50 Shades of Grey: The Nerd Appropriate Review

This review is going to be difficult. Not because the book was so incredibly horrifying, but because I am a bit embarrassed to admit I actually read 50 Shades of Grey. If you don’t know, this book is about a girl thrust into a world of BDSM and sexual deviancy. Well, that’s not all it’s about, but sort of. Think Twilight meets HBO’s Real Sex sans sparkling vampires.

I’m sure there is a better synopsis floating around, but in all honesty it centers on a naïve girl (Anastasia) who meets a dude (Christian Grey) and then changes her life / expectations / tastes to suit him. Some may disagree, stating that she is the one to change him… but come on, folks, let’s get real. The protagonist doesn’t have a life without the overbearing Mr. Christian Grey.

Anyway, the review.


In a word? Bad.  EL James seems to suffer from the over-use of “Oh my!” as well as an acute case of adverb dependency. Her voice is quite similar to Stephenie Meyer’s, but perhaps with less flourish. One could argue that the buying public isn’t as concerned with writing as much as they are with plot, so let’s jump to that point next since I don’t want to bore people with my critique of a best-selling author’s craft. Just know that it isn’t the main selling point of the novel.

Who is reading. Provided by goodreads.


Overall, the plot is weak. Spoiler alert! She’s a virgin and he’s a sex fiend. Because of her “purity,” he starts to question his boundaries and behold! They fall in love. But can he overcome his “demons” to stay with her? I guess you’ll need to read books 2 & 3.


A lot of exploitative sex scenes permeate this book (and sequels). If you’re into gratuitous loss of personal control and outrageous displays of wealth, you will love this trilogy.

Something that concerns me is the attraction so many readers have to the romantic character, Mr. Grey. Why do some women find controlling men so sexy?

And to be fair, this is dominance and submission, not some guy being bossypants.

Lines are definitely crossed in this novel, particularly ones regarding personhood. Anastasia, the protagonist, has to sign a contract in which Mr. Grey gets to “own” her, from the clothes she wears to what she eats. Let me say that again. What. She. Eats.

I honestly wouldn’t care so much if this book had stayed tucked away in the erotic section of the book store, but alas, it has gone mainstream which brings me to my next point.

Special category: Influence.

I cannot escape this book. It’s everywhere!

In the last few weeks I’ve seen women reading it in the nail salon, the airport, the grocery store and even at the office. An interesting thing to point out, too, is that they were all physical copies of the book. There were probably even more people reading it in front of me on their mobile devices!

As my friend put it, “It’s book candy.” I am very surprised given the subject matter at how much of it is being consumed. Did you know that 50 Shades of Grey has surpassed sales of Twilight, another literary tour de force?


So, beyond my contempt of this book for its lack of story and skill, I will admit to the fact that I read all 3 books in a matter of hours. Not because they were short, but because they kept me wanting to find out what happens. The only thing I can relate this to would be a bottle of cheap, sweet champagne. You can’t just indulge in one glass, you have to have three and after a while it gives you a headache.

I give 50 Shades of Grey 3 of 10 tequila shots for keeping me turning pages even if I didn’t read or enjoy all the words.

Writer. Snowboarder. Video game proselytizer. All-around nerd and animal lover. During the day, you can find Hilary working as a marketing director for an international software company and at night (where is this going?), she squeezes in as much time as possible with her Xbox or Kindle. If you feel so inclined from reading this awkward description to find out more about her, go here: or @hilaryheskett 


Writer. Snowboarder. Video game proselytizer. During the day, you can find Hilary working as a marketing director for an international software company and at night (where is this going?), she squeezes in as much time as possible with her Xbox or Kindle. Start a conversation @hilaryheskett!

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Nerd Appropriate

    I will admit to the fact that I read all 3 books in a matter of hours. Not because they were short, but because they kept me wanting to find out what happens.” Apparently… What was happening was A LOT of humping.

    1. hilary h shapiro

      Seriously? Lol. All you needed here was “butts.” 😛

  2. mattna

    You shouldn’t be embarrassed about reading this. You’ve just given us podcast material for months!

    1. hilary h shapiro

      Oh, no. Lol. Is this like the Spice channel conversation / debacle? (btw, that better never make it in a p-cast) ;P

      1. Scott

        I have no idea what this is in reference to…

  3. Melissa K.

    Like you said, this book has been in our faces for ages. I heard is was crap but then I wondered why everyone was reading it. I swore myself off of it because I’m a hipster, but you’ve at least set my curiosity at ease. I’m sure I can read better smut in fanfiction on the internet (for free I might add) if I really need to. Thank you for putting yourself through this so I don’t have to.

    1. Scott

      I really like your unapologetic admission of being a hipster =) Oh, and great (I’m assuming new hair) profile pic.

  4. Fluidfyre

    Maybe this is the wrong thing to say, but hey you’re reviewing an erotic novel (I use the word loosely) — what do you think of this as a relationship? I’ve read that it very inaccurately represents the BDSM community (, and that is is much more of an abusive relationship between Christian and Ana. I’ve stayed away from reading it because of how controlling and non-consensual it’s said to be (okay and the bad writing).

    Do you think (based on what you read) it could have a negative influence for feminism etc. based on the values that are conveyed? Or do you think it is more of a liberation tool to help people find the courage to explore their sexuality?

    Would welcome thoughts from anyone who reads this hehehe. Aaaand I feel like I’ve just entered a TMI area. Hmmm…

    1. hilary h shapiro

      Wow. Some tough questions there.

      Yes, I do think the author contorts what I believe the BDSM community to be. I am in no way an expert on this topic, so please don’t hold me too
      accountable. It feels like liberties are taken with the dominant / submissive relationship as a tool to drive story conflict more than to give actual validation to the practice.

      Look. People are free to live their lives however they want. I have zero issue with that. My problem stems from the protagonist’s inability to live her life without intervention from a man. EL James is quick to try and dispel this by having Ana attempt to renegotiate her
      life contract with Christian, but seriously, what’s the deal with wanting someone to control everything you do?

      Fifty Shades is not alone in this and to be fair, it did start off as Twilight fan fiction (fun fact!). I guess we should all be happy
      that Ana isn’t trying to sacrifice her mortality for Christian in a Bella-and-Edward-kind of way. Instead, she would just settle with being
      physically and emotionally abused. Go figure.

      Does this have a negative impact on feminism? Maybe. A lot of female readers are ferociously attracted to this type of “domineering man”
      in popular “literature.” I certainly wouldn’t want my daughter looking up to characters like Ana or Bella Swan. A friend of mine who teaches Jr High told me she has seen kids in her middle school reading Fifty Shades. I have also seen young girls sharing excerpts via social media. My fear for the rights
      of women does not necessarily fall on my generation, but rather the ones following. How can we continue to idealize this type of female protagonist who is so insecure they need to be told how to live or who to be? That should not be romanticized and only perpetuates the feeling of inequality.

      You ask about sexual exploration. I’m sure many people have read this book for that purpose alone and I am okay with that. What frustrates
      me is the hype surrounding this book and its ability to infiltrate mainstream culture with this kind of success.

      You want to read an erotic novel? Go for it! There are some gifted authors out there who can weave the smut into a well-rounded story. Well, maybe. Haha!

      Fifty Shades rests on the back of an abusive relationship stemming from child molestation and packages it in a world of private jets and designer duds. Awesome role-models.

      Anyway, there is my long-winded answer. Thanks for the insightful questions and for reading my review. : – )

      1. Nerd Appropriate

        Well said!

      2. Fluidfyre

        No not long-winded at all! I am so glad you took the time to express thoughts, and ahhh I just yes, great reply. I am in agreement in relation to the ‘dependence on a man’ – and your answer (and review in connection with it) really affirm what some of my concerns would be. Though in the end we’ll see if I decide to read it myself haha.

        Hopefully it doesn’t serve as too much of a step backward in regards to the abusive relationship aspect, and that our generation can do enough to help influence and put into context fiction like this, so that the next generation of women don’t try to adopt this back-asswards ‘ideal’.

        Thanks for the reply and your thoughts! Love it!

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