Firstly, a warning. If you are under 18, please don't read this, or read it only if your parents won't find out and come after me with a pitchfork. No nudity within, but I will discuss things your parents might disagree with. And if you are my mother, I've told you before, stop reading my blog. Discussing things like this with me gets awkward fast and you know that.
I won't lie. I went into this book knowing that I probably would dislike it, but as I've said on Twitter, I wanted to understand why so many people - from publishers to reviewers to average citizens - are going crazy over this book. It started off as TWILIGHT fanfiction, which probably should have been the first inclination to me that I wasn't going to enjoy this. I am not TWILIGHT's biggest fan, as many of you probably know. If you read this blog, then you probably will know the list of books that I really don't care for. After my experiences with this book, reading in the pursuit of understanding, you can probably safely add FIFTY SHADES to that list of books that really did not sit well with me.
On paper, it might look like I would be a lover of this book. I enjoy a good erotic book, particularly BDSM (albeit with women in charge - would you expect differently from me?). I am definitely one for promoting alternative lifestyles to the norm, even though I don't participate in them - mostly because I am single and haven't been on a date in two years.
But because I have discussed it on Twitter, and because this book is one of those most popular books out there right now, I thought I would do a sorta-review on it and explain why I think there are other books out there much more deserving of the hype and success this one has. FIFTY SHADES OF GREY has a number of things going for it, from the TWILIGHT connection to the modern day aspect of it to the fact it has a situation many women dream of - a protective, sexy, sadistic billionaire taking interest in a girl who is a virginal and innocent and ravishing her. It's a fantasy many women have, right up there with sex in public or smacking a man around. Christian Grey is "fifty shades of fucked up", a man who has experienced his own relationships as a submissive to a powerful woman and in turn taken up an interest in dominating women. His latest conquest is Anastasia Steele, a girl on the verge of graduating from college, who wanders into his life by accident when her roommate the journalist is too sick to conduct an interview with the magnate.
The book has a great premise and the potential to bring so much to a world still dealing with the rejection of sex as being more than for procreation and alternative lifestyles as being respected. A lot of women (and men) don't know anything outside the world of the missionary position. But this book doesn't explore the world of BDSM as much as it could. In the amount I read before giving up and moving on, the kinkiest thing that had happened was the discussion of kinky sex. I read some further examples of scenes from later on in the book, but this didn't explore BDSM in the way that I assumed would be discussed. There is more to BDSM than the top tying the bottom down and having sex with her. This might have been furthered later on in the story, but in what I read, the limit was discussion of kinky stuff.
But the main problem for me was the writing. Romance novels have a tendency towards purple prose, and for me, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY was no exception.
“He's naked except for those soft ripped jeans, top button casually undone. Jeez, he looks so freaking hot. My subconscious is frantically fanning herself, and my inner goddess is swaying and writhing to some primal carnal rhythm.”
The inner goddess makes many appearances, but yes, this is pretty much the entire style of the novel, told from Ana's perspective. She is not very submissive, not very into BDSM, but she gives into Grey for reasons unknown. And for a book that takes place in the Pacific Northwest of the US, these people have a tendency to speak very proper British-English, from their sentence construction to word choice. An average American wouldn't speak like these people did, and it threw me off.
So yes, I can safely say one thing about this book - FIFTY SHADES OF GREY was not for me. I read the book wanting to know why so many women across the world have fallen in love with this book, to the extent that it's on magazine covers, gotten a MASSIVE film deal, mentions on morning shows. This book just simply baffles me in its success compared to other books which beat it to the mainstream BDSM punch years ago. And on that subject, here are some suggestions for BDSM Books that do it Better (well, I'll try and give you some idea of books that I've enjoyed - my taste has been known to be suspect).
THE STORY OF O - Pauline Reage KUSHIEL'S DART - Jacqueline Carey THE CLAIMING OF SLEEPING BEAUTY - Anne Rice EXIT TO EDEN - Anne Rice VENUS IN FURS - Leopold von Sacher-Masoch LAST TANGO IN PARIS - 1972 movie by Bernardo Bertolucci SECRETARY - 2002 movie by Stephen Sheinberg
If you are looking for fiction that explores BDSM, there are other, better options out there that fully enter the world beyond the vanilla level. Or go watch some porn if you are really curious! I respect and understand women who are curious about BDSM, but I think there are better books out there than this one, which I believe was more the product of a great marketer in E.L. James than it was in quality.
And that, in a nutshell, is my long-winded review of this book that is sure to keep exploding in popularity over the next few months. If you're curious about BDSM, keep exploring literature! FIFTY SHADES OF GREY just wasn't the BDSM book for me.(less)
After all the great reviews of this one, I went in expecting to be amazed. Instead, after 50 pages, I was bored to tears and began skimming like mad....moreAfter all the great reviews of this one, I went in expecting to be amazed. Instead, after 50 pages, I was bored to tears and began skimming like mad. Had to give up on this one. I think it you are more into a slow build, you will enjoy this one, but nothing happened besides 1.) go to work 2.) go home 3.) go back to work. Oh, well...(less)