When 50 Shades of Crap, excuse me, Grey, was all the rage about three years back, I reviewed it on my other blog. Seeing as the movie is now coming out, I thought it would be good timing to release an adapted version of that review here.
What prompted me to read such trashy fare from the literary s–tpile, you might ask?
Writer’s envy, plain and simple. I had to see what the competition was up to.
Actually, at first I wasn’t going to check what the competition was up to. I resisted for the longest time. I wasn’t going to pay money for such crap, and crap I was very sure it must be, based on thousands of Amazon reviews (though there are also thousands more that nothing but rave). I resisted until one day my husband – who doesn’t read ANY books – was telling me that I needed to write something more like 50 Shades instead of (insert deprecating gesture) travel memoirs. Because, obviously, 50 weird pieces of bedroom accessories was what’s selling, not fifty tire changes in the desert. Or maybe he wanted me to read it so that I could learn from it and bring outlandish gadgets of my own to the bedroom. I mean, more outlandish than my iPhone with the latest audio book, because clearly that didn’t involve HIM in any way and therefore should be banned from the marital bed.
Where was I? Oh, the competition. I have to give it to EL James. Apart from using such a clever pen name, she’s done her market research. And has realized that not only do most readers, let’s face it, not have terribly high standards, but that with the arrival of inconspicuous e-readers the most tacky romance novels could safely be consumed without any shame. Anyone seeing you with it, say, riding the train, would be none the wiser. For all the world you could look like a 40-something business professional perusing the latest annual report, brow furrowed at a particularly vexing number, when in reality you were feeling very naughty and getting a little wet in your panties between chapters 2 and 3.
I was fully prepared to blast 50 Shades to smithereens once I was done
devouring reading it. But I’m a fair minded person. And in all fairness, it – gasp! – wasn’t that bad.
Of course the plot stank. I mean, most everything in the story is totally unrealistic, starting with the main character, the enigmatic Mr. Grey and his billion-dollar corporation which he, only in his twenties, somehow successfully runs God knows when, because he is actually having sex around the clock. Or shopping for sex toys. Or writing suggestive emails.
And the characters were so one-dimensional that any Donald Duck comic qualifies as Pulitzer material in comparison. You will have to put up with all of the female protagonist’s teenage naivete, which, frankly, becomes very tedious very quickly. She will bore you to death with the conversations she conducts with both her subconscious and her “inner goddess” about such world-shaking issues as the degrees of her blushing and tingling skin, and you will beg, BEG, for Christian Grey to seduce her already in that bedroom of his with all the sex toys, just so she will shut her pretty little mouth.
Also, some of you might object to the language and all the frequent sprinklings of holy cow and holy shit and, the crowning iteration, holy fuck. A lot of shades of holy somethings. In fact, probably fifty of them, come to think of it.
So… bad plot, bad characters, and some bad language, yes, but I was expecting the REAL villains of bad writing: Typos, missed commas, and any number of grammatical errors. Now THOSE would have been awful, but I couldn’t find them. The editor, if nothing else, was very thorough. I’m a stickler about English grammar, and if I can read this, anybody can. As, in fact, they all do. Holy cow, do they read this book!
Back to the plot: As you’ve probably heard, it’s basically an excuse to string one erotic – one might call it kinky porn – scene after another, each one more captivating (and, frankly, strange) than the last so that by mid-book you will readily insert all the holy craps yourself at the appropriate moments. The big question is, will Ana actually sign her lover’s agreement to go along with all his weird bedroom demands, and all you can think as a reader is yes, yes, please do, because I really want to know what else comes next! For all that’s wrong with this book, the author has figured out the one secret to successful writing: To get you to turn the page. And when you get to the end, to get you to buy the next book.
Which we all have done, at a clip of forty million copies worldwide for the trilogy. Holy shit, 40 million!
There’s one thing I can’t get out of my head. If you believe the adage that you should write about what you know best, as I do, then what must the author’s sex life look like? I shudder to think of all the cookies on her internet browser left over from her research. I blush to think of the Google ads she must be bombarded with.
But wherever she gets her inspiration from, let’s face it, this woman can write a yarn that sells. Have I told you yet how well it sells? Holy fuck!
So there you have it. Some fellow writers might chew me out for even suggesting it, but I’m taking my hat off to EL James. Given the choice, I’d rather have written Harry Potter than Fifty Shades, or actually One Hundred Years of Solitude rather than Harry Potter,but seeing as I did neither, it hardly matters. I think I’ll have to introduce some really kinky gadgets into my travel stories.
But first, please excuse me while I figure out how to delete a certain book from our Kindle archives, lest the kids download it for their bedtime reading.
Have I talked you into or out of it? If the former, then buy your copy HERE, so I can at least get Amazon Associates points. I’m shameless that way:
Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy, Kindle version
Fifty Shades Darker: Book Two of the Fifty Shades Trilogy, Kindle version
Fifty Shades Freed: Book Three of the Fifty Shades Trilogy, Kindle version
And here for the fun spin-off ones:
Please do not tell my husband about this last one, or my life will become fifty shades busier: