Yes, I’ve read it, but here’s the really silly back story of how it happened (before I get to my review): I pre-ordered two copies of GREY, one from Target and the other from Amazon, in case one would arrive faster than the other. Realizing I wouldn’t be able to read the paperback copy until after the release date, I pre-ordered a digital copy from Google Play at $2 off the listed price ($7.99). I patiently waited until 9:00 pm PST, thinking since it was midnight in the East Coast I could download my copy. Since that didn’t happen, I waited until midnight PST, but still no dice for some reason. I frantically trolled Twitter and Instagram and found out that I wasn’t the only one having trouble getting their pre-paid copy from Google Play, so I just bit the bullet and downloaded it from iBooks onto my iPhone 6. Halleluiah!
Now that I’ve gotten my first day release follies out-of-the-way, I’m going to explain why I enjoyed GREY, addressing some of the points of view of people who didn’t find this offering favorable, which are based on the following reviews from Entertainment Weekly and The New York Post:
Review Roundup: Christian Grey is a predictable psychopath in E.L. James ‘Grey’ (From Entertainment Weekly)
The best worst Amazon reviews for grey (From The New York Post)
Know Your Audience
Frankly, I’m not shocked at the less than stellar reviews. But as Erika James has mentioned in the dedication page of the book, it’s written for fans who asked for it. We were given a tease in Fifty Shades Freed, so of course we wanted more. Fan fiction just wasn’t cutting it for me because it wasn’t from the true author. As a fan of the trilogy and now the movie, I was thrilled to hear about this newest version from Christian Grey’s point of view. It is very clearly stated on the cover of the book: “Fifty Shades of Grey as told by Christian”. Anyone disappointed by the fact that it’s the same plot, the same story and some of the same dialogue has missed the whole point of this book. There is nothing new about this book, except that we get to know Christian better.
No New Sex Scenes
Most of FSOG was Ana’s sexual and emotional development and discovery with Christian. I would think Ana would have captured every single moment of her encounters, because I’m sure for her, every single one of them was significant as this was her first. There shouldn’t be anything new, we just get to read what Christian is thinking, rather than Anastasia’s “Inner Goddess”. Christian just tells it like it is, but with more of an “angel vs devil” dialogue. I also like that Christian’s chapters are entitled as dates, as it gives us an indication of the time period of their initial romance, which shows what a difference a month can make.
“a cut-price Mr. Darcy with nipple clamps”
Oh dear, anyone who thinks Christian Grey is supposed to be the next literary hero needs to really re-examine who the audience is (again). I’ve read Pride and Prejudice several times since I was a teen, and I own the BBC mini-series. Not once did I compare these two characters. Darcy was proud, but definitely not a Dominant. Although arrogant, Christian Grey is emotionally broken, and Darcy was no such thing. The only thing they have in common is wealth and the women that have gotten under their skin. But really, what was the point of mentioning the two in any kind of review? To emphasize the fact that this book wasn’t made for everyone? I hardly think that Erika James was aiming that high, or that possibly FSOG would be on Masterpiece Theater in the near future, flanked by the likes of Downton Abbey and Mr. Selfridge.
“is far too serious and for fans only”
DING DING DING! As so adeptly stated by the intoxicated movie-version of Anastasia “You hit the hail on the ned…the head on the nail…” Whether James just wanted to make additional money on her already successful trilogy or not, we – THE FANS – asked for this! If I were her, I would have done the same. Why write that teaser at the end of Freed if not to gauge if one day her audience would want more? I knew Christian was supposed to be “dark”. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind that we were supposed to infer through FSOG that there was more to Christian’s alternative lifestyle than just the kink. Of course there was a tumultuous early childhood (we got a taste of it in the trilogy), and it was a very sad, full of neglect and abuse until he was rescued by the Grey family. Now, we get a direct link right into his head, filled with nightmares about his youth and it isn’t flowery. Did we really want it to be?
“I’m a creep”
I don’t think Christian Grey is a creep. He lived a certain lifestyle that eliminated any courtship, where boundaries were set, matched, and played through contracts with hard and soft limits. Women who were with him as submissives were at his beck and call, but Anastasia isn’t. Ana confounds him, frustrates him, and turns him on like a light switch, so Christian is in very new emotional territory. Since he was in a BDSM relationship from aged 15 to 21 and had no further experiences in college, of course this megalomania billionaire is fumbling over himself like a love-sick puppy with too much money at his disposal. Looking back at past relationships that ended or people who tried to pursue me prior to my marriage, I realize that I now accept from my husband what I would have thought of as weird from someone else who I wasn’t attracted to. At the base of it, Christian and Anastasia are attracted to each other. If she wasn’t into him, then yes, Christian’s actions would be creepy and stalkerish, because he would be forcing himself upon someone who didn’t want to be with him. But Ana does want to be with him. They are their pushing limits together. There is an electricity between them, and there wouldn’t be a story if there wasn’t.
“and we can confirm, it’s definitely worth the palm-twitching wait”
The review above from the Mirror UK is the one I can identify with the most. I am in league with legions of fans in that I loved GREY. Christian doesn’t quite understand what he’s supposed do with these new emotions he experiences when Anastasia falls into his office for the first time. Fans know that Christian sees a psychiatrist, but nothing is truly revealed until Darker and Freed. But in GREY, we actually get to sit in a session with just Christian and the good Dr. Flynn, who tries to help guide Christian through these unfamiliar sensations. Christian is the kind of guy who has order and control in his world, and feeling a true attraction for someone he hasn’t auditioned previously as a submissive is foreign to him. His submissives fit an initial “type”, which is definitely Anastasia at first glance: brunette, pretty, not-so self-assured and almost “helpless”. These are all traits Christian feels he can train as an apt pupil. But we all know Ana is headstrong, and despite how much he tries to tell himself he can bring her to heel, he loves her ability to match him.
I like the struggle Christian feels when he thinks Ana should be proud of herself as he is for being so brave and strong in his Red Room. Since Ana is not of the lifestyle, she is confused and feels the pain for what it is, not what Christian has convinced himself for it to be. I have been invested in these characters since I read the books back in 2012 (my first review here), so I would definitely say whether or not if this book has lived up to my expectations. I can say it has, and even had me crying towards the end, where we know they part. Remember: Christian’s submissives have contracts that end, and there was no room for feelings in those arrangements, or he ended them before they got there (or so he thought with Leila). But there is always that one relationship that moves the core of who you are, and this has never happened in Christian’s world. For once, he allows someone else to care enough to quell his nightmares, but it’s too much for him. Because the feelings are incredibly powerful, he does what he knows best: he sexually and physically overwhelms Ana, rather than confront that he might actually be in love with her. Christian’s self-abhorrence comes out loud and clear, and through his inner dialogue, we discover he is a bit more insecure than he lets on. We know Ana is the stronger of the two because she knows herself, and is trying to bring Christian into the light with her.
Will E.L. James will want to continue the saga in this way? Would she risk releasing the rest of the trilogy from Christian’s POV, knowing there may be criticism for milking more from this obviously lucrative series? Well, as a true “Fifty Fan Girl”, I’m with Anastasia: I. Want. MORE.