Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Review: 50 Shades of Grey

50 Shades of Grey
by E.L. James


When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.
Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.

This book is intended for mature audiences.


Okay - this might be my most lengthy post yet. This is due mostly to my conflict with this book. I am a feminist and you will see that in some of my writing. You've been warned.

 You might think you know where I'm going with this...but you probably don't. What more can I write about this book when it's been written about everywhere?? I've heard the rants and raves etc. etc. What you'll read here is my honest reaction to this book.

I didn't love it or even like it. But I didn't necessarily hate it either. Let me explain.

I know that this book originated from Twilight fan fiction. I've read plenty of Doctor Who fan fiction, but never any other fandom. With that said, I have the understanding that readers/fans turn to fan fiction when our fandom has chosen not to give us what we want. In my Doctor Who fan fiction, it was the love story of the Doctor and Rose Tyler. For Twilight, as we see in 50 Shades, it's more about the physical intimacy that readers didn't get in the series. I've read the Twilight series and enjoyed it - this is why I can understand the origin of this book.

Now, the knowledge of all that didn't help me when reading this book. In fact, it irritated me. I have nothing NOTHING against fan fiction, but this particular story didn't represent, in my opinion, unfulfilled wishes (like Doctor Who fanfic did for me). 

Okay - now that THAT'S out of the way...I liked the concept of 50 Shades and this has nothing to do with the sexual activity of the characters. I enjoyed the idea of two very VERY different people finding themselves falling in love with each other and the struggle once they realize how different they really are. I liked how conflicted Ana was with her wants (a "normal" relationship with dates and meeting the family, etc. etc.) versus reality (we can't force people to be something they are not).  I enjoyed Christian's attractiveness and wealth because it came from his hard work. I even liked that Christian went from a horrible childhood to being adopted into a family that obviously adores him. Ultimately, it was the concept of the internal struggle to want to please the person you love while holding on to some semblance of yourself that was the best thing for me. 

Now - what I HATED about this book is basically a little of everything.

First, semantics. I don't know if my ebook copy was a bad one, but there were really horrible grammar mistakes. The author's writing was also irritating because at times it sounded as if she was trying to sound more eloquent than she really was coming off as. Many of the same lines were said over and over and I now know that it carries on at least to the second book (I am reading the second book, more about that later). Lines are very repetitive and characters say each others name way too often. I understand that in BDSM there is something about saying the Submissive's name over and over - but this repetition happened beyond the scope of their relationship. It. Is. Annoying. 

Second, the characters. Both Ana and Christian are extremely irritating. Ana has moments of clarity where it seems she is a strong person, only to give the reader whiplash by changing personality so quickly within the next moment. She thinks of an "inner goddess" and her subconscious like they are separate from her own self. I understand what the author's trying to do, but it does not help in creating a full character. Ana does not stand her ground. Not once. She makes the reader believe she will but because of her overwhelming desire to fix Christian, she MUST do what he says.  I know this is fiction - but it sure does not help the way women are depicted or thought of. 

Also - no one else matters in this story but Ana and Christian - and that is very boring. 

Christian. Oh, Christian. He is an irritating and possessive snob. He also has his moments where he's funny and sexy, but then he turns overly cheesy, only to turn scary and needy within seconds. Everything about him scares Ana. She tells him this. Actually, they both tell each other what scares or annoys them, but neither listens to the other. 

Third, the BDSM lifestyle/the sex. I don't know much about BDSM, but what I do know is that whoever is involved is consenting. In this book, there is a set up for rules and guidelines, but what Christian fails to notice is that Ana doesn't know ANYTHING about sex (something else that is irritating) and he uses that to his advantage. I'm not saying a person can't be exposed to the lifestyle and end up enjoying it - but what I'm saying is that Ana obviously did not want certain experiences, and he found a way make her have them anyway. In this story, No does not mean No - and that is a very dangerous idea to put into people's heads. I don't think this book gives an honest glimpse at the lifestyle and it's unfair to portray it as such. 

So, why am I reading the second book? Because I'm a sucker for knowing the complete story. I want to know where the author is going with this story - does it continue being a story about nothing but getting into arguments and then having sex, or is there a point to this whole thing?

This book is full of sex. Different kinds of sex in different kinds of places. You've been warned. That said, you can totally skip this book unless you're in the mood to be irritated or don't mind giving something a try (like me). Is it a masterpiece? Of course not. Sad thing is, however, that this book could have been so much more had it been taken seriously. A story about two people who live different lifestyles, but fall in love with each other? Yes, please - but not like this. 

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