>> Friday, August 03, 2012
When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.I knew this book would not be my think. Sure, you can't really know until you actually read a book, but everything I'd heard about it made me certain I shouldn't even try to. I DO NOT read books I think I won't like just to write angry reviews about them. But then my book club chose 50 Shades of Grey for our August read (and this, by the way, is a mixed, about 50-50 male-female book club). And since I actually run the thing, no way I could just skip the month.
Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.
Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.
Well, no surprises. I thought it was badly written and a total mess. It took me about 3 weeks to read a bit over half of it, and then I just had to give up. I'd pick it up, read 10 or 20 pages, and got so angry I had to put it down.
Christian is a creepy douchebag, and sleazy, to boot. I hated how he was pressuring Ana into something she not only wasn't ready for, but wasn't even sure she wanted to try. Still, my reaction to him was mostly just "blergh". I would normally have detested him, but the thing is, the person he was being so horrible to was Ana, and she was the one who made me properly angry. I utterly despised the dumb little idiot.
Who the hell is this woman? Makeup "intimidates her", so she doesn't wear it. Not only is she a virgin, she hasn't ever even masturbated. She has no idea BDSM even exists. She doesn't even own a computer, or have an email address. What? She has the money to buy a car, but not an old, second-hand computer, if only to write her essays for uni? In fact, how the FUCK does someone graduate from university without a computer or email? Using her housemate's computer? Don't make me laugh. And why am I even getting angry about this, when there's so much more that's utter crap here? Like the fact that James is selling this unwordly, blank-minded cow as the ideal woman who every man wants?
And speaking of crap, or rather, holy crap... I wanted to slit my own throat every time Ana said it. Or just crap. Or holy shit. Or holy moses. Or... you get the picture. And since she did that ridiculously often, that meant the book made me feel suicidal. Oh, and don't get me started on Ana's subconscious (yeah, the word doesn't mean what you think it means, EL), and her utterly despisable "inner goddess".
Seriously, though, I hate that this book is so popular. I hate that many people's first experience of a romance novel (because that's what this is) is something this badly written, with such problematic messages. BDSM is not a valid lifestyle choice, but a symptom that one is fucked up, and it can be cured by the love of a good woman. A good woman is one who is preposterously unworldly and "pure", and who allows a man she's just met to control her sexuality. Ugh. Yeah, sorry, I don't have a sense of humour about this.
I'm also pissed off about the influence it is having and it will have on other books. Fortunately, publishers seemed to have latched on to the BDSM. This is an element that's just not my cup of tea, but should be easy enough for me to avoid in other books. I suspect they're getting it wrong, though (not least because although they talk about all sorts of kinky things, the sex I read was pretty vanilla, and it appears, from what my reading group people said, that it continues that way). I think what a lot of people actually liked, and what has made it such a runaway success, is precisely the relationship dynamics that I despised. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that publishers won't quite get that (just as they thought what people liked about Twilight was the vampires, rather than the creepy Bella-Edward relationship), and that I won't start accidentally stumbling upon the type of romance heroine that was so common in the bad old days of romance and that is fortunately a lot harder to find these days.
The one good point? The discussion at my book club was fantastic. Given what I'd seen in discussions online, I started out by requesting that people refrain from making assumptions about people who liked the book, but I needn't have worried. The discussion was non-judgmental enough that people who liked it were comfortable saying so, and people who hated it (and I think I was probably the most negative about it, even more than the lit fic-loving guy who objected so strongly to it when the book was picked last time) could also say exactly why. I really enjoyed that discussion, so in the end, I guess the moments of extreme annoyance were worth it.
MY GRADE: A DNF, strictly speaking, but the bits I read were a big, fat F, and I don't give those lightly.