WARNING: Mature content will be mentioned & mature language in quotes used as this is a mature book.
There is a section in this book where the male character claims that he is 'Fifty shades of fucked up' and I'll be honest - that's an accurate description for this book and the entire premise behind it.
I thought it was worth me reading at least the first book in the trilogy so that I could form an honest opinion based on actual knowledge instead of listening to hearsay - In a way I'm glad I did that but I would've been happier avoiding it and the furore surrounding it and just carried on with reading Les Miserables.
This is definitely a 'Marmite' book - you'll either love it or hate it. I am now going to try to keep my anger to a minimum in order to not just sound like some harpy spewing hatred through this blog.
The story behind this (I know, there is a story folks, it's not just about BDSM and a virgin who can then have orgasms at the drop of a hat!) follows a completely innocent & naieve 21 year old Anastasia Steele who finds herself interviewing the suave, sophisticated, drop dead gorgeous, billionaire Christian Grey. There is chemistry between them and Mr Grey has taken a definite interest in Ana, showering her with expensive gifts and treating her to helicopter rides. This all culminates in him introducing her to the BDSM lifestyle in the hope that she will accept him and this lifestyle in order to stay with him. However, it must be noted, he doesn't 'do' relationships. It is an arrangement - contract drawn up and everything - that he'd like her to agree to.
What follows is Ana becoming emotional, confused, eager and curious as she debates with herself whether this is something that she really wants. She does work out halfway through that, whilst this may scare her, it will let her be with Mr Grey and that's all that matters to her.
Now, whilst the idea behind this book is a good one, I found there were a few too many instances that had me gritting my teeth and feeling like I was the only one who saw this as a bad way to start any relationship with another person (I'm not talking about relationship in it's romantic sense, I mean what exists between two people getting to know each other). I found the characters were too predictable and cliche. With Ana being your typical clueless main character who admires her best friend for being able to attract all the men but not being able to see that every guy she's come into contact with has fallen head over heels for her and Christian being the billionaire, untouchable, looks to die for guy who happens to have a dark past that's hidden from the world it just all seemed a bittoo predictable and unbelievable.
Throughout this book Ana believes that if she goes with what Christian wants (despite her trying to appear as an independent, strong young woman) then she'll be able to do what no other woman has yet managed and change the unfeeling Mr Grey. This is not a good idea for a woman to take away from this book (yes, it's fictional, but people do still look for lessons to take away) as if I had a man find out where I lived and worked after our first meeting, tracked my mobile phone after our second and then find out where my mother lived and 'conveniently' end up staying in a hotel where my mum and I were drinking - my thoughts would not be running along the lines of 'Oh how romantic'. I also would not be willing to overlook his actions and emotional/sexual manipulations just because he's more knowledgeable than I am - there should be something along the lines of common sense telling me to get out (oh wait, she did want a break from him to think about it but then he followed her).
In my mind there is nothing normal or healthy about what happens between these two in this book but it is made acceptable with the reasoning that Mr Grey was abused when he was younger so he can take it out on any woman who falls under his spell.
What the author initially had here was a good idea for a plot, unfortunately the lack of character building, some rose tinted glasses on certain actions and some rather immature writing let her down. It felt choppy and hard to get into - in fact the best written parts were, surprisingly, the erotic scene, although I have read many people's comments on how it was poorly portrayed and threw a dark light on the BDSM lifestyle and as I personally have no knowledge of this I will refrain from commenting.
All in all I did not enjoy this book at all (as those who have read my social networking posts can attest to) and will not be continuing on to the next book. However, if you are able to gloss over the poor writing and two-dimensional characters as well as passing off questionable actions on just a guy being in love then please, pick this book up. If you want a quick, steamy read and have read the blurb and what others have said and feel it's for you - pick it up. This is just my own personal take on the book and I did not care for it.