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Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1)

Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1) - E.L. James This review is for the Fifty Shades trilogy as a whole. In my opinion, you cannot read one book without reading the other two -- in order and back-to-back!

When the blogs and television lit up with buzz about Fifty Shades of Grey, I was skeptical. I'm not one to jump on the latest popular fiction crazy train. It was finally the sheer number of mixed reviews that intrigued me enough to pick up the first book.

By now, everyone on the planet probably knows Fifty Shades came about by way of Twilight fan fiction. I read the Twilight books, but never really drank the Koolaid. I didn't eat/sleep/breathe those books. Six pages into Fifty Shades of Grey and I was absolutely, positively, without an effing doubt, HOOKED! Every spare minute I had was spent reading, and when I wasn't reading, I was thinking -- and dreaming -- about the books!

Fifty Shades is written in first-person through Anastasia's POV. I've said this in reviews before, and I'll say it again. I really, really, really hate first-person POV romances. I always feel like the story is short-changed. There was no feeling of that at all in these books. From the start, I loved Ana's witty and, oftentimes, humorous sub-conscience (and inner goddess!) I felt as if I was Ana. I cried with her, laughed with her, and I truly believe the story wouldn't have been better written any other way.

At 27, Christian Grey dominates not only the business world, but the bedroom. He uses his dark sexual tastes as a way to cope with the trauma he endured as a very young child. He's demanding, controlling, and jealous. He wants Ana as his submissive, but he won't allow her (a virgin) to enter into their contract without knowledge of what she's getting into. The more Ana delves into his lifestyle, the more she understands that she may not be able to be everything he needs. Christian finds himself breaking all his carefully placed rules to be with her. As the many layers of Christian Grey are peeled away, I fell deeper in love with him just as Ana did. He's gentle, caring, and the vulnerability he shows with her made me cry on more than one occasion. Ana handles Christian beautifully. She transforms into such a strong heroine.

What really gets me going about a lot of the talk surrounding these books, is the insistence that Christian was abusive. Never once did I feel as if he crossed the line into abuser. Abusers don't give you safe words, and they sure as hell don't stop when you ask. Is Christian controlling? Yes. His need for control is a coping mechanism, though. Ana teases him, often, about his stalker tendencies. But it all comes from a deep place of love and fear inside him. Watching him struggle to change darker old habits because Ana is his love, his life, was refreshing! How many times have you read books where the heroine changes for the hero? Which made me think: would the people who had a problem with this book have felt the same way if it were Ana with the traumatic past? If it were Ana struggling with the kinds of insecurities and feelings of low self-worth that Christian had?

James does a fabulous job guiding us through Christian and Ana's relationship. There was so much content in these books, so many things going on, at one point I wondered how much more Christian and Ana would be subjected to before they reached their happy ending!? Could the books have been edited? Sure. But I'm really glad they weren't. By the time I finished the last word in Fifty Shades Freed, I felt satisfied in knowing the characters I'd come to love were going to make it.

UPDATED: Since the book(s) are apparently being made into a movie, I wanted to share with you who I envisioned as Christian & Ana!

Taylor Kitsch as Christian Grey

Rachel Bilson as Anastasia Steele