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July 10, 2012 / Leslie

Fifty Shades of Grey – An Attempt in Audio

Fifty Shades of Grey
by E. L. James
Narrated by Becca Battoe

By now I’m sure almost everyone has heard of the book Fifty Shades of Grey so I won’t waste any space introducing Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. What? You aren’t acquainted with them? Then hop on over to the review page at Amazon where over 8,000 people have already expressed their opinions.

From the synopsis I already knew this would not be my type of book; romance is not my genre, but curiosity got the better of me and I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. Once in a while I like something different and outside of my usual range. I read and liked the erotic memoir Nine and a Half Weeks and thought Fifty Shades might be similar. (No. It’s not.)

Not having time to squeeze in another print book I got a copy of the audio version. I made it through a little over one-third of the book before I couldn’t take it anymore. This is not a commentary on the story itself, but is a review of the audio production. I rarely write bad reviews, preferring to say nothing if I didn’t finish the book, but the audio was so awful I felt the need to share. I am always trying to bring new listeners to the wonderful world of audiobooks, and most are well done, but run away from this one.

The narrator’s voice got very annoying after an hour or two. In trying to sound young all I could hear was a “valley girl” type voice that was grating on my ears. The female voices all sounded the same and the narrator could not do a convincing male voice much less a hot, sexy male. Hearing her “Christian” speak was an immediate turn-off. Nothing erotic was coming to mind, I was envisioning a dorky guy. This is a book that needed, no, required, a sexy-voiced male actor to play Christian.

The dialog isn’t very good and the audio version emphasized that enormously. If I had to hear “jeez”, “holy $hit” or how “weird” something was one more time I was going to scream! At almost 20 hours, this is too much for anyone to bear. It probably isn’t as noticeable in print, but in audio format a book can come across differently. You can’t skim boring parts, speed up, or slow down. You are stuck with the pacing of the narrator, and this was too slow.

If you are inclined to read this, I recommend going with a print version. With that awful voice of Christian stuck in my head, I don’t feel any urgency to pick up the book and finish it, but I guarantee I won’t be going back to the audio version.

Perhaps Ellen Degeneres should have agreed to record the book!

Have you listened to the audio of Fifty Shades? Read the book? Intend to read it?

© 2012 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.



Leave a Comment
  1. sagustocox / Jul 10 2012 10:22 am

    I have no intention of reading this book, but one of our book club members has said that he would like to nominate it. I’m sorry that the audio didn’t work for you…but I think the repetition of “jeez”, “holy $hit” or how “weird” would have bothered me no matter the version I was reading.


    • Leslie / Jul 10 2012 11:06 am

      I wouldn’t think it would be a good choice for a book club.


      • sagustocox / Jul 10 2012 11:17 am

        That’s what I was thinking. He’s an odd duck this member.


      • Leslie / Jul 10 2012 11:24 am

        It’s escapist fiction. And if one doesn’t like or approve of that sort of thing it would just be arguing over morality. Nothing literary here!


  2. Carol / Jul 10 2012 10:49 am

    I have no need to read, or listen to, this one. From everything I’ve heard, it’s just not a well-written book.


    • Leslie / Jul 10 2012 11:04 am

      It reads like fan-fiction. From the one-third that I did listen to, it’s more romance than erotica. I can see where it might appeal to the romance readers.


  3. Paulita / Jul 10 2012 12:24 pm

    I have heard about this book, but only a little. I must move outside of the 50 Shades of Gray circles. Thank goodness. And I think you were right to warn people about the audio book.Here’s My First Paragraph Tuesday post


    • Leslie / Jul 10 2012 1:32 pm

      This one required a warning! I can’t imagine what the publisher was thinking… perhaps produce it as quickly and cheaply as possible to get it out there fast and capitalize on the 50 Shades Craze? Perhaps.


  4. Suko / Jul 10 2012 1:15 pm

    Sorry you did not enjoy this one more! Thanks for your honest review, Leslie.


    • Leslie / Jul 10 2012 1:31 pm

      No problem, it happens. I check them out so if they are bad, you don’t have to!


  5. Alex / Jul 10 2012 3:25 pm

    I was curious about the audio version because it’s been on Audible’s best sellers list since forever so I listened to the sample. I completely understand what you mean by the valley-girl voice.

    I commented this on Twitter the other day, but, isn’t listening to an erotic book a bit too… close for comfort? I feel that the books, the narrator and I are one person too many.


    • Leslie / Jul 10 2012 3:30 pm

      I hadn’t really thought about that. As long as I’m listening with headphones I’m fine with it. It could be a bit uncomfortable to listen on CD though, where someone might overhear.


  6. BermudaOnion / Jul 10 2012 5:35 pm

    This one’s not for me.


    • Leslie / Jul 11 2012 12:52 am

      Nor me either as I found out.


  7. Gytha Lodge / Jul 12 2012 4:14 am

    Brilliant. But I have my fingers firmly crossed that Ellen will agree to read my Fifty Shades of Gay parody instead…


  8. drhouse / Jul 12 2012 2:35 pm

    I had almost the exact same experience with the audiobook. I got a third-way through and had to quit. The voice actress was so awful that I was compelled to google and see if anyone else thought the same. I’m male btw… I just can’t stomach any more of this painful literary experience.


  9. DevourerofBooks (@DevourerofBooks) / Jul 14 2012 1:06 pm

    Ugh, I’ve heard people complain about the repetitive, obnoxious dialogue in print, it must have been immensely painful in audio.


  10. Heather / Dec 5 2017 12:12 pm

    I completely agree! Awful is an understatement! I listen to Grey and Darker by Zachary Webber and they were amazing. Even after hearing Christians voice on screen, he was wonderful. His Anna voice is so much better then Becca’s version. I would purchase the trilogies audio if they would have him read from Anna’s POV. Can’t tell difference between some voices, and she gets worst with each book. Anything but Becca, Miss Piggy does a better male voice!! Please please please someone convince them to redo the trilogies with another reader.


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