Sunday, September 23, 2012

50 Shades of Grey

by DionysusPsyche

Oh look, a noose from which to hang myself...nope, just a picture

According to Business Insider, this best-seller for 10 weeks in a row is beating all kinds of records. Number of copies sold by week, money dropped to secure film rights, etc. This series, based on Twilight fan fiction by E.L James, has had book stores and grocery stores selling out of the copies. What actually made me want to read it, however, was a review spouting how terrible it was (I'm posting it, but not quite yet). Unsure who to believe, I found the novel cheaper than I could pass up, so I snatched it up and took it home. It didn't take long to figure out who's side more accurately reflected my own. Below, I will try to be as objective as possible, even though it may seem otherwise.

Anastasia Steele is a clutzy, no self-esteem, bozo who has never liked a guy, kissed a guy, or held hands with a guy (I'm speaking off the cuff, and that last part was definitely part Back to the Future line, but no, I'm not exaggerating). That would make her eleven years old in human years (tops unless she's asexual, which she's not), but according to the novel, she's graduating college (still not entirely sure how or why). When her roommate, Kate, takes ill, Ana willingly interviews the mysterious Christian Grey, an intimidating entrepreneur and philanthropist, who is an alumni of their university. After making a horrible first impression, Ana falls into a topsy turvy "relationship" with Chrisian.

I've had my share of fantasy novels, where I've had to suspend my belief (to clarify, a genre combined with sci-fi, not to be confused with erotica which the novel is, sort of, "not until chapter ____!" claimed one fan). I've read bad writing, created bad writing, and attempted to edit bad writing. I've read it, and I've come to the assumption that this novel was never actually edited (I can only assume the editor died of disgust). This one takes the shit disguised as cake cake. The characters are completely unbelievable--ridiculous, cliche to the point of nausea, and dumber than a bag of...anything, really, just take your pick.

Like this, but less sparkly

On the bright side, the novel is a fast read. Easy, because you already know where it's going. Easy, because this book diluted and dressed up on the freaking best seller list as "literature," goes fast when there's nothing but air between you and the pages and the author's brain. Hard, because it hurts to read it. The foreshadowing screams. The main character is a whiny piece of cardboard that you want to get into a BDSM relationship just so someone will smack her around a little (or a car crash, since they're rarely construed as sexual). The only personality that she displays is one of lacking. She's jealous of her beautiful, smart best friend. She can't understand what Christian would ever see in her, and is continually confused by his interest in her (honey, it's called a stalker). She works at a hardware store, but never describes anything related to this--nor could she be construed as helpful. She has two other men who are interested in her (again, I'm not sure why) whose existence she barely acknowledges. One even sounded fantastic, but Ana can't see him as a "literary hero." Based on her powers of observation and inability to even take a hint, she can't know what that means.

Unlike some of the best books I've read that begin with unforgettable sentences, incredible scenes, and strong, vivacious characters, our heroine begins her story by telling us about how much her hair sucks. If you don't believe me, read it. She follows this by telling us how her roommate got sick (basically on purpose) and is more or less forcing her through charm (whaaat?) to do an interview 3 hours away when the main character is not even a writer at the school's newspaper and has finals *foot stomp.* The book is full of these kinds of oversights, despicable displays of "typical girl stuff" which the author should be ashamed of, unnecessary repetition of descriptions, stupidity on every character's part, and chalk full of stereotypes (weak willed submissive woman meets strong and dominant man for vomit-inducing scenes!).

I would struggle to think of why this book is so popular, but the answer is easy. Sex. One of the creepiest things about this is the audience--housewives. In possibly one of the saddest articles I have ever read (not counting deaths and injury by abuse), women called into SiriusXM radio and told them that they loved how sexually confident Grey is and how he "takes care of" Ana. That's one point of view. Another is that he's a controlling, cold man who's attracted to a woman so stupid that she steps out into the street and almost gets hit by a bicyclist in one of the greenest cities ever. However, things she could learn from a small child could fill up the rest of this review, so I'll say this: ladies, if you want to be turned on by a novel, read one that's not degrading.

A screeching reminder that just because something is popular, does not make it good. Sadly (unless you're a fan of Stephanie Meyers), it even made me appreciate Twilight. Why? Well, this author did fan fiction about it first. She has two kids, and she's in her forties so...why is she doing fan fiction? Secondly, the whiny Bella is a teenager. Teenagers make a lot of stupid decisions.

The number of criticisms I could make about 50 Shades is nearly endless, so instead, I'll let this blogger say them instead. Read 50 Shades of Grey at your own curiosity and horror, if you want to lose faith in humanity, are looking to lower brain cells without doing drugs, or if your normal porn is getting too real or is stuck between the mattress and the wall. If you haven't practiced rolling your eyes lately or want some more expensive toilet paper than necessary, this book is definitely for you (or if you end up hating it after you finish it).

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