50 Shades of Grey – Chapter One

So, here it is. I have started reading ’50 Shades of Grey’. I have to say, one chapter in and I’m not impressed: it’s badly written and the main character (Anastasia Steele) is more or less an idiot. Disliking ’50 Shades’ may not be the most original standpoint, but I have a lot to say about it (more than one review will allow for), so here’s my chapter by chapter analysis. The quotes are in italics. Here we go!

Read the whole thing on ‘The Fifty Shades Saga‘ page.

50 Shades of Grey – Chapter One

Romantic, liberating and totally addictive, this is a novel that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you for ever.

We’ll see. But there’s already a typo, and the book hasn’t started yet.

I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror.

Oldest trick in the book: have the main character look at herself in a mirror. Cue laboured self-description of her appearance.

I roll my eyes in exasperation and gaze at the pale, brown-haired girl with blue eyes too big for her face…

There you go. Fairly generic appearance, à la Twilight. ‘Oh my God, that’s what I look like! It’s like I am her! Hooray!’

My only option is to restrain my wayward hair in a ponytail…

She can’t even keep control of her hair. Sounds like she needs someone to teach her about dominance. And hair straighteners.

Kate is Anastasia’s friend and housemate. She has arranged an interview with millionaire, Christian Grey, for the college newspaper, but…

Kate … has chosen today of all days to succumb to the flu.

Yup, I always wait to fall ill at the time that’s least convenient for everyone else. Suck on that, loved ones.

Damn her extracurricular activities.

Seriously, don’t go. Or shut up. Either would be good.

Kate begs me in her rasping, sore throat voice.

Bloody Kate, being all sick and in pain. How rude.

How does she do it? Even ill she looks gamine and gorgeous, strawberry blond hair in place and green eyes bright…

Hot blonde #1.

I ignore my pang of unwelcome sympathy.

Good God, she has several personalities. One to feel sympathy, one to wish she wasn’t feeling it, and another to ignore the fact that she is feeling anything at all. See how complicated women are? Even their internal dialogues make no sense.

…the miles slip away as I hit the pedal to the metal.

Cliché bingo!

It’s a huge twenty-story office building, all curved glass and steel … with GREY HOUSE written discreetly in steel over the glass front doors.

And underneath, also in capitals, THIS IS A MANLY BUILDING WHERE MEN ARE.

Behind the solid sandstone desk, a very attractive, groomed blonde young woman smiles pleasantly at me.

Hot blonde #2.

“I’m here to see Mr. Grey. Anastasia Steele…”

Wait, wait. Anastasia Steele. Perhaps she will find a place in this metallic tower after all, even though she’s a frumpy brunette? Hmm, probably not. I expect she’ll just end up going home and tucking herself under a duvet, to spend the evening with a Pot Noodle and the latest episode of TOWIE.

She hands me a security pass that has “visitor” very firmly stamped on the front.

Whichever office temp made the passes really put some welly into that stamping, just to make it bloody clear that the wearer does not belong.

…past the two security men who are both far more smartly dressed than I am…

Honestly, if she keeps going on about underdressed she is I’m going to wish she’d just take her clothes off.

The elevator whisks me at terminal velocity to the twentieth floor.

Sounds dangerous.

I’m confronted by another desk of sandstone and another young blonde woman…

Hot blonde #3. If you do not yet understand that Anastasia Steele doesn’t fit in here, EL James will personally visit your house and beat you around the head with a stiletto, just to make sure.

It’s a stunning vista, and I’m momentarily paralyzed by the view.

I totally get it. When I see something cool I too lose motor function. Once I got hit by a bus because there was a really shiny penny in the middle of the road.

…inwardly cursing Kate for not providing me with a brief biography.

Another example of Kate’s downright selfishness. She should have dressed Anastasia appropriately too, and saved her all this embarrassment.

To be honest, I prefer my own company, reading a classic British novel, curled up in a chair in the campus library.

Well screw me sideways, I’d never have guessed. Also, that’s like me! I like reading too! See, I’m doing it right now! Wow, we have so much in common.

I roll my eyes at myself.

Surely that’s nerve-rippingly painful?

Another elegant, flawlessy dressed blonde comes out of a large door to the right.

Hot blonde #4.

“Mr. Grey will see you in a moment. May I take your jacket?”

So I can burn it.

…a tall, elegantly dressed, attractive African American man with short dreads exits. I have definitely worn the wrong clothes.

Why? Because he’s African American? Because he has dreads? I don’t understand why this man makes Anastasia’s state of dress more pertinent than the blonde women.

I push open the door and stumble through, tripping over my own feet and falling headfirst into the office.

Kate’s fault, I bet. That bitch.

I have to steel myself to look up.

Steele herself. Geddit?

She sees Christian Grey: young, fit, and attractive.

He extends a long-fingered hand to me…

I’m picturing Nosferatu.

… [he has] unruly dark copper-coloured hair…

Another who suffers from unruly hair.  They are meant to be.

It takes a moment for me to find my voice.

You probably left it in your horrible jacket.

I blink rapidly, my eyelids matching my heart rate.

Quick, rhythmic eye-batting. Attractive.

He waves me toward an L-shaped white leather couch.

L for love! Or licking! Or lashing! Or … nothing, that’s just the shape of the sofa. I want to find innuendo in everything. Seems like I’m getting into the spirit of the book.

…a mosaic of small paintings … mundane, forgotten objects painted in such precise details they look like photographs.

Christian Grey: a collection of mundane elements that, when combined, look really good.

I shake my head, disturbed at the direction of my thoughts…

It pisses me off when characters do this. Did she really shake her head to get rid of a thought, like a dog drying off after it’s jumped in a pond? Either it didn’t happen or she’s a moron.

He pauses and fixes me with his gray stare.

Grey is his name. Please ransack your vocabulary for some other adjective to describe him.

Why does he have such an unnerving effect on me? His overwhelming good looks maybe?

Yes, that. Stupid question, but this is neither the first nor the last time she asks it. He’s gorgeous, get over it.

Anastasia proceeds to question Grey, reading Kate’s prepared questions, and then going all rebellious and cheeky and asking some of her own.

Grey: “…there are people who’d say I don’t have a heart.”

The plot thickens. Which isn’t difficult, because it’s currently so thin I could look through it if I held it up to the light. And I’m reading on a Kindle.

He smiles, but the smile doesn’t touch his eyes. Again, this is at odds with someone who wants to feed the world…

Good people always smile. Bad people never do. A sound belief.

I just want this interview to be over. Surely Kate has enough material now.

Well she might have, if you had stuck to her questions. She can’t write about sexual tension, you know.

“Are you gay, Mr. Grey?” … Why didn’t I employ some kind of filter before I read this straight out?

A filter like … your brain?

He cocks his head to one side.

Cocks! Oh, sorry.

One of the miscellaneous hot blondes pops into the room.

He turns his head slowly to face her and raises his eyebrows. She flushes bright pink. Oh good. It’s not just me.

Kneel, women, for this is Christian Grey! He will shut you up with a stare and rip off your clothes with a wink!

Moving with lithe athletic grace to the door, he opens it wide.

I like to think he cartwheeled across the room and opened it with his toes.

“Just ensuring you make it through the door, Miss Steele.” … Obviously, he’s referring to my earlier less-than-elegant entry into his office.

Yes, obviously, hence why you do not need to say it.

I glower inwardly…

We end on a gem: an action that by definition requires the eyes, carried out ‘inwardly’. Brilliant.


Read Chapter Two.

Why not let me know what you think? You can buy the first book here, or the entire trilogy, if you’re a glutton for punishment. Ironically.

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25 Comments on “50 Shades of Grey – Chapter One

  1. Brilliant Gildius. I laughed ot loud.
    Ironically, you have [almost] persuaded me to buy the book – just so I can laugh at it. But I’m sure your review is funnier – and better written.

    • Thank you! If you’re really tempted I think I can lend it to you on Kindle, just say the word :)

  2. I love this! You are a genius. At no point during the reading of this pitch perfect review did I feel the need to roll my eyes at myself. This is a good thing.

  3. Simply a brilliant review … looking forward to the other chapters! [are you determined to read it all the way through?]

  4. Hahahaha this is hillarious!! You took all of my mental eye-rolls and turned them into an awesome review. Well done.

    • :D I’m really loving doing it – slamming bad writing is one of my favourite things!

  5. ***APPLAUSE***

    Don’t expect it to get any better either.

    Wait for the excruciating bombardment of ‘I flush’ once the action ‘hots up’.

    I read 80% (according to the wife’s Kindle) before abandoning but it took 92% of my soul. You’ve been warned.

    • I too took the “plunge”. I may need a psychiatrist to get through the images and fear!

  6. Terminal Velocity:

    “The constant speed that a freely falling object eventually reaches when the resistance of the medium through which it is falling prevents further acceleration”

    Ie: you can’t have terminal velocity going upwards!

  7. Very funny Clare. Very very funny. Sorry it’s taken me so long to get onto your blog. I had no intention of reading 50 Shades of Grey but now feel justified in not doing so.

    But am concerned that you say that a writer who has her character describing herself by looking in a mirror is using the oldest most tedious trick in the book. Mary Ann does it twice in The Sand Summer. Please tell me it works in both cases. Chapter 1 and 19.

    • Hi! Glad you liked it :)

      Regarding the mirror thing (I haven’t seen your chapter 19 yet): it’s true it’s an old trick, you do see it around a lot. The difference between what she does (the rather awkward, clunky, over-long sentence) and what you do (more of an upfront description that also makes good use of Mary Ann’s voice), is vast. This writer is awful, you aren’t – crucial distinction :)

  8. Well this will definitely save me from reading the damn thing out of curiosity. Plus I get to enjoy your scathing wit as you rip it to shreds :)

  9. For someone who dislikes the book so much, you sure do spend alot of your time on it…

    • It didn’t actually take me a huge amount of time to read and critique, but yes, I could have spent no time on it and just put it down.

      Of course, my 50 Shades blog posts are by far my most popular so, whilst I disliked the book, it has paid dividends in exposure!

      (Also, I found being a steadfastly horrible critic was both cathartic and fun…)

  10. I loved this! You said everything i would have been thinking (that is of i gave a shit abd read the book) I laughed so hard. You are amazing!

  11. Finally a discussion of the damn books that doesn’t make me want to beat someone to death with one of them. Brilliantly funny and I applaud you. I had many of the same thoughts reading the books (which I forced myself to finish because I felt I couldn’t honestly tear them apart without having read them all). I also like the touch of including info for people seeking help for abuse at the end. I ended up dropping several friends who defended the books, saying people needed to “just chill, its fiction” and they “knew people who’d been in abusive relationships who read the books and had no problems with them” and “any really battered woman would trade places with Ana in a heartbeat”.

    • Glad you like it! The abuse numbers came along later – the more I read, the more awful I realised the books were, so I added them in.

  12. This has made me just so darn happy. Thank you! I would, however, like to point something out that I hadn’t even thought of until reading this: why in the world would a newspaper editor send her inexperienced roommate to an important interview of a highly esteemed individual instead of one of her reporters (who are most likely to be majoring in news writing or something similar) when she’s sick? That doesn’t seem like a mistake a valedictorian would make. Shame shame.

    • Glad you like it! Well, I think the interview is just for a student paper, but yes – there must be a million more news majors she could have asked, rather than her dimwit friend who has never even owned a laptop! Shame :D

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