I couldn’t finish it. The characters were too infuriating, the writing too poor, and the pacing too aggravatingly slow. That said, I believe there are three issues I need to address (and if you haven’t read the post that comes before this one, I suggest you do). Since I don’t really have any funny cartoons to throw in for these three issues, I thought I’d intersperse those phone booth pictures I talked about two posts ago, since I said I’d share them. That way you’ll have something to look at in between blocks of text. Here’s one to get you started:
Issue 1: Do I hate BDSM?
No. Not at all. I’m very aware that that community or sect or whatever you want to call it exists, and I’m fine with it. I’d never partake myself, but I’m not morally against it or something. I even have a friend, we’ll call her M, who delved into that world herself, and she offered me some insight. Basically she said a lot of the things that happen in Fifty Shades are crazy, and I agree. I don’t take issue with the BDSM, I take issue with the way Christian Grey is “Dominant.” First of all, he tells Anastasia that she has a choice, that she can walk away from him at any time, and he offers her a contract to sign (not legally binding) if she chooses to be his Sub. (From randomly flipping through the book, my friend, M, and I found out that about 400 pages in, she still hadn’t signed it. Just saying. Pacing.) But before Anastasia signed the contract, Christian started taking control of her life. He bought her a brand new car because he decided he didn’t like the old clunker she was driving, and he showed up at her place and started “training” her to be a Sub. Which I just saw as manipulative and emotionally abusive. Then M told me, from reading through a few of the BDSM scenes, that the whole relationship was just plain wrong at times, and that Christian did things that would never be involved in basic training of a Sub (like hitting her genitalia with a riding crop). That’s as much as I’m going to say on the subject. Sure, M isn’t a professional expert professor scientist psychologist, but she’s been there, done that, and her opinion is good enough for me. I don’t want to risk attempting “research” because typing anything related to BDSM in Google could result in trauma, even with safe search on.
Issue 2. What’s this about the book starting out as a Twilight fan fic?
On my last post, a commenter pointed out that this book started out as Twilight fan fiction. Later that day, while talking to my sister, she told me she’d heard the same thing. Again, I didn’t do research. I don’t care enough. Hearing it from two people is good enough for me. So let me just say, if that is the case, then I am not very happy. Think about it. Without knowing this book’s history, and therefore without actively looking for similarities to Twilight, I found and pointed out a plethora of likenesses. Then, when I heard about its origins, I thought the book might get better if I tried to read it as a parody. But that didn’t work. The fact of the matter is that Fifty Shades is not close enough to Twilight to be a parody. Nightlight is a parody of Twilight; Fifty Shades of Grey isn’t. On the other hand, it’s not nearly far enough away from Twilight to be acceptable taken on its own. To me, E L James has blatantly ripped off many ideas from a bestselling novel, barely masked that fact, and then sold something that only seems to be masquerading as an original work. Want to know how I feel about that? How would you feel if someone stole your dog, gave it a new collar, and called it their own? And everyone just believed them? I know Twilight isn’t my…dog. It isn’t even a good dog. But that still rubs me the wrong way.
Issue 3. Ok, but how’s the writing?
It’s terrible. I already voiced a few of my grievances in my last post, and in this one, but let me just go into a little more detail. First of all, I lost count of how many times Anastasia would bite her lip, and then Christian would tell her how much that made him want her (my terms are nicer than the ones he used) and then she would comment on how she hadn’t even realized she was doing it. There were also the millions (exaggeration, yes, but it did feel that way) of meals they shared where Anastasia lost her appetite because she was thinking about sex, which then aggravated Christian who ordered her to eat (even though she hadn’t officially entered a Dom/Sub relationship with him) and then she grudgingly ate what she could stomach. E L James just got these ideas in her head, and then used them and used them until I was ready to throw the book across the room.
But the worst by far were Anastasia’s inner goddess and subconscious. Every page, something would happen and it would be, “My inner goddess stood up and roared like a lion and then did the Highland Fling. My subconscious called me a ‘ho’ and then shot some pigeons with a semiautomatic rifle.” (Not a direct quote) Maybe once or twice, that would have been cute, but it was on almost every page. And I wasn’t even lying about her subconscious calling her a ho (when Christian bought her things, that’s when it called her that).
It gets better. E L James seems to have failed to grasp the meaning of “subconscious.” See when you’re conscious of something, it means you’re aware of it. So if something is subconscious, it is below the consciousness or out of awareness. Therefore, Anastasia should never once have been aware of what was going on in her subconscious. But I think I figured it out. She got “subconscious” and “conscience” confused, poor thing.
Lastly, Anastasia’s friend and roommate, Kate, catches her crying once and says something like, “But you never cry!” I swear, though, that girl does nothing but cry throughout the part of the book I read. At least four times. She never finds a way to stop, or even mentions that she’s usually able to keep herself from crying. Something. Anything. She just cries and cries…like a person who is very accustomed to crying. That was just a laughable mistake.
Boy did that take forever. But I’m done now, and I’m washing my hands of that book. It gets an F- as far as I’m concerned. If you stuck with me this far, thanks for reading all that. I hope it was at least amusing. Word of the Day? Got two of ’em for ya.
Subconscious (adj) – existing or operating in the mind beneath or beyond consciousness.
Conscience (n) – the inner sense of what is right or wrong in one’s conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action.