Genre: Romance / Erotica / BDSM
What the hell did I just read?
I've never read a book that made me want to fling my e-reader across the room so bad. I've read erotica before, but Fifty Shades of Grey is like a five-hour porno with a boring, two-hour buildup.
Fifty Shades of Grey started out as Twilight fan fiction, and it was originally based on Edward Cullen and Bella Swan. The novel will be made into a movie that will come out in 2014.
- Email correspondence between Ana and Mr. Grey -- The emails were the funniest parts of the book, and did more to let the characters' personalities shine than their in-person conversations.
What I didn't like:
Ugh...where do I start?
- The writing is awful -- I overlook minor flaws and oddities, but the writing here is noticeably bad on many levels. Now I know what those TAs were talking about when they warned us against using too many adverbs... "He's my very own Christian Grey-flavored popsicle." Um. Okay.
"And from a very tiny, underused part of my brain--probably located at the base of my medulla oblongata near where my subconscious dwells--comes the thought: He's here to see you."
"My voice is too high, like I've got my finger trapped in a door or something."
"For a fraction of a second, he looks lost somehow, and the Earth shifts slightly on its axis, the tectonic plates sliding into a new position."
- Too much filler-- After the beginning, the main bulk of the book becomes a series of chapters and conversations that do nothing to advance the story. Filler, filler, filler, sex, repeat.
- Ana is incredibly insecure even though she's been hit on by multiple guys, but that seems to be a good thing to Mr. Grey, who sees her timidity as a turn-on. She depends on Grey to appreciate herself as a sexual being--until he said so, she couldn't see herself as an attractive woman. She bites her lip and hangs her head throughout the entire book. Even Bella wasn't this pathetic.
- Mr. Grey plays the piano and pampers Ana with expensive gifts and cars, just like Edward. He's also extremely clingy, stalkerish, and controlling, all of which are neon signs of an abusive mate. On top of that, he gets frequent mood swings. Ana's never sure when he's going to be happy or angry.
- Flat plot-- The plot is about a controlling man and an insecure woman who meet and feel attracted to each other. They have a lot of sex, but the woman wants commitment and the man wants more submission.
And that's it. Everything else is filler. All the other characters stay in the background as crudely cut cardboard characters, and whenever Ana rambles about them I find myself not caring.
The sex scenes are extremely unrealistic, but most erotica is over the top, so I won't hold it against the book. The buildup and release are well-balanced. Some of the sex is a bit out there, like the infamous tampon scene, but I don't really care because some people do have sex on their periods.
A big problem of this book is that it is a BDSM sex story trying to be a romance novel. The power dynamics that BDSM partners enjoy do not work outside of the bedroom in a healthy relationship.
The dominant-submissive dynamic should be limited to sex, but it has been integrated into Ana and Mr. Grey's relationship as a whole. Ana has to obey and tiptoe around Grey to avoid punishment, but he can step all over her as long as he gives her "body-shattering" orgasms. The romanticization of an abusive mate and a passive lover sends unhealthy and anti-feminist messages to readers about the ideal relationship.
My Rating:This book was awful. It's now the #1 worst book that I have ever read.
What I would eat while reading this book:
- Christian Grey-flavored popsicles
For additional reading:
- @ Huffpost - "Fifty Shades of Feminism - A Response to E. L. James's Fifty Shades of Grey." Carey Purcell discusses how the Fifty Shades novels reflect a "radical shift of ideas towards traditional gender roles."
- @ Digital Spy - "Fifty Shades of Grey: 23 Funniest Quotes from EL James's Novel" gathered by Emma Dibdin. Hilarious!
- @ A Pilgrim in Narnia - "Fifty Shades of Bad Writing" points out how Ana Steele's brain is quite confused when it comes to anatomy and physiology.
Thank you for reading! What did you think about Fifty Shades of Grey?