Book Club: All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

A captivating, charming and heart-breaking read about a girl who gets a new lease of life from a boy obsessed with death.

All The Bright Places Book Cover

“I’m broken and no one can fix it.” She’s one of the popular crowd who has strayed from the limelight following the death of her sister. He’s the local loose cannon they call ‘Theodore freak’, otherwise known as Finch. They meet on the ledge of the bell tower where they both go to school. The one thing they have in common? Their own personal demons that make both of them feel as though they have nowhere to turn…except towards each other. Slowly, Violet and Finch start to realise that there’s more to the other than meets the eye. Who knew that their fateful first meeting would spark an unlikely friendship that, ultimately, challenges their own perceptions of life? But, as one flourishes, the other finds themself being pulled down deeper and deeper by the quicksand, despite desperately trying to hold on. Will their new found happiness with each other be enough to save them both?

I was absolutely captivated by ‘All The Bright Places’ from beginning to end. While it’s a bittersweet love-story, it’s also so much more than that; highlighting important social issues such as bullying, mental illness (and the ignorance there of) and suicide. However, that isn’t to say that this book is in any way depressing – it isn’t. Insightful and informative? Yes. Depressing? No.

I loved that the story-telling was split into two perspectives – as opposed to just a singular point of view or the traditional numerical structure – as it allows readers to see, and understand, both perceptions of the same story. Because of this, it is well rounded and never one sided – showing audiences the journeys both Finch and Violet go on, separately as well as together.

From the beginning it becomes apparent that Finch is an extremely complex character. ‘Troubled’ and known to his peers as ‘Theodore freak’, he hides behind walls of witty comments and sarcasm, all the while projecting a false sense of bravado. “I’ve learned the hard way that the best thing to do is say nothing about what you’re thinking, if you say nothing, they’ll assume you’re thinking nothing, only what you let them see.” Finch is the most dangerous kind of mental illness sufferer as he disguises it well, not wanting to talk about his problems for fear of being labelled and therefore defined by his illness. “I’m not a compilation of symptoms, not a casualty of shitty parents and an even shittier chemical make-up. Not a problem, not a diagnosis, not an illness. I’m a person.”

Through this, All The Bright Places also highlights the stigma – and ignorance – surrounding mental illness, with Finch even stating that “there’s no such thing as being sick unless you can measure it with a thermometer.” As such, his family never address it as anything legitimate, preferring to just write it off as Finch being “in one of his moods.” They accept it as just something he does sometimes, instead of addressing why he behaves the way he does. However, readers are also shown that there is a vicious cycle here: Finch gets no help at home, but he also accepts no help from the likes of the school counsellor, or even Violet, for fear of judgement.

Throughout the story you see Finch struggle with wanting to stay ‘awake’ for as long as he can, but also plagued by thoughts of death; seemingly torn between wanting to live and wanting to die. As a character he’s very all over the place, which is reflective of his mental state. When he’s at his happiest, he’s witty, caring and seductive, however, when you delve below the surface you realise just how vulnerable he really is. The extent of Finch’s internal to-and-fro is further highlighted in the incident with the sleeping pills, as it shows readers the heart-breaking truth: Finch doesn’t actually want to die, he just needs help.

Contrastingly, after being talked down from the bell-tower ledge by Finch, Violet’s horizons expand as a result of her unexpected relationship with him. At the beginning of the story she, like Finch, feels isolated and insignificant following the untimely death of her sister Eleanor. Citing ‘extenuating circumstances’ as reasons not to overcome obstacles she faces, Violet finds herself trapped in her own little bubble. That is, until she meets Finch who despite –  and perhaps even because of – his own struggles, shows her that “it isn’t only hard times and hard people, there are bright spots too.”

Together, Violet and Finch complement each other: he pushes her boundaries, and in so doing forces her “out of (her) room and into the world” – showing her that life is best lived. In turn, she shows him that there’s a reason to stay ‘awake’ and be present in the world, even if you feel like there is “a great weight pulling you down, like it’s attached to your feet even if you can’t see it.” Striving to make him feel like he matters.

Every character within the story is written fantastically. They are all fleshed out, three-dimensional, realistic characters, and such is Niven’s writing that you can’t help but become attached and – in the case of the two main protagonists – feel a definite fondness for them. So taken was I that I actually cried like a baby when reading the final chapters.

If I had one criticism about ‘All The Bright Places’, it would be that, as a reader, I feel that Finch deserved to triumph. Triumph over his troubled upbringing. Triumph over everyone that had ever called him ‘Theodore Freak’. Triumph over his family’s ignorance and fear of speaking out. Triumph over his depression. To find happiness within himself, because as he knows, “no one else can keep you awake, or keep you from sleeping.” I don’t think Finch saw a lot of happiness in his life and I think he deserved some, as did Violet after everything she’d been through, so I’m glad that they found their little bit of happiness with each other.

I would’ve loved to have seen Finch become gradually even more positive: the ‘asleep’ a distant memory rather than a constant threat. Thus showing that depression, like any mental illness, is beatable. However, I also understand the reality of the situation and why it had to be that way, particularly due to Niven’s own experience with suicide – as you find out within the book’s closing acknowledgements. However, I was rooting for both Finch and Violet and wanted them to succeed.

On another note, I’d really like to wander some of the sites that Niven used in the story, particularly the world’s largest ball of paint. I’d also love to meet Niven and shake her hand because, to do what she has done, to take inspiration from such a painful personal experience is really courageous, and knowing that makes the story all the more poignant. I have a lot of respect for that and I applaud her for, somewhat, sharing her story as it could go on to help someone else. All The Bright Places has fast become one of my favourite books, with some of my all-time favourite quotes that I love and can identify with. I’d recommend it to anyone.

 

I’ve also heard recently that ‘All The Bright Places’ is currently being adapted into a film, which is set for release in 2017. As I’m such a big fan of the book I’m beyond excited, and curious, to see how it will translate and how the subject will be handled. However, In the meantime I’ll definitely be checking out Niven’s newest offering ‘Holding Up The Universe’, which I picked up a few weeks ago.

 

Have you read, or do you want to read, All The Bright Places? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Let’s start a discussion in the comments section. As always, thank you for reading. If you’d like to keep up to date with my posts, feel free to come and join me on:

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Jammin’ (With Books) In July: Looking For Alaska by John Green.

“I came here looking for a great perhaps, for real friends and a more-than-minor life.” Miles Halter has always led a very un-extraordinary life; social outcast at school with no friends to his name – but that’s all about to change. Leaving behind his small-town life to attend Culver Creek boarding school, Miles meets Chip ‘The Colonel’ Martin, and is quickly inducted into a ready-made set of friends – among them: Alaska Young.

Looking for alaska book cover

Beautiful, but undeniably complicated, the gorgeous Alaska is all Miles wants. But, underneath her beauty she’s a ticking time-bomb that no one can disarm – and Miles is in too deep to avoid being caught in the explosion.

The debut novel from, now award-winning author, John Green, sucks you in and keeps you on your toes from start to finish. I originally picked up this book because I’d previously read ‘The Fault In Our Stars’, and as a result was really curious to read some of his other works.

Stylistically, I liked the way this story was told from a male character’s point of view as I feel that a lot of YA fiction is told from the female perspective, so that made a refreshing change. Also, the book didn’t follow the typical ‘1,2,3’ chapter structure, and instead was simply sectioned into ‘Before’ and ‘After’. I thought this was inventive as it created a sense of anticipation throughout – alluding to the fact that something pivotal is coming, and instantly making you want to read on to find out what.

There are no airs and graces with the writing style, it’s very easy to digest and doesn’t make you re-read a page three times before you think ‘Oh, ok I’ve got it.’ It’s almost journal-like, giving a real candid snapshot into these characters lives and their interactions with each other. In a lot of ways they are a group of misfits – none of them come from particularly privileged backgrounds – unlike the weekday warriors who go home every weekend to continue living the high life, and although they are more than likely friends of circumstance, they all fit together.

If I’m honest, the character development is sketchy in places, with one or two just feeling like ‘filler’ characters, but the main three were written really well. I particularly loved The Colonel’s character – from his sarcastic wit, the way he takes Miles under his wing and brings him out of his shell, to the loving relationship he has with his mother – he just oozes a kind of charisma.

In contrast Alaska is one of those characters that’s just all over the place – emotionally as well as physically – which may have something to do with the fact that we only see her in snippets because we experience the story through Miles. There is the odd ‘sarcastic’ comment from Alaska here and there to give you a hint of how she feels, but the majority of what readers know of her is what Miles sees, or doesn’t see, of her erratic behaviour. He says somewhere that she ‘never hit the breaks’, and I feel like this has such a dual meaning because she truly doesn’t, she always comes across as full throttle 100 MPH.

Thematically, the idea of ambiguity and mystery is prevalent throughout the story: Miles’ idea of the great perhaps, even Alaska herself is a puzzle from the moment Mile’s meets her, right up until the very last page. It seems fitting then that one of the major motifs in the novel is born from a quote that Alaska shares with Miles:

“He… was shaken by the overwhelming revelation that the headlong race between his misfortunes and his dreams was at that moment reaching the finish line. The rest was darkness. ‘Damn it,’ he sighed. How will I ever get out of this labyrinth?’”

Throughout the story it becomes clear that everyone has their own labyrinth to beat: Miles is stuck in a state of wanting Alaska but knowing he can never have her, Alaska battles constantly with self-loathing and self-destruction – blaming herself for her mother’s death – and later on, The Colonel and Miles find themselves in a labyrinth searching for answers to their questions. So, what is the labyrinth exactly? Is it just the challenges you face in life and how you overcome them? Is it life its self and the uncertainty of it? Is the point that you never really know?

At its core I think that it’s a book about life; how people that you meet have a certain effect on you, and how fragile they can be if you take time to look beyond the surface – even when you think you know someone. It’s like Miles says in the book: “[Alaska is] still refusing to answer how or why questions, still insisting on an aura of mystery.” To that end I feel that the title ‘Looking For Alaska’ is fitting as she is the kind of person who is such a mystery you never stop searching for them, in the hope that maybe one day – somewhere in their fortress – you’ll actually find them.

Final verdict: I really enjoyed reading this story and it’s great if you’ve found yourself growing out of paranormal romance side of YA, and enjoy fiction that’s more-so rooted in real life – and, of course, if you don’t mind a bit of a tear-jerker!

I’d also love to read a version of this story from Alaska’s perspective, as she’s such a complex character, and there’s so much of her you don’t see, so I think it would be really interesting to delve into her thoughts and feelings. Granted, it may give away some of the plot twists towards the end but I think it would make an interesting read nonetheless. I wonder if that’s something John Green has ever thought about…

Book Club is baaaaaaaack! Backstage Pass By Olivia Cunning.

Yes, you read right. After nearly a year being book-free, book club is back. I stopped reading simply because, due to my university workload, I had less and less time to myself when I wasn’t working, and I just fell out of the habit.

I have been wanting to branch out into more adult romance for a while, and this is a very graphic, very sexy read. The majority of what I read is YA paranormal romance, and even though I enjoy the genre, sometimes things can get a bit samey and I just want something a bit different. Too much of a good thing and all that.

I came across Backstage Pass after Books With Court  mentioned it on YouTube and immediately thought it sounded interesting, I mean music, romance and rock-stars?! Hello! 🙂 Not realising – as I bought it on my Kindle –  that it was an erotic romance until I actually started reading it!

Backstage-Pass-by-Olivia-Cunning-Cover

When a chance meeting see’s human sexuality professor Myrna Evans stumble across her favourite rock band, Sinners, in the bar of the hotel where she happens to be giving a conference, she can’t help but go and introduce herself. True to their metal-god reputations every member of the band turn up the heat in a bid to win her attention, but it’s their fast-fingered guitarist Brian ‘Master’ Sinclair that sets her pulse racing. As a whirlwind of passion unfolds Myrna finds herself going on tour with the Sinners, and the lovers’ wild and steamy antics uncover some unexpected emotions which “sparks the whole band to new heights of glory…and sin.”

From the moment I picked this book up I was hooked, so much so that I finished it in just under 4 days. It’s a fast-paced ride of music-laced debauchery within a solid story, using realistic characters who each carry their own emotional baggage and complexities. The characterisation in this book is brilliant, Cunning really breathes life into each character making them well-rounded with interesting back-stories, each novel in the series focusing on a different member of the band.

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day and she said that the thing she dislikes in books like these, is that the women start off independent and ‘their own woman’ and by the end are completely submissive and reliant on the male character. I’m pleased to say that this isn’t one of those books. From the minute Myrna goes over to Sinners’ table in the hotel bar, she’s confident and undoubtedly sassy. You can see this even more as she engages with the band, for example, when one of the guys is running his hand up her leg, and she tells him he does not have permission to touch her as she removes his hand. This is a woman who can hold her own, but she also has a whole host of emotional issues that are glimpsed at throughout, from an abusive ex-husband to fear of getting too close to anyone.

Throughout the book Myrna is in conflict, outwardly she doesn’t want to get too close to Brian and constantly insists that they’re “just having a good time”, but inwardly her thoughts show her slowly becoming attached to him, as much as she tries to convince herself she isn’t.

In contrast Brian is much more of a heart-on-his-sleeve character. When we first meet him he’s paralytic to the point of barely being able to hold his own head up, trying to numb the pain of a previous break-up, he’s so out of it that even he can’t believe Myrna’s interest in him. He’s very open with Myrna about his feelings from the beginning – to the point of casually suggesting that they should get married on more than one occasion – but because she appears so closed off he becomes afraid that he’ll push her away. His band-mates also warn her that Brian is a “romantic retard” and make her promise not to hurt him, but he’s in no way a wet blanket, he’s still very much a masculine character depicted with effortless sex appeal and raw sensuality oozing from every pore.

Brian does become frustrated with Myrna’s flippant attitude at points, but he persists and gently coaxes her into getting to know him, opening herself up to the idea of something developing between them, earning her trust and showing her bit-by-bit that it’s okay to do so.

I liked the fact that it’s not one of those books where you turn the page and they’re in love, it’s more adult in its realism. It was really great to see Myrna slowly – and almost unbeknownst to her – fall in love with Brian, it shows that falling in love takes time and letting someone love you isn’t always easy; everyone has their demons and sometimes they inform our actions.
I also really liked Myrna’s character, I thought it was very refreshing to see someone with a bit of sass for a change; someone who knows her own mind and isn’t meek, demure or needy at all.

The way the book is written does a fantastic job of enabling the reader to really get to know the characters and their motivation, from the way they act outwardly to what is really going on inside their head. Switching between both Myrna and Brian’s perspectives helps readers to understand both characters rather than the story-telling being one-sided.

You also get little glimpses into the behaviour and emotional issues of the other band members, for example the hedonistic brutality of lead-singer Sedric ‘Sed’ Lionheart and the reason for his actions, which work to pique your interest and wonder ‘what’s going on there?’. To that end, I’m glad that each book delves into the lives of the different band members in more detail, although initially I was a bit disappointed because I love Myrna and Brian’s story and I just wanted to read more about them! But by the end of the book, Cunning wraps everything up in such a way that there’s not many other places for this particular story to go.

All in all I really enjoyed this book, I loved the realism of the plot and the fact that it wasn’t dressed up with gimmicks or anything. I also really enjoyed the characters and how they interacted with eachother, their relationships and the different dynamics there of.

It’s hypnotic, sexy and captivating, with enough plot twists to keep you entertained. Love, Sex and Rock ‘N’ Roll…indeed.

Book Club: Matched by Allie Condie

Young teenager Cassia, lives in a society where it everything is out of your control. Who you marry, how many children you have, what music you listen to, your occupation, even what you eat, is decided for you by someone else. At first Cassia embraces this life, the only life she has ever known, but after a string of significant events and the more Cassia finds out about her community, the more she finds herself fighting against it.

When you reach a certain age in Cassia’s community, you attend a ‘match banquet’, that is, if you’ve chosen to be matched as opposed to remaining a single – never settling down with one fixed partner. At your match banquet your match is revealed to you, this is the person that you will get to know, fall in love with, and eventually marry and have children with. Initially Cassia is happy with her match; a boy she has known and been best friends with since they were children, but then when she reviews her match later on, she see’s that she could have been matched with someone else.

Curious, Cassia becomes increasingly drawn to finding out more about this boy who could have been her match, and after they are thrown together during hiking lessons, the two become irrevocably close. But this new relationship, is against all the societies rules, and will put everyone she loves in danger. After a rather painful experience, and some forbidden – but emotive – words left to her by her grandfather, Cassia uncovers things about her society that prove everything isn’t as perfect as the government officials may like you to believe.

I did enjoy this book, but it wasn’t a couldn’t-put-it-down kind of book for me, I read it at more of a steady pace. That isn’t to say it’s not a good book in any way, when I got to the end I was pretty eager to pick up the next book and see how the story progressed. I just think that after reading Lauren Oliver’s ‘Delirium’, which is kind of in the same vein, (dystopian, ruled by an insanely constraining government, falls in love, breaks all the rules etc) I found this story a little less enthralling. There’s a lot of action in ‘Delirium’, which kept me captivated, and I did think that some aspects of this story were a little predictable. I felt as though it kind of just plodded along, as I did reading it.

Though there were some really good points throughout the story, and a couple of times I did find myself thinking ‘I didn’t see that coming’. But like I said, it did pick up towards the end and it looks as though there may be a little more action in the next book. So I am looking forward to reading ‘Crossed’ to see how the story continues and how Cassia chooses to deal with whatever else is thrown her way. Will the war in the outer provinces spread? Will the society and it’s regimes crumble? Will Ky and Cassia find a way back to one another? As yet, these questions remain unanswered, ‘Crossed’, here I come.

Book Club: Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen

Samantha Day is your average teenage girl, but after an unexpected kiss from school heart-throb Stephen Keys, Samantha knows something is very wrong. She’s constantly hungry and boys that never noticed her before start to look at her differently. But more worryingly, when any of these boys get close to her she has the almost compulsive need to kiss them, to devour them whole. Stephen had told her the kiss would change her life, but Samantha wasn’t prepared for how literal he was – or what happened next.

I really enjoyed this book. It kept me on my toes because you see the story through Samantha’s eyes, so the reader finds out information as she does. Because of that it kept you interested because she isn’t given any warning about what she has now become, and has to go in search for answers and piece things together. So for example, when she first meets Bishop and he calls her a ‘Gray’ and tries to kill her, it comes as a shock because at this point Samantha – and the reader – have no idea what a ‘Gray’ is or why he threatens her, so it’s a shock to the reader as well as to the character.

After her kiss with Stephen, Samantha is left edgy and confused about what seems to be happening to her; food does nothing to sate her hunger but she manages to restrain from her new found compulsion to kiss any guy that gets within touching distance of her. She also keeps having disturbing dreams – or we later find out visions of a possible future.

Then Samantha meets Bishop, a seemingly troubled guy from the street whose intense blue eyes seem to see right through her. And she decides to help him. Though little does she know Bishop is anything but normal. He calls her a ‘Gray’, she has no idea what that means and after seeking Stephen out for answers she finds out that he took her soul when they kissed. He confirms that she is now a Gray, a being that hungers for human souls and feeds off of them through the kiss. Though despite what she is, and after their rather shaky start, Bishop needs Sam’s help. There are three more on his team and he has only a certain amount of time to find them before they are lost to him forever, and Sam is the only one who can help him do that. Through the time they spend together Sam searches for answers, and discovers that Bishop is actually part of a team of angels and demons who were sent to earth to help restore the balance that the gray’s threaten.

But Bishop also recognises that Sam is “special” – she isn’t like the other gray’s, she still has her humanity and is able to resist feeding – and he vows to keep her safe and help restore her soul. As the two develop a relationship, Sam figures out that it isn’t just the hunger that’s drawing her to Bishop because she can control it. It’s something else. Things become increasingly complicated and Sam is torn as to what to do and who to trust, it had only been a week since her world changed irrevocably and now she finds herself in the middle of a war, and she can’t tell which side is good and which is evil.

Along the way Sam also discovers things about herself that she never knew, and just how close to home the source of her new found problems is. She also now has capabilities she never knew she had. Her gifts come as a surprise not only to her, but to Bishop, and she discovers that she is special, she isn’t just your average gray. She is something else entirely.

I was really hooked by this story, and like I said, it kept me on my toes because, you find everything out in bits in pieces like Samantha does, so I did share her confusion at first, which made me want to read on and find out more because I didn’t necessarily know what was going to happen. Because of that and the curveballs that meant you kept discovering new things, it really did keep me guessing right up until the very end. The final showdown contained some good action and some really great suspense, and as soon as I finished it I was eager to read the next book in the series – so you can imagine my frustration when I saw that it doesn’t come out until February 2013.

But I can’t wait to read the next book to see how the story progresses; Will Samantha and Bishop will ever find a way to be together? What will they come up against now that they’ve eliminated the source of the gray’s? because they sure as hell won’t go quietly. And will they fail or succeed in their mission. I guess we’ll find out…

Book Club: Until I Die by Amy Plum

This is a review of the second book in Amy Plum’s Revenant series. Get caught up and read my review on first book Die For Me here: https://rockersophz27.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/die-for-me-by-amy-plum/ otherwise this may not make much sense.

If you’ve read Die For Me, then you know that the last time we saw Vincent and Kate they were on a romantic boat ride in Paris for Kate’s birthday, after she killed Lucien – the leader of the Numa. Sworn immortal enemies of the Revenants, the Numa do not save lives, they take them. Until I Die jumps straight into the action, beginning in the middle of one of Kate’s fight training lessons. Thus gripping the reader from the start and not letting go, even long after you’ve fiished the book.

Having accepted the state of Vincent’s existence as a Revenant, he and Kate are looking for a way to be together properly, without him dying left, right and centre. For Vincent, he takes part in an ‘experiment’ in which he thinks he’s found a solution. But it drains him and makes him look like the undead immortal he really is. Having been kept in the dark about exactly what he’s doing, Kate is restless and decides to do her own research on finding a solution. Though, what comes next, neither of them was expecting. Finding themselves up against the vengeful Paris Numa and a new unexpected foe who has taken over as leader, will the Revenants overcome this betrayal? and will Kate and Vincent – who have been acting separately – finally find a way to be together?

Set in the city of Paris, Amy Plum does a great job of painting a vivid picture for the reader and giving the story a magical quality – which sparkles throughout the story, from the beautiful descriptions of the location(s) to the amazingly romantic nature of Kate and Vincent’s relationship.

Also, the Revenants are really well characterised in this book. In Die For Me, I feel that as you’re only just delving into the story you focus more on the two main characters as they are most integral. Though in this story, Jules, Ambrose and Gaspard, particularly, are given a lot more breathing room and add a lot of colour and flair, giving off a more lighthearted feel, which acts as a refreshing relief in the midst of all Vincent and Kate’s problems and keeps the story from being bogged down.

Jules in particular is the character that most sticks in my mind in terms of his colourful personality, as he is very charismatic and flirtatious; particularly with Kate. He doesn’t give too much away and has a certain mystique about him, but his flippant and playful humour add a warmth to his character and make him kind of desirable. Throughout the story in his interactions with Kate I had a revelation that I didn’t really see in the first book, I thought that was just his nature, but he says something to Kate and it clicked in my head and I just couldn’t shake the feeling that he is in love with her too. And if that came to light in this book, I’m really interested to see how, or even if, that develops in the third and final book.

Like, its previous, Until I Die also has some very intense and engaging action. You get little tastes of it throughout the story but the ending climax is truly gripping, and has a very unexpected twist. I found myself tearing through the pages to get to the end to see what would happen. The ending was agonizingly heart wrenching, I even found myself tearing up. But the story is left on a pretty big cliffhanger, and there is a little thread of positivity to hold on to that makes you think that maybe not all hope is lost.

I absolutely loved this book and this story, the plot twists were amazingly done and really did capture my attention completely. That coupled with the intense vivid descriptions made me feel like I’d been sucked in to the story (and makes me want to visit Paris myself!) The wait for the third and final book in the series is going to be a long one. I hate waiting for books, especially with cliffhangers like this and I can’t wait to get my hands on it to see if, and how, everything comes together for Kate and Vincent.

Book Club: The 50 Shades Series.

When Anastasia Steele falls into wealthy business man Christian Grey’s office, a relationship she – or he – never anticipated begins.
NB – this review isn’t going to go into massive detail or be spoiler-ridden, as the book is very graphic.

Ok so I gave in and read this popular series – don’t judge, and I have to say that in my opinion it isn’t as bad as some people think. I really really enjoyed it.
Anastasia Steele is a fairly normal girl, who is “drafted” by her best friend Kate to conduct an interview for their college newspaper, which Kate is the editor of, when Kate is ill.  When she meets the insanely wealthy, and beautiful, business man Christian Grey, he comes across as suave, mysterious, and a little bit of a control freak. Despite these feelings Ana really wants to see Christian again, and apparently so does he, as he turns up at her workplace a few days later. After a drunk evening phone-call, the two become closer, and throughout the series Ana discovers things about Christian – and herself – that shock and, at times, frighten her.

50 Shades Of Grey, sets up the series as well as Ana and Christian’s relationship. This book – being the first in the series – is the most intense in terms of their sexual relationship because the story is told from Ana’s point of view and being a virgin, she is new to everything Christian wants to introduce her to. But in honesty, while explicit, the events in the book – bar two encounters that I did think were a little much – weren’t really that shocking, there was just a lot of graphic, what-went-where, sexual encounters. Though as the story progresses and you see Ana become more assertive and Christian realise that he can have feelings for someone other than just wanting to control and dominate them, then you see the story develop into more than just sex-ridden, and into a love story. There are a load of plot-twists and curveballs thrown into the series to keep the reader on their toes, and it definitely works. I could not put the books down – I finished the first and second book in only three days – and I really enjoyed the story, the development of the two main characters and how it progressed into “more”.

(SPOILER ALERT FROM HERE: )

The only things I did find that bothered me slightly about the books were, how much of a whirlwind Ana and Christian’s relationship is; it’s like they just meet each other and the next thing you know they are getting married. Though saying that, the two do become close relatively quickly and while it does take Christian three books to open up completely, you see his walls crumble bit by bit throughout the series. This could be said to be part of its draw as you want to keep reading to find out what happens. Also, Elliot and Kate’s relationship – was he just trying to keep up with his brother? I mean I like the fact that Ana’s best friend and Christian’s brother get together but its like they get married, then Elliot proposes to Kate, Ana has a baby, Kate has a baby, I just saw it as a bit unnecessary.

I really loved reading James’s ’50 Shades Of Christian’ snippets at the end of the final book, as Christian is a complex character (“50 Shades of F***ed up”) and it gave you more of an insight into his character and his thoughts, which I really loved seeing into. I think it would be great if E.L James re-wrote the story from Christian’s perspective, as he’s a more complicated character than Ana and it’d be great to get more of an insight into that. I’d definitely read it. I’d also definitely re-read these books.

So incase you couldn’t tell, I absolutely loved the series. It’s fast paced, it’s intense, and it’s captivating – I’d definitely say if you’re not put off by sex in books, give it a try.