Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey - Book review by someone who has actually read the book

As I stated in my previous entry, there is a plethora of reviews and conversations within the kink community about Fifty Shades of Grey.  Quite honestly alot of the talk is rather hateful towards the book and the author - and the majority commenting on it haven't even read it.  What I'll do is give you my honest opinion of the book and in some ways I will agree with some things being said, and some ways not.

I enjoyed the book and it was hard to put down.  There were some parts in it that seemed a little repetitive, but for the most part it captured my attention.  If I remember right, there were 3 spanking scenes and I especially liked the first one.  There was the LOOK, some scolding, and it was discipline related... all great things for my headspace.  It was also erotic and had a number of sex scenes which I must admit...turned me on .

I liked the main character, Anastasia's sharp wit and personality and she reminds me of a number of people that I know.  However, she does not consider herself to be a submissive and she is vanilla.

Christian Grey, the Dominant, was likable but he certainly had his issues and hangups.  The book hints at some history of being abused as a child and an underage relationship with an older woman that he was a submissive to.  He doesn't like to be touched which is why he restrains her sometimes when they're having sex.  But his good qualities were:  apparently very handsome, intelligent, protective of Anastasia, always had her safety in mind whether she was with him or away, and very generous with his lavish gifts.

Christian & Anastasia are attracted to each other, and he pursues her, trying to woe her.  However he warns her that he is not good for her.  As stated above, Ana is vanilla coming into this and Christian wants her to be his submissive.  There is alot of negotiation and compromise that takes place in this book.  Ana makes it clear that she wants more (loving long-term committed relationship) than what Christian is offering and he is willing to try because he cares for her so much.

The big debate is does it shed a negative light on the BDSM & kink community and does it accurately portray those of us who are involved in it.  No doubt these concerns arise because of Christian's character.  My opinion is that it doesn't necessarily show us in a bad light, and here's why...

Nearly all of us have our own baggage and 'demons' that we bring with us into TTWD.  History of being abused, mental illness (yes, I know a number of people who have or had it in their past, myself included), and character flaws.  Does that mean that we shouldn't participate in this lifestyle because we are imperfect?  No, unless we put ourselves or somebody else at risk of harm.  I can't think of anything in this book that was non-consensual.  Though Ana wasn't personally into the things that Christian was, she was willing to try it and see because she liked him and wanted to please him.  He tried to let her know what to expect before they did any play, and she still consented, although very hesitantly at times.  I never felt that he coerced her, he never abused her, and safewords were always available to be used.  There was communication beforehand of what was permissible and what the limits were and negotiation was expected.  There was compromise and some rules were removed from the D/s contract.

I suppose if readers of the book wish to stereotype and over-generalize, they could deduct that all people into BDSM are damaged goods, the Dominates are control freaks, and the reason they are into this lifestyle is because of a horrid past that caused them to be twisted and desire abnormal things.  There will always be those people who will take a stereotype and run with it, but I don't feel that this was the message that this book was giving.

Fifty Shades of Grey is a work of fiction, meant to entertain.  If it was a commentary or some other non-fictional book about our community then there would be cause for concern.  I remember taking an acting class where the instructor said that all plays, movies, etc. must have some sort of conflict in order to be worth watching, and if there was no conflict then it would be boring.  We had to determine what the conflict was and by the end of the play there should be some sort of resolution.  If this book had been about two perfect people in a D/s relationship with no conflicts or struggles it would not have been worth the read, for me anyways.

One of the community plays that I acted in, called "Inherit the Wind", stirred quite a bit of controversy in my very conservative town among church-goers because it portrayed Christians in a negative light according to some people.  I caught alot of flak from church friends for being in it.  My defense was always:  This is an opportunity for me to get acting experience, the role is a good role and lets me express a variety of emotions, and it is only meant for entertainment.  Doesn't mean that I or any other of the production crew hold the same views as the characters in the play, we are just using our crafts to bring it alive and entertain the audience.  But also that unfortunately there ARE some Christians who are similar to the scripted characters, but if an audience member is dumb enough to over-generalize about it then so be it... that just shows their ignorance.

There will always be ignorant people who over-generalize, and those people just need to be drop kicked.  Anyways, I look forward to reading the other 2 books in the series.  I'm on chapter two of Fifty Shades Darker...


  1. Interesting review, thanks for sharing. I agree with you on it not being meant to be non fiction. That would be a whole different ball game.

  2. I think this review seems very fair and impartial. I'd just make one or two points :

    * I think Christian is trying to WOO Ana, not "woe" her. Freudian slip? ;-)

    * The problem people have is that, while this IS "a work of fiction", too many vanillas reading it are taking it as based on fact, resulting in the stereotyping and over-generalization that you mention. We can excuse them for their ignorance, as you suggest, but what do we do to educate them properly?

    Beyond that, another very good post.

  3. I haven't read the book *yet* but your review makes me think I should.

    Thanks for your input.

  4. Good review Alicia. I loved the books. Couldn't put them down. Read all three in three weeks. I just thought of it as a love story. As for the BDSM part I think if you add up the pages with any real kinky stuff it would only be about 5 pages (my opinion anyway).


  5. It was heartening to read a review by a person who actually read the book! Personally, I didn't like "Fifty Shades" because I'm not "into" romance novels - and I think that is what it is supposed to be - with a little kink thrown in. I didn't find either main character believable, but it was fiction. Nothing has to be real!

    Thanks for your review, Alicia.

  6. Excellent review Alicia. I read the first two books; I liked the first one the best.

    Thank you.