Book Review

Top 13 Terrible Lines from Chapters 1 & 2 of Grey by EL James

It’s difficult to identify what’s more bothersome about the first chapters of Grey. I was really curious about it because the only parts of Fifty Shades that I liked were Christian’s email messages to Ana. The rest of it was miserable reading for me because I didn’t like being in Ana’s head any more than I liked being in Bella’s. But maybe Christian would be more interesting.

Well, if “interesting” is a cousin to “terrifying,” “horrible,” and possibly “psychopathic,” then, yes. We have interesting. We also have WTF DID I JUST READ. I was live tweeting as I read it, and my horror is all for your enjoyment. I kept re-reading paragraphs because my brain refused to accept them.

So here are the top “best” lines from the first two chapters of Grey, Illustrated with appropriate business man stock art. Since Grey doesn’t actually do any work or business-ing in the parts that I read, it seemed extra appropriate.


She has a small, sweet face that is blushing now, an innocent pale rose. I wonder briefly if all her skin is like that – flawless – and what it would like like pink and warmed from the bite of a cane.

Frustrated business man biting his grey necktie isolated on white
He’s pink with biting, too! It was meant to be.


She gapes at me, and I resist rolling my eyes. Yeah, yeah, baby, it’s just a face, and it’s only skin deep.

I need to dispel that admiring look from those eyes but let’s have some fun in the process!

Sleazy business man with grey suit dipping his sunglasses with one hand on his hip.
Yeah, yeah, it’s only skin deep, baby.

As she grumbles and grows more and more flustered, it occurs to me that I could refine her motor skills with the aid of a riding crop. Adeptly used, it can bring even the most skittish to heel. 


Full body shot of muscular man with whip and leather glove, seen from the back
He THINKS he looks like this.



Photo of CREEPY young man with the whip
But, really, he looks like this.

Flaunting my erudition, I quote the words of Andrew Carnegie, my favorite industrialist.


Smiling dude bro giving a speech with a high watt smile on his face.
When I flaunt my erudition, it gives me a giant Woodrow! Just wait I talk about synergies and interfacing!

“I have varied interests, Miss Steele. Very varied.” Images of her in assorted positions in my playroom flash through my mind: shackled on the cross, spread-eagled on the four-poster, splayed over the whipping bench. And behold – there’s that blush again.
It’s like a defense mechanism.

Guy facing the viewer in a grey suit and in a desk chair with an open mouthed smile on his face.
Whoa. And I’m totally the hero of this book. Can you believe that shit?

For the record, that quote is on page 9. Chapter 1 began on page 3. She’s been in his office for less than 5 pages when he’s envisioning her that way.


“Are you gay, Mr. Grey?”
What the hell!
I cannot believe she’s said that out loud! Ironically, the question even my own family will not ask. How dare she! I have a sudden urge to drag her out of her seat, bend her over my knee, spank her, and then fuck her on my desk with her hands tied behind her back. That would answer her ridiculous question.


Truly repellant dude in a mustar dshirt against wood paneling giving a very smarmy thumbs up with his feet on a desk
Desks! That’s what they’re for!


I’d forgotten the possibilities that a hardware store could present to someone like me. I mainly shop online for my needs, but while I’m here, maybe I’ll stock up on a few items. Velcro, split rings – Yeah. I’ll find the delectable Miss Steele and have some fun.

Businessman with an ENORMOUS spanner wrench in grey suit pocket
He’s not overcompensating for anything, no, not at all.

Also: “someone like me” means… incredibly scary psychopathic monster, right?

Absentmindedly, she wipes a crumb from the corner of her lips and into her mouth and sucks on her finger. My cock twitches in response.


Letting her walk ahead gives me the space and time to admire her fantastic ass…. She really is the whole package: sweet, polite, and beautiful, with all the physical attributes I value in a submissive.


A business man holding a paper in front of his face with the text checklist
Every successful businessman needs one.

She can’t look at me… this is promising. I select the longer ties. They are more flexible, after all, as they can accommodate two ankles and two wrists at once.


Portrait of business man pointing finger gestures, isolated on white on grey background. Concept of leadership and success
“My dick is this big. Really.”

(In the masking tape aisle)
The wider tape is much more effective as a gag. As she passes it to me, the tips of our fingers touch, briefly. It resonates in my groin. Damn!


WHO MAKES UP THESE CAPTIONS JESUS STOCK PHOTO PEOPLE ARE WEIRD: Portrait of manager pointing finger gestures, isolated on grey background. Concept of leadership and success
“No, I lied. It’s this big.”

Also: where Ana had “Holy crap!” here we have Damn! And lots of it. And italics. Every time he talks to himself.


“Some rope, I think.”
“This way.” She scoots up the aisle, giving me another chance to appreciate her fine ass.
“What sort were you after? We have synthetic and natural filament rope…twine…cable cord…”
Shit – stop. I groan inwardly, trying to chase away the image of her suspended from the ceiling in my playroom.
“I’ll take five yards of the natural filament rope, please.” It’s coarser and chafes more if you struggle against it… my rope of choice.

Douchey-grinning business man showing thumbs up while talking on the phone
I make all the best choices.


I can’t just leave. I have to let her know I’m interested. “Oh – and Anastasia, I’m glad Miss Kavanagh couldn’t do the interview.” She looks surprised and flattered.
This is good.
I sling the bag over my shoulder and exit the store.

Man carrying shopping bags over shoulder
See? I like shopping! I’m totally harmless and nonthreatening.

“We’d like to go ahead with the photo shoot for the article. Tomorrow, if that’s okay. Where would be convenient for you, sir?”
In my room. Just you, me, and the cable ties.


Confident man in classic grey suit sitting on chair in cabinet
Wait, no. No, I’m not. I’m incredibly fucking creepy.

So there you have it, the most creepy-tastic WTFery parts of the first two chapters of Grey. RedHeadedGirl, because she has a stomach of iron and is constitutionally fortified to take on any arrangement of alphabet letters — including this one — is reading this book for review. She’s a brave one.

Pass the brain bleach.

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Grey by E.L. James

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  1. Coco says:

    I love this! I will never understand how you guys pick such perfect pictures to go with the ridiculousness that is your reading material.

    It’s like getting Grey through a Hot Pink Palace of Bitchery pink filter.

    Really, truly, the only way I want to encounter Grey.


  2. Trish says:

    Sarah, seriously, thanks for taking the bullet for us on this one. I got suckered into reading the first book and was dumbfounded by how awful it was–and this one looks WORSE.

  3. Dianna says:

    See, now I feel way naive, because I was most stroppy about those first two chapters because they seem exactly the same as the Christian POV section at the end of the third book.

    Except for the memory/nightmare of playing with the coloured cars in his crackwhore mother’s living room. I think there was some deep symbolism there, but I couldn’t unpack it. Please tell me what those cars mean.

  4. K F says:

    Christian’s reaction to being asked if he’s gay seems a bit over the top.

  5. Lostshadows says:

    Wow. I didn’t think I could be less interested in reading this book, then these quotes came along.

    To quote MST3K(I think):”Our hero, ladies and gentlemen.”

  6. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to get cereal and milk out of your keyboard keys? I do now!
    Thank you for this.
    I needed it.
    What a shame she thought she could only write about these characters, ones that aren’t even hers, for the rest of her career.

  7. Marcela says:

    Am I the only human being who reads romance that did not read 50 shades? Well I guess your sacrifice helped me 😀
    I was very surprised at how… sleazy he sounds, I knew it was bad… but that is just bad writing and … creepy. o_O

  8. Lina says:

    Wow. I bought the first three books and liked them . Once the haze cleared of “oh he’s just really into her”, I was left with WTF? What guy buys tape, a coverall, and cable ties at a store and doesn’t look creepy. Seriously this girl had no other options? Would she still go for him if he bought a shovel?
    I would like some brain bleach? It’s like the hot guy spoke and just ruined it all. A cane? WHY?
    Really why doesn’t James write something new, some original characters? These people are exhausted and scary with each reveal.

  9. Laura says:

    Filtered through your perceptions is the only way I would read this book. I just can’t bring myself to do it. I would so need the brain bleach. Thank you for showing how creepy he sounds. Most articles focus on how she sounds.

  10. KatieO says:

    Pass that brain bleach, please. Why do people buy this?

  11. DonnaMarie says:

    @Marcela, no it’s not just you. I had the good sense to take the Bitchery’s word and stayed away. Far, far away.

  12. Kim says:

    “Flaunting my erudition, I quote the words of Andrew Carnegie, my favorite industrialist.”
    This alone makes him a giant asshole. People like this exist, and I loathe them.
    I tried the first book but couldn’t get past the photo shoot (so, about 50 pages in? IDK). Some of my friends were raving about them.

    Thank you for your sacrifice, Sarah! I’m glad I can go here to snicker without actually having to read them.

  13. Melissa says:

    Yes, because when I think erotica, I think of nothing other than fucking Andrew Carnegie.

    Sailing out on the Nope yacht to No Way in Hell island.

  14. Funniest thing I’ve read in a long time! 🙂

  15. Linnet says:

    I’m going to have to hop on to the Nopetopus while there’s still some space left on it (I have a feeling it might be crowded). Thank you for the business part stock photos, though. They made me smile through the tears.

  16. Laura says:

    I am so glad you and RedHeadedGirl are taking one for the team!! It reinforces my determination to never read these awful-sounding books, or go see the dull and ridiculous movie(s)!!

  17. GailD says:

    I didn’t read the first books, because excerpts and bits were enough to send me running. But this… *twitching*…

    Thank you for the warning.

  18. Jadi says:

    I skipped the books because of the reviews here. After reading this, I’m glad. Christian Grey is not sexy. He’s creepy.

  19. Erin says:

    Wow, this is just terrible. Not that I planned on reading it, but dumb. I actually liked the emails between them in the original books and even grew to like Ana as she grew in the trilogy. But, I never, ever grew to like this dude. And people can say all they want that he’s based on Edward Cullen, but I loved Edward and wanted to kick this guy.

  20. Sandy James says:

    I am dumbfounded as to why these books are so successful! For pity’s sake, there are tons of much better written erotic novels out there! I couldn’t even read the book quotes in this post–but I totally enjoyed the “interpretations.”

    This totally reminds me of the meme making the rounds on social media… Because Grey is rich, he’s considered sexy. If he were poor, he’d be a sex offender.

  21. Belinda says:

    The character in my book who actually kills people (!!) is less creepy and insane than this fucker. Let’s let that sink in.

  22. Kimberly R says:

    I get insta-lust and insta-attraction. Sometimes you see someone and immediately think “I’d like to get into them pants!” But to see someone and immediately think of tying them up and caning them is not sexy. Its not normal. I wonder if Ana would’ve been able to save herself from this fucked up relationship if she could’ve seen Christian’s thoughts from the beginning…or if she would’ve still been so insecure about her looks (and can we stop with the hot girls thinking they’re ugly trope???) that she would’ve just let him stalk and abuse her anyway?

  23. Margarita says:

    Honestly, when I hear how this Grey dude is compared to Mr. Darcy or Roarke, I feel like shouting “Name your seconds, it’s fucking pistols at dawn!” Really, it’s beyond insulting.

    And the “I am erudite therefore I quote Carnegie” excerpt is just priceless.

  24. PamG says:

    My only regret about not reading 50 Shades, et al, is that it revokes my license to mock. I know I’d cringe, but as a library worker, I feel strongly about not badmouthing what you haven’t read. I also feel somewhat obligated to read stuff that gets a lot of buzz in order to answer patron question. Still, I feel blessed to have the SBs to help filter the worst of trendy lit. No mere job justifies some sacrifices.


    I get the sarcasm, but are we verbing or adjectiving Andrew Carnegie? Inquiring library ladies want to know…

  25. Shirley Fremd says:

    Those who read the 50 Shades books and truly liked them (me, for one) will read this and will like it also. No one is twisting the arm of anyone who didn’t like the others to read this one.

  26. Lynnd says:

    @marcela – nope, you are definitely not alone. I read the first page of FSOG and ran screaming. Nothing I have read about the books since has changed my mind.

    Thanks SB Sarah for this post (I hope you had a glass (bottle!) of wine or possibly Scotch by your side while reading). I am truly looking forward to an epic review from RedHeadedGirl! Thanks for taking one for the team!

  27. kkw says:

    @PamG @Melissa I read it as a verb and laugh-shuddered. Now very curious whether that’s how it was meant.

  28. LauraL says:

    Ooops! Just got caught snort-laughing on a conference call. Can’t wait to see the review from the valiant RedHeadedGirl!

  29. Ren says:

    Surely there’s a picture of an epileptic rooster that can fill the visual void for the cock twitch.

  30. Shannon says:

    Love this! I have never understood the appeal of these books, at all!!!

  31. Kathy says:

    A bestseller does not a writer make. I think I’ll pass on this one, even though I read the first. However, I thoroughly enjoyed this post…probably more than I should have. *still laughing*

  32. janeyD says:

    They want the writer to write a book about writing. I expect it will be invaluable at telling writers what NOT to do.

    I reached my gag limit. Time to ignore all until this latest tree killing fad fades. Something as awful as this makes me long for the merry hijinks of Hannibal Lector.

  33. Lori Leger says:

    I can’t. I won’t. I refuse. I got to chapter three of the first 50 Shades book and couldn’t get myself to finish. I don’t have time to read badly written books. Everytime I try, I go back and make improvements to my own to make sure mine don’t cause that same reaction. Sorry, but I DO do romance. Submission isn’t romance. Neither is a twisted, psychopath of a so-called hero.

  34. siochain says:

    The first three books were such a poor representation of BDSM and now this travesty is published. Not only is it apparent that she STILL hasn’t done proper research, but it’s unlikely that she talked to any actual men (Dominants and otherwise) about how they think. I found these quotes painful to read.

  35. Laura says:

    @siochain: Amen. I get mad when it’s obvious authors are getting their “research” off Fetlife, but I don’t think James even did that.

  36. River says:

    @Ren, as someone who recently lost a relative to complications of an epileptic seizure, I find your remark very unfunny.

  37. Jane says:

    You know, if you were to tell me that these are excerpts from a book about a creepy serial killer, I would completely believe you.

    (well, maybe not the Andrew Carnegie bit. That one’s from the autobiography of a douchebro.)

  38. Coco says:

    @ River

    I’m so sorry for your loss. What a terrible thing for you to deal with.

    @ Ren

    As someone who has not recently lost somebody due to epileptic seizures, I found your remark hysterical.

  39. Wow. That’s…worse than I thought. Brain bleach, drano, and a lava rock with some steel wool wrapped around it, please.

    And here’s yer “twitching cock” gif. It’s even done in the presence of a pussy. I’ll see if the embed code works. If not, there’s a shortlink below for your viewing pleasure:

  40. marion says:

    What a disgusting little man he is. With sleeze as his superpower.
    I just don’t get why these books are so popular. I tried reading the first one when it became all the rage and I couldn’t make it through it because I kept thinking how insipid the heroine is.

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