Published on April 20th, 2012 | by Lindsey Bakker0
Book Review: Fifty Shades of Grey
Twilight Fan Fiction?
Fifty Shades of Grey is the book that the world is talking about.
A brief summary for anyone who hasn’t heard of it yet: Ana fills in for her roommate and best friend, who needs to interview the young millionaire, Christian Grey, for the college newspaper. The creepy Grey quickly begins stalking.. er, seducing the clumsy, naive, borderline moronic Ana. Using new computers, fancy cars and private helicopters, Grey whisks Ana away from her mundane life and into a world of BDSM fantasy. The books deals with Ana’s struggle to reconcile her love for Grey with her reluctance to get the crap beat out of her.
The book is gaining infamy in teacher’s lounges and women’s groups around the nation. I had a very hard time reading it for several reasons:
For starters, E.L. James’ writing is just not very good. The book can be compared to reading something written by a not-very-smart 15 year old. The grammar and spelling mistakes printed into Twilight were terrible, but this ends up coming up worse than even that. James re-uses phrases frequently. By the fifth time Ana shattered to pieces with an orgasm the magic was lost. And if she wasn’t shattering, she was spiraling.
Both of the main characters was inconsistent and poorly developed. We get just enough information about Grey to be intrigued, but he’s such a jackass that I lost interest quickly. Ana was just insufferable. I’m sorry, but what 21-year old college student in publishing/journalism nonetheless has had limited exposure to having a computer! Ana has never had a smartphone or her own computer. Yet, she is pursuing a career at a publishing house? Further, Ana has never had a boyfriend, never been drunk despite drinking with her roommate constantly, and never held hands with a boy. She is just a little too naive to be a believable character.
The author goes even further to personify Ana’s subconscious and what she calls her inner goddess. Anything that occurs in the book, especially when Christian is involved, has them either hiding behind a couch (subconscious) or doing cartwheels (inner goddess). These two actions were repeated to infinity, making me want to throw my kindle across the room.
The absolute biggest problem with the book is the relationship between Christian and Ana. I don’t know much about a BDSM lifestyle, but I have had my share of VERY poor relationships. And outside of the sexual relationship, Christian’s behavior was borderline emotionally abusive. Very similar to Twilight, Ana also turns her back on all her closest friends to pursue this relationship with Grey. She does this against the advice of her best friend, who constantly warns her that something’s not right, which would be a red flag for any sane person.
There is something in the BDSM culture that’s called consensual non-consent. The way I understand it, it means that you act like you’re not interested. That adds excitement and struggle to the sexual encounter. I can see where James was trying to get at this with some trysts between the lovers, but it results in Ana simply being coerced because she is bullied into the relationship.
In a recent 20/20 interview, James admitted that to research for the book she visited a sex store, but it grossed her out. She did the majority of her research on the internet. This definitely shows in the lack of depth of the book. Also even though I know next to nothing about the world of BDSM there were several parts that just felt like assumptions to me.
(I’m really trying not to give too much away here)
It’s fine with me if you would like to engage in that type of release, but when Ana feels compelled to engage in a sexual relationship she is not at all comfortable with because she is afraid to lose him, I get nervous. When she cowers and gives in because she is afraid he is mad at her, I get physically ill.
I’m not about censorship in art, and I guess because this is a novel it is a form of art (however poor). But I really think that we should exercise caution before glorifying characters that are not able/willing to stand up for themselves and making heroes out of very abusive men. This book is selling itself as romance when it’s a thinly disguised story of emotional and physical abuse.
Behind that, it’s just a Twilight fan fiction with different names. Disgraceful.