Frankly I'm embarrassed to admit I read this book and mortified to admit that I liked it! I almost didn't write a review. The temptation was great to just let this be my dirty little secret. And dirty it is indeed!
I originally picked this book up for the same reason I read the Twilight series: I never tear apart a book unless I've read it. I refuse to parrot what others are saying. So, off I went to Barnes and Noble. I should have gone where they don't know me. The girl that always helps me was shocked I would read this. I was simply humiliated. Nevertheless, I bought the book.
Given what I knew of the book going into this, I knew I would be judging it on the same scale as all other mind candy. Well, to my great surprise, I actually began to enjoy the book. Certainly I am not saying this book possessed some great hidden literary gem, but despite myself, I still started to enjoy it. Maybe what helped was that I was super excited to see fanfic go mainstream.
That said, kudos to E L James for possessing at least a passable vocabulary and the ability to use complex sentences once in a while. The writing style wasn't scholarly, but it was better than your average romance. I will say that some phrases were a bit overused, but nobody's perfect and this isn't a classic, so it's forgivable.
The story itself was pretty much what I expected. It was cliched and certainly some parts were obviously borrowed from Twilight, but that's to be expected when this is a Twilight fanfic. I can't say the story really broke any new ground, other than the obvious. (More on that later.)
The characters were fine. Again, cliched, but this is romance. You won't find many characters that aren't cliche in romance. Face it, if you read romance this type of character must have some draw for you. I admit the tortured, battered male soul is my undoing. Frankly it is one of the biggest draws for me when reading romance. And Christian Grey has it in spades.
Now for the elephant in the room: This book was practically pornographic! And the subject matter was a bit shocking. About the only word I can use to describe this aspect of the book is "educational". I had no idea...
Obviously I would not recommend this book for the young, those who are offended by explicit sexual content, and those who are not open to alternative lifestyles. If you fall into any of these segments of the population, do yourself a favor and read something else. For the more adventurous, go ahead, give it a try. Just remember, it's romance not classic literature.