Chapter One or None: Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey
By E.L James

When trying to figure out what novels I should review, the infamous “Fifty Shades Of Grey” never appeared in my mind.

However, after many requests, I have decided to sadly review E.L James’ first (and sadly not her last) book. Going into reading the first chapter, the only context I had for the series were the trailers to the first and second “Fifty Shades” movies, which was essentially an array of scenes with people discreetly without naked.

Great. So there I was, sitting in my desk chair, door closed, hoping no one would come in and see me reading one of the worst chapters I have ever had to read. 

Now, thankfully the first chapter didn’t contain any explicitly awful sexual scenes, however, I was unfortunate enough to read a very, awkward and poorly written interview, but I’ll get back to that later.

The novel introduced us to the main character, Anastasia Steele in the most uninteresting manner possible, the reader, reads three sentences at the beginning about a girl who can’t tame her hair.

Yes, very exciting stuff! The beauty of a good novel is it’s ability to intrigue and entice the reader, Fifty Shades of Grey made no attempt at trying to make the reader keep on reading. I felt bored; I felt as though I was reading the script to a crappy Hallmark movie that had a love interest that should be a suspect in Law and Order SVU. E.L James writes in a very formulaic fashion; there’s no excitement, she writes as though she’s writing an English essay, “Kate is my roommate..therefore she cannot attend the interview.”

The words perfectly mesh well if she were writing a horrible attempt at fan fiction on Wattpad, but no, this is an actual published book. 

My mind kept wandering, doing university work is more entertaining than reading this first chapter, there was no mystery, no compelling events that made me question or want to read more. The conversations between characters were stale; they weren’t at all reminiscent of actual human interaction.

E.L James’ description of things halted any form of imagination for the reader; she wasn’t showing, she was telling the reader what was happening(a classic mistake when writing literature). Anastasia’s characterisation was far too stereotyped to be believable; she was immediately thrown into the “introverted, nerdy girl” pile- who rather read, “a British novel”.

The story would jump, and randomly focus on minor characters with no sense of purpose or direction; the author gave importance to things that were insignificant instead of paying more attention to her character development. 

Now for the world’s worst and most awkwardly written piece of dialogue ever, the interview with Mr Grey. Not only does Christian Grey come off as being incredibly creepy, and slightly predatory, but he causes random and unexplained personality changes in Anastasia. She goes from being timid and shy, to confident and sassy, when earlier she didn’t even have the confidence to tell her best friend she doesn’t want to do the interview.

E.L James somehow makes Christian’s terrifying characteristics ok, because he’s a billionaire, “Oh I exercise control in all things Miss Steele.” - Is that not the creepiest thing to say to someone? Apparently not, according to the author and all the people who paid money to read this book. 

Overall, Fifty Shades of Grey is unrealistically sexual and tedious to read. Anastasia and Christian’s characters are undeveloped, boring and have no exceptional qualities whatsoever. The constant repetition and terrible sentence structure make the first chapter a drag, which I’m sure is the case for the entire book. I would not suggest anyone put themselves through the torture of having to hear Anastasia complain about having to help her sick friend, having to endure the cringe-worthy seediness of Christian Grey.

Unless you want to lose brain cells(without any alcohol involved) willingly then I would avoid this book, it’s not one I’m adding to my library. 


Author: Sathsara Radaliyagoda

Sathsara Radaliyagoda is a second year Journalism/International studies student at UTS and a UTSoC Junior Executive. Her accolades include: getting an Oscar from Madame Tussauds, and surviving the first year of UTS journalism. Sathsara also has a completely healthy obsession with dogs.