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Fifty Shades of Grey - E.L. James First off, I don’t have a problem with fanfiction. I’ve read some stories on that are actually worlds ahead and more enjoyable than the original author’s work. I didn’t read this story when it was originally posted as the very popular Twilight fanfiction “Master of the Universe” by Snowqueens Icedragon (E. L. James’ FFN username). I have one friend that read MOTU in its original and no longer available format. She tells me that as MOTU, the characters had Twilight names and physical descriptions, but otherwise, it was an original story. I’m told the story was taken down from FFN, Twilight references were removed, and the story was published as the Fifty Shades series.

Regardless of how many Twi references were removed or NOT removed….in my opinion, this felt like its own story. There are certainly some similarities and little nods to Twilight characters/locations and even the actors that portrayed them.  But Christian is NOT Edward. I stopped noticing and caring about the Twi references remaining in Fifty Shades pretty quickly. I was completely absorbed in Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele’s wicked hot and dark journey.
Shades’ Twilight References
As someone that camped outside of Comic-Con for several nights in Twi Shantytown for the Breaking Dawn panel…among other things *grin*…I can’t resist taking a moment to point out the Twilight similarities still apparent in Fifty Shades of Grey:

Ana isn’t very coordinated, has brown/darker hair and she’s unaware of her own beauty. Her mother is flighty/whimsical. Ana’s mother has also left her stepfather and now lives in a warmer climate, hundreds of miles away, with her new husband. Ana lives in Portland, WA. Ana’s descriptions of Christian give you the impression that he has a God-like impossible beauty. Ana has a love for classic British literature. Christian is very mysterious; uber alpha; plays the piano; and warns Ana that she should stay away from him because he’s not good for her, yet he can’t stay away from her. Christian has domineering, obsessive, psycho-stalker tendencies. He doesn’t have any supernatural abilities like Edward; rather, Christian uses his extreme wealth and access to the latest technology to track Ana down, literally. Christian’s occasional formal manner of speaking, especially in his email exchanges with Ana, makes him sound like he’s from another era. Christian feels Ana’s old car is dangerous and insists upon replacing it. Finally, Ana was rocking Converse shoes in one of the earlier scenes  – a total Kstew (Kristen Stewert) reference.    
Sentence Structure/Repetition
This is a first person narrative, from Ana’s perspective. Some of the sentences were short or not complete. Forget what you learned in English class; you just get what comes out of Ana’s brain. And there was some repetition with the adjectives – I think “beguiling” made at least 7 appearances, and Ana’s very fond of “Oh my” during sex and “Holy F*ck” for anything shocking or exciting. 
The controversy surrounding its fanfiction origin...The editing...And let’s be real, some of the jealousy in the publishing world because it’s topping the charts and getting movie/television interest….I could give a shit. I LOVED this, and when it works for you, it just works.

Christian Grey is dark, unbalanced (there’s only so much his shrink can do), captivating, jealous and sexy as hell with an out of this world BDSM playroom. Such a controlled man that his previous subs were never allowed to touch his chest (we’ll learn more about that trauma in books 2 and 3) or actually sleep with him after sex….Just f*cking, never making love, with total submission. He has a real need to inflict pain, not just for his subs' pleasure, but for his absolute need for control and dominance. And then comes Ana. The two become obsessed with each other and Christian begins breaking some of his rules. Ana, who starts this journey as a complete innocent, definitely enjoys some of the BDSM aspects of the sexual relationship, but she’s terrified of real pain. Can Ana meet Christian’s needs, or will he make adjustments? And can Christian give Ana the “more” that she’s looking for?

As far as the BDSM elements, this book contains spanking, bondage, and usage of a leather riding crop....but nothing too hardcore. We haven’t yet fully explored Christian’s Red Room of Pain ;)

I read this contemporaneously with a friend and we had a ton of laughs and late night texts. She’s on book 3 and ready to choke “dick whipped” Ana...I’m behind, but I’m getting there. You’ll probably either really hate this or really enjoy it. Ana and Christian’s relationship is very unhealthy but equally addictive. I’m trying to prepare for March bookclub and RT in April, but this Fifty Shades trilogy is screwing with my reading schedule! :) I doubt I’ll review the other installments because I’m in hyper-procrastination mode, but I do hope they’ll be a fun as this one.

Update: 3/14/2012
I was accosted at a bridal shower this weekend by my twisted smut soulmate…”I read your review – How could you not mention Ana’s subconscious and inner goddess?!?!” So there…I’ve mentioned them :) They’re almost like supporting characters in the series and they took some getting used to. I found some of the inner goddess’ antics, like hiding behind a couch or passing out, hilarious! Happy Geri? ;)