E-reading: Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James

fifty shadesFifty Shades of Grey has been out for quite some time now. I’m pretty sure EVERYONE has read it — lots have loved it, lots have hated it — and I will admit that I was one of those people completely against reading the book until this month. Why? Like a lot of bookish people I know, I read the scathing reviews, heard the backlash, listened to many people talk about how horrible the writing was. I told myself that I had read plenty of sexy books and that this one just wouldn’t come close. I figured I wouldn’t come to love Christian or Ana. And a part of me even felt that — even though I had read erotica before — the book was beneath me. Maybe it was the hype, but I just didn’t plan on going there at all.

Then the new year came and the movie previews started. We met the actors who were portraying these characters. We saw movie clips and previews. In fact, a local movie critic who I tend to agree with on a lot of movies, gave the film 4/5 stars. You could say that by this point my interest was piqued. So, onto the ereader it went, and I found myself diving into the extremely popular book Fifty Shades of Grey.

And honestly? It wasn’t horrible.

Yes, there was plenty in the book that had me annoyed, but when it came to the actual reading of the book, I was intrigued enough to keep going past the first chapter, then the second chapter … enough to read the whole thing in a weekend. I found myself curious about this strange relationship between Ana and Christian. Oddly enough, I did like both characters, even though there were times they both made me want to pull my hair out. They both had major personal issues going on — really, you could say that they both suffer from self-esteem issues, though Ana just wears hers on her sleeve more openly than Christian. As interested as Christian was in the beginning with Ana, you could tell by the middle-to-end of the book that they did both need each other, but it was those darn issues that held them both back. In a way, I feel like neither of them really understood what they wanted, or if they did, they had a really shitty way of showing it. I will say that reading this book was enough to make me interested in reading the rest of the books in the series because I’m actually quite interested to see how the characters grow as the series goes on.

Shocking, right?

However, like I said, there were some major things that bugged me. To make it easy, I’ll just list them off in point form:

  • Ana. OK, I did love Ana. She had a great personality, except when it came to love. There was a time in the book where she wasn’t sure how Christian felt about her and where I wanted to point out the numerous times where it seemed like he was telling her flat-out how he felt. She’s definitely a naive character, BUT she seems like a character who’s always stuck in her books, maybe more book-smart than street-smart. She’s never had a boyfriend. She falls in love with Christian almost immediately, or is at least attracted to him enough that she can’t let him go, even if she just can’t understand his lifestyle.
  • Ana’s constant use of ‘Holy Cow/Holy Shit/Holy Moses’ and the like. This got so tiring after a while. And it seemed like Ana was shocked whenever Christian did something that was remotely Christian-like, when she should just be used to it. I felt like she could really use a better way to express herself. Don’t even get me started on her cheering inner goddess, or the one instance she thinks, ‘Go girl!’
  • The sudden, then constant referral to Christian as ‘Fifty Shades.’ I mean, yeah, we know that’s the title, but when Ana would refer to him as fifty shades of fucked up, I didn’t expect her to attribute that nickname to him. Much like the ‘mean machine’ — had the girl (or her mom, for that matter) never seen a laptop before?
  • The tired use of ‘baby’ for everyone’s romantic relationship. There are a few relationships happening in the book and the one term of endearment that is constant is ‘baby.’ We’re grown adults here — can we get a little more creative? Admittedly, when Christian jokingly copies Elliott in saying ‘laters, baby’ it was kind of humourous, but all the baby, baby, baby made me think I was lost in a Justin Bieber song.

In the end, though, I will admit that I’ve read worse. I’ve excitedly started books that people have raved about, only to put them down because the writing just seemed atrocious and the characters ridiculous that I wondered how anyone else could enjoy them. There’s one, in fact, that will remain unnamed, that still sits on my shelf — one with a drool-worthy cover, but I honestly can’t get past the first chapter because all I can think it, “Who talks like this?!”

When I started reading Fifty Shades of Grey, I got into it right away. I went in with the assumption that it was a romance with a lot of sex and that’s what I got. I didn’t go into it thinking it was going to win any literary or writing awards, because it really isn’t (unless it’s a popularity award, then maybe.). I knew that the romance wasn’t going to be my kind of romance, and it wasn’t, but it was someone’s idea of romance — and surely that exists out there. In fact, I remember listening to a religious program that happened to be on the TV when I was on the computer and they kept talking about the ‘Fifty Shades Movement’ and how the relationship in it was just wrong. I’ve even heard people talking about how it’s not romance at all, but bad acts happening without any consent.

What I took from the book is this: Ana and Christian are both grown-ass adults. When something “bad” happens to Ana, she had the opportunity to say no. She could have walked out, she could have ended it, but she didn’t. Yes, she’s a timid little wallflower, but she does have a voice, she knows what her limits are, and she knows she can say no if she really doesn’t want something to happen. And she does sometimes. And other times, she willingly asks for Christian to do something. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t see anything wrong with this.

At any rate, I feel like this was a book that made me think, even if a lot of that thinking was about what other peoples’ opinions were. I will definitely read the next two books in the series — heck, I might even enjoy them! I think in the future, I’ll just try and go into my reading with an open mind. Hyped up book or not, you never know if you might actually like it.

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