Over the next few days, teens and women alike will be flocking to your local bookstore — or more likely heading to their virtual book stores to purchase ebook versions of the new “Fifty Shades of Grey” book out Thursday.
If you’re not familiar with the premise by now, the original trilogy series follows the impressionable and naive soon-to-be college graduate Anastasia Steele and her budding romance with the impossibly gorgeous billionaire Christian Grey.
He has a dark side, which just so happens to include a thing for BDSM relationships. (If you need more of a primer, head here.)
Announced only June 1, the new book, simply titled “Grey,” is essentially the same exact book as the original 2011 title “Fifty Shades of Grey,” but with a twist!
This time, instead of being told from the perspective of the virginal Steele, women get to read the exact same story from the much dirtier, kinkier mind of Christian Grey.
Since women basically fawn over Grey — the Universal Pictures adaptation made over $US569 million worldwide at theatres — the idea is that women want to hear filthy juicy tidbits from the mind of the mysterious billionaire.
To date, the series has sold over 125 million copies worldwide.
Business Insider was sent a a review copy a day ahead of its anticipated release.
I eagerly volunteered as tribute to start reading through the book.
After all, when the initial series first came out, I was declared the “Fifty Shades of Grey” expert. (You can decide whether or not that’s a good title to have.) I was the only one who openly admitted to reading all three books in the series, and didn’t really care what anyone thought.
So, how is it?
I’m nearly a fifth of the way through the 559-page book, and not even 20 pages in you get the sense Christian is an egotistical, obsessive-compulsive, creepy stalker lusting after a college-aged girl.
The Christian who Ana described in the original book? She was seeing that guy through rose-coloured glasses. And, who can blame her? She’s a 21-year-old getting wined and dined and is being sent rare first-edition copies of books from this billionaire who has randomly taken interest in her.
In the original 2011 book, it’s like something out of a Cinderella story … with bondage.
It’s clear early on in “Grey” that Christian is seriously 50 shades of messed up, as the character famously says — in a somewhat more vulgar vernacular — in the original title.
When reading the first few chapters, it’s evident that all he wants to do is get in Ana’s pants.
After their initial meeting during an interview Ana conducts, Christian absolutely must know more about her, so, naturally, the resourceful billionaire that he is, he gets a background check on her (definitely boyfriend material).
When he discovers her place of employment in a hardware store, he heads there to pick up a few things just to see her again.
Here’s how that visit goes.
When he first sees her he tells her it’s “a pleasure” to see her again. Meanwhile, he’s thinking:
A real pleasure. She’s dressed in a tight T-shirt and jeans, not the shapeless s— she was wearing earlier this week. She’s all legs, narrow waist, and perfect t—.
At one point, he allows Ana to walk ahead of him. The gesture isn’t to be a gentleman, but so he can size her up to see if she would make a good submissive to his dominant in the bedroom.
Letting her walk ahead gives me the space and time to admire her fantastic arse. Her long, thick ponytail keeps time like a metronome to the gentle sway of her hips. She really is the whole package: sweet, polite, and beautiful, with all the physical attributes I value in a submissive. But the million-dollar question is, could she be a submissive? She probably knows nothing of the lifestyle — my lifestyle — but I very much want to introduce her to it.
His thoughts when Ana asks him what kind of rope he’s looking for:
“I groan inwardly, trying to chase away the image of her suspended from the ceiling of my playroom.”
Yeah, this is the sort of guy your parents told you to avoid.
Later when Christian asks Ana if she always wears jeans and she responds mostly, this is what’s on his mind:
And it’s two strikes against her: incurable romantic who only wears jeans … I like my women in skirts. I like them accessible.
At another point, when he’s strapping her into a harness in his helicopter (the guy’s rich), his mind wanders again:
“I like this harness,” I mutter. I want to tell her I have others, in leather, in which I’d like to see her trussed and suspended from the ceiling. But I behave, sit down, and buckle up.
Not only is he thinking about ways to play with Ana in his sex room a lot, but Christian also gets unnecessarily jealous and overprotective any time any other guy pops up in the picture. This was hinted at in the original book, and even more so in the film adaptation, but it goes to another level in “Grey.”
After only knowing Ana for a day, and then heading to the hardware store where she works, he freaks out internally when a male coworker comes over to engage Ana in conversation.
We both turn as a young man dressed in casual designer gear appears at the far end of the aisle. His eyes are all over Miss Anastasia Steele. Who the hell is this prick?
She walks toward him, and the a–hole engulfs her in a gorilla-like huge. My blood runs cold. It’s a primal response. Get your f—ing paws off her.
This continues for a while until he’s positive this isn’t Ana’s boyfriend.
A similar reaction occurs when Ana introduces her long-time friend José Rodriguez to Christian the following day:
S—. Is this the boyfriend?
Rodriguez blooms under Ana’s sweet smile.
Are they f—ing?
Is he for real?
He’s also incredibly insecure.
How long is Anastasia going to be? I check my watch. She must be negotiating the car swap with Katherine. Or she’s talking to Rodriguez, explaining that she’s just going for coffee to placate me and keep me sweet for the article. My thoughts darken. Maybe she’s kissing him good-bye.
This billionaire is freaking out over a college-aged girl hypothetically making out with another college-aged kid. Dude needs to get a grip.
Reminder: This is the third interaction Christian and Ana have ever had and he’s already extremely possessive of her.
And sure, if you read this knowing how the trilogy plays out — that Christian has a dark past and Ana helps him see the light and become a better man, then you can probably stomach Christian’s dark thoughts. You can maybe even dismiss it and chalk it up to his unusual upbringing.
However, if this book came out before the original trilogy, it’s tough to imagine that any woman would be fawning over being with this guy.
There’s a part in the books where — spoiler — Christian learns Ana’s never had sex. He’s mortified by the news, and that he was so stupid to become so taken with “an innocent.” He decides to “rectify the situation” by “making love” to her.
In the original, the scene is probably one of women’s favourites. You’re as excited as Ana for her to finally be with Christian.
There’s a part where Christian says “You have the most beautiful skin, pale and flawless. I want to kiss every inch of it.” The line makes Ana flush.
However, when reading it from Christian’s point-of-view, it puts an entirely different perspective on the scenario. In “Grey,” the same scene goes as follows:
You have the most beautiful skin, pale and flawless. I want to kiss every single inch of it.” There’s not a mark on her. The thought is unsettling. I want to see her marked … pink … with tiny, thin welts from a crop maybe.
And, though he reassures and tells Ana he wants to make love to her, afterward he wrestles with his thoughts, telling the reader:
F—ing her was merely a means to an end and a pleasant diversion.
Yes. Very pleasant.
More like incredible.
It was just sex, for f—‘s sake.
This is 114 pages into the book.
For any self respecting woman, Christian’s overwhelmingly kinky, sexual fantasies of Ana are kind of vile.
And sure, there are some parts of the book where Christian is humanized and you get an idea there’sa better person hidden somewhere deep inside of this troubled young man.
Her eyes widen. They really are beautiful, the colour of the ocean at Cabo, the bluest of blue seas. I should take her there. What? Where did that come from?
She takes my hand, and as we walk back to The Heathman I can’t shake how agreeable her hand feels in mine. Maybe this could work.
But then, you have a line like this:
An image of her shackled to my bench … comes to mind, followed by judicious use of a belt or strap. Yeah … That would teach her not to be so irresponsible. The thought is hugely appealing.
Christian even refers to himself as a stalker early on in “Grey.” He knows he has a problem.
I’m itching to see her again — those blue eyes have haunted me, even in my dreams. I haven’t mentioned her to Flynn (his therapist), and I’m glad because I’m now behaving like a stalker. Perhaps I should let him know.
To be fair, Christian is referred to as a stalker 12 times in the first book (we checked).
And for some reason, I guess it was just easier to overlook when you’re getting caught up in Ana’s rosy depictions of Christian.
From “Fifty Shades of Grey”:
One minute he rebuffs me, the next he sends me fourteen-thousand-dollar books, then he tracks me like a stalker. And for all that, I have spent the night in his hotel suite, and I feel safe. Protected. He cares enough to come and rescue me from some mistakenly perceived danger. He’s not a dark knight at all but a white knight in shining, dazzling armour — a classic romantic hero — Sir Gawain or Sir Lancelot.
The two of them even joke about it in an email exchange.
The difference in these two books is that when you read it from Ana’s perspective, you want to see her get together with Christian. You’re kind of rooting for her. To her, he’s this interesting dark, handsome, and mysterious man.
When you’re reading it as Christian, you don’t necessarily want him to be with the girl. He’s kind of a monster, even if she is slowly bringing out something sort of good in him.
“Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as told by Christian” is available in paperback in stores and digitally Thursday, June 18.