This Book Review is being done in collaboration with Tams Book Blog, We thought it would be fun to do a "HE SAID / SHE SAID" book review since we both love this series. This would be the He said lol.
I have never done a book review before but I wanted to try and do one in my own commentary style for the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. For those of you who have read my blog as of late you can tell, that books have been on my mind heavily. I promise I will still be writing about other things. This book series however has truly moved me, and once again reminded me why I want to be a writer. When I first heard of this series, I kept hearing about how it was “Twilight for adults”! I do not agree with this statement at all, but I do understand why the statement started. These books started out as Twilight fan-fiction. For those who have not read the series just know that many of the characters and events are directly based on the twilight book series if you know how to spot the similarities.
You should also know that from this point forward there will be spoilers; so major spoiler alerts ahead!!!
I kept hearing how hot and steamy this series was, and that peaked my interest because I love erotica as anyone who knows me can attest to. However this is not the reason that I ended up first wanting to actually read the series. Very close friends of mine explained some things about the inner dialogues of the main character. Now as someone who is not only fascinated by the human psyche and condition, and why we as humans do what we do this idea got me hooked into wanting to read these books.
When I began reading the books I quickly learned that these books are not the silly frivolous romance erotic novels that most people believe them to be! There is a very real and worthy story told in these books for anyone who has an open heart, and an open mind. People with abuse issues, and emotional issues could gain a lot of perspective from these books, just as I did. I will not claim these books are linguistically the best written books by any means, but I would not say that about my own writing either lol. That lofty praise is usually but not always withheld by me except when talking about Classic Literature like Charles Dickens, Jane Austin, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Mark Twain to name a few.
Behind the sex, there is a story of two damaged people finding each other and through their sexual relationship; and eventually their full romantic partnership find healing together. The idea that sex can be beautiful; a healing tool, a therapy, a terrible weapon, and yes… Sacred is an ancient concept which has been mostly forgotten in the modern world. These books bring that back to the forefront and I think that is the real reason for their ultimate success; though I doubt very much that people realize that is why they truly love these books so much! Even though I love erotica, I will say that even I sometimes thought to myself “Damn, can I have some story with my sex please” due to the fact that the sex is so copious. At one point it almost feels like every other page is sex instead of storyline, but the sex was described so well, I have decided to forgive that fact tee hee.
The two main characters Ana, and Christian are two souls that are two sides of the same coin in a way. Christian a domineering man with more money than God lol, was abused during his childhood formative years. His mother was a crack whore and her pimp used to terribly abuse them both. Emotional scars are branded on his soul as much as there physical scars branded on his body. He was eventually adopted into a wealthy loving family after his mother died when he was still very young. Though his family was truly loving, Christian never understood how to receive that love. He began acting out violently, until one of his adopted mothers best friends stepped in. She secretly took him under her thumb, and introduced him to her secret world of sexual sadomasochism. She became his dominate; and he as a young teen age boy became her submissive. Even her husband had no clue about her secret life. This affair went on for several years until he was trained to be a dominant and left the woman. He studied hard, and worked hard, and built a hugely successful empire; now that he had self control and self discipline. However sometimes the cure is worse than the disease and he as an adult can only have dominant and submissive relationships with women; a long line of women, some of whom he heaps his own damage on. But for the woman who committed statutory rape on him, and for all the women who became submissives for him; He has never truly known love, or affection in the romantic or the physical sense.
So in walks our main character, the heroine Ana. Ana is young woman who seems to have everything together. Her life is going in a good direction and she knows it. She is about to graduate from college and try and get into the publishing world. While doing a favor for a sick friend one day, she literally stumbles into the life, world, and heart of Christian. Neither of them have a clue what they are getting themselves into, as he pursues her, hoping to make her his next submissive. Also, neither of them have a clue just how damaged and insecure the other one is. Christian can be said to be the most damaged it is true. However, Ana has just as many self image and self worth issues buried under the surface which she doesn’t even recognize. These two people must not only grow as individuals as their love progresses, but as a couple! This is a terrific series to read for young couples who are struggling. These books teach about compromise and wanting to give more to the other person than you get for yourself. When two people are practicing that level of love and compassion, and desire; than a relationship stands the chance of becoming something real and lasting.
Ana’s damage stems from her father dying early in life, and her mother, a self centered scatter brained woman hopping from man to man, relationship after relationship, hobby to career to new career hobby. The mother ends up with a good man at one point in her life. That man bonds with Ana and truly becomes her father in every way that matters. Her mother not knowing what to do with a good but slightly boring man in her mind, goes off in search for other men, and eventually finds another who seems to suit her. Ana while keeping in contact with her mother ends up staying with her father. He raises her, and in my not so humble opinion; any man who is willing to stand up and be a father, especially to a child who is not biologically his; and do so with utter love….well…there is no way that you can just not love and admire such a man.
Christian and Ana’s journey with each other starts with sex, grows with romance, and ends up in marriage! At the core of the journey together is the process of true healing. Healing that doesn’t occur over night, but is real and slow. Layer by layer, their “Shades” of wounded-ness become healed. The way in which the story presents this is realistic, organic, and natural. The story while having its ups and downs, one tragic event after another, silly fights, and some parts that move a little to slow for my tastes; lays out a type of guide to show how sex can be a weapon, a coping mechanism, and a true path to healing.
Through out the story Ana develops a type of dialogue with two internal voices besides her own main voice. These voices become characters all their own. Her unconscious mind develops and eventually becomes referred to as her inner goddess. Her subconscious mind which is another way of saying her reason, becomes a snarky little woman with half-moon spectacles who tells her the truth; though from a sarcastic point of view, with a mouth that seems a little too honest much of the time. While her inner goddess or her primal instinctive mind becomes a feisty spitfire of a woman, who dances, screams, lounges, paints her nails, sleeps, pole vaults at times; and encourages Ana to do all the things Ana is afraid to do. Her inner goddess is also a sexually empowered woman, and we all know from history that nothing is as suspect as a woman who knows things and is also empowered….especially sexually!
As Ana grows, as a woman she must learn to balance her conscious self, with both her unconscious and subconscious needs and desires; thus bringing wholeness and harmony to her as a person and allowing her to function the way a healthy person needs to function.
Christian thinks that he has faced his past and just accepts his life the way it has been. Ana teaches him that he has not totally faced his past or been healed from it. She also teaches him that he is not truly living a full life, and that it is alright to not only want more, but to have it and live it! Till he meets Ana he is surviving, and after he courts her, he begins thriving and truly seeing and understanding the difference.
The old Song "What a difference a day makes" kept coming to mind lol.
Will Christian's chosen lifestyle and coping mechanisms get in the way of their future together? What about old lovers, friends who make unwanted advances, friends and family who think they know what is best for them, and ex-employees and bosses out for total revenge? Could these things stand in the lovers way as much as their own hang-ups? If you thought my reference to marriage earlier meant that, that was the end of the story and everything is alright because they got married…..you would be very wrong. Marriage just might be considered the beginning of many of their troubles.
I kept thinking about Edward Cullen whenever Christian would play the piano with his raw emotion and copper hair;
This video I found speaks to me of how Christian must have felt inside after his life finally seemed to be coming together;
Ana comes into the relationship as a total novice to sex, while Christian comes in as a total novice to Romance and to love. When the story ends, where will they end up? This story asks a lot of big and important questions and makes us ask these questions of ourselves. What do we believe about life, about ourselves, and about Love? What do we truly believe? Most people think they know, but do they really? In my experience with talking to people, most truly have not taken the time to examine what they truly think, why they truly think it, or how they truly feel. Just as important to understand is how we live out our thoughts and feelings. How do we cope with things? What actions do we live by, or stop ourselves from living by?
This novel puts forth the unpopular idea, and Fact…. that a true, authentic, loving relationship is not just all sex, hearts, and flowers. Relationships are real; and often very hard work. They are meant to make us struggle, and find our way in life. They are meant to help us, but also to challenge us and teach us how we might grow, and change, and become different people than we thought we were, or could be. In our sad age where reality stars are held up as a stupid standard of behavior….where reality shows tell people the Lie, that love is a game and a contest to be easily won and lost; where marriages last for literally twelve hours instead of fifty years because of peoples total self-centeredness, cowardice, laziness, and general greediness…………. we need books like these to shake us awake and say “Hey…you are doing it wrong people! Your thinking is wrong”!
I think these books tell an amazing story that people need to read, and I understand how people are saying that these books helped save their marriages. These books bring to mind the biblical book called The Songs of Solomon, which is an entire Book of Erotic poetry which tells the story of a king having a dialogue with one he refers to as his Lover. This book which is graphically sexual, especially when one reads it in the original language; is said to be a metaphor about how the human soul should have a relationship with God.
Excerpts taken from The Song of Songs A.K.A. The Songs of Solomon;
.....Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
for your love is more delightful than wine.
Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;
your name is like perfume poured out.
No wonder the young women love you!
Take me away with you—let us hurry!
Let the king bring me into his chambers.....
....Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon;
your mouth is lovely.
Your temples behind your veil
are like the halves of a pomegranate.
Your neck is like the tower of David,
built with elegancea;
on it hang a thousand shields,
all of them shields of warriors.
Your two breasts are like two fawns,
like twin fawns of a gazelle
that browse among the lilies.
Until the day breaks
and the shadows flee,
I will go to the mountain of myrrh
and to the hill of incense.
All beautiful you are, my darling;
there is no flaw in you....
Now that I have talked about why I love these books and recommend them, I want to point out how they are similar to Twilight.
Christian is obviously based on Edward Cullen of Twilight. He is a rich young man, who is beautiful beyond compare, who has a great body, strange eyes, and copper hair. He also has a self loathing problem. What the author did is take out the fantasy vampire aspect of the books and introduce sexuality and past abuse in its place.
Ana is based on Bella. A clumsy girl with a great wit, an intuitive nature, dark hair, and never having known romantic love either. A girl who had to almost raise her mother and is very self sufficient.
Jose, Ana’s best friend who is in love with her but who she looks at like a brother is obviously based on Jacob with his dark hair and dark skin. And where Jacob is talented with his hands doing mechanics and carving wooden talismans, Jose is a gifted artistic photographer.
Kate Ana’s other best friend is gorgeous, feisty, and never afraid to speak her mind; kick ass, and take names….in order to report them in her next story as a journalist. This character who ends up with Christian’s brother Eliot is to me based on Rosalie.
Eliot is Christian’s fun loving brother, who is never afraid to fight for those he loves. He is always naughty and mischievous and is based on Emmett.
Christian’s sister Mia who is constantly laughing, and dancing, and bouncing up and down…who is always up to something, but who has a big kind heart is based on Alice.
Ethan, Kate’s brother who begins to date Alice doesn’t really resemble jasper, so I can’t say much about that.
Christian’s father, and mother who are both successful in their careers bare very similar personalities to Carlisle and Esme, who fiercely love their children and want to see them happy.
Jack, one of the villains in the story is in some ways based on James from Twilight
Ana’s father is very obviously based on Charlie with a military instead of a police background and a love for fishing, who tremendously but quietly loves his daughter with his whole heart.
Paul briefly in the beginning of the story echo’s Mike Newton
Likes and Dislikes;
Ana seems sometimes stupid, childish, annoying, and wishy washy. I, like Christian am never sure where she stands on many issues or on their relationship. It actually makes me feel sorry for Christian in many ways. Also I am all for repeated phrases, but seriously I have never heard so many holy shits, and oh my’s in my entire life, and after a while it was like please learn some new phrases seriously before I have to hurt you lol. The e-mails were very funny but sometimes they got to be too much for me, though I am glad they were in there. I guess you could say I am torn on both Ana and the e-mails lol. Also…I have stated that I love erotica. However this erotica is supposed to talk about S&M, but never really truly gets into that aspect of it. Also, while I love erotica and reading about sex graphically; this series contains perhaps the most sex ever written in any book ever except the Kama Sutra lol! It is almost on every other page at one point, and I often found myself asking… “god damn, can I have some story with my sex please”? Having said that, while the sex is copious to a fault and often repetitive, it is also well written, honest, and a turn on. I will say as a gay man, I feel left out of the story, like I did in Twilight, but also I fell in love with Christian as much as I fell in love with Edward, so I just replace Ana with myself in the fantasies lol. I have a few issues with the way the books end. I don’t like not knowing what happened to Mia and Ethan in the end. But then, I am a fan of all the loose ends being tied up at the end of a story. I don’t like not knowing what happened in the life of another important character Jose. I really wish we could have learned what happened to Jack and Elisabeth during their trial also. And there are a few other characters who faded away and weren’t mentioned again. This happens in most books but when you have characters who were so involved in the story line just disappearing, well….. this is a personal pet peeve of mine. I do wish we could have a seen Ana in a few therapy sessions working on her issues; because she definitely had them. I wish that some sections of the book didn’t just skip around. A few times in the book, out of nowhere with no explanation, the book just leaps forwards or backwards and it was very confusing and disconcerting.
I love love love the characters. I love Ana’s inner dialogue which I fully admit is very much like my own. I have characters who talk to me in my head as well lol. I love the story for its honesty and courage to talk about what can happen to abused children when they grow up, and also how we as people cope with life through habits and often through sexual outlets. The Author talks about these things with not only authenticity, but with Grace, compassion, and dare I say it…even Humor! I am thankful for the fact that the author talked about sex, and for once didn’t just make it cheap and dirty, and sinful….but something wonderful, healing, and beautiful to be cherished; something truly sacred! I love that we know how life ended up being for the main characters. I love how she left it at the end so that if she ever wanted to go back and write more she could, but if she never did that would be totally alright. I like that Christian grey expresses his emotions a lot of the time through his piano music, or through the songs he plays on his I-Pod. I like how in the end, the wishy washy Ana comes to know herself and love her life; and understand that everything doesn’t have to be perfectly neatly wrapped up in a package that she understands with Christian in order for her to just love and be loved in return. I love the sections added to the end; of Christian as a little boy, and Christian as an adult when he first met Ana. It was very Midnight sun in a way and allowed me as a reader to get to know Christian just a little bit better and I loved that. I also want to say that unlike other people, I really like how the wedding was done briefly and in flashbacks; because personally I don't think I could have sit through knowing every detail of what was taking place at what had to have been a very awkward wedding lol!
I have a few things to say about the issues of child abuse in the book. I am a survivor of child abuse and have many things in common with Christian. Now, what I want to say has nothing to do with his early abuse. I want to point out that I have a fundamental disagreement with the rest of the world and the characters in the books. What "Mrs. Robinson" did to Christian was to me NOT child molestation. I realize that other people because of our modern laws say that what happened was molestation. I say hogwash to that. In America we keep people children until they are 21. This is to me utter nonsense. In ancient times a boy was an adult at age 13, and a girl at the time of her first moon cycle. This is only right logically. Now we have tried to change thousands of years of human programming to make teenage sexuality into something wrong. However, having said that; I do have issues about what the woman did to him; not because of his physical age, but because of his emotional age. Emotionally Christian was, and still is, through most of the series a child. When the older woman took advantage of him it was not molestation, it was rather..... a form of abuse. She was cold and distant and showed him no affection; thereby informing how he lived the rest of his life after their time together. Then she went on to employ every thing she could think of to keep him connected to her and dependent on her to whatever degree she could. In some ways she saved him from himself, and gave him the tools he needed to succeed in business. She also stunted him terribly from having any real relationships; hence my earlier comment "What if the cure is worse than the disease"! That is my issue with her. As for his early childhood abuse all I can say to that is, my abuse was not quite as bad as his was, but I do have understanding of where he came from.
My absolute favorite part of the entire series;
My favorite thing about this series was watching Christian grow, find healing, and overcome his tragic childhood to become a whole person! It was truly Beautiful and Breathtaking to behold.
For some reason, certain things come to mind for me after reading these books. Two quotes from a Dickens tale and a Broadway Musical….
Excerpt’s from the film adaptation of Charles Dickens “Nicholas Nickleby”;
“…In every life, no matter how full
or empty one’s purse...
there is tragedy.
It is the one promise life always fulfills.
Thus, happiness is a gift...
and the trick is not to expect it,
but to delight in it when it comes...
and to add to other people’s store of it.
What happens if, too early...
we lose a parent...
that party on whom we rely
for only everything?
What did these people do
when their families shrank?
They cried their tears,
but then they did the vital thing:
They built a new family, person by person.
They came to see
that family need not be defined...
merely as those
with whom they share blood...
but as those for whom
they would give their blood...”
“……Madeline: Nicholas, I feel you know what it’s like to be without happiness… but do you know what it’s like to be afraid of it? To see the world as so conniving, you cannot take pleasure in the appearance of something good… because you suspect… it is only a painted drop behind which other troubles lie. That has been my life. Every good thing has been a trick. Until you. Yet I am afraid to take your hand. But if you cannot, will not save me.. I can bear to be maltreated by the greedy and the weak, but to be let down by an angel…
Nicholas: I am not an angel. I live as far from that lofty perch as any man. My temper alone, my impatience… well perhaps I should not list all my faults in case I am too persuasive. You are the one who is so admirably able and strong.
Madeline: I am tired of being strong.
Nicholas: As am I. Weakness is tiring but strength is exhausting. You see I cannot save you for I need saving too.
Madeline: What are you proposing?
Nicholas: Only this. That we save ourselves. Together….”
Besides this, I can’t help but consider the abuse Christian went through as a child, and the bad example set by Ana’s mother. I am reminded of the fantastic Stephen Sondheim Musical “Into the Woods”! There are several songs in the play that seem to fit this story, but the most important one is the song that warns people what they say and do to children which is likened to a spell… could have a life long effect that goes out into the world for good or bad and keeps going on and on, touching the lives of all in its wake.
Children will Listen;
How do you say to your child in the night?
Nothing's all black, but then nothing's all white
How do you say it will all be all right
When you know that it might not be true?
What do you do?
Careful the things you say
Children will listen
Careful the things you do
Children will see and learn
Children may not obey, but children will listen
Children will look to you for which way to turn
To learn what to be
Careful before you say "Listen to me"
Children will listen
Careful the wish you make
Wishes are children
Careful the path they take
Wishes come true, not free
Careful the spell you cast
Not just on children
Sometimes the spell may last
Past what you can see
And turn against you
Careful the tale you tell
That is the spell
Children will listen
How can you say to a child who's in flight
"Don't slip away and i won't hold so tight"
What can you say that no matter how slight Won't be misunderstood
What do you leave to your child when you're dead?
Only whatever you put in it's head
Things that you're mother and father had said
Which were left to them too
Careful what you say
Children will listen
Careful you do it too
Children will see
And learn, oh guide them that step away
Children will glisten
Tamper with what is true
And children will turn
If just to be free
Careful before you say
"Listen to me"
Children will listen
As I took in the book one page at a time, one metaphorical image stayed with me throughout the entire story. A young copper haired boy and small dark haired girl, walking hand in hand lost in the woods, looking for the way home….this is how I will always envision these two wonderful characters who remind me that no one is an island, we are always dependent on each other as human beings, in some form or another….always reaching out to try and find another person to connect with, someone to reach back to us and take our hand; this is what I take from this story, this is what will stay with me... and what I carry. It isn’t that I didn’t already know this, we all do on some level; but when stories can bring to the surface a truth so long hidden in the depths of our mysterious life….well that is something that I love and treasure, something of great value. The type of value that can’t be measured in monetary wealth or gain, but can only be understood by the capacity of the human soul to know what true riches are, and where they lie.
It is traditional to give these books ratings in reviews. I don’t really like this concept but I will play the game lol. So with all that in mind, I give this book series 7 out of 10 stars!!!
Audio Book Excerpt;
L.C. Bellami A.K.A. Rev. Loush O'Raven Sept. 19th in the year of our Lord 2012! This Review post was done as a collaborative Partnership with Tams Book Blog, for the "She Said" section please scroll down.
Now that you have Read The "His" portion of the He said, She said review....please scroll down to enjoy The "She" said portion done by Tammy of Tams Book Blog! Also please visit her site to check out all of her online reviews and giveaways!!! ...........
Tams Review of The Fifty Shades of Grey book series;
*Warning, this is going to be a departure from my normal reviews. As Lou holds nothing back on his blog, I’m holding nothing back with this review! It may be slightly unprofessional, apologies ahead of time.*
What I liked. Let’s start with sex on a stick Christian Grey; Jean Claude GODDDAMN! I will give James credit for writing one of the sexiest creatures ever put in print. Tall, dark and smoldering with his long legs, lean features, grey eyes and copper locks. Trying to figure him out is what kept me reading half of the time. On the surface he is a take charge, no nonsense, extremely controlling but abnormally sexy grown ass man. Underneath he is scarred, tormented and filled with some pretty steep self loathing. To quote Christian himself from the book, he’s fifty shades of fucked up!
This series was a rollercoaster ride of emotions as Christian meets the love of his life and proceeds to do everything he can to screw it up! Jealous, overbearing, controlling and argumentative… damn don’t we all just LOVE our Christian!! It was a delight to watch him battle his demons as he fell in love with Ana and learned to like himself. Ana’s inner voices and the emails exchanged throughout the books between the pair had me in stitches “Stow your twitchy palm!”. And the inner goddess “Pole Vaulting” out of her bunker, landing on her chaise. I was laughing so hard my ribs hurt! Not to mention this series brought about one of the best tag lines ever… Laters baby!! The secondary characters made this an interesting read as well. You have the BFF relationship between Ana and Kate, the brother’s relationship between Christian and Elliot and then all the while Christian and Ana are nurturing their new romance, Elliot and Kate are churning up a little steam in the background.
Both sets of parents are relatable and likeable which was a definite plus. Every series needs a villain, bad guy, someone you can hate! James gave us 2 actually; Christian’s mentor and his former “Dom” Elena (or as Ana dubbed her “Mrs. Robinson”), and Ana’s psychotic boss. I think James may have been initially going for an un-likable character with Leila at the start but, as her story unfolds you can’t help but feel sorry for her.
There is even a surprise romance hidden between the pages. My lips are sealed, don’t want to spoil it. What I didn’t like (aside from the writing itself, which if we are all honest with ourselves was not up to par) Enter Ana, sponsor of the Naïve Virginal Society! Ana was my favorite character throughout most of book 1 what with her “oh my’s” and lip biting and blushing. She had a stiff upper lip and some backbone, in the beginning. As the books progressed she seriously became annoying.
What started out as a slightly sexy naivety and endearing curiosity with herself and the budding relationship with Christian, quickly became repetitive and predictable. The little phrases and blushing and lip biting I devoured in the beginning had me groaning in agony by the end. “Christian, please!” somebody shoot me please! All in all, I loved more than I hated about this series and I would, and have recommended it to all my book buddies. The last book was my least favorite book of them all, but was still a decent read. I just felt it was rushed, James could have made it into 2 separate books and elaborated on some things that were just glanced over.
Fifty shades of Grey 4/5
Fifty shades Darker 4/5
Fifty shades Freed 3/5
some of the artwork used provided by Touya from The Reader's Garden
Disclaimer; We are just two blog owners who wanted to do a review, this is by no means a review that was sought out by the author of the series reviewed. Also each Blog owner is not responsible for what the other blogger said in his or her review! We are two separate individuals with very different outlooks on things. We hope this provides a great outline for the series, as well as being somewhat entertaining lol!
Thank you, we hope you have enjoyed our Reviews and that they have put the series in some new perspectives for you! Blessed Be!