Tuesday, August 11, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Grey by E.L. James

4 Stars

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Grey is basically the retelling of the first book in the Fifty Shades of Grey series from Christian Grey’s 1st person POV narration.  It includes the samples chapters from his POV in the epilogue of Freed and continues on from there.  I remember reading those sections of Freed at the end and eating them up, craving more from the mind of the enigmatic, kinky CEO.  I suspect I would have enjoyed this book a tad bit more had it been released a lot sooner. 

For one, it would pack more punch reading it on the heels of the original books, told by Ana, rather than several years later. Back then the characters were still in my head, and I hadn’t read oodles of other books in the meanwhile. I also suspect that Ms. James might have done a slightly better job with Christian in this version as I wondered how fresh in her head he was many years later too.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed another tango with Christian Grey, I just didn’t find him as sharp as I would have expected.

Two, released sooner, the movie wouldn’t have interfered. That was certainly one hurdle I struggled with at parts throughout the book—getting the movie version out of my head, or more specifically the actors. I found the movie a huge disappointment (see my movie review) and I loathed Jamie Dornon’s acting and portrayal. Having watched the movie more recently than I’ve read the original trilogy, it did have an effect on my enjoyment of this book.

Beyond that, reading Grey reminded me how intriguing Christian was and there were ample places that I certainly found him amusing.  The family dinner was a thoroughly entertaining scene with a fresh perspective.
“‛Let’s not frighten her away or spoil her with too much affection.’”
Ah, the irony, Christian ;-)

It was interesting to get Christian's take on events, explanations for what he was thinking at places that confused Ana, as well as his thoughts on his family and Mrs. Robinson.  I generally enjoyed his inner monologue and found it true to the type of character that was presented in Ana’s POV. He was far truer to the character fans fell in love with in the book than the debacle Jamie Dornon’s portrayed on screen. But I digress because I so loathed the movie. Back to the book...
Yes Christian talks about his favorite appendage a lot and thinks about sex every time he sees Ana. But, come on—he’s a guy and kinky sex is his favorite past time. We knew this folks—don’t go too hard on him. Pun intended only if you want to take it -;-)

On another positive note, this edition might just do a better job of depicting Grey's struggles and dilemmas with the delectable Miss Steele.  The BSDM lifestyle has been his lifeline, an outlet to harness his issues, but Christian has become reliant on it and (perhaps through the influence of Mrs. Lincoln) is unable to grasp the notion of a relationship beyond it. Till Ana. What started out as a means to focus has become a diversion that keeps him from deeper life enrichment until Ana sparks something of an awakening. As the book unfolds, it’s clear that Grey is capable of finding enjoyment in vanilla sex and hearts-n-flowers romance. His inner wrestling with foreign feelings make his month with Ana one that’s a journey, a journey of relinquishing control and revaluing his self worth. 

Aside from the above, there isn’t a whole lot else new here. Most scenes are ones already depicted in the trilogy.  I settled on a rating of 4 stars because I really like the 50 Shades story and the character of Christian.  The repetition from the original story and the fact that once again (like the movie) the second and third installments are not yet available made me consider a 3.5 rating. While this time around I knew where the story goes so there isn't really a cliffhanger (plus this one takes things just a smidgen further in their saga), it still felt like an incomplete story, and I fail to see the benefit of staggering the releases.  I purchased this one during the .99cents sale, otherwise I would have waited till they were all out. 

Overall assessment: Fans of the series will want to read it, whether sooner or later, but the retail/regular price seems overpriced for a companion book with little new material.  


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