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Fifty Shades of Shame

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It is a sad day when a poorly written novel makes the New York Times bestseller list. It’s an even sadder day when one of the most talked about books in many female circles today is one that a teenager with poor literacy skills could have probably constructed better.

Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James made me blush 50 shades of crimson, and no, not because it was “saucy” or “taboo”, but because it made me so embarrassed for my gender. I blush for the females recommending this book everywhere, touting it as “riveting”, “addictive”, and an “amazing read”. I even blush for those obsessed with the main character Christian Grey, who has a penchant for S&M with innocent virgins.

I could go into the plot, but unfortunately, there really isn’t one. All you need to know is that young virgin Anastasia Steele falls for a high flying Seattle businessman who can only be with her if she signs a contract agreeing to be his submissive in a S&M relationship.

The novel has been labelled soft-core porn but that’s an insult to the porn industry. In reality, it is a kinky sex scene that seems to be regurgitated over and over for a whopping 500-plus pages. I wanted to put it down after 50 pages but I thought, surely the characters will develop and the plot will thicken with another 400 or so pages to go. Boy, was I wrong. Aside from the repetitive drivel I was subjected to, the main characters were unlikeable and impossible to relate to.

Anastasia is so irritating, weak, and pathetically flawed. If I could have a dollar for every time her subconscious uttered “oh my” or “oh crap”, I would have made a pretty penny by the book’s end. And speaking of her subconscious, that internal battle she constantly had with her “inner Goddess” was lame at best.

And don’t even get me started on those disgraceful email exchanges (or should I say page fillers) between Anastasia and Christian. She felt uncomfortable with the S&M, she didn’t even want it, but she went ahead with it anyway because she fell for a cute rich boy with swoon-worthy eyes. Those who argue otherwise are fooling themselves. How much did she know about him really?

Christian Grey is no better. This is a guy who tracks a girl’s mobile to the bar she is at and appears in record time because she is tipsy, and he is a control freak. I might add that they weren’t even dating at that stage. Yet intelligent women all over the world are now drooling over him. What does that say about our gender? Anastasia is a one-dimensional, poorly developed fictional character, what is your excuse ladies?

And the way he went wild when Anastasia bit her lower lip got old very quickly–much like the overhyped sex scenes. When I first heard about the book, I knew it centered on an innocent girl who fell for a possessive, controlling male. I know strong women who have entered into relationships with these types before, only to become shadows of their former selves–emotionally and physically abused with their self-worth and self-esteem completely shattered.

I thought Fifty Shades of Grey earned its bestseller tag because it was masterfully written and delved into the initial attraction and subsequent dangers of entering into this type of relationship. I thought wrong. As for the topic of S&M, you know you’ve got problems when Rihanna’s hit offers a more riveting insight into this form of sexual activity.

Will I read the rest of the trilogy to see if it gets better? No chance. I refuse to further contribute to its bestselling status. I already feel fifty shades of shame for having read the first instalment.

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About Raquel de Brito

  • http://2012writersalive.blogspot.com John H. Byk

    Nice review but be careful! There are a lot of loons out there who will mercilessly attack you, like they did me, for offering an intelligent opinion and shining the light of day on tripe that appeals to the masses.

  • Relax Yourself

    Listen, no one is claiming that these books are well written. The author herself admits she isn’t even a good writer. Women love this book because it gets their libido pumped. What’s wrong with that? Spicing up your marriage is good. Is it a crime to enjoy a little fantasy from a not-so-well-written steamy sex novel? Hell No! Don’t get your panties in a twist, lady. Its all just for fun. PS Book two and three are better than one.

  • http://2012writersalive.blogspot.com John H. Byk

    TROLL ALERT! “Relax Yourself”

  • Danee

    I read the series online 3 years ago and I LOVE the story. It was such a fun, “dirty little secret” that I read over the two years it was written. I cannot even begin to describe how amazing that experience was. I couldn’t stop thinking about it , all day long it… but never told anyone. I had email conversations with the author-known as Icy to us- and enjoyed her funny, snarky comments before and sometimes after each chapter. She released a chapter every few days to 3 weeks and it was delicious torture.

    I don’t want to be labeled a “loon” but I do think that you missed a few marks. First, the book was unedited. What you read in the book form is the exact same story I read online (as Master of the Universe) except for a few minor changes (names, occupation, backstory). I do not know of any other popular book that has been published that has been unedited.

    Second, the second book is much better than the first and the last book is by far the best. You stopped before it gets really good. The first book is all about his controlling ways, the contract, the sex (and he doesn’t prey on virgins- instead he has always had very experienced subs who went into a relationship with him willingly). Book 2 is no where near as dark as book 1 and 50’s controlling ways are waylaid but his sweet girl he loves. Yes, he always loves things kinky, but he doesn’t spank her anymore (at least as punishment) and Ana holds her ground when his controlling ways take over. I hated that Icy (EL James) ended 50 Shades at as Ana walked out because it crushes Christian and he starts to open his heart. At one point on their honeymoon he tells her that he has objectified woman for far too long and he no longer wants to.
    So, keep reading, it gets better. I compare it to Harry Potter at Little Whinging. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a little boring until he goes to Hogwarts (and Yes, I think Harry is much better from a literarily standpoint).

    Finally, remember that this story is a Twilight Fan Fiction. I am blown away at how all of the main events from Twilight are in 50 Shades but repackaged in a way that make it unrecognizable as Twilight. I realize that the copyright issues keep anyone from really talking about this, but she did a great job.

  • Raquel de Brito

    Thanks John :)
    Relax Yourself – that was the part I struggled to understand. I just don’t know how the sex scenes could get anyone’s libido pumped. While I admit the first sex scene was quite raunchy, the rest just felt like a bad copy of the first. They got boring very quickly and I think they were overhyped considering how much I had heard about them before reading.
    Danee – I was being sarcastic with my comment about his penchant for young virgins. He just seemed so strangely fixated on someone who clearly wasn’t into the whole S&M thing when he could have easily had a more experienced submissive at his disposal.
    Anyway, you’re not the first person to tell me the books get better. I’ll just take your word for it ;)

  • janeu

    Most professional writers hate it. Readers love it -as sales confirm. That’s interesting? A popularity that continues along despite (helped by?- unlikely) wholehearted condemnation from our opinion leaders/formers. Surprised me -showing a huge gap between what writers like & and what readers want. I don’t care about writing technique, editing – it’s the story. Readers will be always limited in what they can get from a story by their understanding , experience of life. It’s not possible we can all “get” everything. For me- the story details the mind, behaviour of one victim of childhood abuse- all the different psychological strands are described- accurately. We see the complex whole. Relationships – the most difficult thing for them. It manages this, from my viewpoint extremely well – it’s accessible. I haven’t come across that before. Previous stories about abuse always have broken victims and the story hinges on a final revelations of the abuse. Here the whole mystery is the character himself- who is he- how broken. We know most of them can’t succeed- a few do.

  • janeu

    http://jezebel.com/5916651/anastasia-and-christian-bring-you-the-latest-fifty-shades-news
    Enjoyable satire here- but what this journalist is saying is that the hero’s behaviour is weak, ridiculous, farcical- thus the whole story -a waste of space for her. It means she just has a very different understanding of abuse to me-or the author failed miserably in showing her that that’s exactly how they carry on.