Fifty what what?
This summer, I have had a number of female acquaintances who either had read or were intrigued by the idea of reading a certain novel featuring a number and color in the title. Finally, as if through osmosis, my curiosity once again led me to wonder what the big deal is. So, today’s post, my first book review on this site actually, is brought to you by the number 50, the color Grey, and the letters
Now, don’t let me mislead you. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James, is nothing less than an instant classic. If it were a record, it’d be platinum. Why aren’t there platinum books? I guess because the ones for Stephen King would be too heavy.
Alright, so you may say sales in the millions does not make anything a classic. The album Cracked Rear View by Hootie and the Blowfish sold something like 14 million copies, and you don’t see Hootie nor any of the Blowfish in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. And on the subject of über-popular songs, let’s not forget that this young lady has nearly 38,000,000 views on YouTube:
I’ll just say that if you think so, I wouldn’t waste your $3 on a Powerball ticket tomorrow.
Hear me, friends, Romans, bored suburban soccer moms: I come to praise Ms. James, not to mock her. For I am but a poor and humble wordsmith, and if I could find such a formula to appeal to abovementioned bored suburban soccer moms, I would crank out such a trilogy faster than you can say “sellout.” I’d rake in the royalties, then once selling the movie rights, I’d happily retire from my day job and go write what I want to write.
However, I’ve got this creeping feeling that Ms. James actually wanted to write these very books, which makes me worry for her mental health, if not her pocketbook.
Enough of my prelude. Let’s get down (there) to the joy of reading this estimable tome!
So, this heartwarming tale is told by the first-person narrator, a 22-year-old young woman by the name of Anastasia Steele, which screams “stage name of a porn star trying a little too hard to sound classy” to me. Young, innocent, and naïve, Ana, as she goes by, begins the story by bailing out her roommate and best friend (aww, we love her already). Said friend, editor of their college newspaper, has fallen ill and cannot go to interview billionaire CEO Christian Grey, 27. So Ana goes in her stead. The billionaire bachelor is instantly taken by the demure, bumbling Ms. Steele, who literally trips over herself going into his office and is mortified when she reads the pre-written question: “Are you gay?”
Well, Mr. Grey is not gay. He likes his sex: kinky, sadistic, perhaps even depraved, but definitely with women. But, being the savvy businessman that he is, he requires his female companions to sign a contract.
Yep, it’s the classic “deal with the devil.” Not the only literary stereotype Ms. James employs, trust me. But this devil is just so hot, and not in the fire-and-brimstone way. He is an “Adonis” and Ana takes every opportunity to tell you so, describing in detail the deliciousness she perceives in every part of his body. Yes, including that part. Wow, I haven’t heard a young female narrator go on and on about a guy who is just so perfect and so out of her league and yet so inexplicably head over heels for her since…
Come to find out, Fifty Shades of Grey started out as a piece of Twilight fanfiction! You’re kidding me, right? I mean, who would have ever drawn any parallels between the two? Ms. James clearly anticipated this problem, and just like Stephenie Myers’s saga, set her story in the state of Washington. Just in case you didn’t get it when that first brick smashed into your forehead.
Christian Grey (I’m not even going to delve into the symbolism of his name, because if you can’t grasp that for yourself, you’d be better off reading some LOL Catz or something) is not a vampire, but he does enjoy biting… and whipping, and tying up, etc. Generally speaking, dude’s got some serious control issues. But he is so smitten with young, virginal Ana that he deigns to have “vanilla sex” with her, feeling self-assured that by convincing her that is only the tip (heh, heh) of the iceberg, she will surely want to sign the contract and “give herself to him.” Still, he warns her repeatedly at first to get away from him, until he is enraptured by her so. Predictably, she signs and hops on board to explore his “red room of pain” and all his “kinky f***ery.” This from a woman who had never even had a real kiss before meeting him.
Now, again, I must give Ms. James credit. Sure, the narrator/main character is 22, just graduated college, attractive enough to have two other guys who are attractive enough in their own right to be chasing after her, and she’s never so much as kissed or held hands, and seems to be completely out of touch (pun intended) with her own body. Somehow, she just couldn’t imagine how good it feels! I’m 22, why are all my friends wasting their time having sex all the time?
And sure, for someone who just earned a degree in English literature, Ana seems to have a limited vocabulary. She constantly “murmurs” and can only refer to her erogenous zone as “down there” and, most of all, becomes beholden to her “inner goddess” with this aforesaid “Adonis” and his constant “shadow of a smile.”
But again, as I was saying, I have to give Ms. James credit. I now know why so many women love this book. See, there’s a scene oh, about one-third of the way into the book, after young Ana has performed fellatio upon young Christian for the first time and he enjoyed it, shall we say, thoroughly, and in such a state of satiation states:
“I owe you an orgasm.”
DING DING DING! Just what every woman wants to hear, especially from a well-endowed 27-year-old billionaire who looks like he’s cut from marble and piloted you in his helicopter on your first date. Ah, who cares if he’s a sadist and has more issues that TIME magazine?
So, long story short. Basically, the worse Mr. Grey treats her in the bedroom, the more orgasms Ana has. Which makes you wonder about her own mental state, although I speculate that most attractive 22-year-old women with an average amount of experience/partners would not get off on being abused so much, if they had any modicum of self-respect.
Now, I must confess. Around this point, I stopped reading the book. Because one of three things could happen:
1) If she said “inner goddess” one more time, I was going to throw my nook against the wall. And I really like my nook.
2) I couldn’t see the screen, as my eyes were veiled with tears, either from laughing so hard, or from feeling the sheer pain of the prose itself crying, unheeded, for some much-needed editing.
3) I would have liked to continue reading, but it was time for my root canal, and that was a bit more appealing.
So in the end, popular and profitable as it may be, bad writing is as bad writing does,
I am a guest writer on my best friend Rebecca’s blog, Lady or Not…Here I Come and for today, she challenged both of us to post a review of the same book. If you think mine is funny, you should check out hers! Click Here