This week I finally got around to reading the much-talked-about debut novel ”Fifty Shades of Grey” by author E. L. James. I realize I’m late to the party, but I usually like to read other people’s opinions on books before I go ahead and buy them. The local library in my town is stocked with lots of translated works, so in order to read books in English, I have to buy them. That’s why I like to be relatively certain that I’ll like it before investing in it.
This book left me feeling confused, angry, violated, and a little bit turned on. I ask your forgiveness in advance for the long and ranting review that follows. For your convenience I’ve divided it into two posts, and I’ve headlined the content so you can jump straight to the parts that may interest you. Following is part one of my review; I’ll post the second part in a few days.
What I Knew Going In
What I knew about this book before I read it was that it was a debut novel and that everybody was talking about it. Well, nobody I knew in real life, but just about everybody on the celebrity gossip blogs (yeah, I read those) and everyone on the comment section for the book on Amazon. Uh. Yeah. I guess they would be. Anyways, I had gathered that the trend was that people generally had strong feelings about this book; they either loved it or hated it. Surprisingly few fell in between.
Also, I knew the book was a romance, and heavy on the, uh, physical aspects of love. I’d heard that the author was a previous Twilight fan fiction writer, and supposedly, this book was similar to Twilight in many, although naughtier, ways. Alright. Now, let’s dissect.
Let’s start with the Twilight comparisons. I found that the story does in fact sometimes resembles Twilight, but in very shallow ways. For instance the male lead is this larger than life, bronzed hair, hotness personified kind of guy with a fat bank account and stalker tendencies, who seems to know exactly what our heroine (or victim, if you will) is thinking. The story is set in the state of Washington, the heroine constantly chews her lip, and has never shown interest in a guy before, even though the men in her life are all swooning at her feet. Of course, she falls all over herself when she meets Christian, simply because he’s hot. Some of the dialogue in this book brings on Twilight flashbacks, like when Christian is criticizing Ana’s vehicle, doubting that it can make it safely to Seattle. Some of the scenes are even more similar to Twilight, almost directly taken from the book, like when Ana and Christian visits a café/restaurant and the waitress is swooning at his feet, while he’s ignoring her completely. Bella, uh, I mean Ana, points out his dazzling effect on women, her included, although she uses the word disarming instead of dazzling. There are lots of superficial similarities like this, but otherwise I don’t find this book anything like Twilight at all.
When I read on the back cover on a book that it’s romantic, liberating and totally addictive, I expect it to center around a love story. This is no love story. At all. This is a story of one royally screwed up guy (pun intended), who lays claim on a woman like the world hasn’t seen since the days of slavery trade. Most of the book is just sex, and not in a good way. I’ll admit that I did know before reading it that this book had aspects of S&M, but really I just expected a little light bondage… you know, because Rihanna made it sound like so much fun. Turns out, I’m not that into what this book is selling. In its defense, there were scenes that were oddly tantalizing, fun in a kinky kind of way. And then there were the scenes that made me want to reach into the book and strangle the life out of Christian Grey until the light in his fucked up smoldering grey eyes died out, like the Schwarzenegger cyborg’s at the end of the Terminator.
To be continued.