Title: Fifty Shades of Grey
Author: E L James
Publisher: Vintage, 2012
Rating: 2 stars
This book has been getting mad press lately. By “mad” I mean a crazy lot and also angry press. Lots of people think this kind of novel is porn and shouldn’t be so widely covered in the news and corrupting our youth and housewives or whatever. They have a beef with it.
I also have a beef with it. I love romance novels, ok? I admit it. They are satisfying because of their (usually absurd) conflict and tumultuous journey to a resolution—where the hero and heroine love each other and all is well.
This book is extremely misogynistic, especially for modern romance. The hero is a psychologically effed up “Dom” who wants to control everything including a virginal girl, who he wants to make his “Sub,” yet she somehow still has all the power. I might believe that if she was even remotely emotionally intelligent. She’s as green as they come, and she won’t let you forget it. Ana is an emotional wreck the entire book and I want to shake her and be like homegirl, GET IT TOGETHER. One second she’s making him mad and basking in her ability to infuriate him and the next she’s like oh crap Christian Grey is fifty shades of pissed off, I’m scared. Plus, what girl in college doesn’t own a cell phone or a computer—can we at least TRY to be believable?
Let’s ignore the fact that Fifty Shades of Grey is completely unrealistic for a very hot second. It’s is an intriguing story that brings to light some dark fantasies, which probably should come with a warning label: Careful trying at home, may actually inflict real pain and psychological damage. By the way, Ana has clearly never watched an episode of SVU. If she had, she’d be running for the hills when Grey buys cable, rope, and duct tape from her hardware store! But whatever. Right? The difference between pain and pleasure is a fine line. Some people are into that Sub, Dom stuff. That’s not what bothered me.
The writing is repetitive, the heroine is annoying, and Christian Grey is very Dexter-serial-killer. I mean, I resoundingly applaud anyone who can write a story that has the country going completely wild. However, I expected so much more from this book! Why? I don’t know.
I found myself constantly rolling my eyes when Grey and Ana EMAIL each other. I shit you not there are fully transcribed emails that will bore you to tears. Pretty sure a Christian Grey would have heard of sexting. Plus, Grey is always like Ana, stop biting your lip *sexually frustrated growl* and he says “Laters baby” like is some clever joke. Puke. It’s terrible. Cut out half of those lines and the book would be reduced to 450 pages. If an even minutely talented editor had hacked away some of excess, I would have been grateful.
So why is this particular book so popular? I can come up with some answers, but they aren’t all that satisfying: 1) in a world where women are becoming increasingly dominant and empowered in many aspects of life, they want to feel what it’s like to be the powerless one (I HATE this answer). 2) this is a peak into a sexual relationship that is new and daring—bondage, you don’t see that everyday! 3) snowball effect: everyone’s reading it/talking about it. Can anyone give me a satisfactory answer to the question: Why is this book so popular?!
P.S. y’all should read this funny discussion on Book Riot about Fifty Shades.