entry titled “Mr. Grey is NOT my dream man. Here’s why.” I emphasized that for all his wealth and good looks and “hotness,” an emotionally immature, manipulative control freak was not the sort of man I aspired to. Money doesn’t buy everything. It can’t buy love, or trust or self-respect.

  34. I am so happy to have found this site as I was beginning to believe I was the only person who found this book offensive. I don’t think it was written well enough to tackle this subject, and having read all the above comments agree that it sells a ‘ for the love of a good women’ theme which would be wrong for impressionable younger readers. I am sure that in reality someone as damaged as Christian wouldn’t try to accommodate Ana or meet her half way its insulting to read a shame as the book could have been so much better. Besides that the repetition is beyond boring, how many times can one girl bite her lip!! or listen to her inner goddess!. I found her irritatingly stupid and him creepy! Wont be reading book 2 or 3 or any other of her work i’m afraid.

    • No, I would say you are far from alone, Sue. I admit after reading the first book, I really was scratching my head over their huge popularity–the best-selling book on the PLANET? really??– and struggling to understand it when there was so much better-written stuff out there. However, having purchased the trilogy, I decided to bite the bullet and read them all and I am glad that I did if only to be able to help other people not waste their time and money. The premise had promise–but the execution was amateurish at best. I don’t believe she had done sufficient research to write about BDSM or childhood abuse and she’s managed to anger and alienate many people who are involved in the BDSM lifestyle and who have backgrounds of abuse due to her lack of understanding/knowledge.

      It’s that really uneasy blend of fantasy and reality presented here that is so troubling. When I heard some young woman comment that she wished she had someone who would be jealous over her as Christian was with Ana, I could only think, “Oh, be careful what you wish for, my dear.” Do you really want a creepy control freak stalker for a boyfriend/husband?
      I swear I wanted to do something dire to Ana’s cutesy inner goddess–imagine three books’ worth of that inane coyness?? As to the lip biting–didn’t read the books, but didn’t Kristen Stewart do the whole lip biting thing a lot in the Twilight movies?? Quite maddening.

  35. You have summed up exactly what I was trying to say, to use child abuse and bdsm as a story line you really need to have done your research into how both really affect people, i’m sure there are millions of abused people who would love to move on from terrible things that have happened to them, to have it potrayed to be as easy as meeting mr/mrs right to love them enough is a insult, to me this book is a badly written mills and boon boy meets girl with gratuitous sex thrown in to sell more copies. love this site by the way!

    • I guess my background as newspaper reporter makes me more conscious of the need to know the facts before you write the story. I know that was a non-fiction venue in which I worked, but if she was going to take her Twilight fantasy and turn it into a mainstream novel, she should have done her homework–talked to people who actually participate in BDSM, to abuse survivors, to mental health professionals who work with abuse victims . . . I don’t get the impression she did more than skim the surface at best. I know from the comments made here by those who have suffered abuse or have family members or friends who have, yes, they feel disturbed and insulted by this. And I absolutely cannot blame them one bit for feeling as if she is profiting–and very well, I might add–from the miseries of others to a certain degree. Someone else mentioned Mills & Boon–I think that is the British equivalent to some of our Harlequin romances here in the States.

      And thanks for the love for the site. 😀 It’s been an interesting and enjoyable experience.

  36. I know I am extremely late not only in posting, but in reading the book. I literally just read most of Fifty Shades of Grey today while at Barnes and Nobles mainly out of curiosity since everyone was clamoring over it. I have to say James writes some extremely erotic stuff, however, I did have problems with all the S&M, etc. In addition, the book reminded me of the Twilight saga, I only saw part of the first movie and have read known of the books, it seems that this book too is geared more to the teenagers than the adults given the ages of Ana (21) and Chris (27). I doubt though that they will be able to make a movie and still have it permissable for teens to watch. There is just too much bondage, eroticism, etc., for a young mind to handle. I’m glad I’ve stumbled upon your site because I am finally getting a different perspective on the book. By the way, why does it seem okay for a young man to be sexually molested over several years, but not a female. I found that part of James’ book disturbing. I agree that the Fifty trilogy sends all the wrong signals, “continue being beaten by a sadistic, stalking, overbearing, control freak because not only will you get great pleasure out of the kinky sex he gives, but also you will soon turn him into a prince,” whatever!

    • Hi, Janetta, and thanks for commenting. The interest obviously continues in this trilogy–I have only to look at the number of hits the related posts get to know that.
      After having read the books, I too question how they can make a film faithful to her story and give a rating that would allow teens to see it legally. And frankly, the message isn’t one I think they need to be getting, anyway, but naturally they are clamoring to read it as “forbidden fruit”. I agree, there is a double standard when it comes to young boys engaged in sex with older women. Somehow it is deemed more “acceptable” than it is when the situation is reversed.

      And Christian was an emotionally disturbed 15-year-old kid with a past history of abuse when she seduced him and made him her sex slave. You can’t tell me that woman wasn’t a predator to take advantage of a vulnerable kid like that for her own kicks.

      I just watched a true crime show last night in which a young bride who had been lavished with attention by her boyfriend for four years ended up dead two months after they were married. He was a control freak, obsessed with her every move and insanely jealous. But she thought his smothering was sweet because that showed he loved her. Yeah, he loved her so much he was leaving her with bruises from manhandling her. Finally he killed her on Christmas Eve and dumped her naked body in the woods. Sadly, THAT is much more likely to be the ending for an emotionally abusive relationship than the happily ever after James is trying to sell us.

  37. Hi. I agree with your assessment on the book. I’m quite surprised that u finished the series, i was quite appalled by the first book. After reading the ending i’ am surprised it ended that way. I don’t know how come a girl going through all that could love that person. Beats me. I pray that teenagers avoid this book.

    • HI,thanks for commenting. I already had all three Kindle books so I had invested the hard-earned money (to my regret) and felt I needed to finish them to give a comprehensive review of the trilogy (that’s the former reporter in me). It certainly wasn’t because I thought it was particularly worth my time. That’s the rub with these books. The girl is in a relationship with a guy who is a stalker, manipulative, a control freak, sadistic and somehow the love of a good woman and a baby is going to make it all OK. In real life, how often does such an emotionally abusive relationship have a happy ending? It’s definitely not a book for young people, but sadly, I know a lot of them are reading it and loving it. Go figure.

  38. I find this book to be very sadistic its not only about abuse but also portrays women to be very weak & submissive its horrific that a supposedly inteligent young & vibrant women would willingly allow a man to treat her like sh*t its books like these that should be banned its bordering on exploitation!

  39. I’m sure you’ve said all that you want to on the topic, but I just wanted to add my thanks. Having been caught up in all the fuss about the books and my curiosity having led me to buy part one (half price, I’m glad to say, though I’m still not proud of myself!), I finished it last night and agree with all that’s been said above – the disturbing control-freak that Christian is outwith the playroom, how irritating it was to read her thinking “Oh my” almost every page, the constant lip biting….also the general implausibility of a lot of it. Mind you, I wasn’t thinking about the age of the target audience.

    I came online just to see if I could find out how it ended (out of a slight curiosity), to spare me from buying parts two and three, so thank you very much (and I’ve enjoyed reading all the posts too!).

    • Well, if I helped you save money and time I feel I have accomplished something right there. I think it is safe to say this is a case of the HYPE overwhelming the actual substance. Thanks for commenting.

      • my friend, late forties -slightly younger than me, considers these books to be romantic and not abusive at all. she borrowed them from the libarary,she also wonders how they are going to film them but will not take/allow her teenage daugher to see fim no matter who’s starring ,which to me is a relief

        • Yeah, to each his own, I suppose–but I am glad the daughter doesn’t have her mother’s consent to see the film. I am trying to figure out how they are going to film it without it being too explicit. Obviously they are hoping to draw in the Twilight fans, as it started out as a Twilight fanfic, but a large number of those fans are underage. And as far as I am concerned, 50 Shades is not for young readers, not by a long shot.

  40. Well said. I appear to be the only lady out of my circle of friends & family who found the novel disturbing rather than pleasurable. Was beginning to think there was something wrong with me!

    • I have friends online who think the books are great and can’t wait to see who plays the characters in the movie. *sigh* But there are also plenty who do not think so. Certain images from the books keot popping up in my head and not in a good way. If I want sexy writing, I can find it elsewhere, better-written and without all the disturbing baggage that accompanies this triology.

  41. Kudos of a kind…in a way…? To you for managing to get through this to even report on it. I skimmed it and sort of pitched it back on the shelf and wanted to wash my hands. That this would become a run-away best seller is very very scary and says far too much about the psyche of far too many women. There is something very nasty lurking out of sight in the attic where they store their fantasies.

    I managed to read through the first few Laurell Kaye Hamilton Anita Blake series, but the books got darker and darker with the focus on torture porn. I couldn’t get halfway through the last one I tried and that one was many books ago. It saddens me that so many women are buying this crap and I wonder what is so lacking in their lives that they are willing to settle for someone who will hurt them.

    • Yeah, I sort of told myself I had the darned books, I wasn’t going to get my money back, and so I might as well slog through them all and find out how it all turned out (and see if it got better). That way I could provide a truly informed review. That’s the reporter inside me. I figured I would take one for the team.

      You know, I am all for consenting adults being able to do what they wish to do in the bedroom. Prudish, I am not. But promoting a creepy stalker dude who is a control freak with serious anger management issues and a LOT of emotional baggage as the Perfect Man just doesn’t do it for me, I don’t care how good-looking OR rich he is.

      I am married to someone who is the polar opposite of Christian Grey–thank goodness!!! The trilogy depicts, not this great romance, but an emotionally abusive relationship where the man is using sex as a weapon (and freely admits it). Ana has no experience with men before Grey. I mean, she hasn’t even shared a romantic kiss with a guy before Christian chooses her as his next sex slave and takes her virginity. How does she know what she wants? How does she know there isn’t something better, more nurturing out there for her?

      Yes, that’s what troubles me. Women–especially young, impressionable women–thinking that someone who takes pleasure in beating you with a belt is a good choice for a relationship. *sigh* I have not read any of the Blake books, but I have noticed in films a lot more of what I call pornographic violence, and it’s disturbing.

  42. Having read all the comments, I can’t help but smile ;-). We’re all entitled to our opinion and I have to disagree with most of you. I’ve read the books online several times and find them entertaining and arousing as hell :D. Although, quite badly written…

    Take them for what they are: Fiction :-). Women have always and will always hope and believe that we can save and transform the bad boys. I really don’t think this triology harms anyone in that respect. Young women today can hold their own and most of them have half a brain. I feel confident that they are able to distinguish between fact and fiction :-). And those who can’t, would have found their way into the darkness with or without these books anyway…

    I for one, hope Universal Pictures and Kelly Marcel ace the script and look forward to an entertaining movie :-). Rooting for another great and incredibly handsome Brit, Christian Bale, as the lead. He won’t do it but a girl can dream, can’t she 😉

    Would I (at 41) be with someone like Christian Grey in real life?? Hell NO but it makes for great entertainment ;-).

    Fiction, ladies, is all this hype is :-).

    Peace and love from a fellow RA fan

    • Well, we are all entitled to our own opinion, of course. I don’t think we can invalidate the worries and concerns that some people here have expressed, Charlotte, who have experienced abuse themselves in childhood or in relationships by saying. “It’s just fiction. It’s great entertainment.” It doesn’t seem to be very entertaining for them. I haven’t experienced what they’ve experienced–thank God. But I find my spirit troubled over what they have gone through.

      These are the most over-hyped books in a long, long time and it’s disheartening to people who can actually write well and entertainingly (and write sexy stuff, with which I have no problem, very, very well), yet will never have anything like this sort of financial success. It’s a bit sad, but that’s the way of the world. *shrugs*

      I am not planning to see the movie, and am not following the filming process, but may I say, please, Ms. Marcel, dump all those “holy cows!,” get rid of that vastly irritating Inner Goddess (Oh, I wanted to do dire things to her), and make Ana sound less like a vapid 15-year-old Valley girl . . . *shudder* I am glad I read all the books simply because I got it out of the way, I gave James a chance and I would never critique something I had not actually read/seen. But I am also truly glad I never have to go through that again. 😉

      Peace and Love to you, too, my dear. 😀

  43. I married a bad boy with a lot of baggage similar to greys story. And he’s into a lot of the same things that grey is into. But I don’t regret it one bit. Were very different but he gives me what I’m missing and I him. It works very well and we have a 7 month old. He’s a great husband and father. So what might not be right for you is perfect for someone else. 🙂

  44. Ha I wrote an entire editorial on the book broken down by words. My best friend Jason wrote one at the same time. Just today he said he hasn’t seen any guys write about it but him.

  45. Thank you for titling this article “fifty shades of grey” when your article has spoilers on all three books. I was only look for the spoilers of the first book and you just ruined the next 2 for me

  46. I just finished the trilogy and I can say I was very disturbed by all three books. I like the suspense and the thrill of some of the sex scenes but the verb age was very repetitive and at times boring. I started skipping through the sex scenes and just started reading the rest. I am a psychology major and the responses and actions by Dr. Flynn were a bit disturbing. I told my family I was reading the books and they were very surprised I would even pick them up.I had a bad boy turned good after 16 years of marriage and lots of therapy and prayer, if I may add. We are now starting a family and we have a 4 yr old boy and a 8 month old baby girl. The road was very hard and thank God it turned for the best instead of the worst.
    I bought the Kindle editions and they were full of mistakes. I told my husband he has to read them because I want to know his opinion about these books. He promised he would and we just switched Kindles today,lol. Thanks for the reviews, so sad I just found them instead of before my purchase.

  47. I came across your site today as I was looking for pictures of Richard,hehe.Then for some reason this caught my attention.I myself have yet to read ANY of the books of 50 Shades of Grey.It was inevitable of course to find out what this is about sooner or later considering all this hype and publicity is has received.From the few comments here and there I soon realized that it was following Twilight’s steps.Not a fan of Twilight,haven’t read the books,only saw the first 3 films and I wasn’t exactly thrilled or impressed.Anyway,I never intended to read them or even consider it at all,at least not until today and not because it seems oh so interesting.It’s curiosity driving me to read it(of course if I can get a hold of it for free or find it online perhaps) after coming across your post tonight.I already hold a pretty negative opinion on this but I’d rather have a more complete view regarding it,in case I sometimes get in an argument over how “awesome” it is.The ending does sound awfully cheesy and quite disturbing too.I think you raise a great point on how this could effect teenage girls(although I myself am merely 18) and brainwash them more into thinking that they can “change” a person.Not to mention that itself is pretty wrong.You’re supposed to like a person cause of who they are,not of what you can turn them into…I do not know this character Christian yet,but the one that comes to my head when you mention his sadistic tendencies is Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights.I don’t know if comparing them would be right,but to me they seem kinda “similar”.And I found Wuthering Heights’ ending to be fitting for Heathcliff(although I think despite his cruelty towards other people he treated Catherine very differently than Christian does Ana).I do enjoy reading fanfiction at times and yes,truly it can be farfetched but how can something of the same level be such a hit?Let alone that Ana seems to be lacking traits that would distinguish her from other heroines/main characters,if fact she seems to be lacking a personality.Not to mention that the reason of her staying with him is cause of …strong orgasms…how superficial.I dunno how she “cured” him,but if it was through sex I seriously will burn the books.Sorry for my rant in my last few sentences and thank you very much for hearing me out.Thank you MORE if you in fact decide to reply to my comment in case you wanna add something~

    • Well, there are plenty of Richard pictures here, too. 😉
      My niece is currently going through a very acrimonious divorce to a “bad boy” she was so certain she could fix. Obviously, that didn’t work quite the way she thought it would. And she wouldn’t listen to anyone who told her different.

      I think you made a great point with your comment “you’re supposed to like a person for who they are, not of what you can turn them into” — exactly. If that individual is so damaged, so conflicted, so twisted, it may be nigh unto impossible to “fix” them and you may end up losing yourself–or your life–in the process. For some reason, women often do want to and try to “fix” loved ones.
      There is definitely cruelty in Christian’s nature.

      People who practice BDSM are upset because these books lead you to believe everyone in the lifestyle must be products of abuse or abusive themselves. And Ana comes across as very naive and immature in some ways–more like a teenager than a young woman. Which makes what Christian does to her even more–disturbing.
      Doesn’t paint a very appetizing portrait.

      Sounds like you’ve got a pretty good head on those 18-year-old shoulders, too. 😉

  48. I have recently come across this book yesterday while i was searching for something spicy yet romantic to read. what made me more curious was the fact that this has been initially a fanfiction before getting revamped and turned into an original trilogy. As a fanfic writer myself I was happy to hear that Mrs. James has raised to fame with her hobby. Yet I do not get why all this success, there are far better stories out there with enough romance and spice and even some degree of kinckiness than this one. I am not a prude. There are all kinds of stuff you read as a literature major student and let me say after reading the classics I have become imune to anything that may be written out there. But I am talking about the depht of characters because, now quoting one of the famous romanian comedy charcters, “it is sublime but does not exist”
    I have stopped around chapter 10 and started looking for spoilers curious to see where will this story lead to and I believe i will not have the necessary will to finish it. I am one of those romantic fools that turns a blind eye to many minuses in a text just for the sake of romance. But this book’s subject is much too serious to turn it into a romantic fantasy. This plot should have been given much more consideration. The male character is much too twisted to be “cured” just by the power of love. I’m sorry, I’m a romantic too, but I just don’t buy it.
    There I ranted again. I don’t know if what I wrode makes any sense but I needed to get this off my chest.

    • Don’t apologize for ranting, that’s part of what the comment sections are here for. 😉
      We have many things in common: we write and read fanfiction; we are hopeful romantics and not prudes and we had high hopes for a fellow fanfiction writer achieving success in the mainstream fiction world. And we were both sorely disappointed.

      Totally agree. This trilogy’s subject matter is far too serious to turn into a hearts-and-flowers romantic fantasy. She attempted to couch reality in a fantasy world and the experiment in my opinion was unsatisfying and unsuccessful–and downright disturbing.

      The huge worldwide success of these books remains a mystery to me, too. Far better-written stuff out there with romance and spice and intrigue that won’t leave you with a bad taste in your mouth.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. 😀

  49. I have some strong opinions regarding the Twilight series and 50SoG. I’ve read both series and seen all the Twilight movies (save the last; looking for someone to go w/me!), so I feel I can safely comment on them. And let me preface this by saying my age is well over the speed limit, so I feel my judgment is based on lots of reading and years of living experience.

    First of all, the Twilight books were immeasurably better than the movies. Isn’t it always the case that the book is better than the movie, whatever it is? Case in point: I’ve seen Gone With The Wind at least 20 times (I know most of the dialogue at this point), but after having finally read the book, I can honestly say that even though the movie is great, the book is better! The characters in the Twilight books were more developed and more multidimensional – sometimes Bella and Edward actually joked around with each other. You get the impression from how they’re portrayed in the movies that they’re physically unable to be light-hearted at all (thank you, wonderful directors). No, it’s not great fiction, but not all enjoyable reads are. You want great fiction? There’s plenty available, from Austen to Tolstoy to Dickens to Twain. You ain’t gonna find it here, so don’t expect to. But while I was reading the Twilight books, I was greatly entertained. I wanted to know what happened to the characters. It was a good story (although the last book got really weird).

    Secondly, I’m constantly amazed as to why everyone is so freaked out by the sex scenes in 50SoG. (And no, I don’t dabble in BDSM; I quite enjoy “vanilla” sex.) There seem to be two factors at play here: 1) the people being freaked out by the sex in these books have obviously never read historical romance (my literary “genre” of choice); hell, I’ve read MUCH racier stuff in these books (granted, the sex scenes were much better written), which leads me to 2) 50SoG got the hype it did over the internet by the “older” Twi-hards, precisely because it was a Twilight fantic. It certainly wasn’t because it was well-written fiction (I know that’s obvious to all who’ve read them). I found Meyer to be a better writer than James, but that’s certainly not saying much.

    I would lastly like to play devil’s advocate here and express my opinion which you all may or may not agree with: I think Christian Grey was basically a really good guy, who loved Ana beyond reason (I liked that part): he was a control-freak, yes (hmmm, just like my own hubby), but his love for her knew no bounds, and was devastated when she allowed him to go a little too far and freaked when she sustained any sort of injury. That’s not to say he was justified in hurting her, but remember, they were supposed to be 2 consenting adults, and as their relationship matured (as much as it did), he became much more understanding of her (“hard”) limits and she let him know what she enjoyed and didn’t. I really don’t think he would ever intentionally hurt her.

    Now of course, this stuff is DEFINITELY not for young girls to read (although, my mother gave me my first historical romance when I was 14 one summer when I was bugging her I was bored). There have always been books available that weren’t appropriate for young readers. But hey, if you haven’t read the 50SoG books, they’re certainly not written by the devil incarnate and I think you may enjoy the love story within. (No, neither the Devil nor Ms. James paid me to say that.) Thanks for letting me have my say in this discussion.

    BTW, you know what REALLY bugged me about 50SoG? The obvious lack of editing: you constantly bump into British expressions that would leave most Americans scratching their heads (we, of course, being the British telly fans we are, have no problem with these).

    • I am glad to hear the Twilight books were better than the movies, because the movies, while not awful (I have seen first three on satellite) made me scratch my head over their huge popularity. Bella was one of the most listless, boring heroines I have ever encountered. 😉

      I fear never found Christian to really be a “good guy” underneath it all. I thought he was creepy, a control freak and a stalker. You know how some disliked Guy so much in RH for his less-than-sterling qualities? Well, that’s the way I feel about Christian.

      I could see the “good guy” coming out in Guy through Richard’s layered and nuanced performance, but Christian as written by James was just too much “damaged goods” for me. Only a really nuanced actor would ever be able to make me watch this character on screen and find him ultimately empathetic. I am really thankful Richard is too old to even be considered LOL

      I am not married to a control freak, nor frankly could I bear to be, being a far from submissive personality, but I realize different people need different things in their relationships. Whatever floats a person’s boat. As for BDSM, let any well-adjusted, consenting adults do what they will in the privacy of their own home. I experience enough physical pain on a daily basis that I have no desire for more, but I won’t sit in judgment of how others live their lives.

      However, a lot of people who participate in the lifestyle are clearly unhappy with how they have been portrayed here in these books, as we know from their comments here and elsewhere.

      The sex never freaked me out. The last thing anyone could call me who actually knows me is a prude. Prudish people get on my nerves. I read and write explicit stuff myself, so that would hardly be a problem for me or many of the people who have commented here. As I have said, I really wanted to see a fanfic writer succeed in the mainstream. That’s why I went ahead and purchased the trilogy.

      But this is so poorly written in many ways, clearly amateurish, so padded, with all that cutesy “inner goddess” nonsense (would have gladly strangled her, and I am a peace-loving type) the endless stream of “holy craps” and ultimately repetitive sex scenes that had people skipping pages. NOT a good sign. I agree about the editing—very, very poorly done. I brought up the obvious Anglo references to a friend. We don’t “collect” people, we pick them up. I read this in a Kindle edition and hope that the later hard copies were more carefully edited.

      Oh, I never expected it to be great literature; but I expected more than I ultimately got. I felt my $30 was definitely an over-payment. 😉

      • Nope, sorry, FL, the actual books were just as poorly edited.

        My husband tends to be somewhat of a control freak, but I chalk this up to the fact that our daughter is developmentally delayed (what we used to refer to as retarded), has no diagnosis and probably will need supervision her whole life. That tends to make people crave control; if they can’t get it in a part of their lives where they really need it (with their children), they overcompensate and control other parts of their lives. This is understandable, if tiresome. So I can relate (unfortunately) to Christian’s wanting to control everything in his life; he wasn’t able to control any of the horrible things that happened to him as a kid, Just by way of a (possible) explanation for Christian’s behavior in the books.

        I remember my aunt saying she wanted to strangle Ana’s “inner goddess” and “subconscious.”

        One of the reasons I and others objected so strongly to people feeling sorry for Guy in Robin Hood was because before S2, he was portrayed as a serial killer w/no conscience. And many of his actions didn’t make sense (setting fire to the house of the one you love?). It was difficult if not impossible for many of us to accept his character as more nuanced and multi-layered as he was in S2 and S3. But whatever one’s feeling about how he was portrayed, the plotlines were determined by the writers, of course.

        And I do agree w/you re: Kristen Stewart’s wooden portrayal of Bella. The only thing she had going for her in my mind was her obvious resemblance to how Bella was described in the book.

        • I’ve seen Kristen in a couple of other things and thought she was better in them, more emotive, but I am still not sold on her acting ability, I guess you could say. Sometimes I am not so sure getting so much fame and adulation at such a young age is really a good thing for a person. I think of what those Twilight actors have gone through. Makes me glad things are happening for Richard a little later in life. Better equipped to handle it.

          Ah, well, I had hopes about the print editions. Sadly, I have noticed a lot of books, particularly Kindle editions, are not as well-edited as they should be anymore. But then having worked in newspapers, I can tell you budget cuts there have virtually eliminated copyeditor positions. It hurts the overall product. 😦

          Even Richard has said his character was written as more robotic in the earlier eps of RH. He tried to give Guy some humanity because in real life, no one is all bad or good. I wish they’d balanced things out a bit better in the writing but hey, it was a family show and they were trying initially to make the goodies very good and baddies very bad, in a cartoonish way. *sigh*

          • Yes, of course, if the character of Guy had been written in a more multidimensional way from the get-go, we all would have believed what came afterwards. Therefore, as they wrote his character in subsequent series/episodes, it did not make sense on many levels. (You see? I’m not the troll you thought I was; I’m just hopelessly in love w/JA! Sorry; I can’t help it.) If the truth be told, we never hesitated to call out Robin when he acted stupid; case in point: he never seemed to apologize to Much after being so rotten to him in the last episode of S1. Maybe he did off screen, but we needed to see it! And then when those dingbat writers had him acting so cavalier w/his various alleged lady loves in S3; talk about unbelievable. They obviously wrote themselves into a hole after stupidly deciding to kill off Marian. Robin Hood should be an example to all future writers about how NOT to write a successful TV show.

            Say it isn’t so about copyediting! Talk about written material going down the toilet! As an ESL teacher, I’m appalled (but not surprised, unfortunately).

            • I actually used to wonder if the RH scriptwriters indulged in recreational drugs. 😉 I remember writing about that in my LJ blog. They made Robin look like a right hypocrite crying over Marian and then playing tonsil hockey with not one, but two women, including his enemy’s crazy sister. I didn’t think Robin fans would be too happy with that turn of events and I couldn’t blame them.

              When they wrote the script with Marian dying by Guy’s hand–come on, at that point IF they had to kill her off, I really think it would have been Vasey who killed her. How many times had Guy tried to protect her from the Sheriff? It didn’t make sense given what we’d seen in previous eps of S2 that he’d do that. If Vasey had done it, then you could have had Guy divided between loyalty to sheriff and desire for revenge for Marian’s death, and Robin angry at Guy for not protecting Marian and wanting revenge, both of them angry at the other, but ultimately joining forces against Vasey.

              Richard called the writers of Series 2 RH after reading the final script and asked, ” Are you guys f**king crazy??” And this is not a man given to cussing. I really wondered that–if the writers were crazy– in the series 9 of Spooks. My gosh, but those Spooks writers jumped the shark with RA’s storyline. I HATED most of series 9 and it’s the only one of his I do not own on DVD. Oh, well . . . and you know, I sort of expect better from the BBC, having been a fan of their productions for most of my life. ITV is outdoing them in some ways.

              Actually, print media is considered a dying profession, I am sorry to say. I was laid off in Sept. 2011 and had a car accident in November and haven’t worked since. I saw the staff there steadily shrink over the ten years I worked there, with more and more duties lumped on the individuals left and in the end, as I said, it does affect the final product. We still managed to win the Award of Excellence at the APA annually and I am proud of what we did accomplish. But no, things aren’t what they used to be, sadly.

              • Oh, yeah, those RH writers were definitely tripping on something big time. Your scenario would have been much more believable than the clap trap those so-called writers came up with. And you’re not even a professional TV writer. Maybe they worked cheap….

                I just read an article in New York Magazine about the editor of Newsweek, Tina Brown. Much of it was about the end of that magazine in print; I think it’s now part of The Daily Beast on line. I don’t know; I like the internet, but there’s something about holding something in your had to read. I guess I’m a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to print medium.

              • I have wondered if the budget crunches at the BBC affected their writing staff. Maybe the better writers went to ITV or someplace else where the pay was better? I have often said that fanfic writers could do a better job with some of the scripts than the actual PAID writers did. They actually seem to care about the characters, understand the concept of continuity and have a lot of creative yet plausible ideas. 😉

                One of the things my former boss did with which I strongly disagreed was putting all on content online. I think something should have been reserved for the print edition to give people an incentive to have a subscription or buy on the newsstand. As it is, with so many people having access to the Internet now, it didn’t do anything to promote our paying print product. And ad revenue is what brings in income. But it’s hard to sell print ads when the businesses see everything online and wonder if anybody is reading the newspaper. And some are still leery of online advertising. Ah, well . . . I wasn’t the person in charge.

                I do know what you mean about wanting to hold something in your hands. I have two Kindles and I’ve enjoyed them, but I still like traditional books, too, flipping through the pages, the weight of the book in my hands. And certain books I cannot imagine reading on a Kindle even if they were available. The beautiful Hobbit art and design book from Weta Workshop, for example. It’s a work of art in itself, I love thumbing through it, studying the detailed and colorful artwork and marking my place with my Thorin 3D bookmark. 😉

              • Oh, and what you mentioned earlier about RH’s treatment of Much? Amen to that. I felt really sorry for Much. Sure, he could be a fussbudget and irritating, but what a good heart and such a faithful friend to Robin. He deserved better than being humiliated by Robin in front of the other gang members. 😦

              • We were very surprised, since they always tried to have Robin do the right thing. Chalk it up to his having been up all night, not having been able to come up with a solution to the problem of the love of his life marrying his arch enemy. But they still should have had him apologize.

  50. Thanks for reading all three books so I didn’t have to. One was enough, but I did wonder how it ended and now I know thanks to you!

  51. Thanks for this review; I was on the fence about whether to check them out, but now I’m convinced they’re not for me. And I have enough secondhand knowledge now to be able to participate in a conversation about them if anyone drags me into one, 🙂

  52. Didn’t like the writing… less the plot. The character develop don’t suit the “happy ending”. It’s not wise, if a young woman bought this book for any chance and happens to met some kinky weirdo, to end it with a happily ever after because most of the times it doesn’t happen in real life and someone can be fooled for it.

    Anyways, there’s a book for everyones taste.

  53. This is totally late to the discussion, but my 14 year old son gave me a FSoG related nugget from Tumblr yesterday…”I can read better smut written by virgin teenagers for free” (pretty much summed up my general impression of this opus 🙂 )

  54. I appreciate your admirable stamina, in sticking with what you started. I lacked such sticktoitiveness–I gave up about halfway through 50 Shades.

    I wanted to let you know about a giveaway I’ll be hosting this weekend of a book of my own which was inspired, to some extent, by the illiteracy of the 50 Shades series. The book is ludicrous–purposefully so. Here’s a bit of a link, if you’re interested…


    thanks for your consideration, and I apologize in advance for so shamelessly, brazenly asking you to plug my thing in the comments section of your blog.


  55. Thank you for this review. It is exactly how I feel. I will print your review and share it with my two daughters. I love a good romance, but this is nothing more than glorified physical and mental abuse. Who in their right mind wants to be humiliated and debased like this. Very frightening that
    this book is so popular.

    • You are welcome. I am all for romance, sweet, tender and passionate, where partners treat each with a mutual respect and true affection, but sadly, this isn’t it. And the idea it’s somehow acceptable because this character is rich and handsome and can give this woman the world on a plate makes it more despicable to me. Most women who get involved in relationships with sadistic control freak stalkers,be they rich or poor, plain or handsome, do not get a happily ever after with them. As the book’s enormous popularity–I still scratch my head over that.

  56. Thank you so much for this review! I was starting to get curious about this books due to all the “excitement” surrounding them, but I am not a BDSM fan so I was hesitant, but now I will definitely NOT buy them.
    I have read all the Twilight books and was curious as to how a BDSM book could compare with it and it seems like the likeness is extremely stretched. Maybe it could have started as a fanfic, but after reading all the different summaries the only thing that comes to mind is that they used the fame Twilight has in order to make it popular. I know there’s a saying for when that happens but I can’t remember right now.

    Also seeing as how Hollywood tends to destroy books and turn them into something completely different, I am hoping they will do the same with this and the young audiences will not be exposed so much to all the mess that this characters are. On the same note they also killed the whole Twilight series so I don’t recommend judging the books by the movies. The books aren’t a work of art, but they are interesting and easy to read, whereas the movies irk me horribly and destroy the whole story, plus the bad bad actors, urg!

    I think it was completely irresponsible to link this book to Twilight. Young minds should not be exposed to such a delicate subject so easily, the way a young person and an adult can process things can be so different that I fear someone unprepared and without the ability to separate fact from fiction could imitate this book.

    I can withstand weird characters and weak heroins up to certain point, but for what I have read, the dude needs a better psychiatrist and the girl is just plain stupid and has no sense of self preservation. Did she not read that horrible contract carefully. I would have laughed so hard, then thrown it on his face and run like the wind as far away from the psycho as possible.

    Once again thank you for sharing your view on the books!

  57. Dear Fedoralady,

    I have found your blog while searching for a summary for the 2nd and 3rd Shades of Grey-novel.

    I have pretty much enjoyed the first half or so of the first book, then forced myself to its end and – unlike you – decided I don’t want to read the other two. Lifetime is limited.

    But, curious as I am, I wanted to know what’s the hell up with this Christian, his mother and this Elena “Robinson”. I am so grateful for your spoilers, and I very much enjoyed reading your post. There are so many points you have made I would support, too.

    Thanks, you have saved me lots of time and my curiousity is satisfied, too.

    Greetings from Germany,

  58. I really wish I had read this before I read 2/3s of the book. I am deeply disturbed and saddened by what I read.

    • I wish you could have,too, SJ. My goal in writing this post was to help those who I felt would not ultimately enjoy these books the tools they needed to make an informed decision. There’s been so much hype the disturbing aspects have often been overlooked or glossed over.

    • Actually anonymous, I doubt you read all the comments or you would know many of those responding did not finish reading even the first book, much less the trilogy. 😉 I did because I had invested my hard-earned money and figured I would “take one for the team.” I also cannot review something properly if I haven’t watched or read the entire thing. Yes, it’s fiction, and FWIW, does not live up to the hype in any way, shape, form or fashion.

  59. I came here for spoilers. Honestly, this was going to be the first book I had read in literally YEARS.. however, I couldn’t get through it. Everyone talked about how “hot” it was, how “sexy”, so I said, I guess I better figure out what all this is about before I end up hearing more than I want before reading and before the movie comes out. Yet, I couldn’t finish it. I think I made it to about chapter 6 or 7. I tried so hard, but once I found out the BDSM element, I was completely turned off. It’s not something I’m totally into, but it wasn’t even that, it was just so – unbelievable and unexpected. After that, things went downhill. The ONLY reason I wanted to finish it was to see what would happen at the end – would she become some f’d up sex slave with no emotions, or would he come around and actually fall in love with her and begin a relationship? I’m glad to see that my feelings are shared by others. Once I put the book down for good, I began reading reviews and realized I wasn’t the only one disappointed and put off by the writing. It just wasn’t good. And again, I haven’t picked up a book in years, so that’s saying a lot for me.

  60. Jealousy is a monnster. You Have not written anything in all your years of writing that have acquired you to have such fame and riches all togteher and all at once. Give Jack his jacket its just a book written by a first time writer. I would read the books over and over. I have them neatly placed on a red velvet fabric in a glass case. They are the best ever. Get over it. I don’t think a movie would ever do those books any justice.

    • Amelia, of course, you are entitled to your opinion, just as we who beg to disagree with you are entitled to ours. Long may you enjoy reading these books. Wish I could give you my Kindle editions, too. 😉

      Have a great rest of the week! 😀

    • I should also add that in all my years on earth I have learned something very important–and that is fame and riches are not all they are cracked up to be. I know people who have both, and it didn’t necessarily make them happy, satisfied human beings. I’d rather have true friends, a wonderful (kind and considerate) husband, my pets and work that allows me much-needed creative outlet without ever feeling as if I am selling out to earn my money.

      Again, thank you for commenting and please remember that just because someone significantly disagrees with your POV does not make them a hater filled with the green-eyed monster.

  61. I appreciate your opinion on this. I agree it can give young girl’s the wrong idea…..especially if their parents cannot (whether due to embarrassment or distaste) explain the BSDM life style. There is a difference between victim and participant. A victim does not choose this lifestyle, a participant skips along with a smile on their face. I think more so than pointing fingers at books, we should infact as parents go out of our comfort zone explain the awkward and at the same time teach our children to have the confidence to live their life out loud. Despite the popular opinion of the “norm” is infact the only acceptable choice.

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