Fifty Shades ???


Time to review Fifty Shades of Grey.

I should mention that I spent about two weeks researching this book with no intention of reading it. But then the curiosity overtook me. I just had to know! After reading a substantial part of the book via preview, I was completely in its clutches and just had to finish it. I had to know, and I had to know why I had to know.

I guess one could say that the lure is mostly in the taboo. Fifty Shades has caused a shift that no one saw coming. Books that not too long ago women would have read only in the privacy of their bath tubs are now begin carried and paged through on planes, subways, and waiting rooms. I was in a workshop at a school board watching the woman across from me (who was very level headed) lift the book at every break.

Erotica for women is now welcome pretty much everywhere but church, compliments of Christian Grey. I guess this is a bit of a win for women considering that smart phones allow men (and some brave women too) to browse much worse material pretty much any where they please, covertly. Daring to open the book in public is akin to saying I don't need to hide behind my phone, judge at will. E-readers unfortunately don't get to make the statement, even though they paid for the book.

So when considering whether or not to read this book, I gave it a go because I needed to know how the author single-handedly changed a culture with a series of books.

This is not my first exposure to erotica either. Years ago I started (but did not finish) a series given to me by a then boyfriend. It was far more perverse than Christian Grey would ever go. Part of me (who was younger then) felt that since it was written by Anne Rice it was okay that the material was twisted, warped, very over the top. The other part of me, to this day, wonders why she wrote the books using a pen name when they plastered her name all over the books anyhow. But I digress.

When I finally did read Fifty Shades I was looking for things that were there and were not there because of all I'd heard. I'd heard rumor of a twist, I did not find it. I don't know if it was because E.L. James knew there were more books to come, if she wanted the reader to experience a bit of cliff hanger, or if she just couldn't figure out how to wrap things up, but the ending was a bit off putting. I read the e-book version and found myself clicking the tab button repeatedly thinking, surely this is not the end of the book?

I was also looking for lousy writing. That I did find, but more so I found lousy editing. There were three blatant editing errors in this book that average readers would pick up on. And when I say editing errors, I mean things I would not expect the writer to pick up on, but that shouldn't have survived the editor's scrutinization.

I found droves of oopsies on the author's part as well, but I don't know how obvious all of them would be to reader. Apparently, they are obvious though if one reads the reviews. It is my opinion that most of the errors and no-no's I found an average reader couldn't technically define, but they may read and think, hmmmm something about that was off. No-no's aren't really errors, they just don't fall into the recommended habits for authors category. Of course, they shouldn't really pass the litmus test either, but we all know of plenty of other books that have been published like that.

I still stand on my premise that most of the writing was not terrible, she just did lots of no-no's and got called on it. From what I can tell her background in screen writing may have something to do with this, as I have read some books on writing by screen writers and they seem to operate on with a handful of rules that orthodox novel writers do not condone. But that does not make this book crap.

Fifty Shades capitalizes on two things that engross and sell: romance and sex appeal. Having read both before, I could see where the story was carried on the emotion it kindles in the reader. That's actually a weak description, violently thrusted down the rails of this roller coaster of a book is more like it. It is this intensity that allows the reader to remain involved in Grey's world even when the author makes oopsies. Readers can overlook it because we just want more Grey. Perhaps thats what happened, the author overlooked it because she was too hung up on Grey herself. Being so afflicted myself, I can find it my heart to forgive her.

This book came to me at a good time. It was a fateful reminder of just how you can get hooked into a novel. I stayed up all till 3:15 reading knowing I had to be to work in a few hours. I don't do bad things, but I strongly considered calling out of work to finish reading. That has never happened to me before. I walked around a happy zombie at work as I watched the clock, eager to find out what happened next. I was so tired I felt like the Incredible Hulk had bitch-slapped me. I want to learn to write like this.

However, by the end the feeling wore off and I am still not sure how I feel about how the story wrapped up. Anatasia Steele started to get on my nerves and it seemed like whenever they weren't doing it they were fighting or repeating themselves or some well rehearsed version of both. This could have been the author not realizing she was chasing her own tale (or fully aware with no clue how to undo it) or it was a hasty ploy to get information across that she saw no other way of disseminating, hard to tell really.

One thing is for sure, if you take the erotica out the romance will not stand on its own. Two reasons for this exist, number 1: It is painfully obvious to any Twi-hard how much it is akin to Stephanie Meyer's work, and her readers will not stand for it. Why read Twilight 2.0 when the first one was fine? The scenes and some of the descriptive details, harken back to Forks in more than a flattering manner.

I read the Twilight Saga five times, I am not making this up, the locale (Seattle/Portland really close to Forks) the clumsy protagonist (who shrugs away from nice clothes and gifts,) the dangerous guy (with copper highlights.) I have to add in there a technologically inept teenage girl (those actually don't exist, except in rare cases) and two people under thirty who live for classical music and books. I've never met those characters before, or have I? I could keep going but then I would spoil the book. Suffice it to say, that too many of the scenes seem like they started as cutouts from Stephanie Meyer's work before they became a playground for Grey. In fact, without the incredibly complicated Grey, it would almost feel like I've read it before. Maybe thats why I got through it so fast.

The second reason is that the erotic scenes are the glue holding this book together. Without the sex that pulls Grey and Steele apart and drives them together, these characters really don't have much of a relationship, they are utterly incompatible. It could be argued that the thrill of the steamy scenes is carrying the book on this front as well. But thats okay, this book wasn't meant to survive without it's erotic element.

I may feel differently when I read the rest of the trilogy. One thing is for certain though, I don't know if I will ever look at an elevator the same way again. But there is little doubt that I will be reading the rest, as soon as I get some sleep.

Recommended: Holy fuck yes! (You will get that when you read it.)