I’m an avid reader as I’m sure you know, so I bought this book since it’s a recent controversial bestseller. I usually avoid those like the plague, but the first and only time I’d purchased one was when I started the Millenium trilogy. They were amazing, with a powerful message, so I began to think that I’d been wrong about commercial bestsellers all along.
They always seemed to be the only thing on the most boring peoples’ bookshelves, but they always contained such raunchy things; rape and violent sex in the Millenium books and graphic sex scenes in Birdsong are the two that come to my mind (note: I hated Birdsong). I could never imagine the boring occupants of the houses in which I found these books actually even contemplating things like that, but they’re part of a new-wave of politically correct British society wherein it’s almost fashionable to read about such things, but never to openly discuss them.
And so it is that I came to Fifty Shades of Grey. My brother told me that it had originally been a Twilight fanfiction, but I didn’t believe him until I looked it up. Well, he was right, but surely there must be something to it because it’s done so well. True, I hated Birdsong, but that was largely because I’m more than familiar with the First World War and I felt it was best served for those who weren’t, so why not give it a go?
I will tell you now that Fifty Shades of Grey is appalling. No other word for it, I’m afraid. The Bella character is re-named Anastasia (a rather grand name for a boring, blank character) and the Edward has been re-named Christian. Anastasia is a student, a virgin, and suffers from a complete lack of character development. Christian, however, has a bad case of the author trying too hard. He’s twenty-four, a billionaire, a cool, calm and collected businessman who mutters nonsensical ‘business things’ into his phone when he’s not grinning at Ana and snapping out witty remarks which would be funny if they weren’t so fucking stupid. He says that only when he’s not saying ‘eat’.
That was beyond irritating. He says it so many times I wanted to bloody throttle him. ‘Eat’, he says, over and over again, and even though he wants her to be his kinky sex slave, you’d never guess it from the way he tries to fatten her up like a Christmas goose. That, you see, his the point of the novel. He wants her to get into whips and chains, and she isn’t sure, until she tries it, and likes it. That’s about it.
In my opinion, the best literature is always ridiculous ideas done convincingly. George MacDonald Fraser and Kazuro Ishiguro are masters at this, I feel. This author, however, just bangs the same points in your face repeatedly, ‘He’s so clever! Handsome! Perfect! But troubled…’. The point is, it’s just far too blunt. She TELLS, never SHOWS, and I think the latter is the mark of a truly excellent novelist. Reading about whips and chains isn’t exactly my perfect Sunday afternoon, but if she’d portrayed Christian as a troubled individual who Ana felt compelled to pursue I’m sure it’d be more interesting. But she doesn’t do that. She just says ‘he’s really troubled because he was molested when he was a kid’, and then Christian will shoot off some sarcastic (yet somehow winning!) remark that seems so at odds with the character she’s trying to create.
Furthermore, there is very little to do with the actual romance. Most of the entire book is Christian begging to insert everything but the kitchen sink up Ana’s arse with the less-than tempting tagline of ‘You might like it…’, and Ana replying ‘Yes…no…maybe…oh, I’m just too much of a young, confused student who’s too vulnerable to be left alone with this young, handsome, unnaturally successful pervert!’
The writing as atrocious, every cliche you’ve ever read coming back to haunt you…several dozen times. Ana says ‘Jeez…’ in her head more times than I’ve had hot meals. I can’t help but think that the fact that the writer is in her late 40s writing fanfiction about Twilight has contributed to how awful this book is. I can almost hear her fapping away as she writes another dreadful scene of Ana (Bella) taking a pounding from Christian (Edward).
The way the title of the book is alluded to throughout the narrative is nothing short of pathetic. ‘I’m fifty shades of fucked up’ Christian says God knows how many times, the author clearly writing it thinking ‘Did they get that? Did they? I’m not sure…I didn’t mention it for three pages…best put it in again…’. And Ana mentioning his ‘grey eyes’. Oh…his name is Grey! Ha! How clever!
Suffice to say that it doesn’t help I hated the Twilight series itself. I know it was originally a fanfiction and she allegedly changed it, but she could have changed more than the names. That would show the slightest shred of creativity. ‘Your moodswings are giving me whiplash’ is one phrase apparently recurrent through Twilight. In this, we have ‘Your moodswings are making me dizzy’. Ah, what a transformation.
So there you go. A terrible excuse for a novel, yet it’s made that sexually frustrated 40-something a millionaire. Still, it just goes to show, why not just do the same?
You know, re-write Harry Potter as Garry Hagger and replace wands for dildos.