Saturday, March 23, 2013

My First Review: Fifty Shades of Grey

Book: Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy
Author: E. L. James
Contemporary Romance, BDSM

Okay, I'm changing my previous 3 Star rating to a Book Burning.
Upon further consideration and closer scrutiny I have come to the conclusion that Fifty Shades of Grey is one big rip off from other authors. We already knew that it was Twilight without the fangs and sparkles, but now I have come to see that E.L. James has also ripped off BDSM Erotic Romance authors who are not as well known and hence the rip off wasn't immediately noticed. Now that I see it, though, it's so obvious and I can't give E.L. James credit. She just won the lottery jackpot of luck and cashed out. It's not deserved. I won't deny, however, that the success of Fifty Shades has trickled down to other authors in the form of new readers, who otherwise would not have known about this genre. So, there, not all is awful, but I just don't think this author is deserving.


I've debated a few titles for this one.. Fifty Shades of Bad, etc. I'm sure we've heard it all from the BDSM community about how E. L. James butchered her attempt at good BDSM erotica. And I agree. However, I don't think it's all bad, which is why I gave her 3 stars.

If you're looking for a good plot, great writing, great erotica and good BDSM this is not the book for you. The book is clearly based on Twilight. It's very reminiscent of fan fiction. The main heroine, Anna Steele, is klutzy, innocent, and unaware of her beauty (Bella Swan anyone?) and Christian Grey is the mysterious hero who is so drawn to her, yet he's trying to fight the attraction, albeit not very hard and quite unsuccessfully. He even tries to warn her off just like Edward in Twilight. Except his reason isn't that he might suck her dry or turn her into a bloodsucker, hence destroying her soul (Edward's concern). Christian Grey's reason is that he's a sadist and wants to paddle her ass... I'm still not sure why that's a bad thing, so I never understood trying to warn Anna off. 

Also, E. L. James based the book in Washington, just like Twilight, but for some odd reason she didn't research the local lingo and has Anna Steele "phoning" and "ringing" people, going "on holiday" and using a "smart rucksack." I'm not  expecting Dickens' ability to bring characters to life by using the dialect specific to their station and location, but a reasonable understanding the local slang would have been nice.  

My biggest issue with Fifty Shades of Grey is that it's clear that E. L. James did just about as much research on BDSM as she did on the local American slang. That's pretty irresponsbile, especially with how popular this book is. She portrays Christian Grey as an experienced Dominant and Sadist. Anna Steele is a complete innocent. She's a virgin and doesn't even know that kink exists until she sees Christian's "red room of pain," as she dubs it. That's all fine and good, for a natural submissive and/or masochist that wouldn't matter... It's sometimes nice to see how a character develops while struggling through accepting a darker part of themselves, such as reconciling being a submissive woman in a society where we're taught that we shouldn't let men "subjugate" us, etc.

However, Anna really isn't submissive and she's not a masochist. She enjoys fun bedroom games and she's okay with submitting sexually with very minimal pain involved... which, again, is perfectly fine. To each their own. The issue I have is that E. L. James doesn't let it be a discovery of fun bedroom games, she makes it into a big mental health issue for Christian Grey... She portrays his sadistic tendencies as a deep-rooted mental health issue that started in his childhood and put it on par with Edward Cullen's dilemma in Twilight - turn Bella into a vampire and destroy her soul or kill her by accident or let her go. Come on now... that's a bit dramatic. So Christian wants to beat Anna's ass. He's kinky, not a psychopath and not a vampire in danger of losing control and killing her by accident. Can I roll my eyes? Cause I did. A lot.

Though, really, I don't think that E. L. James knows what a good Dominant is like... cause Christian is way more domineering than just plain dominant. But whatever. Otherwise, he's your fairy tale prince with lots of $$$, class, generosity, ability to dance and the ability to be in the right place at the right time whenever you need him in that right place... cause maybe it was the wrong place for you and you needed him there to make it right. Yeah, cliche. Also, did I mention it's Twilight with a BDSM twist and no vampires? In case, I didn't mention it, let me just reaffirm that it is. Down to the part where the hero buys the heroine a new car because her old car wasn't up to his snuff.

Okay, so the book takes us through their journey together - Anna coming to terms with her devious bedroom desires and learning to deal with Christian's domineering ways, while Christian learns to rein in his sadistic and domineering tendencies to keep Anna from running the other way. There was a bad guy, as most of these types of romance books have. There were some hardships they needed to overcome, a little bit of heartbreak. And, of course, there's a happily ever after with lots of love. The sex scenes are pretty steamy, the BDSM is pretty mild, but creative - the scenes did not repeat themselves (unlike some other books I've read since). So, it was pretty readable. However, Anna was pretty annoying and there were quite a few times I wanted to slap her or choke her a little, or maybe a lot.

Overall, I liked the book, even with all the issues. I enjoyed reading it. But then, I enjoyed reading Twilight, not to be confused with enjoying the movies.. cause those were vomit-worthy. Whoever said that Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart have chemistry is not the brightest crayon and their acting is awful on so many levels I can rant about them for a while. So, lucky you, this isn't a Twilight movie review. Anyway, it's a good gateway book. Before reading FSOG I had no idea that there was a whole world of erotica romance out there. I discovered some awesome authors after this revelation, hence I give Fifty Shades of Grey 3 stars and dub it The Gateway Book.

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  1. You're right! For many people 50 Shades IS a gateway book. It has brought many new erotic romance/erotica readers to the market.

    It's funny, but very few reviews of FSOG (yours being the exception) mention the sex scenes, and they are the best part of the book in that they are well-written. They don't repeat, which is hard to do when there are multiple scenes in a book. And they are steamy.

    1. It's so the gateway book! I've seen a few people get turned on to kink and erotica all because they read FSOG. I didn't know the erotica genre existed before reading FSOG. Which is crazy. I feel like I've been living under a rock!

      As for the sex scenes... That's a big reason I enjoyed FSOG. There was definitely creativity there. Obviously, FSOG had some major issues and when recommending a good BDSM book, this would not be my first choice. But the scenes they did have together were good. :-)