Grey, by E.L. James


Grade: D-

Doing it at: 20%

Catnip: Panty Sniffing; Nipple Orgasm; Light Bondage; BDSM; Hate Read; WTF

Shame Scale: If you make it all the way through this book it’s because you really loved the first one and needed more, or you’re masochists like us. Either way: Red Hot Burning Shame

Fantasy Cast: We’re going to be safe and just go with Dornan and Dakota.

What do we taste like: Mint and tea and an orchard of mellow fruitfulness

Book Description:

See the world of Fifty Shades of Grey anew through the eyes of Christian Grey.

In Christian’s own words, and through his thoughts, reflections, and dreams, E L James offers a fresh perspective on the love story that has enthralled millions of readers around the world.

Christian Grey exercises control in all things; his world is neat, disciplined, and utterly empty—until the day that Anastasia Steele falls into his office, in a tangle of shapely limbs and tumbling brown hair. He tries to forget her, but instead is swept up in a storm of emotion he cannot comprehend and cannot resist. Unlike any woman he has known before, shy, unworldly Ana seems to see right through him—past the business prodigy and the penthouse lifestyle to Christian’s cold, wounded heart.  

Will being with Ana dispel the horrors of his childhood that haunt Christian every night? Or will his dark sexual desires, his compulsion to control, and the self-loathing that fills his soul drive this girl away and destroy the fragile hope she offers him?

This book is intended for mature audiences.

Disclaimer: We love romance, the trashier the better generally. We love formulaic plots and alpha heroes. We love accidental pregnancies and #teamanal threesomes. We are in no way book snobs: check out some of our top rated reviews. So if we say this book is capital B Bad, you should probably trust us.

Mary: Alright friends. We sucked it up and read this fucking horrible book for YOU, and as much as we’d like to never give it another thought, it’s time to put on our DJ’s (our Dom Jeans) and get this over with.

I confess that I read the original trilogy, and while the writing was terrible, I did actually enjoy the plot. #sorrynotsorry. There’s a stalker! Kidnapping! A Virgin! A helicopter crash and missing hero! Accidental Pregnancy! All the catnip. The story as a whole is dare I say it, kind of enjoyable? It’s tempered with some of the most WTF dialogue we’ve ever read, but I don’t think it’s fair to categorically write this series off. What I’m saying is that if you enjoyed the original Fifty Shades series, I’m not judging. I kind of did too.

And of course, C and I saw the movie. It was our very first Drinking at the Movies, the very first time we ruined a movie for an entire theatre, even before we had a blog. It’s how we fell in <3.

C: I made it through the first book, and a few chapters into the second one and then I just couldn’t finish. To me, the Fifty Shades trilogy, is the definition of Can’t Even. When we pre-ordered Grey, I thought that it would be ok. We could mock it, I could take one for the team. It surely wouldn’t drag endlessly and make me contemplate what exactly I was doing with my life. It wouldn’t make me yearn for Faulkner and consider writing hate mail to E.L. James, counting her piles of money on her full-sized bed made up with Shabby Chic sheets. But it did. It made all those things reality.

can't even

M: This book was a complete verbatim 576 page rehash of the original book – with ALL of the dialogue, ALL of the emails, ALL of the contracts. The only difference really is that instead of hearing about Anastasia’s stupid inner goddess doing gymnastics moves on the pommel horse, we get Christian Grey’s obnoxious inner monologue and notification every time his dick twitches.

And I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that having him clarify his inner thoughts was completely unnecessary. It’s not like anything he was feeling wasn’t completely obvious the first time around. E.L. James is probably a lovely woman, but subtlety is not one of her strengths. We were hoping we’d get some new insight to the series. I actually had just assumed that this would be Christian’s perspective for the whole trilogy. But Grey only covers the material in the first book – none of the fun action-y parts. Not even any butt stuff. I was hoping that in the time since her arrival on the writing scene, we’d see some improvement in James’s style at least. Tragically, not the case.



M: I don’t think there’s a person alive who doesn’t already know this story from pop culture osmosis. Anastasia is a plucky, young virgin, who captures the eye of Seattle’s most eligible billionaire when she literally stumbles into his office for an interview for her college newspaper. Christian is pretty much instantly enamored with her; she bit her lip, his palm twitched, we all know the rest.

C: I thought we might get some interesting (what, it could happen) insights into Christian’s past and motivations and why exactly he’s fifty shades of fucked up. Instead it was mostly dream sequences in faked, twee little kid voice and his cock’s internal monologue:

My green car is fuzzy. Covered in gray fur and dirt. I want it back. But I can’t reach it. I can never reach it. My green car is lost. Lost. And I can never play with it again.


The sweet appreciative noises echo through me– to the end of my cock.

M: This was the hardest book we’ve ever read. It dragged. I dreaded picking it back up and forcing myself to read a few more chapters. James is verbose and redundant, frequently repeating things in triplicate:

I run my nose from her ear to her shoulder and back again, inhaling her heavenly scent.

Fuck, she smells good.

You smell as divine as ever, Anastasia.”

I inhale her heavenly scent. She smells good. You smell good! We get it, she smells good. If we hadn’t absorbed the fact that Christian loves the way Anna smells of apples and autumn approximately each chapter, we sure fucking get it now. For the love of god please stop talking about her smell. The whole book is like though: Something happens. We hear his feelings. And then sometimes he repeats them out loud. It’s painful.

C: She also has the characters fondly remember things that happened in “happier times” meanwhile the entirety of the book takes place over a month. Thanks for the reminder E.L.,  but I think we remember the painstakingly boring thing we just read two chapters before.

M: There’s so much that’s cringe-worthy about this book. It’s easy to see why the movie was such a bomb, because there isn’t an actor alive who can deliver these lines:

“No fisting, you say. Anything else you object to?” I ask.

She swallows. “Anal intercourse doesn’t exactly float my boat.”

“I’ll agree to the fisting, but I’d really like to claim your ass, Anastasia.”

C: There is nothing likable about Christian. He’s a smirking jerk who wants to fuck and beat Anastasia because she smells like apples and reminds him of happier times — that’s me giving him a motive. I just delved deeper into his psyche than the book ever does. You can all thank me. Seriously, these quotes:

“Are you gay Mr. Grey?” What the hell! I cannot believe she’d said that out loud! Ironically, the question even my own family will not ask. How dare she! I have a sudden urge to drag her out of her seat, bend her over my knee, spank her, and then fuck her over my desk with her hands tied behind her back. That would answer her ridiculous question.

Important lesson, gentlemen of the world, brutal fucking is the only way to prove to women that you aren’t gay. I hope E.L. has some sons.

I’ll fuck her in time. I’ll fuck her bound and with her smart mouth gagged.

What? Me? Make love? Oh, Grey, let’s disabuse her of this straightaway. “No, Anastasia, it doesn’t. First, I don’t make love. I fuck, hard.”

C: At least Mary and I went through this together and got to text through our frustrations


C: Christian’s insane obsession with Ana’s eating somehow felt even more annoying from his point of view. We should have kept count how often this comes up. I’d go back and count but I love myself too much.

M: Right? We get it, he was starved as a kid and has weird food issues. Ugh, get over it already. Somehow this book managed to make me feel unsympathetic about an abused child, and that’s saying something.


C: Pretty sure that Christian has the worst internal monologue of any person we’ve ever read. And we read Beautiful Disaster from Travis’ perspective. I read the online only leaked draft of Twilight from Edward’s perspective. We aren’t novice trash readers. We are experts and this was so so bad. SO SO.


(wanna know something we do like? Orange is the New Black!)

M: A Baby for my Billionaire Stepbrother was better than this, and we’re pretty sure that was some creepy coded incest fetish shit.

C: At least the billionaire in that book didn’t have special jeans he wore just for spanking-sexy times


C: The most shameful thing of all about reading this book? I had to look up a word. This horribly written book used a word I didn’t know and now I have to do penance by admitting this on the internet for all to know. (The word was louche)

M: hahahahahhaaaah #bookshame


C: It’s all lowered expectations from here though. Other authors can thank E.L. for our gentler reviews of THEIR crappy books. And we never have to read what Mr. Grey is thinking again. Unless they release the whole trilogy from his perspective. I’ve just jinxed us, haven’t I? We’re fifty shades of fucked.

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13 thoughts on “Grey, by E.L. James

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  10. Joanna Wylde linked your review of one of her Reaper Books, and I stayed up all night reading all of your reviews and Drunk at the Movies. I am officially in love!

    I was one of the people that couldn’t get past the first ten pages of FSOG, and there is no way on Earth I would even try to read Grey. As a member of the BDSM community I have to say NO. Hell, no! But I’ve read your Grey review twice!


  11. Pingback: Fifty Shades Darker | mybookshame

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