252 of 269 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Fifty Shades of Grey (Paperback)
This is a landmark piece of literature: not just the fastest book ever sold in the UK, but conclusive evidence that you are allowed to steal somebody else's novel, take out the only element that made the original bearable,add a bit of middle-age-fantasy S&M and hit the "replace" key for all names, and inexplicably not get sued for it.
There is nothing good about this book. At least with Twilight it had the excuse of being aimed at teenagers who couldn't be expected to know that a) it had been done before and b) it wasn't very good: this is being purchased by grown up ADULTS, and I'm ashamed to say I'm now one of them. It's not just offensive to erotic novels, it's offensive to men, women, sex, England, America and literature. Which is, if you look at it in a positive light, quite a massive achievement with just a few bits of paper.
In terms of basic writing, it's unbearable. Worse, it tries so hard to drag itself into an intelligent arena by name-dropping - repeatedly - real literature: Austen, Bronte, Hardy, Shakespeare. At one point I literally found myself screaming "GET YOUR DIRTY LITTLE HANDS OFF THOMAS HARDY, JAMES", because frankly crap of this standard has no right whatsoever trying to claw its way out of the literary swamp by quoting sections of Tess of the D'Urbervilles and comparing its protagonist to one of the most fragile, brave, three dimensional heroines ever written.
Ah, Ana Steele. It didn't seem possible that there would ever be a lead female character as boring, constantly tremulous or silly as Bella Swann, but James has done a magnificent job: Ana Steele is even worse. For all of their love of "classic British fiction", both James and Ana seem to be missing the key to their success: classics have real women, with believable and likeable personalities. Not lip-biting, slightly schizophrenic, weak and consantly-orgasmic hussies. Put Ana Steele into any Austen book, and she'd be the one-legged prostitute the other characters try not to step on on their way to parties.
The epynonymous Christian Grey is without exception the creepiest male character I've ever read, and I want him out of my imagination RIGHT NOW. Stalking, obsessive, possessive, controlling, humourless men like Grey are not sexy: they're the subject of court cases and restraining orders. This isn't a triumph of representation, by the way: if James was aiming for skin-crawling repulsion, at least she'd be succeeding somewhere. But Christian Grey - despite being a man who gasps nearly as regularly as Ana - is supposed to be an Alpha Male, because apparently strong men don't take "no" for an answer.
I WISH I was offended by the sex scenes. I WISH I could throw it across the room, decide that the world's taste in literature is too horny for me, and simply pat myself on the back for being an uptight prude. But I'm all up for sex in books, as long as it's done well: this is not. It's as bad as a grainy porn film from the 80s, and as old-fashioned.
What makes me sad, really, is knowing that a book like this can make a woman like James rich, and take thousands and thousands of hours from the lives of people all over the world. What makes me even more sad is that I am one of them.
Save your money, save your soul, and - for the love of all things literary - just go buy Tess of the D'Urbervilles.
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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 3 Jul 2012 11:32:48 BDT
Lee Barron says:
I started this 'book' last night (loaned, so it cost me naught) and I gave up at page 25. It is truly awful, and its million-selling status and bookshop mania status is utterly depressing. The central characters are one dimensional at best, and haven't we already had a clumsy heroine with a penchant for falling over her own feet? 25 pages and 25 pages too many.
Posted on 1 Aug 2012 10:23:02 BDT
If EL James has contributed anything to the literary world it is in the form of those fabulously written reviews. I have enjoyed reading them so much. the book? I'm ashamed to say I downloaded this piece of trash.
Posted on 9 Aug 2012 13:59:45 BDT
A Peters says:
Love this review. I agree - I hated all the literary references in the book. Just a cheap way to try to get credence and an insult to the original authors.
Posted on 15 Aug 2012 10:49:13 BDT
Last edited by the author on 15 Aug 2012 10:53:34 BDT
Dr. David Rands says:
'...save your money, save your soul..." and save your time!
As one of the evidently few male readers of "50 sog", I want to add that, at about page 120, it struck me that it was a fantastic waste of time, when my book-shelves are groaning under the weight of so many good books, and I decided instead to re-read Hardy's "Return of the Native".
I have enjoyed the occasional erotic book in the past, but have never read such badly written, unimaginative, juvenile nonsense as this. There must be somewhere in america where the oath "holy crap" is common currency, but I don't ever want to go there. But how depressing that so many millions of women are reading this trash and enjoying it!
In reply to an earlier post on 12 Oct 2012 23:58:57 BDT
Miss J. S. Greenman says:
and how depressing it is that so many millions of women are undergoing FGM and enjoying it!
In reply to an earlier post on 21 Oct 2012 16:29:34 BDT
Kunigunde Draberg says:
well, at least I know now that "Tess" might be a better read, so it's good for something ^^
Posted on 27 Dec 2012 23:41:05 GMT
C. Pendlebury says:
I just had to add, this book has been widely accepted and enjoyed by 'normal' women simply because Christian is rich. If he were a poor janitor or a factory operative he would be derided as a perverted freak. Making him rich is a device that prevents this. So I don't exactly know what this says about the modern lower middle class woman, but it sure ain't good.
In reply to an earlier post on 28 Dec 2012 00:09:57 GMT
Miss J. S. Greenman says:
Nothing about it is good. And it's not that he is rich really, but that she is poor, or he is considerably richer than her. Fine if it was Dallas or MIC, where they all chuck it around and she could chuck it back. It's just a bad book any way you cut it. Misogynistic claptrap - and I hope you follow this because it could be set in a council estate, and it would just mean the biggest, richest drug baron bling king chumping down on some new ho. It wouldn't be so popular amongst these 'modern lower middle class women' you speak of - I didn't realise they were 'normal' - because yes, it would fail the 'let's have nothing to do with the ghetto' approach that those who are spit away from belonging to it worry so much about - but anyone with an understanding of art wouldn't like this book.
P.S. Do you want me to do something about this? I really can.
Posted on 9 Oct 2013 17:43:04 BDT
jelly 1960 says:
" Put Ana Steele into any Austen book, and she'd be the one-legged prostitute the other characters try not to step on on their way to parties."
Brilliant: in one sentence you have eclipsed ELJ.
Excellent review - even if I did struggle a bit with "epynonymous". Does it mean someone with an enormous penis?
Posted on 8 Feb 2014 23:51:37 GMT
Totally agree. Utter rubbish from start to finish.