02 July 2012

Review: Fifty Shades of Grey

I want to make one thing clear: I don't dislike books easily. I've read more than I can count and I was also a journalism major in college. I enjoy all sorts of genres and writing styles and have only actually hated less than 10 books in my life.

I like to read books on the best seller's list because usually there's a good reason the book has had such success.

Every once in a while a book on the list will make me wonder why it got so much attention, as is the case with Fifty Shades of Grey (and what I read of Fifty Shades Darker.)

In case you haven't heard of this series, here's a bit of background: it initially was written as a fan-fiction of Twilight by E.L. James, who is from the UK. The recipe for this book goes somewhat like erotica added to Twilight, change the names and poof: James has a "book." To be frank, this book pissed me off.

Firstly, I felt like it was written by a teenager. Ana doesn't act like a normal 22 year old college virgin (and yes, they do exist). She acts like a sixteen year old girl, which makes sense, since this was written originally as Bella Swan, who is equally as obsessed with Edward Cullen as Ana is with Christian. If you're a giant fan of Twilight, go ahead and read, since this not only repaves the storyline of Twilight (lion falls for the lamb, he doesn't want to corrupt her innocence but can't stay away, etc) but also takes the honeymoon in Breaking Dawn further, like every Twihard wanted.

If you're still wondering why I hated it, it amazes me that Fifty Shades of Grey made it to publication. James desperately needs a good dictionary, as she used the same phrases time and again. At first, I believed it was character traits and thought it was clever, then after the 50th time Ana "flushed fifty shades of [whatever]" and hearing about "Christian's long bony finger" for the 25th time, I grew increasingly tired of it and was desperate for some new phrasing. I got sick of Jose saying "Dios Mio" every time he spoke (pretty sterotypical character in general), Ana saying "Oh my..." "he's so freaking hot" and fighting with her "inner goddess" and her "subconscious" in a very angel/demon type way. The inner conflict aspect of the story had actual potential, but was inconsistent in their respective desires for Ana as subconscious characters.

One thing that confused me was, without reading her bio, I noticed James is obviously British and has no idea how Americans speak. If it were me, I would've at least made the characters British and living in America, rather than trying to write about Americans with a Briton style of speaking.

The author used the very British words "trousers" and "fetch" while Americans would say "pants" and "go get" in the same context. It's not only unrealistic, but it was confusing for a reader to believe that everyone in the US state of Washington in this book spoke like that (and typical college-aged girls would own teacups). 

And the Adonis semi-god that Christian is? He's 26, has a jet, a helicopter, plays perfect piano, is a wine enthusiast, a billionaire, comes from a perfect family, a philanthropist, and his *one* negative is actually a positive because it causes Ana to "flush" every other page? I'm sorry, I know books are supposed to take us away from reality, but it also has to connect with the reader in some way -- no one, fictional or not -- is that perfect -- even Mr. Darcy. And why, exactly, does our society insist that stalking someone is romantic? I find Christian's abilities to literally stalk Ana more than a lot creepy...

The sex is dull, albeit decent for some who haven't read true erotica before. You'd do better stay away from chick-lit porn altogether, but if you do indulge, at least do yourself a favor and find one that didn't originate as some adolescent desire for Edward Cullen to tie her down and whip her. 

I'm just glad I had it sent to me for free on Kindle. At least all that was wasted on this "book" was time -- and possibly brain cells.

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