I have a new guilty pleasure.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently you’ll have no doubt heard of the Fifty Shades series of books. If you’re female and under-sexed you’ll probably have read them by now. If not then you’ll have at least heard of them and be wondering what the deal is? Well, it’s simple really. Fifty Shades of Grey is porn. No, not your average porn for guys that has pictures and not much else to it, this is the stuff from the letters pages of those magazines and just as poorly written and conceived as those letters are.
The story centres on Ana, a twenty-one year old college graduate who is a virgin. We know she’s a virgin because she’s proud of her virginity and the writer is clumsy enough to just say it as a character building line for someone without much of a character at all. Yes, I know this started as Twilight fan fiction (and you can tell from the quality of the writing that it wouldn’t have progressed beyond that had it not been for the strong sexual content) and I know that the idea is to create an intentionally shallow woman for readers to inhabit and force their own personality into, but at least try to give them some semblance of a personality else they will come across as nothing more than a fuck puppet in a book like this. It doesn’t help that you can see the fan fiction in AJames’ writing of Ana. She speaks like an American teenager stereotype for the most part despite being a supposedly strong and confident woman.
So Ana meets Christian Grey (who coincidentally has gray eyes she loses herself in) and he introduces her to sex over and over and over in the kinkiest ways the author can think of while still keeping both hands on the keyboard. Despite Ana having been a virgin she takes to sex straight away and has the time of her life, never experiencing the reality that it’s always a bit shit when you first have it. Ana has an orgasm at the drop of a hat and pretty much any movement up from there. She also has no gag reflex which is odd for a girl experiencing oral sex for the first time but probably the reason Christian keeps her around for two more books. Yes, this is porn that lasts three entire books of purile nonsense.
Before anyone starts wondering, those books aren’t my guilty pleasure at all. They seem to be aimed at old women who have to live their sexual encounters by proxy while being written in a style that would appeal to the tweens that loved Twilight. I’m neither of these. I’m a reader and I expect some decent plotline from my books. I recently left a series that I’d gotten fourteen books into because the author was focussing more and more graphically on the sexual nature of her characters rather than the mysteries she used to write.
No, I don’t need porn in my life. I need laughs. As such I’d like to introduce you to my guilty pleasure – reviews of Fifty Shades of Grey an Amazon. Like me there are plenty of people in the world who can see this series of books for what they are – porn for old women whose lives didn’t turn out the way they thought it would. Like me they’re not afraid to point that out. Unlike me, they didn’t know about the books until they’d read them and they get very angry at having spent the money on this nonsense. It should come as no surprise that the following are all one star reviews, some claiming that they wish they could make it a no star review.
Ryan Williams (Lichfield, Staffordshire.)
Finished Fifty Shades of Grey. While I’m in no way a literary type – as we all know – I still believe a novel can teach us something vital.
Here’s a brief list of the many lessons this novel has taught me.
- People in Seattle, USA talk exactly the same as in Surrey, UK.
- University-educated women still wear pink PJ’s with fluffy bunnies on them.
- University-educated women say ‘Oh my God!’, ‘Crap!’ and ‘Double crap!’ more times hourly than a teenage male thinks about sex daily.
- A ‘mega-industrialist tycoon’ talks like a character from Le Morte D’Arthur…
- …and has time to spend his day ceaselessly e-mailing.
- Newcomers to oral sex have no gag reflex.
- The more ham-fisted allusions to Thomas Hardy, the more gravitas.
- Forcing the word ‘dearest’ as many, many times as possible into a sentence really, really, improves it.
- Spelling out your theme for the reader in every third chapter is an adroit strategy.
- A sub’s contract needs 3 appendices.
- Orgasms feel like ‘a spin cycle’.
- A sentence like ‘He’s my very own Christian Grey-flavored popsicle’ is deathless.
The next one bought it after hearing the hype. What she didn’t realise is that the hype was coming from people for whom the words “blow job” still elicit a blush and titter. That’s right, a titter.
Iona Hill “The Beetle” (North Yorkshire)
I think the real praise should go to author EL James for presumably making an absolute fortune from this pile of poorly written, unrealistic crap. Oh my. The second most over hyped book I have read, after Zadie Smith’s White Teeth which was also pretty poor. To sum up, not worth buying:
- Appallingly written: just because it is erotica based fiction does not preclude good writing
- Laughably repetitive: as picked up by other reviewers here, examples include ‘oh my’, ‘foil packet’, ‘flush’, ‘panties’, ‘explosion’, the way Gray’s pants fell from his hips ‘in that way’, ad nauseum
- Infantile use of euphemisms e.g. he touched me ‘there’ or ‘my sex’ and back to the ‘foil packet’ – it’s a condom for heaven’s sake!
- Utterly unrealistic that a university student does not own a laptop, remains a virgin at 21, is fantastically responsive to sex, despite having been a virgin and that Gray is a 28 year old self made billionaire to name but four oddities
- Why would an allegedly intelligent university student stay with a creepy guy who hurts her – a poor message to give out. Ok, yes, this may be the crux of the story, but it was not interesting
Buy it, if like me, you are curious to read this best seller, but be prepared to be disappointed or alternatively use it as a laugh as a shocking excuse for fiction/erotica.
And that’s from someone who calls herself The Beetle, so you know it’s a quality review. In all seriousness though, Iona hits on some of the problems with books of this type. Things that work in fan fiction forums where the characters are well known to all the members and you need something to distinguish yourself from the crowd, just don’t work when writing a new book. Making it erotica may make all the kids on the forums blush and giggle and say how grown up it is but actual adults don’t respond to that. Euphemisms that worked once and no doubt got praise on those forums don’t stand up to repeated use in a full book, and come across as infantile.
I’ll leave you with my favourite review so far.
“So” he asks, looking at me with his grey eyes “what did you think of the book?”
I bite my lower lip, looking at his beautiful face.
“well?” he asks. I roll my eyes and blush and have an earth shatttering orgasm as I see his trousers hanging in…. That way. My inner goddess faceplants.
“oh my” I say.
We bonk for a few minutes.
He points his long finger at me. “you haven’t answered me yet.”
Holy crap I mutter.
He spanks me, I have an orgasm which makes me shatter into a thousand pieces then burst into tears.
Him and his twitchy palms. Ooh and his white linen shirt.
He tweaks my nipple. I orgasm again. From virgin to sex kitten in less time it takes most people to clean the fridge. Not bad!!!
We have earth shattering sex AGAIN.
Repeat until authors pen runs out.
Did I not mention the inner goddess that Ana references in the clumsiest women have hidden power metaphor ever? No? Well the fact is that the only women who truly have an inner goddess are the ones with enough grace to avoid a book like this, and avoid being treated the way Ana is by Christian (it’s all very “You’re my bitch and I get to beat the shit out of you”). Considering the Fifty Shades series has gone on to be the fastest selling book in history… Well, my view of women just dropped severely.
This drivel is not only sold right next to batteries in supermarkets (and I think we all know why) but sold at the front where kids can get their hands on it.
If I could somehow give a wake-up call to everyone who ever bought this book, I’d do so. If I could give a decent book to all who thought this was literature, I’d be sure to go broke doing so. Either way it wouldn’t make the slightest bit of difference. These people aren’t in it to read a compelling story anyway. They’re here for the…