I usually stay away from books and movies that are such a huge best seller and marketing success. Especially when they are recommended to me by acquaintances that blush when talking about the sex scenes from the books. So, it took me several years to decide to check what is it about this trilogy and how in the name of marketing ended up such a hit.
Before going further, I’d like to put down some background information about me, just for you to understand where I stand compared to this book. First of all, I am some kind of wannabe writer, so one may say it’s the envy of not being famous speaking. One may be right, or may be wrong. Next, I like to read and I have no issues with trying from time to time brainless boudoir books. My favourite author in this regards is Sandra Brown and I think I’ve read all her books, some of them more than once. But I read much more than this: my favourite philosopher is Paul Valery and my favourite book is a Romanian one, “Life as a prey”, by Marin Preda.
Now, let’s get back to the book. Actually the whole trilogy, because, to be honest, I don’t think I could write an entire article about only the first book. And I will not start judging the clichés, but I will try to speak about the construction of the book. Which, sometimes, I had the impression was never done…
First of all, Fifty Shades of Grey is all about panting. If I will ever read this word or hear it in the next months, I think I will need to search some specialized help because I’ll have a nervous breakdown. I am very sorry that I couldn’t count all its occurrences inside the 1600 pages. It’s like there are no synonyms for this word in English! Even puffing sounds better… Another repetition that left me dumbfound is exactly this word! I mean “dumbfound”. And I will stop here with the examples, because, if not, I’ll turn this article in to a repetition of a repetition.
So, we have repetitions. What else?! Well, a poor vocabulary. Every language has a basic vocabulary composed of a limited number of words that could cover any day-by-day situation and a more complex level of it that is usually used in complex communication, writing etc. I think Miss James really aimed not to overpass the boundaries of the basic vocabulary and she managed brilliantly! Because, otherwise, I can’t imagine how a writer can reduce the English language to such extent. And this comes from somebody whose mother tongue is not English.
But, somewhere along the road she may have noticed something was panting in her book. So I suspect her of taking a thesaurus and searching for the newest and most utterly non-understandable words and just dropping them in the middle of a sex scene. (I admit I lack examples, but I’m not in the mood of going back through the book just for the fun of it.)
Let’s go deeper, beyond vocabulary. Although deeper may not be a good word in this context… And let’s talk about the plot. Either Mrs James had no intention of building one, either she has no idea about how to do it, but the plot is so thin that you could send it in the emergency room instead of Anastasia’s step father. Still, it survives until the bitter end and has its moments of trying hard to exist. I actually had the impression of reading between the author’s hiccoughs and that she somehow forgot what she wanted to say in the middle of the page.
If the first book was more centred on the sexual scenes, the last one seemed to try to compensate. Just that is was not well done and Mrs James lacked the courage to properly play with her own puppets. No character is really harmed, nothing really happens, everything is predictable. But everything happens in few days or weeks and makes me wonder how their hearts were still in one piece at the end of the book. I mean no normal person could handle that amount of stress in such short time and not crack just a little bit.
Now, one may argue saying that Christian’s transformation couldn’t have been predicted. I will respond that this was the most predictable thing in the book! Because the whole book was build around the idea that an innocent girl could change a bad boy with traumas. Well… Let’s get back to real life! First of all, that innocent creature has no idea what and who she is, if she likes or not kinky fuckery, but she manages to bring him back to light in few weeks. Amazing! I just wonder why in the name of all gods we still have shrinks in the world.
So, I still don’t know why people made this book (and now the movie) a best-seller. If it is the sex, than let me have my doubts about how interesting their sex life really is. I understand, psychologically speaking, the interest for a book that somehow speaks of taboos. It is true, not everyone will innovate that much in the intimacy of their house and not everyone will ever speak out loud about at least wishing to try something like that. But still, the kinky fuckery in the book is not that much. I’ve seen porn movies more hard-core than this! And for those who would really like to read more taboo sex scenes, I would recommend Marquise de Sade.
Moreover, right in the beginning, Grey says “I don’t make love. I fuck… Hard.” And, again, if what was in that book was hard-core sex, than Mrs James has no idea about what that means. Not that I would know, don’t get me wrong. (My friends are probably reading!) It’s just that she could have done more in letting the reader guessing that there is something else behind the closed doors. If in the first book she describes every sex scene, in the third one she starts skipping them and inserting more “plot”, but also with a half measure. I really think there are much better books out there speaking about sex, panting and kinky fuckery than this one.
What do we “learn” from the book? Let me sum it up!
- A young, inexperienced and somehow normal girl gets to know a super sexy, troubled, rich, young guy and this is normal life. Cool! Too bad it’s not true and now all the girls are searching for a Christian Grey in real life.
- A troubled bad boy can be easily fixed, although 20 years of therapy failed. It just takes an innocent girl to do it. Damn! I’ve lost that train! By the way, usually a relationship with this kind of bad boy ends badly for the lady. Or even really bad!
- We, the normal mortals, have a super boring life. I’ve tried remembering if I had weeks when so many things happened at once and nothing came up to my mind…
- Let’s not forget that we also learn how one can pant all the time.
And I will stop here because I believe I already gave the book and to Mrs James too much importance.
Now do you understand why I call myself a “some kind of a wannabe writer”? I fear that I wouldn’t be able to write a better book than this one…
(My post in Romanian about this book, slightly different, is here. )