Grey by E L James, published June 2015 by Arrow.
Read: June 2015
Get It Now: Wordery
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?
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.
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.
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!