I’ve read plenty of books that left an impression on me. 1984 and In Cold Blood come to mind. I’ve been seriously affected by these books. You can imagine how surprised I was to learn that Grey will be another book which I will include on this list. I did not expect to include it on any list, except on the Reasons-to-dislike-E.L.-James list.
Having mustered through cca 150 pages, I was simply unable to finish this book. Not because it is badly written (though it is), not because there is no chemistry between the main characters (though there is none), and not because the characterization is not worthy of Teletubbies (though it is, barely, but it is). I can read bad books. If you stumbled upon this blog before, I’m sure you are aware of this. Grey takes “bad” and it fucking owns it.
It is a deeply disconcerting book. It disturbed me in a way I have not been disturbed for a long time. In Grey we get to meet the adored Christian Grey. But this is not your attractive, rich, renaissance man we came to know in FSoG, oh no. This is a rich, controlling psychopath who is only inches away from becoming a rapist and a serial killer. In Grey we come to learn that Christian Grey is not a Dominant. He’s not a guy with troubled childhood and run-of-the-mill psychological issues. He is just a sick, disturbed man who needs to be institutionalized to ensure the safety of those around him. He’s got power. He employs thousands. He owns many cars and a helicopter, and he can find you and be there real fast. You should be afraid, very afraid.
At the same time we get to meet a new Anastasia Steele. An inexperienced, bookish girl who stumbles into the orbit of a man who will have her under the scrutiny of a private investigator, who will punish her for writing “It was nice meeting you”, a man who does not want to dominate her – he wants to hurt her. He wants to earn her trust, and this he wants after making her sign an NDA.
The repetitive nature of Grey’s internal monologue only adds to the feeling that he’s not all there. He keeps thinking and saying things like “Oh, that smart mouth” and “Fair point, Miss Steele“. He feels inexplicably threatened by unimpressive kids and, even though he notices that Ana likes him at the very beginning of the book, he keeps noticing it as something new, always revelling in this “discovery” in the same way. The fact that there is no chemistry between them only enhances the level of disturbance because his insistence on making her his is simply unfathomable.
Christian is horribly fragmented. His thoughts are all over the place, mixing dialogue with internal monologue. He takes a moment to talk to himself and then he talks to people – but not out loud. Remembering it makes me shudder. It is creepy beyond reason.
Essentially, Grey takes “badly written” to a level I did not believe possible. It transcends genre and reads like a psychological thriller. I kept expecting Christian to kidnap and murder Ana or Kate (or both). Then we would get introduced to some very cool FBI agents who delve into the mysterious ritualistic murder of a young woman (or women) following a trail of evidence back to a rich CEO. There might even be some introverted profiler who’d try to get into the murderer’s mind…. and find Christian Grey while he’s finishing his fava beans and drinking a nice chianti.
Saying that a book is “the worst book ever written” is ungrateful because it would imply I have read every book which was ever written and it might imply that I’ve actually read Grey. So I’ll just phrase it this way: “Grey is the worst book I have ever tried to read“. The statement lacks decisiveness and it’s tepid (much like Grey) but it’s the truth. I mean, come on. She tried to write a sexy adult novel (one she has already written) and all I could think about while I was reading it was the following five things:
- That poor, poor girl, I hope she manages to get away from him.
- My God, this man is really disturbed, this is just so creepy.
- Dear Lord, this man is really disturbed, this is just so sick.
- I should really read Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs again.
- Will Graham is one of the hottest characters ever.
I hope I’ve managed to show you just how many shades of fucked up Grey really is (hint: it is not 50).
To hell with niceties. This IS the worst book ever written.