Alright. I cannot resist. The temptation to wade in and give my two cents is more irresistible than the actual book itself.
I know you have been waiting for my review before attempting Fifty Shades of Grey, so here you go….
Now I have to admit that I resisted reading it until a friend of mine whose opinion I trust recommended it. She is the kind of no-bullshit chick who is not afraid to express herself and I respect that. I also believe she has accurate contempt for (most) cheesy chick-flick sappiness and would have told me if it was something that would turn my stomach with J. Lo/Katherine Heigl deftness.
The one major improvement that could have been made was removing the “Holy shit!” and “Holy fuck.” asides out of the text altogether. I understand they are there to express the inexpressible shock of our virginal heroine’s foray into the kinky world of Mr. Grey, but a decent editor should have taken those out in the first round of editing and threatened to quit if Ms. James insisted on putting them back in.
Is it decently written (I heard it was not and that was more of a barrier to my reading it than S&M). Over all, I would have to give it a C. Which, truth be told, is rather arrogant of me considering I have not had a sentence published, much less three books. However, I have read enough books to tell just a good character driven story from literature.
This is not literature. Want proof? It is 514 pages and I read them voraciously and quickly – certainly in less than 10 hours. No complicated thought provoking sentences here, just character driven plot told like two girlfriends gossiping over brunch.
On the way home I started The Great Gatsby. In half the amount of time above, I have made it 54 pages. The story is told more with descriptive renderings of the storyteller’s observations and interpretations and less through dialect and scenery. The ideas and the sentences used to convey them are complicated and I have to think them through. And, of course, there is the difference in the style and the foreign dialect of the 1920s that slows me down a bit.
While Christian Grey may be complicated, the language and vehicle used to portray him is not; which is fine and nice, but not near as interesting for the reader. But the fact is (if you are looking for a comparison) that James out wrote Meyer, hands down. However, neither of them are near the same league as JK Rowling who is one of the most impressive language and wordsmiths of the 21st century – something confirmed by that master of words himself, Stephen King.
It is better (by far) than Twilight in both story and writing. At the very least, Ana is not only a more compelling character than Bella, but she is stronger and only about 5-7 years older than Bella. But, even with the S&M sex stuff, you do not get the overwhelmingly unhealthy feeling about Grey relationship as you do about the totally stalker and overly emotional and dramatic teenage relationship of Bella and Edward. At the very least, Ana is adult enough to think things through rationally, something Bella is utterly incapable of doing. An undead vampire who literally wants to eat her alive standing over Bella watching her sleep is even more disturbing than a man who wants to get you off in decidedly kinky ways with decidedly kinky toys.
So compared to something like Twilight, it is more adult – in both character development and subject matter.
Luckily for me, I do not have any hang ups with the subject matter. When I told a work colleague I would be reading it on a family trip to my father-in-law’s house with kids in tow, she was scandalized. This is porn in her opinion and as such should not be read at all, much less in the company of my minor children. However, since my kids cannot read and there were no pictures, I didn’t understand the issue with it. I wasn’t reading it to them for bedtime, ya know? God only knows what she would have thought of me if I had confessed I have seen every episode of HBO’s Real Sex and G-String Divas. Scandalous!!
I will say this to all the critics out there who have not read it and somehow still find it demeaning: it is not erotica, although it is on the border. Most of erotica, to include Ann Rice among others (not that I have a ton of experience reading it, but from what I have gleaned…) is very much an objectification of a person for the sexual pleasure of another, whether male or female – and the subject’s pleasure is inconsequential. This is not that.
As a matter of fact, if I had to come up with a theme (at least for the first book), it would be that the heroine DE-objectifies women for our hero, Mr. Grey. She teaches him that sex is about more than getting off. And a hugely popular and widely read book that takes a woman and uses her to teach that point is not a bad thing for people to read.
Oh, and you will have, ahem, heightened sensitivities that you will enjoy … and your husband will as well.