Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
On a long and glorious road trip with The Professor, I decided it was time to see what all the fuss was about. I understand that these pieces started as actual Twilight fan fic. I suppose the Bella / Edward relationship is here, to a point. But there’s no vampirism or supernatural action of any kind. Instead, what we get is an interesting rendering of a wealthy, skilled manipulator of vulnerable young women.
At its best moments, Fifty Shades of Grey is a portrait of a predator that has enough truth to it that, as a reader, I must assume that E.L. James knows whereof she writes. (I'm regularly reminded of Gavin deBecker's warnings when reading about how Grey treats our heroine.) The “contract” was interesting; I’ve never read one before, though I’ve heard about couples who employ them. And I actually quite liked the ending.
At its worst, the book is everything else you’ve heard about it: poorly written, smutty, frustrating, and dirty without being particularly titillating. Needless to say, if words like “butt-plug,” “sadomasochism,” “cum,” or “erection” make you feel uncomfortable, this probably isn’t a book for you.