Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James

Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James

From The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle to Fifty Shades of Grey. Well, people can’t accuse me of not having eclectic taste in books.

I got these books on Kindle some time ago right when it was getting a bit of buzz. I didn’t even know what they were about other than vaguely it was romance. Two of my best girlfriends read it, and both of them got into it. The more popular the books became, the more I saw the necessity of reading it. I am always fascinated by certain bestsellers

A couple months ago, I randomly read a chapter of this book, and I was put off by the bad writing. This book was in serious need of an editor’s touch or rather, a severe dress down. Last week, one of my friends told me to look at the hilarious Amazon.com reviews of the book, and I finally buckled and read the book. One of the reviews on Amazon pointed out the bad writing and the author’s repetitive use of words.

The following words made me roll my eyes ad nauseaum (and Grey can come on over to punish me for it): murmuring (don’t these people know how to talk?!), muttering, control, control freak, hot as a synonym to describe Grey, the Briticisms (which would be fine if any of these characters were actually British), and many other small things. For example, why didn’t Ana have a computer? I don’t know any person who went to university/college in the last five to ten years to not have a personal computer. How can two high GPA college girls share one laptop?

Ana’s vocabulary also ranges from preteen to decent adult. It is inconsistent for an English major. I also did not like references to Ana’s subconscious and inner goddess. It was amusing the first couple of times, but grew increasingly juvenile.

I have read a lot of fanfiction spanning several fandoms over the years. The novel reads like fanfiction. Not surprising since it was originally a piece of Twilight fanfic. It still feels like it though. It’s unpolished and it feels indulgent. Even the comparisons to Tess of the D’Urbervilles is half-hearted. It’s a lot of sex, but not a lot of character development or much of anything.

Ana is slightly better than Bella (the reason I dislike Twilight the most), and there some moments early on when I even related to Ana. As the novel progressed, I became more and more indifferent to her due to the inconsistencies and the feeling that she wasn’t all that well developed.

I admit that Christian Grey is different and much better than Edward Cullen, but like Cullen, he feels more like a product of women’s fantasies than an actual man. Not to say that good looking, wealthy, kinky young men don’t exist, but they are hard to come by especially the way Grey is. I think the reason that this book is so popular, aside from the sex scenes, is that Grey is one of the best fictional sex symbols I’ve read in a long time. The author makes him mysterious, sexy, charismatic, cold, playful, bad, passionate, communicative, intelligent, severe, attentive, strong, beautiful, distant, warm and it goes on. He has traits enough for most women’s fantasies and traits for the ideal romantic man. He is both repressed emotionally and sexually expressive. He is wealthy, cold, and distant, but needy and in lust enough for the heroine (who is the reader’s stand in). I have to say the author did a good job of making a character that so many women desire. On the other hand, it sometimes feels that Grey is a vacuum as a result and not a real character. He is made to be a perfect man even with his flaws; his flaws are what make him so appealing to many women. There just isn’t enough character development in this first part. I will give credit where credit is due; it’s not often an author creates a character that affect the admiration of so many women.

I won’t say I love this book, but I finished it quickly enough both because of the vocabulary, the content, and there is a certain addictive quality. I am rather disheartened to think that such a mediocre piece of writing is making this much money. Ahh well, the mass wants what the masses want. Anyway, onto the sequel.

Read on my Kindle August 25-27th 2012.

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