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KarenS Review: Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James...

There are lots of swear words in this review, and I believe the ‘C’ word pops up too. You have been fucking warned.

These days I tend to go out of my way to avoid books that I know I’m going to hate before I read them.

Of course I totally blame Katiebabs for urging me to read Fifty. But I thought I’d give it a game go anyway. It’s not like I had much to lose.

I was wrong of course. I lost precious time in my life that I can never get back. Sigh.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am not fond of BDSM. Actually I hate it. There have been some exceptions to that rule, Maya Banks’ Sweet Persuasion being one. (Good book!)

I tried to read Fifty with an open mind, I did, I did, but unfortunately, E.L James did not help matters.

This review will be full of spoilers I’m afraid, so if you plan on reading this book any time soon, this review is not for you, so scat!

Bella Swan Anastasia Steele is a student who agrees to do her best friend Katie Kavanagh a favour, and interview billionaire Edward Cullen Christian Grey for some reason or other (seriously, am I supposed to remember such details?)

Bella Anastasia (Ana for short) is a bit of a clumsy oaf, she’s nervous and unsure of herself, and basically trips up in front of the debonair Edward Christian. She then proceeds to blush, flush and internally scream holy shit/crap for the rest of the interview.

Edward Christian is the first guy that’s ever affected Bella Ana this way, oh my she’s totally besides herself, and can barely string a sentence together, even though we’re led to believe that she’s an apparently articulate, intelligent girl.

Cutting to the chase (I really want to finish reliving this book now), Edward Christian thinks that Bella Ana is the cat’s meow (or the vicar’s knickers, take your pick) and so proceeds to stalk her by turning up in the most random of places. Always with a legitimate excuse of course.

Bella Ana and Edward Christian eventually give in to their lust and they share a passionate kiss in an elevator. (Yeah, that old elevator kiss scene never gets old does it?) Edward Christian tells Bella Ana that he’s no good for her, and they try to stay away from each other, but OMFG, THE LUST IS TOO MUCH TO BEAR, so they find each other again. Via Edward Christian randomly stalking Bella Ana of course.

Because Edward Christian trusts Bella Ana and shit, he totally shows her his Play Room, or as Bella Ana so aptly named it, the Red Room of Pain. Due to the torture devices and whatnot that littered the room. The way that Bella Ana described it, it seemed to be a posh version of a cell in Guantanamo Bay. Minus the middle eastern prisoners of war of course.

Edward Christian confesses to Bella Ana that he likes his sex a little kinky. He doesn’t make love, he fucks!, he explains to Bella Ana.

Because Christian is totally in lust with Bella Ana, he asks her to be his own personal submissive love rug, presumably so that he can lay her and walk all over her for the duration of their relationship. Bella Ana is shocked at his request and confesses that she’s a virgin.

OMFG! Edward Christian is besides himself and tells her that he’s going to break her in gently. He then proceeds to hammer her vagina like it was timber for a house-building project. Bella Ana of course loves the rogering, Edward Christian is stupendously good, and OMFG he’s the best she’s ever had. Not that she has anything to compare with, mind.

Anyway, after this rogering (or was it before?) Edward Christian draws up a non-disclosure agreement for Bella Ana to read and sign. Bella’s Ana’s not too sure about this and takes the majority of the book to decide whether to sign it or not.

She eventually agrees in principle, but she has certain conditions, such as banning the use of genital clamps. She also objects to the rules pertaining to her intake of food. She ignores the bits about whipping, flogging, vaginal fisting and anal fisting. She just really, really hates the thought of Edward Christian telling her when and what she can eat. Yes, these are the things she objected to the most. Oh, and she wasn’t overly fond of the caning either. The nipple clamps on the other hand, they could stay. Oh And she didn’t seem to mind the torture devices in the Red Room of Pain. Or being tied to random bits of furniture. Or being gagged. Or having hot wax poured over her womanly bits. These activities didn’t pose a problem for her at all.

Anyway to cut a very fucking long story short, the rest of the book then consists of Edward Christian trying to control all aspects of Bella’s Ana’s life, Bella Ana trying to decide whether or not to sign the NDA, Bella Ana flushing and blushing continuously, and internally screaming “holy crap” or “holy shit” at every amazing thing that Edward Christian does, you know, like when he touches his own hair, or when he walks. Or when he raises his ever so masculine eyebrow, or when he pierces her with his stunning grey eyes. Or when he speaks using more than two syllables. You know, amazing shit.

The book comes to a screaming end when Bella Ana asks Edward Christian to spank her hard. He obliges her, and she runs crying into the night, because he really hurt her bottom. Personally I’d have thought that having one’s hymen battered into submission would have hurt more, but what do I know, I haven’t been a virgin for a very long time.


OK, let’s get one thing clear, there were parts of the book that showed promise. The emails that Bella Ana and Edward Christian sent to each other provide a welcome relief to the general mess that was Fifty Shades of Grey. The problem is, you weren’t convinced that they were written by the Bella Ana and Edward Christian of the book. These two people were far removed from the two characters that EL James stole borrowed from Stephenie Meyer. In fact, her writing seemed to improve ten-fold whenever she forgot that these two people were basically Bella and Edward.

Anyway, now that we’ve gotten what I liked about the book out of the way, let’s talk about what I hated with the venom of a thousand angry locusts shall we?

Christian and Anastasia together. Worst. Couple. Ever.

Christian.: Seriously, what the actual fuck? Psychopathic stalker with mommy issues.
The only decent thing about him was the fact that he was a bazillionaire. He was a controlling arsehole who liked to cause pain to his women. He wasn’t a true dominant as far as I could tell, he was a man who’d been abused as a child by a woman who was a friend of his mother’s. You know how people who were abused go on to be abusers themselves? This seemed to be the case with Christian.

Anastasia: I wanted to slap her and her inner Goddess into next fucking week. Vacuous twat. Ugh.

Their face-to-face conversations were so stilted and angst-filled, mixed in with lots of random internalising on the part of Bella Ana, mostly freaking out at his hotness, and ignoring the fact that this guy who made her love juices run down her leg, was a total psychopathic nutjob.

According to my memory, this was how most of their conversations went thusly: (Please note, the shouty tourettes-like streams of consciousness are examples of Ana’s incessant internal dialogue)

Christian: “I’m Christian Grey”
Christian “And you are?”
Anastasia: *Blink* “Oh, um – English literature…um…Anastasia Steele” HOLY CRAP BATMAN HE’S HOTT!!
Christian: “Anastasia, I want to dominate you”
Ana: “Oh – um…VIRGIN…I don’t want to be dominated,…erm… that’s not my thing”
Christian: “What is your thing?”
Ana: *Blink* “Erm…Katie Kavanagh…erm…OK, you can dominate me” HOLY COWPAT HE’S FREAKING HOTTT!
Christian: “Can I beat you black and blue in the name of BDSM?”
Christian: “Oh Ana, you’re biting your lip, don’t do that it makes me want to fuck you.”
Christian: “I want to buy you a top of the range car, please let me Anastasia”
Ana: “No, no, no, don’t do that, I can’t accept, I’m not a ‘ho ya know” FUCK ME HE’S A FUCKING CONTROL FREAK, BUT FUCK IT HE’S HOTTT!
Christian: “Did you just roll your eyes?”
Ana: “Um…what?” SERIOUSLY, WHAT????
Christian: “You rolled your eyes at me, I have to spank you now.”
Christian: “Bend over you sexy bitch”
Christian: “I love seeing your ass red from my palm”
Ana: “Um…that hurts…yeah, it hurts so good!” HOLY FUCK HE’S A FREAK, BUT HE’S SO HOTTTT!!!


You get the drift yeah?

Like I already wrote, the only sign that a writer had actually authored this book was when Edward Christian and Bella Ana corresponded via email. All of a sudden, these utterly miserable twats became interesting, showed a good sense of humour, were ironic in a funny way, and were just…different people. I’m convinced that those emails were actually written by EL James’ husband, either that or James herself was undergoing some sort of frontal lobe procedure. One that seemingly turned her into a writer in short bursts.

Fifty Shades of Grey was all over the place. The writing was clunky, clumsy, and repetitive. I got to the point where I was tempted to have a shot of vodka Redbull every time, Bella flushed, blushed, bit her lip, or screamed “holy crap” in her mind. Unfortunately, if I’d imbibed, I’m pretty sure I would have died from alcohol poisoning.

I didn’t like either of the protagonists, which obviously doesn’t help, and I spent the majority of the book hoping that something quite terrible would happen to one or both characters. My suspension of disbelief was tested with every turn of the pages, and I felt like I was being punished for some unknown sin against my fellow man.

The first person POV drove me crazy, mainly because I think this was one book that would have benefited from the reader knowing what Edward Cullen Christian Grey was thinking, instead of Bella Ana telling us about the constant sardonic/mysterious/lustful looks that he would throw her way, every two seconds.

Because I knew that this was fan fiction, I looked for other Twilight characters, and EL Jamo (I prefer this name to EL James, it’s a lot more interesting don’t you think?) didn’t fail me. Enter Jose (crap, where’s the fucking accent?). The guy who was not-so-secretly in love with Bella Ana. Can you guess who his character originated from? Yep, it was indeed Jacob. A less intense, less hot, and less interesting version of Jacob, but it was clear who he was meant to be playing…

You guys still with me?

Good, let’s carry on.

Moving on to the sex scenes (I hear you all screaming, MUST WE??!!?, but yes my dears, we must!)

The Sex.

Sweet. Baby. Jesus.

Man, the sex was dull. I had to stop myself skipping over the sex scenes, because they just weren’t interesting, creative, stimulating, or whatever. In fact, at one point I started thinking about Homeland. Yeah, the series. (Soooo good!) You see I’d Sky-plused it on Sunday evening, and I’d yet to watch it. I really wanted to know what Claire Danes’ and Damian Lewis’s characters were going to get up to this week. Was he indeed friend or foe?

Erm, sorry, I digress…

One of the last sex scenes in the book involved Edward Christian asking Bella Ana if she was bleeding, then pulling her tampon out, and shoving his dick into her vagina. She was on day two of her period. Let me repeat myself. She was on fucking Day Two of her period. For me, Day Two of my cycle is absolutely the worst day. I bleed so bad I have to constantly check that I haven’t messed up some poor unsuspecting client’s chenille covered cushions. I don’t even care that that’s perhaps in the realm of too much information.

If TTG was to drag out my tampon on Day Two and stick his dick in my Lady Garden, the place would look like a fucking crime scene out of CSI Miami by the time he’d finished. Seriously, I want to know who thought that would be a sexy scene.
After reading it, it took me a while to fall asleep, then I had nightmares involving a pig getting ready to be slaughtered. Coincidence? I think not.

The time is now 12.58am and I’m knackered. Reliving this book is slowly but surely killing off my brain cells. I don’t know if I can do it anymore, so you know what, I’m going to stop.

I have the other two books in the trilogy on my Kindle, but I think I’ll wait a couple of months to cleanse my mind from the effects of FSOG.

The one thing I can say about Fifty is that actually it was a page turner. It was. I mean it was a page turner for all the wrong reasons, like watching a never-ending train crash, but I was still able to continue with the book until it was done. That’s positive right?

I do understand why non-romance readers would gobble this book up, to them it will be a total novelty. Whips, chains, floggers, oh my!!! The problem is, if you’ve been fed a steady diet of true erotic romance books like I have, it’s all a bit meh. Just a mess.

Anyway, if you want to read this book, I advise you to Google the PDF version of Master of The Universe, the name by which Fifty was originally known as, in Fandom. If you really want to pay for it though, you can Kindle it at Amazon.com here.

Happy reading.

Katiebabs, you fucking owe me big time!!!!!!


  • Do you ever feel you’re a voice crying in the wilderness?


  • LOL. I wanted to choke the inner goddess.


  • You just confirmed what I was suspecting all along… I found the original fanfic for free so I do have it… but I think I am deleting it from my PCs hard drive *shudder* Since I tend to share your same taste on reading material… definitely NOT touching this one. Thanks for taking one for the team, especially when you did it pretty much knowing that it wasn’t going to be a good experience for you.



  • I don’t know whether to gag, vomit, faint or laugh.

    First two for the book itself (which would be tethered on Twilight anyways), faint at the thought of these books being published and laugh cuz your post/review is so funny!

    Thank you for going through this horrendous torture for our sakes.

    Seriously though, what’s with all these borderline abusive relationship stories out there – that tends to be popular. It is freaking me out.


  • OMG, best review ever. You are a better woman than me. i couldn’t make it past the emo nightmare of her hair in the first paragraph. I see this book and all I can think is… oh god… MY HAIR!


  • I just finished it myself and I was thinking the same thing Alice…it read like an abusive relationship to me.


  • Lori
    April 5
    9:32 pm

    ” If TTG was to drag out my tampon on Day Two and stick his dick in my Lady Garden, the place would look like a fucking crime scene out of CSI Miami by the time he’d finished.”

    Bwahahaha! I totally spewed my diet coke. Coworker asked what was so funny. Only it’s a tad unprofessional to explain.

    Great review.


  • Hee.

    Best review eva. *besides mine*


  • ME2
    April 6
    3:08 am

    Thank you for this (review) which made me cringe. I guess I should say the subject(s) made me cringe, the review made me LOL. How can this crap be popular or even better, “what women WANT to read”????? I had 0.09% interest in reading it to begin with, you have now made it 0.00% interest. 🙂 Cheers.


  • […] Check out Karen Knows Best’s review of that fan-fiction turned bestseller.  She read it, so you don’t have to.  (I was never […]

  • Anon 76
    April 9
    9:12 am

    “He then proceeds to hammer her vagina like it was timber for a house-building project.”

    Bwahahahahahahaha. I laughed so hard I cried. Excellent!


  • SR Ferretti
    April 13
    6:38 pm

    Glad to know it isn’t just me. I felt the Twilight vibe right away, but had no idea it was originally a fanfict story. And, yeah, I SO get the “second day (stuck pig) syndrome” as I call it (ew). Great review.


  • I know it does not sound like it, but there is a genuine love story there. Ana brings forth feelings in Christian which he hasn’t ever experienced with anybody else.

    How surprised I was to find out it was the closest thing to female erotica that I have read. But my interest in psychology kept me reading. After just thinking, this guy is “F’d UP!” I began to think of the possibilities of how he got that way. That made me keep reading on.


  • LE Taylor
    April 15
    2:00 am

    Thank God I found this blog – I thought I was the only one who thought this book was boring, boring, boring. SO predictable and I found myself dozing off as the *gasp* rich, handsome, young, blah blah sex fiend finds himself attracted to the naive virgin. I hated everything about this book and thought Ana was an idiot. After the “RED Room” is revealed, it was downhill after that (more like a cliff). Holy shit I can’t beleive people think this is good writing. Some of the morning shows actually discussed that this is what womed REALLY want. Please don’t insult all women… My only compliant about your review is that you actually compare this to the Twilight series – which is an insult to the Twilight series – enough said! I hear that this has been optioned for a movie – good Lord please spare us and let’s hope this goes the way of “Showgirls”. sheesh.


  • @LETaylor The comparisons to Twilight are due to the fact that this was originally a fanfic based on Edward Cullen and Bella Swan. It was originally called Master of The Universe, and although the author says that Fifty has been extensively changed, there’s proof that she merely changed the names.


  • @Shaquana Their so-called love is dysfunctional at best and totally fucked up at worst. It’s unhealthy in the extreme, and it disturbs me that so many people believe that this is what women really want.


  • I saw this on the news with the reporter interviewing some woman who said it changed her life. And I’m thinking, really? I could tell it was crap from just the tv clip.


  • LE Taylor
    April 15
    12:31 pm

    LOL Karen – that is pretty funny! I heard one of the news shows talking about a fan fiction site but didn’t hear the whole conversation. I was being a little sracastic 🙂 I don’t think that Twilight is very well written either, but at least I kind of cared about the characters. I am just SO disappointed with the reaction to these books because they are so poorly written, incredibly dull in their word choice and characters, and so cliched in almost every way. It’s so sad as well that “us chicks” have to rely on someone else to tell us what we REALLY want but can’t say. I’ve got news for you media people: WE CAN BE INCREDIBLY DEMANDING AND WILL TELL OUR PARTNER WHAT WE WANT (yes those are my shouty capitals). I can name 10 YA books that I would rather read that are miles above this drivel. *sigh*


  • “There are lots of swear words in this review, and I believe the ‘C’ word pops up too. You have been fucking warned.”

    Love your version of the book. What a crack up. Thanks.


  • Lenore Bishop
    April 15
    8:56 pm

    I’ve never read the Twilight books, and now that I’ve read the FSOG trilogy, I don’t need to. Ever.

    I agree with the train wreck comparison. I couldn’t put down the first two books, then pushed through the third. Still not sure why I was captivated. Having once been in a similar relationship, I did more than my fair share of cringing. And I completely agree that the email exchanges were the best part.

    Excellent review!


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