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I admit it. I fell victim to propaganda and hype and purchased E.L. James' erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey. It sat there on my Kindle, waiting for me, for at least a week before I got up the nerve to read it. It took some mustering of courage because I knew I wasn't sure I wanted to venture into BDSM and erotica. Hey, I'm not judging, it's just not my cup of tea. But, to be honest, it wasn't the sex that bothered me (okay, yes it did in some parts), it was the characters and the writing.
First of all, I want to congratulate Ms. James on having a successful trilogy. That's a Herculean task for a new author so I want to give her props.For that feat alone, I give the book one star. Now that the niceties are out of the way, let me tell you what I really think.
This book bothered me on so many levels that I could rant endlessly. I will limit my issues to four items.
1) The main characters are unbelievable. Case in point, Anastasia Steele -- a twenty-two year old woman who has NEVER felt any sexual stirrings? Really? And, when she does, she's "all about the kinky" and horndoggin' twenty-four seven? And, don't get me started on the ever so creepy Christian Grey. Several points throughout the book Ana jokes that Christian might be a stalker. Um, Ana, he is. Quite simply, he's psychotic. I don't care how many times he brings a girl to orgasm, he's still a psycho. And so is Ana, for being blissfully blind to it.
2) The writing flip flops. I think it's quite difficult to balance the wide-eyed innocence of Ana with BDSM scenes. I found the reference to her "inner goddess" doing cartwheels with joy at the prospect of engaging in a relationship with Christian in direct contrast to the "Red Room of Pain". Flipping back and forth between Ana's thoughts, which could be downright juvenile, and the erotic scenes was jarring. Note to James' editor: Don't put the word "besieged" twice in the same short paragraph and keep the tired cliches to a minimum -- at least don't use them more than once. And, "Arrgh!" is not a sexy sound effect.
3) I hate weak willed woman who obsess over controlling men. In short, get a life.
4) Subplots? Who needs stinkin' subplots when there's sex?
I have to say that there were times that I held this book at arms' length, cringing as I read. A friend asked if it was as hard to read as the rape scene in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. My answer is that it was worse because it's consensual. It left me with an overall feeling of ick. Ick that Christian is psychotic (don't care why). Ick that Anastasia's into it (can we say sex addict in the making). Ick that I knew how it was going to end before I even started (I did read Nine and Half Weeks years ago). Ick that if this trilogy ends with Christian somehow being "cured" by Ana's love, I'm gonna puke. And ick that I paid good money for the experience.
All I can say is that I want my $12.99 and my innocence back. I'm gonna need a shower and a Debbie Macomber novel, stat!