10818853Ok.  I jumped on the frakkin band wagon and true to my previous post, I read Fifty Shades of Grey.  I even made some predictions, and all of them came true.

But to be honest, I’m still not sure what all the fuss is about.

Fifty Shades of Grey has received a lot of media attention because it depicts a BDSM relationship between a high class executive named Chrisitan Grey, and a young, naive, virgin college student named Anastasia Steele.  Now a relationship like this is something that hasn’t been seen before in mainstream literature,  or at least not for a long time.   It’s also gotten a lot of negative press with women’s groups crying out against it saying that it promoted sexually abusive relationships.

See, Christian Grey is heavily into BDSM, and is a Dominant.  He meets Anastasia Steele when she interviews him for her college paper and thinks she would make the perfect Submissive for him, and he sets about trying everything in his power to make that happen.  He wines her, dines her, and shows her his world little by little.

I find a lot of people who have read this book have chosen one end of the spectrum to stand on.  They either love it to death because it is the hottest, steamiest, sexiest bit of literature they have ever read -aka ‘Mummy Porn’- or else is is the worst thing in the world because it glorifies a sexually abusive and dysfunctional relationship in which a worldly older man completely takes advantage of a naive younger woman.

To be fair, I can see where both sides get their opinions.

Ok, now before we get any further, lets review my previous predictions and see how true they turned out to be:

  • Fifty Shades of Grey is a sexually empowering for women and depicts a legally consenting S&M relationship between two mentally sound adults.  I say sexually empowering because society for the longest time has told us women that we should not ‘want’ sex, and by default anything we want in bed is wrong.
  • I also believe that this relationship is entirely consensual, even if she is younger and a bit more naive than he is.  I also specifically do not say ‘emotionally’ sound adults because there is no such thing.  Emotions are unpredictable and volatile no matter what, so saying someone is emotionally sound is a bit of an oxymoron.
  • Fifty Shades of Grey is the first book of it’s kind, and humanity has a long history of fearing what is new and strange.  This is most likely the true cause of all the negative hype surrounding the series.

Point the First:  I think I was rather spot on about this one.  Christian introduces Anastasia to sex, and all the pleasures that can be had from it in and outside of the BDSM world.  She’s aroused, intrigued, conflicted, but ultimately empowered by what he shows her, and above all else he shows her that it’s not wrong to want something that turns you on.

Point the Second:  BINGO!  Everything is consensual.  Nothing is forced.  The emotional side of it got rather messy near the end.  Moving on.

Point the Third:  Yeah.  I’m thinking it’s all in the novelty.  Outside of the minority genre of erotica, this kind of thing has not been seen in mainstream romance/fiction for a long time, if it has ever cropped up before.  As a result, it is new and ultimately scary.  Some people like that and have embraced Fifty Shades wholeheartedly, else have condemned it for being on the same level as Satan’s bouncing baby boy, the Antichrist.

Moving on…

Fifty Shades of Grey is indeed rather steamy, but more in a sensual than sexual way most of the time.  It reads more like a romance than an erotica, so a part of me finally understands why it’s in the fiction section rather than romance or erotica, especially when it has ‘erotica’ printed right on the back of the bloody book.  The story is intriguing, the characters are interesting, and you are interested in what happens to them once the book ends.  So I can logically understand it.

I still don’t get it though, for the most pert because it didn’t do anything for me on that level.

My biggest complaint with Fifty Shades is with the writing.  I would have finished reading it a lot sooner, and enjoyed it a lot more if the writing wasn’t to damned horrible!  You can tell the author never intended for this to be published (rumor has it Fifty Shades started it’s life as Twilight fan fiction), but at the same time it’s really nothing a good editor couldn’t fix.  So either the editor was lazy, or the publisher didn’t care to put the work in.  For example:

  • Everyone ‘murmurs’.  They ‘talk’ and they ‘murmur’.  They don’t ‘mumble’, ‘grumble’, ‘grouse’, ‘snarl’, or any other descriptive adjective you can apply to speech.
  • The character’s favorite word is ‘oh’.  She says it fifty times a chapter, in every emotion you can possibly think to use.
  • Words are repeated within a sentence or two, and some of the sentence structure just does not make sense.
  • the main characters subconscious and ‘inner goddess’ as she calls them are personified and while amusing often detract from the story and don’t make much sense.

So if someone actually cared enough about this book, I probably would have liked it a lot more.

And for those who are wanting to start lynch mobs over this because it promotes ‘sexually abusive relationships’, I have one word: Chill.

Again, I can see where you’re coming from.  I do.  Some of the stuff that turn people on in the BDSM community can be rather scary.  But I have been in abusive relationships in the past, and it looks like their definition of abuse and mine are vastly different.  Yes, Anastasia is a virgin when she meets Christian.  Yes, she is rather naive.  Yes, you could theoretically say that he is taking advantage of her, if not for the fact that she chooses everything that happens to her.

He sleeps with her and takes her virginity.  He tells her what he wants and needs in a sexual relationship and outlines everything in a contract he wants her to sign.  But then he takes his time to gently ease her into a sexual BDSM relationship, taking things nice and slow, never does a damned thing that she doesn’t want, and all without signing that contract.

Please, tell me how this is abusive.  Controlling, yes.  I get that.  But take out the BDSM aspect and you can rightfully say that about pretty much every high powered executive out there, in and out of romance novels.  A lot of them are used to getting things their way, and as a result often come off as control freaks.

The worst part was at the end where she asks him to take her as far as he would ever go, at least in the physical pain department, so he takes a belt to her backside six times.  Yeah, that was pretty hard for me, but she leaves him in the end.  She realizes that she can’t be what he wants or needs so she leaves, and he lets her go.

Again, where is the abuse?

So once more I reiterate:  At least as far as Fifty Shades of Grey is concerned, I can logically pick out points that make the case for both sides.  Logically, I understand where they’re both coming from.  What I don’t understand is the intensity of the reactions.  Yeah, story wise it’s a good book with some steamy scenes.  But the writing is so bad it detracts from it.  Yes, it depicts a BDSM relationship, but more the emotional than sexual side, and for 99% of the book there was little in there worse than what you would find in Nora Roberts, both parties were consenting, and she walked away at the end.

Am I glad I read/liked Fifty Shades?  Kind of.  With a better writer or editor I’d be able to give a more definitive answer.  Will I read the rest of the trilogy?  Probably not.  If I really want to know the plot of the other books, I’ll Wiki it.  Don’t think I could sit through two more books of that writing.  Would I recommend this to anyone?  Only if you’re the kind of person willing/crazy/dumb enough to sit through bad writing for a semi-interesting/decent story.

Good luck.

And for those who want something a little more palatable, next time we’re looking at Dragon Age: The Silent Grove.

13633057Available in print for the first time, Dragon Age: The Silent Grove is the perfect introduction to BioWare’s dark fantasy universe In this essential, canonical story from David Gaider, lead writer of the games, King Alistair, accompanied only by rogues Isabela and Varric, embarks on a quest deep inside the borders of Antiva – a nation of assassins Together, they will encounter a prison break, dragons, the mysterious Witch of the Wilds, and one of the greatest secrets in the history of the world!