Review: Grey

Grey Book Cover

Grey by E L James, published June 2015 by Arrow.

Read: June 2015
Genre: Adult/Romance/Erotica/Issues
Source: Purchased
#Pages: 559
Get It Now: Wordery

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Goodreads Synopsis: 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?

The Story

So. Here’s hoping this post doesn’t lose me any followers before I’ve actually managed to get into the review! First up, an explanation for why I chose to read this book. (I know, I shouldn’t have to justify my reading choices, but we’re all aware how anti-Grey the bookish community is, so bear with me!).

My love for reading dwindled when I was at University, and when I graduated in 2012, the world was going insane over Fifty Shades of Grey. I picked the books up, and devoured them within a few days. I distinctly remember hating Christian with a passion throughout the first book, but reading on regardless, and by the end of the series feeling very differently about him, and the books. I enjoyed the original series. I’ve said it before on this blog, and I’ll say it again – James is not about to win any literary awards for her writing abilities. However, I found the series to be compulsive reading. I understand the viewpoint of those who think it is purely an abusive relationship without merit, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy elements of the books when I first read them.

Interestingly, I made my sister read the books in 2012, and she too devoured them. She reread the first book before the release of the movie, and her opinions on it had changed somewhat. I haven’t yet gotten around to a reread (and to be honest, I’m not sure if I ever will), but it would be interesting to see what my take on them is now too, after blogging for a year, and consuming so many great books in the past two.

The Review

I had mixed feelings when I heard there was going to be a new Fifty Shades book written from the POV of Christian. Was it just me, or did it kind of come out of nowhere? One day I heard there was a new release, the next week it was on the shelves. Strange. From the get-go, this was going to go one of two ways, James’ writing was going to have improved (all the money she made from the first series surely could have afforded some writing lessons?), and this story would delve deeper into Christian’s past, into his psychology. Or, it would be a money-maker – a regurgitated story that offered little-to-no real insight into Christian. Unfortunately, it was the latter.

There is no discernible improvement in James’ writing. One of my biggest gripes with the original series was Ana’s subconscious doing “oh my” cartwheels all over the show. In Grey, Christian’s inner voice favours “hell” and “damn”. Possibly some not-so-subtle character insights there. It does seem as though James wants you to believe her writing has improved though, I lost count of the number of times “lascivious” appeared in the (very long) text.

This book would have benefited from going further back into Christian’s past, making the novel more about him, and his issues, rather than simply going over the same story we get in Fifty Shades of Grey, albeit from Christian’s POV. It felt lacklustre. How often are different POV releases a success? Not often. For fans of the series, Christian was an enigma, and that was a major factor in his sex appeal. With Grey, James has stripped Christian of his confidence, and of his mystique. We’ve gotten a glimpse into the mind of the man, and it’s rather anti-climatic.

While I appreciate the views that these books glorify abusive relationships, I have to say I was never particularly in that camp, which made it all the more disappointing during certain sections of this book when it was clear James was directly addressing those concerned. The actual word “consent” popped up much more frequently in this text than in any of the previous books. Where before consent was supposedly implied, in Grey James has gone out of her way to make it explicit. Ironically, those who think Fifty Shades is about an abusive relationship will likely never read Grey to know that James has addressed those concerns (or care for that matter), and those who are fans of the series will definitely feel that those lines are out of sync with the rest of the writing. That they have been slotted in on purpose. It begs the question – who exactly was Grey written for? The fans, or the critics?

The end of Grey most definitely indicates that Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed are both going to be released from Christian’s POV. It’s at this stage, Dear Book Geek, where I will be bowing out of the ring and not continuing with the series. It’s gotten to the point where I’m almost offended James is offering this fare in exchange for my hard-earned cash (the last I heard she’d made around £95 million from this series). That, and the fact she has now out-sold J K Rowling in terms of book sales just stings. Sorry, Christian but Harry’s my number one.

The Rating


For a very witty and informative article all about E L James and Grey, check out this post by Kira at Sorry Television.

Have you read any of the Christian Grey books? I’d love to hear your comments (good or bad, but always respectful 🙂 ) in the comments!

About Rachel

Avid reader & #bookblogger. Lover of all things business. A fan of drinks & dancing. Ever optimistic. Feminist.

22 Responses

  1. I also enjoyed reading the Fifty Shades of Grey books and was really hoping that Grey would have delved further into Christian’s pschye rather than just a regurg of Fifty Shades. I think it would have been so interesting if she had gone back to his troubled teen years and his intro to BDSM with Mrs. Robinson. Just about every review I’ve seen has really made me regret buying the book and I haven’t even gotten around to reading it yet.


  2. That, and the fact she has now out-sold J K Rowling in terms of book sales – Ouch! Can you see many other book writers doing this? Switching the narrators for later books.


  3. Thanks for reading this, because I didn’t want to. You’re brave!
    I read the series in 2012 and agree with you. Awful writing, but easy to read and fun. Tried to reread it early this year and just couldn’t do it. I was too angry at Christian and could see way too much of my last relationship, (which was emotionally abusive) in it.
    I thought I had somehow missed the lead up by being so focused on uni work! Glad I’m not alone 😛
    I’ve read a few excerpts and yahhhh…. all that money should have been enough to get her some writing lessons. She really has no idea and it makes me sad for the people who can write well who don’t get noticed because they’re not big… yet this woman gets billions of dollars for a lacklustere product that is literally a rehash of her last mediocre offering. Go figure.


  4. I haven’t read any of the Fifty Shades books, but I did read the #AskELJames feed on Twitter this week. It was quite entertaining and I would imagine she wishes she’d never done it!


  5. I tried to read this book, but I just couldn’t. I don’t like being in Christian’s head. I want to keep his mind and feelings a mystery. Also, because I have no time to re-read a book that I’ve read years ago, and let’s be honest here, this is Fifty Shades of Grey in his POV. So basically, the same thing. Lol.


  6. Brilliant review of this book! 🙂 At least that means I don’t have to read it to find out just how bad it is, you’ve done it for me. This sounds truly awful to me. I hate when authors do books from another characters POV but don’t really add anything new to the story. It just feels lazy and like a way to make money. And it’s not like the woman needs it.


  7. Brandie

    I agree that the book came out of nowhere. I was pretty surprised, and to know that she was writing it to address critics (who’ll never read it, like you said) is really disappointing. AND that it’s just the same book with no new insight, ugh. NO THANKS. I was originally excited to read it, but that was because I had hoped it would be different. I guess no one can write the male POV like CoHo (cause that’s the standard I compare everything to, LOL). I’m sorry this was such a bust for you. I really don’t think I’m going to read it now. My Fifty Shades obsession has sadly come to a screeching halt.


  8. I have pretty much the same relationship with her book as you do. I know everyone hates them, but I just like binge read them all. I was also excited for Grey for the exact same reasons as you, and now I feel just as disappointed as you do because I KNEW it was going to be the same exact story but with some different wording. And this is only going to ruin those that did like Christian, because the whole point to him was the mystery. Now we know all of his mundane boring life and that literally takes away one of the only exciting pieces of the series.

    It bothers me that she’s dropping big words and “consent” all over the place. You would honestly think that after all this time her writing could’ve at least gotten a little better but nope. Let’s just shove these words in people’s faces and hopefully they form the opinion I want them to…ugh.


      1. I know exactly what you mean about not being the same person. I’ve actually read them twice – once quite a few years ago when, like you, I was in a bad relationship, and then now. It’s weird how your life impacts your reading so much.


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