Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian
By E L James
Read by Zachary Webber
Penguin Random House/Random House Audio | Jun 18, 2015 | CD: 1200 Minutes Download 1134 Minutes| ISBN 9780399565298
Paperback (Also available in Spanish and Large Print) Penguin Random House/Vintage | Jun 18, 2015 | 576 Pages
Audiobook provided by publisher for review purposes. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinion presented herein is my own except as noted.
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. http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/258951/grey-by-e-l-james/
I admit, I enjoyed FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. I wish I could give you a reason why. It’s like watching a TV show and not wanting to admit it. Many of my more Ivy League friends watch reality TV shows I think heinous assaults on the airwaves and senses, but hate FIFTY SHADES.
“Liking” and “Enjoyment” are complex psychological and emotional responses I won’t even try to justify and which often have little to do with quality.
I know it isn’t the most well-written book, it doesn’t even have the most well written sex scenes. I sometimes don’t know why I like a book — I liked TWILIGHT even though I thought the writing was jejune. Maybe it’s just the enthusiasm with which Anastasia approached life, maybe it was how she reached the heart of the damaged billionaire who never let anyone touch his heart and whose only connections with women were familial, his pedophile dominatrix, or the women who were his subs. He cared for the non-familial women but, none had reached his heart.
We all want to be the one who reaches the heart of the one we love.
There are a lot of people who diss this book. Lest we forget, Stephenie Meyers also wrote a TWILIGHT from Edward’s point of view, MIDNIGHT SUN, which was never published commercially. But, in reading the version she released online (http://stepheniemeyer.com/midnightsun.html), I discovered that many of Edward’s lines in the movie were pulled from that text. I don’t know if that is the case here, but I did feel many of Christian’s movie lines came out of this. And it is possible, it came out of the exercise of working on the movie. I did feel the movie script was more well written than than the book.
Technically, I would note this story in the story timeline is concurrent with the first book.
I have to admit that being inside Christian Grey’s head for 1200 minutes was a bit much. But, she did write consistently in the character. AND, what I glimpsed of the character throughout gave me insight into just how deeply a woman would have to wriggle into his heart to pull his stunted emotions into the world. She showed me just how damaged he was through his dreams of his childhood and in present day (well 2011), reactions to people. It also gave me a look at the psychological and emotional struggles of this character as his heart reacted to Anastasia. And, I got insight into Grey as a character overall, things I didn’t really get from Ana’s POV. For example, his devotion to the world hunger cause and his personal connection to that. It makes him much more three-dimensional.
The struggle of becoming more human, more emotionally touched, less closed-off, less self-centered, is what I saw in this book, and what I felt was valuable and worth my time.
I also got a different sense of the plot as there are large pieces of Christian we never saw in first book; it helped the first book make sense. So, it goes beyond the original FIFTY SHADES in scope of character and time. And it makes a more poignant story than seeing it from Ana’s point of view.
I liked it, mostly. First person is not my favorite — it is rarely well-done. I think it is still a bit crudely written. And it’s a little unrealistic — the CEOs I have known haven’t had nearly as many hobbies or as much free time as Mr. Grey. While it’s probably the most realistic thing in the book the unspoken reactions, those things a character thinks in response to a question or stimulus, were not my favorite things and I don;t know if it was the audio or the writing.
The audiobook production was well done. Zachary Webber did a fine job; didn’t sound too different from the actor in the movie, Jamie Dornan. That would have been difficult for me to reconcile. [I have found it difficult that OUTLANDER’s audiobook voice, Davina Porter, while amazing, is very, very different from that of Caitriona Balfe, the actor who plays the same character on TV.] And, Webber’s women’s voices were not too breathy or little girlish.
Some people are determined to hate all things from this book and movie franchise, and that’s up to them. I often have very different views of books than others do. And, I know that sometimes I like something that isn’t technically well-written, and don’t like other things which are critically lauded.
All I can say is that while it was not perfect it did fill in some blanks and gave me a richer “FIFTY SHADES experience.”