Book Review: Grey by E L James

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Title: Grey

Author: E L James

Published: 2015

Pages: 559

Genre: Romance, Adult Fiction – Erotica

Format: Book borrowed from the library

My rating:  3.5/5

Reading Challenge: A book published this year

Review:

“Christian Grey exercises control in all things; his world is neat, disciplined, and utterly empty—until the day that Anastasia Steele falls into his office, in a tangle of shapely limbs and tumbling brown hair. He tries to forget her, but instead is swept up in a storm of emotion he cannot comprehend and cannot resist. Unlike any woman he has known before, shy, unworldly Ana seems to see right through him—past the business prodigy and the penthouse lifestyle to Christian’s cold, wounded heart.
Will being with Ana dispel the horrors of his childhood that haunt Christian every night? Or will his dark sexual desires, his compulsion to control, and the self-loathing that fills his soul drive this girl away and destroy the fragile hope she offers him?”

Needless to say, I was intrigued by the latest book in the 50 Shades of Grey series by E L James, taken in the point of view of Christian Grey. I am reluctant to say there were strong parallels to the Twilight Series in Edward’s point of view, though I believe there are plenty of criticisms in that regard. For the actual story, it was quite refreshing to experience Christian’s childhood memories through his nightmares, painting a vivid picture of his tough upbringing as well as his transition into the Grey family. I also appreciated going into a little more depth with the history of Grey and Mrs. Robinson (aka Elena), as she is a key player in Grey’s lifestyle choice. In addition to his alternative sexual lifestyle, it was interesting to see Grey’s demeanor with his staff at Grey Enterprises Holding as well as with Taylor, his driver. Power is exercised over them not in a selfish way necessarily but when he is with Anastasia, you can feel how that care for her is spread to those he employees, signifying that he has some regard for them as individuals. Speaking of how this venture with Anastasia is unique compared to the 15 other women he was Dominant for, I never could gauge the influence she has over him in the other books in the series – I could understand the internal battle he was having over why Anastasia was different than the others and what this means for him.

Without going into too much sexual detail (and for those who have read or seen 50 Shades, it will come as no surprise that this novel is chock full of acts), I did my best to think in the male thought process and wondered, do men actually think this way? It makes me think about Mel Gibson’s character in What Women Want and listening in on Helen Hunt’s character’s thoughts. One of my guy friends was over my house for our weekly Scandal nights and picked up Grey, reading it aloud in his best Christian Grey voice – quite entertaining if you ask me! I am not chastising the sexual preferences and fantasies of anyone, I was only curious as to what men think and their ‘strategy’ when pursuing a woman of interest. Besides this new perspective of the same story, there were not any other moments of clarity or “aha”s. It was actually a nice refresher since I hadn’t read the original series in awhile and the movie adaptation cuts out a few parts, especially with Leila – one of his past submissives, I had completely forgotten about her. Otherwise, a pretty straightforward story with no surprises other than a flip of perspectives.

A plus of me reading this was – being the bookworm that I am – I took to adding a few literary references to my own TBR pile, specifically Thomas Hardy’s Tess of D’Urbervilles and Far from the Madding Crowd. Anastasia took pride in her love of English Lit, and my thought is that if I read Hardy, I’ll get a better sense of her character, since I’ve already tackled Austen and Brontë.

Read Grey if you like the themes of:

  • Twilight
  • Romance/Erotica
  • Unlimited financial resources
  • Power
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