The Fifty Shades of Grey series is BDSM erotica and romance series written by E.L. James. The books are considered a trilogy, with the first one rewritten in a different point of view. In order they are Fifty Shades of Grey in 2011, Fifty Shades Darker in 2012, Fifty Shades Freed in 2012, and Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian in 2015. Fifty Shades of Grey, the movie, was released in 2015 and Fifty Shades Darker, the movie, was released a few days ago in February 2017.
In this review I will talk about all four books and the first two movies so it will be long. I avoid spoilers as much as possible and I don’t think there is more info then you’d find when you look to purchase the books. I know that the people who love and hate this series are pretty well split and can get nasty with their opinions sometimes so let me start by saying that I personally love these books so if you don’t, then this is not the review for you.
The Fifty Shades of Grey series follows the relationship between Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, two people with very different lives who are drawn together despite many issues.
Fifty Shades of Grey: When literature student Ana interviews young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating but she is startled to realize that she wants this man. Unable to resist Ana’s beauty, intelligence, and spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms. Christian is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. The couple embarks on a passionate affair where Ana explores her own dark desires while trying to tempt Christian into the light.
I love Christian as a character but I have a real weak spot for men who brood, and I love Ana as a character because she is so strong inside and her inner dialogue is very relatable to me, though odd in some of its gymnastic moves. I don’t care for Kate as a character very much, though I can’t quite say why, but I love her as a friend to Ana, an unmovable friend is worth their weight in gold to me. Even though they are background characters I love Taylor and Ray, possibly the most. The ending, in my opinion, was well formed as well because it seems normal that someone in Ana’s position would want to know the worst that she could face. I love a good romance story and have no problem with this type; in fact I find the rational approach James used to be refreshing. The sex scenes were written with care to stick to facts while making it enjoyable for the reader. It’s a fantasy that emboldened a lot of readers which is something I respect. Underneath it all is a beautiful love story, and this will be controversial to say, that I think all people dream of. This is to say that, Ana and Christian share a strong bond that allows them personal growth and is unbreakable to outside forces.
Fifty Shades Darker: Daunted by dark secrets in Christian Grey’s past, Anastasia Steele has broken off their relationship to start a new career with a Seattle publishing house. But desire for Christian still dominates her every thought so when he proposes a new arrangement, Ana cannot resist. They rekindle their affair, and Ana learns more about the horrible past of her damaged, domineering, and demanding Fifty. While Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Ana must make one of the most important decisions of her life.
I love the second book in this series just as much, if not more than the first one. Over all, I would say that this one is my favorite among all four because I love how hard Christian and Ana work for their love. I hate to sound jaded but too many people today don’t want to change or fight for what they have, I’m speaking of more than just love too, so I love reading a story where the characters fight for each other. As the character of Mrs. Robinson appears more in the book my dislike of her grew, which makes her a good bad guy for the story. We also have Jack Hyde as a bad guy and he makes my hairs stand on end because he is so creepy and untrustworthy. I love how Christian’s relationship with his family grows as him and Ana get closer. The minor plot twist, Leila, tugged at my heart strings and the major plot twist had me on edge even though, because there was another book, I knew it would work out. The ending with Christian and Ana was adorable and the other part of the ending had me wanting to instantly pick up the next book because I had to know what came next. My vagueness is unavoidable without spoiling things.
Fifty Shades Freed: When Anastasia Steele first encountered the driven and dazzling Christian Grey it sparked a sensual affair that changed both of their lives irrevocably. Shocked by Christian’s needs, Ana demands more of their relationship. Determined to keep her, Christian agrees. Now, Ana and Christian seemingly have it all but they know their life won’t be an easy one. Ana must learn to share Christian’s opulent lifestyle without sacrificing her own identity. And Christian must overcome his compulsion to control as he wrestles with the demons of his tormented past. Just when it seems that their strength together can overcome any obstacle, fate conspire to make their deepest fears turn to reality.
While I still enjoy this book it is the first one that I have any sort of issue with. I don’t enjoy the way the story hops around between distant past, recent past, and present but I don’t hate it either as it is at least well done. I love their honeymoon and trip to Aspen because they stem from Christian wanting to make Ana so happy, which is most girls dream. Since I have said Jack Hyde gives me the creeps, you can guess how I felt about the parts involving him. And since I said I love Ray so very much you can also guess when the plot twist involving him did to my heart. The ending, before the flash forward, had some very conflicted feelings for me; among them were anger, fear, adoration, and love, so clearly this is not explainable without many spoilers. The flash forward is just all around adorable for everyone and I love it so much as I am a sucker for a happy ending, even if they are somewhat unrealistic.
Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian: Christian Grey exercises control in all things; his world is ordered, disciplined, and utterly empty—until the day that Anastasia Steele falls into his office. He tries to forget her, but instead is swept up in a storm of emotions he cannot comprehend and cannot resist. Unlike any woman he has known before, Ana seems to see right through him. Christian struggles with Ana trying to dispel the horrors that fill his soul while he clings to the fragile hope she offers him.
This book is a retelling of the first book in the series from the opposite point of view, Christian instead of Ana. I loved this book just like I did the first one. It can be adorable to read the way Christian thinks through things when it comes to Ana and it is fun to see their romance from his eyes. I have often loved a romance story enough to want a version of it from the other side of the relationship so this was great in my opinion and I actually wish more authors did it.
Fifty Shades of Grey, the movie: I don’t care take the time to get into the movie specifics so sorry if that’s what you are looking for. All I care to say about the movie aspect is that I like the casting since the actors bring wonderful life to the characters and the movie has a really good soundtrack. If you read the book and then watch the movie you will find that they did a good job staying true to the book. The things that are altered or left out are understandable for the movie so I find them acceptable. The only thing that I personally missed not being in the movie, the scene was there but not this specific, was the tampon scene and that’s because I think that men who aren’t afraid of a woman natural functions are unrated. I enjoyed watching the movie and even like the behind the scenes footage because it explains a lot of the decisions they made. I love that the man playing Christian, James Dornan, had a BDSM coach to teach him how to safely do the scenes; no corners were cut there which is always good. I also find it funny, and useful should they so choose, that they both now have this knowledge.
Fifty Shades Darker, the movie: Once again, I won’t be getting into specifics for the movie. It might seem to some that this movie has more sex shown but I think it’s an illusion. Keeping in mind that the first movie was testing the waters for people’s reactions and the second movie had more freedom, and that the second book has more sex in it over all, I don’t think it’s that noticeably more sexual. I think that James Dornan has grown into his character, Christian, and it shows in a great way, he has shaped Christian in a way that not all actors could do and I enjoy it a lot. This book is longer than the first one so it is natural that more is missing from the book to movie translation, none of it is terrible but as I see it there are two points that might upset fans. The first issue is a spoiler so I won’t discuss it, but the second one is that the character of Dr. Flynn is completely missing from the movie. This actually does annoy me; he is important to Christian and becomes important to Ana in relation to Christian. It is possible, I suppose, that they could just move Dr. Flynn to the third movie and it doesn’t ruin things but it certainly messes them up a lot in my opinion. I hope Dr. Flynn will be in the third movie but who knows if he will be since they already took him out here when he was needed for Ana’s plot point.
I love these books and I have reread them several times, for me they are one of those reads I pick up when nothing specific is catching my eye. It’s worth reading, and rereading, if you are willing to give a BDSM book a fair try. However, if the idea of a BDSM book doesn’t strike your fancy then you probably won’t be able to look past it very well to enjoy the story, which in my opinion is a beautiful love story. The movies are even more obviously not for you if you cannot wrap your mind around a BDSM story but I enjoy the movies as well. A book to movie translation is never perfect but I think they did well over all and I look forward to seeing the last movie. It is nice to see the romance world getting movie attention, especially in a way that doesn’t make it conform to a standard that completely changes it.
Now go forth, read bold, daring books, and prosper.