For my second rant, I decided to do a book many of us loathe,Fifty Shades of Grey.
But first, a caveat.
I wasn’t going to write about this book. I couldn’t read it. Literally, could not read it; my eyes would roll and after a paragraph I’d simply give up. I had to read scene by scene reviews because if I had to read it all on my own, I would have needed so much alcohol in my system that I’d have had to go to the hospital. So how could I write about it when I hadn’t truly read it, beginning to end, on my own? It seemed silly to write about it.
But then I remembered a dinner out with some acquaintances I’d had the year the book came out. These women were talking about their fabulous boyfriends (I’d met this guys and hadn’t been overly impressed), and one was talking about the super romantic evening they spent in while Dude read to her from an erotic novel. ‘What novel?’ They asked. I was curious too; there’s a lot of erotic literature out there.
50 Shades of Grey.
I gave a snort-giggle at this, and may have rolled my eyes. The others granted me contemptuous looks and oohed over her fab guy*. ‘So romantic and sexy!’ was the common refrain. Unspoken was the idea that anyone who didn’t like it was a prude. Because, y’know, 50 Shades was super out there, super erotic!
Sure. While the occasion was frustrating, it just reminded me of how much I loathed this book. So I’m gonna share why.
- It’s badly written. This fact pretty much hits most people in the face within the first page. Terrible story structure, poor grammar, redundant phrases, inconsistent character behaviour, un-likeable characters, poor scene description, the list is endless. There’s a reason rough drafts need revision, and this book is an example of why. How this drivel made it past an editor is beyond me. There are literally thousands of erotic novels out there, many of them well written; there are no excuses for the general crappiness.
- Affluenza. The shit Christian gets away with is disgusting. I blame the fact that he’s a millionaire; stalking, emotional abuse, gaslighting, etc aren’t romantic, but apparently if they’re accompanied by a private airplane and a limousine, it’s okie dokie. Blergh.
- Ana is so dumb it’s a good thing breathing is an autonomic function. She can’t walk, she can’t write, she can’t google worth a damn, and she has all the creativity and cognitive function of a walnut. How the hell she got through college is beyond me. Especially without an email account. *headdesk*
- Ana has no innate sexuality and imprints on Grey. Like a baby duckling, only with orgasms.
- When it comes to kink**, the stuff in this novel is either wrong (as in, the facts it presents are literally wrong) or boring. Like, I think I’ve read kinkier Harlequin romance novels. That is not a compliment, btw.
- It’s a romantic failure. The relationship between Ana and Christian is a lot of things (‘unhealthy’ being the top of the list), but there’s no romance. Why do people call it romantic?!?! Being sexually attracted to someone isn’t a romance, people! It’s just sex! Argh. Having to dress up one’s sexual encounters with the trappings of romance is weird, but it’s pathetic when it fails this spectacularly.
It baffles me that people love this book. I just don’t get it. Thousands of erotic novels on the internet. Hundreds of ‘classics’*** that get studied in universities across the globe, but this is a freaking bestseller? This book is the Velveeta cheese slice of erotic novels, and it annoys me that people think it’s the best thing evah****.
Recommendations to self: Think of all the unsold copies of this drivel that had to be destroyed. Ahh. Much better.
*I avoided hanging out with these people after this. 50 Shades? Seriously?
**Kink as opposed to BDSM, both of which are pretty much missing entirely from the novel.
***I had to read The Lover by Marguerite Duras in college. While the subject is creepy pedo stuff, you can’t argue that it wasn’t beautifully written.
****either one; they’re both kinda gross. At least the cheese-like stuff has some nutritional value.