Book Review: 50 Shades of Grey

Book Review: 50 Shades of Grey
by Kathryn Sinde

You may have already heard…50 Shades of Grey, by E.L. James, has taken the country by storm. Everyone from mothers to college students has fallen in love with this steamy book, making it (and its two sequels) bestsellers.

The novel follows Anastasia Steele (or Ana) as she interviews wealthy business owner, Christian Grey for her college newspaper.  Grey is an attractive, yet intimidating man that continually flusters Ana throughout the interview.  After suffering through the awkward interview, Ana is more than happy to leave, thinking that she will never have to see Christian Grey ever again.  Since the novel cannot end in the first chapter, Ana inevitably sees Grey again; this time to take a photo for the interview. Ana is still quite taken with the attractive Grey.  Like any couple, they have a few bumps in the road, one being that Grey prefers a certain kind of sexual encounter and doesn’t want to become romantically involved with Ana.  Ana struggles with the terms that Grey has set for her which sets the stage for the rest of the novel.

This book appeals to English majors because of the excellent use of characterization.  James does a great job of making these characters come alive off the page and draws you deeper into the romantic aspects of the novel.  As a college student, it’s easy to connect with Ana. At the beginning of the novel, she laments about how she should be studying for her finals and not driving to Seattle to interview some guy who owns a successful company.  Ana’s clumsy and occasional awkward demeanor also makes her extremely easy to connect to.  You feel as if Ana is your friend and you want her to succeed. As she enters into her arrangement with Grey, you worry about how she’s going to handle such a tricky relationship.  Christian Grey is also an easily likable character– even with his kinky preferences for his sexual encounters.  He is attractive and mysterious, which would draw any woman to him, but he is also honest.  He never sugarcoats it for Ana, instead laying all his cards out on the table and even taking steps to protect both him and Ana.

James uses language so descriptive and vivid that it only adds to the fascination and allure of the novel.  This novel is a prime example of what a novel was created to do, which is to give you an escape from every day mundane activities.  While reading it, I was so engrossed with watching this relationship unfold before my eyes that I didn’t worry about doing my laundry, making my bed, or finishing that one reading for class.  Taking the racy, sexual encounters out of the book, it really is a love story—plain and simple.  Ana is infatuated with Grey and thinks that she can handle a “no strings attached” sexual relationship, but it’s not that simple—this is where the reader gets hooked.

From one English Major to another, 50 Shades of Grey is worth the read.  The characterization is well done— making you fall in love with these characters as they make their way through this unconventional romance novel.

About the writer:
Kathryn is a junior English major from the small town of Hampshire, IL.   She writes because she feels it cleanses the soul and finds it easier to express feelings through writing than with actions.  Kathryn is also a huge Michael Phelps fan and has seen almost every single Mark Wahlberg movie.