Book Review: 50 Shades of Grey – E L James

Everyone is talking about it and even those who haven’t read it know exactly what to expect. Mummy-porn, Clit-Lit, whatever you choose to call it, the result is the same. A naughty novel with a simple story. The most frustrating part about this new craze is that from a literary point of view the book is terrible. Repetitive phrases, unbelievable characters and poor use of a thesaurus! Even from an erotic fiction point of view it is weak. I’ve read many Mills and Boon books that are much more captivating, but at the end of the day that isn’t the point. While the trilogy may be infuriating to an English student, for many people across the globe it has awoken something that was long forgotten.

Aside from the content itself, everything about this trilogy has caught the attention of millions worldwide. Starting out as Twilight fanfiction, many people were drawing comparisons between the two love stories before they even knew of its origins. This could be partly to blame for the immense publicity that 50 Shades has achieved. It is the perfect example of just how valuable word-of-mouth can be. Women of all ages have been talking about this book, with many finding themselves unable to resist reading it. While some unwitting readers may have picked it up thinking it was an innocent love story, it is surprising how many did not cast it aside as crude, but used it as inspiration to try out different things in the bedroom.

The BDSM content has been criticised as misleading, but it is very much an introductory lesson, not a hardcore demonstration of all things bondage. The increase in Ann Summers sales of the more adventurous variety of toys is certainly a tribute to the success of the story. So with all this in mind, it is difficult to decipher what the real definition of a good book is. In terms of literary skill and the criticism it has received it is certainly nothing to write home about. However, when a book rejuvenates so many people’s sex lives, opens their eyes to new experiences and new forms of literature, can it really be called a bad book?