More of a Frankenstein's monster than a Dracula, the book is similarly stitched together – the flirtatious emails are straight from Bridget Jones; Christian's apartment is, bizarrely, Frasier Crane's Seattle penthouse, floor-length windows, grand piano and all; the glider ride is from The Thomas Crown Affair; and the sex owes a debt to Anne Rice – but the Sleeping Beauty novels rather than the vamps ... The fact that a middle-aged woman has written it is also often evident. There's a 21-year-old American college student in 2011 who's never used the internet or received an email ... To a huge extent, though, this is the novel's charm. Its innocence and freshness are reflected in its heroine, whose litany of 'holy crap!' and 'holy Moses', once you can get over the Sarah Palinness of it, are rather endearing ... a problem, practically speaking, is that the heroine has nine orgasms every time Christian walks past her in a strong breeze, which makes her journey to self-discovery vastly less interesting than it might have been ... But I liked it, and here is why. A woman chose to write it, and did so from the safety of her kitchen table. Nobody had to get naked to pay rent; nobody was forced into anything ... It's readable, and often funny; miles more enjoyable than those miserable 'literary' erotic books ... It is jolly, eminently readable and as sweet and safe as BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism) erotica can be without contravening the trade descriptions act. If this is the future of publishing, things could be a lot worse.
As hardcore lady porn, Fifty Shades of Grey has a long literary tradition behind it ... But as a hot publishing phenomenon (Vintage Books has paid seven figures for the rights to a trilogy) that pours female-oriented erotica over a base of Twilight leavings and makes brilliant use of the discreet portability of e-books, Fifty Shades of Grey is in a class by itself. Holy crap! A reader might just miss her bus stop.
James has concocted the latest controversial mega-bestseller targeted to the female reader. Considering the cultural impact this book has made, you’ve likely heard of it, and possibly already read it. So here’s the straight scoop: this book is not particularly well-written, nor is it hard-core porn that’s going to burn your socks off once you open the pages. Neither is it a piece of fiction that will take the women’s movement back 60 years. It’s fan fiction and fantasy fiction. Hundreds of thousands of women are reading this book because it’s the type of scenario that never happened to us, will never happen to us, and is one from which we’d likely flee as fast as possible if it ever did happen to us—wouldn’t we? That’s the point. It’s intriguing, conceptually, to wonder 'what if...?' This book is not for everyone. It could have used a good editor. If you want great characterization, perfect construction, or if the repetition of words or phrases bothers you, probably best to not pick it up. However, it was more entertaining and compelling than expected ... While the book is not especially well-executed, James has tapped into a female sexual and psychological curiosity that can be disturbing if taken too seriously, but is somewhat fun and entertaining in the imagination stage.