books culture

There’s just something about ’50 Shades of Grey’

February 13, 2013

50 Shades of GreyI couldn’t do it, friends. I just couldn’t do it. For those of you who loved this novel, I want you to know that I read the first two chapters. (Thanks, free Kindle sample.) And, well . . . that was enough for me to know that E L James and I are not MFEO. (Mom, that’s short for “made for each other.”)

When I asked you all on Facebook whether I should read it or not, your responses were pretty polarized. Those who loved it said that it was all about the story – not so much how she wrote it (badly?), but what she wrote. If you called it a piece of literary trash, I think we know your feelings on Ms. James’s skill as a writer, so let’s just all agree that the prose is more or less atrocious. Still, I really wanted to give it a chance because so many of you loved it, so I thought I would see what the romance community had to say about it. We can call it a sexually-themed romance, right? I think a lot of people love to hate on romance novels, so I figured ladies who read them would be the ones to ask about Fifty Shades of Grey. Well . . . Smart Bitches, Trashy Books didn’t like it either. (But they have the best name ever!)

Aaaaand I didn’t know that Fifty Shades of Grey is Twilight fan fiction. Yes, I read all four Twilight books. Back in the day, people were comparing the series to Harry Potter, and I just had to know what all the fuss was about. I read the first book and thought, “Well, these must get better, right?” So, I kept reading and reading. And frankly, the books kept getting worse and worse. Y’all, if I’m ever in Forks and I see Bella, I will smack her across her sad, sad face and tell her she doesn’t need dead guys and wolfmen to make her happy. You’re better than that, girl. But I never want to go to Forks ever again.

That being said, here’s what I think is great about Fifty Shades of Grey: Ladies are reading it, and they are excited. Literally. I say more power to you. Go get it, girls. (If you’re up for it, try The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A. N. Roquelaure, aka Anne Rice. It’s also erotic BDSM, but she’s a good writer. Be warned: it’s intense.) We still live in a time when talking about female sexuality makes people uncomfortable. Take the current political “conversation” regarding female reproductive rights, for example. Remember “ways to shut that whole thing down” and Slutgate? Yeah . . . But women are reading Fifty Shades of Grey and openly discussing that they found it arousing, and they liked it. And that’s awesome.

“But the story!” you say. Friends, you assured me that there is a riveting story within those pages, so I don’t doubt you for a minute, but I’m never going to know because I just can’t get past writing that bad. (As a kid, I used to do grammar worksheets for fun – this is the kind of sick mind you’re dealing with.) And I’m okay not knowing how it ends. But, but – what I’m dying to know is: what it is about the story that’s got everyone hooked? Is it the sex? The romance? What?

I know, I know, you’re going to tell me to read it. But will you just tell me this one time? Please? I’ll love you forever.

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  • Reply Anita February 13, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    It is such a bad “love” story that a fifth grader could have predicted how it would go. If you hated Belle you would have really hated what’s her name in Fifty Shades! I made it through the first book and couldn’t stomach the following two.

    • Reply Melissa February 13, 2013 at 5:45 PM

      That’s what I thought. The writing seemed flat and the characters vapid. Thanks for confirming!

  • Reply Melissa S March 15, 2013 at 4:55 PM

    Ugh I completely agree!!!
    Twilight was terrible! I read the books to compare to Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood series which is not the best writing but at least stuff happens. A bunch of girls on FB were loving Fifty Shades (I should have considered that these ladies also liked Twilight but I was hard up for book recommendations). I honestly had no clue what Fifty was about but I read the first one to know what everyone was talking about. Then I read the others thinking there has to be more to this story?! Awful, waste of time. So glad you saved yourself after just 2 chapters!

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