Saturday, 23 June 2012

Book #13

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
When literature student Anastasia Steele interviews successful entrepreneur Christian Grey, she finds him very attractive and deeply intimidating. Convinced that their meeting went badly, she tries to put him out of her mind - until he turns up at the store where she works part-time, and invites her out.
Unworldly and innocent, Ana is shocked to find she wants this man. And, when he warns her to keep her distance, it only makes her want him more.
But Grey is tormented by inner demons, and consumed by the need to control. As they embark on a passionate love affair, Ana discovers more about her own desires, as well as the dark secrets Grey keeps hidden away from public view.

The book everyone is talking about: Fifty Shades of Grey. I knew before I picked this up that it wasn't my thing at all, but I had heard so much about how amazing it was, and had to give it a try. We've all heard of curiosity killing the cat, I'm sure. In this instance I'm not sure curiosity has just killed the cat, but made the cat set itself on fire and jump out of a very high window. I have never read anything so awful in my life.

The writing was abhorrent. It read like extremely poor fan fiction. The plot gets itself tangled up in knots, the characters are dull and one-dimensional, the narrative is child-like, and the use of the subconscious to describe the protagonist's feelings was just embarrassing.

Our protagonist, Anastasia Steele, sets feminism back to square one. She is a twenty-four year old virgin, immature, insecure, and incredibly na├»ve. From the moment she meets Grey she moons over him constantly in the most pathetic manner imaginable. I could not stop cringing and feeling embarrassed for her. She was pitiful. Her 'subconscious' and 'inner goddess' jump around in her mind displaying her feelings; the subconscious usually wagging her finger and asking her what she thinks she’s doing, with the inner goddess being the slut of the package, always wanting more. My subconscious and inner goddess were both sitting in the library of my mind with hands over their eyes, begging me to put the book down and pick up something more well-written, perhaps the back of a cereal box. Ana annoyed me massively, and the number of times she bit her lip was unholy. Behave yourself.

Christian Grey. I have seen far too many Facebook and Twitter updates about how much ladies want him. James does not stop emphasising the point that this guy is absolutely gorgeous. Fair enough. He is also a sadistic creepy bastard with a penchant for flogging. I can completely understand that not everyone's sexual preferences are what the book calls 'vanilla', however I cannot understand this obsession with Grey. Don't get me wrong, I like a gorgeous man. I especially like a gorgeous man with an excellent personality and sense of humour: something we do not get with Grey. He is incredibly stoic, and mostly terrifying. Why on earth would you want to be with someone who might slap six shades of shit out of you if you said something wrong or (God forbid) didn't finish your dinner? He gives Ana the choice to back out of the relationship whenever she likes, then turns up in places to find her, sends her expensive presents, and just behaves in a very ominous way.

The way the two characters spoke to each other caused me severe mental discomfort. Dialogue including, "Laters, baby," and "I want to claim your ass," made me flinch so intensely I thought I had whiplash.  It wasn't just the dialogue. Every condom was referred to as a foil packet, Ana's subconscious quite frequently exclaims Holy crap! or Holy cow! as though she were participating in some sort of 1960s Batman remake and had stumbled upon the Joker in a dark alley. This occurred every few pages. Then we have the scene where Ana is wondering who put a certain song on Christian's iPod if it wasn't him. Who... Who... Who? ARE YOU AN OWL, MY DEAR?!

Let's talk about the sex scenes. I skimmed over most of them because they were so badly written and dull. That's quite a comment to make about a girl being tied to a rack and abused within an inch of her life, however James really had a chance to let her writing shine in these scenes and failed. I am amazed at how boring a bout of flogging can be!

The message the book sends, that dominance and manipulation is desirable (as long as the guy's hot, mind you!) is a terrible one. Although it absolutely will be for some, the book is not written as though to say 'you might like this, you might not, it's a bit kinky'. It seems Christian enjoys control for all the wrong reasons. It just didn't sit right with me.

It bothers me that this book is so successful. I do not want to belittle anyone who enjoyed it; I just feel that the only thing attracting people to it is that Grey is so 'hot' and so alpha-male. Or are you all secret BDSM freaks? Wee bit scary, but who am I to judge?

Anyway, I would not recommend this book to a worst enemy. It's painful to get through, dull, misogynistic, and sends a bad message. There are two other books in the series, but I am not masochistic enough to read them. Please avoid as though your life depends on it. For those who have already read it, I love you, and we can get through this.



13 / 50 words. 26% done!

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