Over the past couple of months, I've heard people talking about Fifty Shades of Grey. I considered picking it up a few times, but I'm the kind of girl who reads the bad reviews before leaping into a $10-15 purchase. I'm bad ass that way.
A lot of the bad reviews harped on the bad writing, 1 dimensional characters, and unbelievable plot, so I ignored it.
Then, we were at the book store, and I had totally just finished the Alien Dragon Sex book, so I was in the mood for something fun to review. I started it with the intentions of totally eviscerating it. Did I love it? Hate it? Well, while the review was 4 FUCKING pages long in word, it is worth a peek if you want to know my book club style thoughts on the over all book.
Check out my thoughts after the link, if you are coming in on my main page, and not directly to the page itself. If you came to the page itself, just ignore this. It's pointless drivel at this point.
Thoughts: While I highly enjoyed the books from a story stand point, there are some points I would like to touch on that are the main reasons why these books get bad reviews.
1. These were originally written as Twilight Fan Fiction, and reworked, re-named, and published as real books. How does this pertain to the book? This is not the first time this has happened, though it is easily the most notable case of a Fan Girl turning a story into a source of income.
To expand on that, let me first say this. I have in the past written my own fan fiction. No, I won't share what type, or what my screen name is. I do still avidly read fan fiction. It's a way for me (and many others) to enjoy their favorite characters long after the movie, book, or television show is done. It allows us to realize our own thoughts on what those characters should be doing.
As with any style of writing, there are good writers and bad. There are some phenomenal writers out there who write fan fiction. In many instances, those who write it might not have the initial guts to start their own world. They may love writing, but may not have the courage to share their own characters with the world.
That said, there is often a heavy theme of angst in the fan fiction world. At least, in the heavily romanticized characters. By that, I mean that the FF writers love seeing our characters happy, but we hate seeing the story end. The best way to accomplish carrying on a story, is by tossing in a new problem, solving it, getting everyone happy, then starting the cycle over again.
This is actually one of my biggest complaints in the FF world- good writers who don't know when to stop their story. I realize that many people out there (ranging from people who have never even heard of FF before, to those like me, who avidly read or write it) have very drastic views on whether or not writing FF is really writing.
I mean, you're following a world someone else created. You're taking on characters that aren't yours. You're not breathing life into something new- you haven't given birth to the story, you've merely adopted it on it's 10th birthday, and taken over.
So, given that, it's not unusual to get people who will fight tooth and nail to knock the writers down a peg.
Writing style in the FF world varies greatly from what one would expect to see in a book bought off a shelf. The angst, namely, is a big part of it. There is also the aspect that the FF writers can sometimes concentrate heavily on one aspect, while ignoring others.
Again, as I have both read and written Fan Fiction before, these style changes are not new to me, nor were they unexpected once I learned that Fifty Shades was originally Fan Fiction.
2. Would this story constitute a BDSM relationship? In my mind, no. To me, it's a relationship with kinky fuckery involved. Yes, the idea behind the book is that you have this rich, gorgeous man who is a Dom in his sex life. He expects his women to be completely submissive in everything.
And yet, the entire series revolves around the one woman he falls for who isn't any of those things. The one person he can neither control, or lose. There are definitely aspects of BDSM involved in the story. Rules of submission, sex toys that most couples would probably never think to use without some prodding, and an over all control-freak tendency when the main guy is dealing not just with the woman he is with, but in nearly all aspects of his life.
Kinky fuckery aside, this book is about a relationship. About a man and woman who fall in love.
3. Is this book porn? This really ties in with question number 2. Undoubtedly, there is a highly sexual nature to the book. The author does not shy away from talking about sex- before the act, during the act, after the act. It's a big part of the story, but it isn't the only meat on the bones.
Sex in this story shows the evolution of Christian, who goes from a controlling, cold, untouchable Dom, to a loving partner. He grows as a person, and as a lover, and the aspect of sex helps show where that comes into play.
I don't consider this to be porn. It's Erotica- which is a story that involves a sexual nature. Sex isn't the focus. The story line is not second to the sex, the sex is second to the story line. And again, this part ties in greatly with the Fan Fiction style of writing.
Sex makes a large filler for the angst ridden up's and down's of the Fan Fiction world.
4. It's been suggested by some readers that the character of Christian is a cold, one dimensional character from start to finish. Would you agree? I really did not see the character as either cold, or one dimensional once we were able to get to know him.
He has some aspects of his persona that could come off as off-putting and cold. He's controlling. He controls his women, his employees, the media- he needs an aspect of control in his world.
This is a quality that is not appealing to everyone. Some people will read this, and wonder what the fuss is about, because they have no desire to have some guy controlling their life, and that's fine- it's all about personal preference.
Others will see that, and, excuse the lewd tone, cream their panties. The idea being someone taking charge, and telling you what to do, isn't new. A good portion of romance novels have revolved around that notion for decades. Like any other personality trait, it's hit or miss. If you are completely repulsed by the idea of a guy wanting to control every aspect of your life- from what you eat, to what you wear, to how often you work out, and what you drive, then you very likely will dislike this book immensely, and never understand the attraction.
Additionally, Christian's character has a quirk about being touched. Without getting into specifics, he has a serious phobia about being touched, which is one reason why he prefers his women handcuffed, or tied up.
When you get past all of that (if you are able to, that is), his character shows growth, warmth, love, jealousy, possessiveness, hatred, and more. He does have depth and range, but if you can't get past his biggest kinks, so to speak, you likely will demonize him, rather than dream about him.
5. The rather tumultuous relationship between Christian and Ana has been compared to that of an abusive relationship. Would you agree? There are certainly controlling aspects, as mentioned above. Christian prefers to be in charge. Ana is asked several times to do things that go against her own desires. Whether it pertains to her job, her friends, her eating habits, her clothing, or even the car she drives, Christian wants to have the final say in all of it.
However, as I talked about before, he also shows personal growth in this area. Rather than forcing her to go with what he wants, he rather uneasily allows her to make her own choices, sometimes with a few allowances.
The sexual nature of the relationship is in no way abusive, in my opinion. You have two adults who are both consenting, though one of the two has a much better understanding of what is being asked than the other.
There are of course times in the book where things happen that Ana isn't as comfortable with. The couple uses a safe word to help guide their more kinky encounters- Yellow for slow down, and Red for stop. In all instances when safe words are used (and this may be more of a hint towards books 2 & 3- I can't recall how many times in book 1 they were used, if at all, but they ARE used in the trilogy at several points), Christian ceases what he is doing immediately.
Those are not the actions of an abuser. He has kinks. His kinks are perhaps not what the common relationship shares, but they are his kinks. Some people like to be on top. Others want to be spanked. Some like erotic asphyxiation. Sex isn't always wholesome, missionary style encounters. Sex is sex, and it's healthy to explore what you like.
Christian had the unfortunate luck to have been shown his kinks at a young age, and they stuck with him, and grew. It does not mean he's abusive just because he likes to spank or even whip a woman. His intentions with all of his actions are to bring pleasure, and there is indeed a fine line between pleasure and pain. A little bit of pain can bring a lot of pleasure. It can make things more intense.
6. Many women have grown curious as to the less vanilla aspects of sex after reading this book. Does that mean women want to be whipped and tied up? Is it natural to want to explore what turns you on?
In the sexual aspect, this book is very light as far as BDSM goes. At most, there is some light bondage, some sensory deprivation (blindfolds, ipod music to limit hearing), and some spanking. Some of that spanking takes place with a riding crop. Most of the encounters, however, are no different than the average couple- hot, passionate, must do it now sex with little or no hints at BDSM. Some times he holds her hands above her head.
Women who are reading this are finding that some aspects of what is shown are appealing. Women all over are responding to different aspects. Some might enjoy the idea of being spanked, while others like the idea of being told what to do, and others are getting turned on by the thought of being tied up and helpless to stop their partner.
What happens between two consenting adults in a sexual relationship is both normal, and a healthy way of exploring themselves. It doesn't mean the woman (or man) wants to be beaten. If there is an aspect you especially enjoyed in the sexual relationship, I would encourage you to talk to your partner about it. Exploration can be very healthy for a relationship, and go a long ways towards keeping things fresh in the bedroom.
I suppose the bottom line is this: would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. But, I would caution you that it may just not be your cup of tea. Which is Twinning's Breakfast Tea, btw.
All of that said? I'm obsessed with the books now. I started Book 1 Saturday evening. By Monday morning at like 4am, I was in need of book 2. Rather than sleep, and buy it the next day, I ordered the ebook, and got 50+ pages in before taking Minion 3 to school. By Tuesday morning, I was done with book 2, and downloading book 3. I took a brief break on Wed, but I finished book 3 on Thursday afternoon.
Also? When Spouse calls me or texts me, this is what it looks like on my phone.
That photo is Matt Bomer from White Collar. He's the perfect Christian for me. Spouse feels only slightly inadequate.
I made these after reading all 3 books. Yes, I am obsessed, but I've already admitted that.
I made these after reading all 3 books. Yes, I am obsessed, but I've already admitted that.