Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as told by Christian by EL James
Overview by Amazon:
In Christian’s own words, and through his thoughts, reflections, and dreams, E L James offers a fresh perspective on the love story that has enthralled millions of readers around the world.
Christian Grey exercises control in all things; his world is neat, disciplined, and utterly empty—until the day that Anastasia Steele falls into his office, in a tangle of shapely limbs and tumbling brown hair. He tries to forget her, but instead is swept up in a storm of emotion he cannot comprehend and cannot resist. Unlike any woman he has known before, shy, unworldly Ana seems to see right through him—past the business prodigy and the penthouse lifestyle to Christian’s cold, wounded heart.
Will being with Ana dispel the horrors of his childhood that haunt Christian every night? Or will his dark sexual desires, his compulsion to control, and the self-loathing that fills his soul drive this girl away and destroy the fragile hope she offers him?
The idea of alternating point of view in books is not new. I have to admit that besides the Crossfire series and Midnight Sun (Twilight), I have not read a ton of books that use this literary device. With the surprise publication of Grey, I knew that I had to read it.
Of all the Fifty Shades books, my least favourite was the first. I think it’s because we see Christian before the transformation. We spend time with a character that isn’t all that nice. He’s an enigma in the first book, so I think that was why I was so interested to read Grey. Would the character be further developed? Would I learn more about his motivations and background?
The answer is yes…and no. At times while reading this book, I thought that it must have been somewhat easy for EL James to bang out. The dialogue and plot were obviously identical to the original book. It’s just interspersed with Christian’s thoughts and emotions. So what great insights did I glean?
First, I was really surprised at how frustrated and exasperated Christian was with Ana. He frequently makes comments like, “we are going here again? Why won’t she let this go?” From her perspective, Ana views Christian as sphinx like, but now we know that he basically found her annoying.
In the first book, a major complaint was that Ana was the least interesting character. She appears so malleable and naïve. Yet, from Christian’s view, Ana has strong opinions. We learn how she challenges him. The tense dance they do over the contract and becoming his sub reveals the strength of Ana. She doesn’t capitulate to him easily and now we get to witness how much that excites and engages Christian.
Christian’s horrible childhood is more deeply explored. I didn’t feel that it added much to the information already shared. I feel that I understood enough about the abuse and neglect he experienced as a child without having to know more about it. However, it was a completely necessary addition to the story and it would have been a glaring omission if it hadn’t been included.
His memories of his previous subs, mostly Leila left me feeling strange. It was somewhat uncomfortable to read about him reminisce about the good ol’ times with another character. To hear that he had sex all over his apartment – a space that I have only ever known with Ana, just felt intrusive to the story that I was familiar with. Obviously I know that 15 women have been there before, but I’m the kind of woman who doesn’t want to sleep on the same side of the bed as an ex, so it stuck out for me.
He is a serious stalker. The story from Christian’s perspective lets us see how much he observes and follows Anastasia. He runs by her apartment, he stays in town to be near her, and he tracks her movements. While this was shared in the other book, it brings more depth to just how much he watches and observes her.
One thing I wished there had been more of was visits with Flynn. I find this dynamic really engaging and Flynn is able to cut through the bullshit that Christian holds onto. There is only one scene with Flynn and it was a really key one for me. I found it very enlightening.
Just like we get to know Kate through Ana’s eyes, it was enlightening to observe the brother relationship between Christian and Elliot. We learn how instrumental Elliot is in Christian’s life and I really loved how Elliot would text Christian regularly to meet up. It made Christian seem more normal – that he had friends, hobbies and did just regular ‘guy stuff’.
Another character that is revealed is Ros. We only meet her in the trilogy when she goes missing with Christian when the helicopter is sabotaged. However, she is highlighted as a shrewd and successful business woman. I actually really liked that she would give Christian shit and share her exasperation with him. It was helpful to see the relationships that he has as they make the character come to life.
So, the sex. Was it different than the first time? Yes and no. It was different because we learn how proud Christian is of Ana and the relationship. We learn that he is also exploring something new. We learn about how insecure he is with Ana compared to being in complete control. I think this puts them on a more equal footing that I realized. While Ana is new to BDSM, Christian is new to vanilla. I was actually surprised at how sensual he could be – kissing, cuddling, soft touches. I guess it surprised me because I don’t really see that as part of whipping and caning.
Did I get to know a new Christian? I learned more about his motivations, his work life, and his family. But I feel that the real winner in this story is Ana. Through Christian’s eyes, she is a stronger character. I learn how her sass affects him. I see the brave and beautiful woman that he is captivated by. Just like the movie version of the book, she clearly comes out on top.
I have no idea if EL James will continue to write more books from Christian’s perspective, but those would be the stories I would really like to read. I would like to be along with Christian as he transforms and blossoms in the relationship with Ana. Would I recommend this book? If you liked the trilogy and the movie, then you will likely find it interesting. If you have never read the series and are not into ‘the lifestyle’ than it may be a challenge.