The book Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James seems to have become a cultural phenomenon. So much so that they made a movie out of it. So I decided to read it to see what all the fuss was about.
What a disappointment.
First of all, in the interest of full disclosure, I do love erotica when it’s well written. I actually read a ton of it, mostly in short story form. But this book is not well written. Not at all.
I think this book’s popularity stems solely from the titillation factor. You’re reading something that many view as forbidden. You’re being scandalous. But ladies, I’m here to tell you there is much, MUCH, better stuff out there, and it’s free on dozens of websites. Yes, you’ll have to wade through about 10 miles of yuck to find it, during which time you’ll get a really strong sense of exactly what will turn you off, but once you find the type of thing that works for you, this book will make you laugh, it’s so amateur.
The most frustrating thing I encounter in bad writing is that the authors tend to make the same point over and over again. Have faith in your readers. They’ll get it without you having to beat them about the head and shoulders. This concept seems to be utterly lost on Ms. James. For example, she wants you to know that Anastasia feels uncomfortable and disconcerted around Christian, and she must point that out approximately 50 times in the first chapter alone. I wanted to scream.
She also uses an annoying literary device. It seems Anastasia has an “inner goddess” who pole vaults, does the merengue, peeks from behind couches, and covers her eyes in reaction to Anastasia’s latest actions or comments. She also has a subconscious, and it’s cruel, hostile and a downright bully. If my subconscious thought so little of me, I’d be in a straitjacket somewhere.
The reason erotica is better in short story form is that it requires a great deal of suspension of disbelief. You can only maintain that for so long. Christian may be fantastic in bed, but he’s also incapable if genuine intimacy, a stalker, a control freak, extremely moody, jealous, and easy to anger, likes to inflict pain, has major issues with commitment, and demands that everything be in writing. And we’re expected to believe, for the length of a novel, that Anastasia is madly in love with him.
Sorry, I don’t buy it. And I wouldn’t buy the book. The only redeeming factor in the entire read is that (spoiler alert!) she leaves him in the end. But there are sequels that I refuse to subject myself to, and based on the plot summaries in Wikipedia, I know that her rare moment of common sense doesn’t last. Lord knows why.