I remember a friend saying that if we are to become true lovers of books, we should keep our minds open to all subjects.
After reading Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho, I felt like I could read almost anything, well yes, anything pertaining to sex. So, after seeing all the books from the trilogy topping the first 3 spots of New York Times Best Sellers list, after reading a news that it dethroned Harry Potter as the fastest paper back selling book, after seeing “Christian Grey ♥” status messages every now and then from female facebook friends, after hearing that Ian Somerhalder could take the lead role for the upcoming movie adaptation and after a constant recommendation from a friend, I finally took some time to read Fifty Shades of Grey. And after doing so, I can’t help but wonder, seriously, this book had beaten Harry Potter?
I tried to like it just so I could ride the bandwagon. I tried to understand the hype. I tried to love Christian Grey. But it’s just a total failure. I could say a lot of things about it but there are 3 main reasons why I just can’t be a fan of this book: characters, writing, message, which for the lack of a better word are just plain “bad”.
I totally love flaws in lead characters. Although in real life, I would prefer a Mr. Nice Guy, but perfection in fantasy world is just a bore. I am for instance fine that Dexter Morgan is a serial killer, or that Lisbeth Salander is bisexual or that Edward Cullen once had a killing spree. So, if Christian Grey’s flaw is his ardent love for kinky sex, then so be it.
It’s obvious that the author tried to sell him as a likable character or more like every girl’s fantasy guy. A billionaire (because being millionaire is not enough). Drop dead gorgeous, tall, french speaking, professional pilot and and a genius pianist (because being just “OK” is not allowed in dramaland). If you’re to dream, why go for something small when you can dream big?
But despite those redeeming qualities of his and despite my inclination to fall in love with fictional men, I just can’t bring myself to add Christian Grey in my growing list of “fictional boyfriends”.
I would love to have a boyfriend who knows how to lead. It’s great to watch a guy who knows what he is doing and whom I can depend. So him being a control freak, I can live with that. But wtf with the non-disclosure agreement?! OK. So maybe I am truly naive that a dom/sub, S&M relationship does entails those set of rules but I just personally find those absolutely cringe-worthy. Perhaps you can argue that it was brought about by a dark past. His mother was a whore. He was used by a pedophile (who up until now he meets and considers as a friend). He had trouble trying to live up to the expectations of a newly adopted perfect family. Yada. Yada. Yada. So, he lived a pretty f**ked up life. So that justifies all his brute force? But justifying it doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. I couldn’t care less that he has penetrating eyes, or he can fly a helicopter by himself or his piano playing skill is of concert level. The fact is, he’s a megalomaniac. And the fact that he’s a dreamboat doesn’t diminish the ewww factor for me.
And the heroine Anastasia Steele? What to say? One Bella Swan is enough. ‘Nuff said.
But perhaps if only the author had written it better, I as a reader could have been forgiving. “His words are like some kind of incendiary device; my blood flames. He leans down and kisses my lips gently, and he sucks at my lower lip”. “Holy hell, he’s hot!” What on earth was that?! E.L. James seriously needs to read On Writing by Stephen King.
When writing a book in which the main message kind of screws with your head, you must at least, as the writer, take the responsibility to give your reader a decent plot. Personally, I’ve always been vocal in giving an excuse that my skills are limited in terms of writing thus I call my self a “blogger” and not a “writer/author”. And though that negatively implies that I have no confidence and a total disservice for the blogging world, it’s just my way of expressing that I have high regards for those who publishes their works in prints. I take a picture, put a caption, publish it online and I have one blog post. As far as I know, getting a book publish is not as easy as that. Maybe E.L. James also had some “rejection” stories and is praise worthy to be called a success story. But it’s just absolutely beyond me why the book itself is a best seller. And this is a trilogy? Oh yeah, I haven’t met yet Elena so there’s still much to talk about. And basing on the title, the last book is Fifty Shades Freed. So maybe Christian Grey finally let Anastasia touch him or he finally changed his sex preference to the conventional one. Unfortunately looks like I’ll never know what happened and quite frankly, I don’t really care. As a reader, it always disappointing when I feel detached from the characters. And I can’t help feeling that after reading this book.
But I’m more irked with the story itself than I am with the characters. I couldn’t care less if the author let her characters have sex everyday of their lives. After all, Fifty Shades is categorized as Erotic fiction. That goes with out saying that this is a book about sex and not just some book with random sex scenes. I’m more irked with the story itself than I am with the characters because it’s one thing for a flawed character to be contemptible and stupid but it’s a totally different thing for an author to put forth this scenario and then tag it as swoon worthy, romantic, sexy, moving, when in truth, it poorly puts on a facade of justifying a situation that at its core is deeply problematic. It’s alarming how an abusive relationship can be romanticize. I fear that a young girl after reading this would think that this is how an ideal relationship should be.
The book cover is not that bad though so don’t ever say I did not say anything good about it.
But to summarize everything, I’ll borrow one of Ana’s overused word: crap.
Absolutely not worth the hype.