This isn’t really a book review, think of it as a public service announcement for curious bookworms. I want to warn you to stay away from that new romance novel you’ve been hearing enthusiastic whispers about. I am, of course, referring to Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James, the first in a trilogy of erotic page-turners.
I really wanted to like it. I think it’s wonderful when people put down their smartphones long enough to get excited about books, even if those books are dubbed “Mommy Porn.” Sadly, despite what the New York Times hype machine has to say, Fifty Shades of Grey is JUST. SO. BAD. Not guilty pleasure bad, but “I’d like my $20 back” bad.
Perhaps I didn’t give it a proper chance; after all, covertly skimming racy passages while riding public transit isn’t the ideal way to enjoy some erotica. But even though I might have been distracted by my attempts to shield pages from nosy, over-the-shoulder-peering passengers, I don’t think reading it in a private setting would have made that much of a difference.
For those who have read the book, it should come as no surprise that it originated from a piece of Twilight fan fiction. It certainly reads that way. If you haven’t read it, well I’d say “Spoiler Alert” but frankly there is hardly a story to spoil. I don’t know about you, but I like a side of plot with my S&M interludes.
I assume it is common practice to give romance heroines completely ridiculous names, so I’ll forgive Anastasia Steele for her eye-roll-worthy moniker. But with so many completely unbelievable character traits, this girl next door turned submissive sex partner was far too hard to believe, even for fiction.
Anastasia is of course astonishingly attractive and adored by all of the men around her while being entirely insecure. As a 24-year-old college graduate, she has somehow never been drunk or owned a computer. She begins the novel as a virgin and her first time is obviously phenomenal because that’s totally realistic. Finally, and this is maybe what bothered me the most, she is never hungry despite the numerous cardio-heavy sex scenes.
The distractingly bad writing and Anastasia’s constant references to her ‘Inner Goddess’ made most of the supposedly steamy encounters as arousing as a television commercial for Venus razors.
Needless to say, suffering through 500 pages of this heroine’s inner dialogue was torturous, and not in the intended, sexy kind of way.