I just finished the book "Fifty Shades of Grey." Honestly, I cannot see what the fuss is all about. I first heard stirrings of it amongst the PTA set, but nothing in great enough detail to make me run right out and buy the book, only that it was supposed to be causing a "stir." It wasn't until it graced the cover of the most recent Entertainment Weekly, that I took another look. According to the article, the book is supposed to be the "every woman's" erotica of the day, bringing the steamy side of life to the forefront. One of the main characters (the male) participates in a BDSM lifestyle and hopes to bring the other main character (the female) over to his "dark side." She yearns for love and they struggle to find the medium ground. Their ideologies clash when she realizes that he cannot love her the way that she loves him, and also realizes that she cannot submit herself completely to the type of dominance he requires to feel anything.
After reading the EW article, I was ready to read. Sign me up, let's get it started! The article promised titillation and steamy scenes, erotic prose and heart-thumping heat, and told of controversy over content and even compared it to other books of days gone by, banned by governments and deemed "obscene."
I bought the e-book and dove right in. After about 20% of the book, I found myself wondering when the real "action" would begin. By 50%, I was wondering if I had bought the right book. The writing is pedestrian and rivals that of a school girl secretly scribbling her heart's desires in her diary, under the cover of darkness. I've read cheesy romance novels with more steam than this piece of fiction, and the underlying sexual tension between Ranger and Stephanie Plum that is left to your imagination in the Janet Evanovich books does more for the female libido than the scenes played out between James' characters directly on the pages.
Yes, they say "fuck" a lot in this book. Yes, there are sex scenes in which the characters engage in some bondage and/or dominance role play. But have we devolved so much to our puritanical beginnings that many are labeling this book "trash" or "smut" or obscene? I really do think that I read the wrong novel, if that is the case. And no, I did not see many redeeming qualities to this book, nothing that might save it from the harsh criticism that it may well deserve.
A self-proclaimed "Twihard" (uber-fans of the Twilight books and movies) Ms. James began her tale on a fan site, posting chapters for free that other fans would read. Given that humble beginning, it is easy to see why the writing seems so juvenile. The Twilight series was written for a young adult audience, and although many adults have clamored to read the tales as well, the writing remains geared to young adults. There is nothing deeply earth shattering in James' writings either, no challenges on a grand scale that her characters must experience, it is more simply a tale of two people finding their way in a relationship and not even a truly steamy one at that.
The EW article also mentioned that some of the BDSM movement were upset over the book, claiming that it painted the lifestyle in the wrong light and that the male character's actions went beyond the acceptable "norm" of BDSM and more towards destructive and dangerous behavior. To them, I say not to even waste their time. While I do not profess to know alot about the BDSM lifestyle, I have read enough other novels and literature to know that this book doesn't do the lifestyle any harm. While I haven't read the second and third books in the trilogy (and probably won't,) I don't believe that the male character's issues are related to the lifestyle, but rather seem to be based on his struggle with finding a woman that he truly likes and wants to be with, and having to reconcile his own desires with the fact that she has a life of her own. I didn't see him as overly controlling, and the times it did come across, I didn't read it thinking that it related to his proclivities.
In any event, I would have to chalk this novel up to a wasted effort on my part. I went in expecting some exciting reading, some hot and steamy scenes and walked away feeling let down. Ladies, if you want hot and steamy reading, there are a few romance novelists that I can point you too. They may not use the "f" word nearly as much as James did, but they can certainly weave a tale with much more finesse, and what is left unsaid in the novels is brought to life in your imagination and you aren't left disappointed.
To those out there in my circle who have not read this but were curious, I'd say not to worry about it. But, if you must find out for yourselves, find a way to borrow it from someone, rather than spending your money. This book is $10 down the drain for me.