Thursday, June 14, 2012

The worst book that ever was and ever will be: A review of Fifty Shades of Grey

I can no longer live in a reality where Fifty Shades of Grey is considered, by some, the greatest romance novel they have ever read.  I can't even live in a reality where a few people say it was an okay book.

Goodbye cruel world. 

I never expected it to be this terrible.  I never even thought it possible for a book this terrible to get published.  But here it is, so we may as well warm up with a few quotes:

"I'll agree to the fisting, but I'd really like to claim your ass, Anastasia."

"Anticipation runs bubbling like soda through my veins."

"And he hits me again and again.  From somewhere deep inside, I want to beg him to stop. but I don't.  I don't want to give him the satisfaction. He continues the unrelenting rhythm. I cry out six more times. Eighteen slaps in total. My body is singing, singing from his merciless assault." 
(Then, after a round of violent sex, comes this quote):
"Well done, baby," he whispers, quiet joy in his voice. His words curl  around me like a soft fluffy towel from the Heathman Hotel, and I'm so pleased that he's happy.
(Ugh, please).

"My scalp prickles at the idea that maybe, just maybe, he might like me.  After all, he did say he was glad Kate didn’t do the interview. I hug myself with quiet glee, rocking from side to side, entertaining the possibility that he might like me for one brief moment."
(How could he possibly like you, Ana?  You have BROWN hair).

"Grey smiles a dazzling, unguarded, natural, all-teeth-showing, glorious smile."             

 "Two orgasms...coming apart at the seams, like the spin cycle on a washing machine, wow."
 (Ms. James has taken a line used by sexually frustrated neighbors on 80's sitcoms, referring to how they pleasure themselves by sitting on the washing machine during spin cycle, and then used it totally wrong). 

"He’s my very own Christian Grey flavor popsicle."
 (Get it?)
Followed by:
 "My mouth pops open as I gasp and swallow at the same time."

I think you get the point.  Now let me delve a little further into why the writing made  me want to vomit all over the inside of Charlie Tango (Christian Grey's lamely named helicopter):

Extreme overuse of certain phrases:  Oh my, I blush, I flush, holy hell, holy crap, holy cow, holy f*ck, crap, double crap, crapola, my breath hitches, his breath hitches, his eyes were hooded, and endless references to "down there."  Down where? Oh, down there.  Cue the sound of a creaky old door opening and bats flying out.  But seriously, one of these phrases shows up on every single page.

EL James has no idea that there's a difference between a subconscious and a conscience.  Ana is constantly fighting with her "subconscious," who is some sort of mix between a prudish librarian and a Ricki Lake audience member ("You a ho!").   She's that little voice that is always telling Ana what she's doing is wrong.  You know, YOUR CONSCIENCE.  You subconscious is just what it sounds like - below consciousness.  You don't know it's there, and you definitely don't converse with it - unless maybe your name is Sybil.

EL James likes to use words that nobody has ever heard of.  In the middle of Ana using words like "crapola," we'll suddenly see the word "avuncular" or "mercurial."  Huh? Avuncular?  Look lady, nobody knows what that word means, especially not your half-wit of a heroine.

And just when I thought it couldn't get any worse Ana starts referring to Christian as "my Fifty Shades."  OMFG THAT'S THE NAME OF THE BOOK!! LOLOLOLOLOL!  Which is only one of many overused cutesy nicknames and phrases such as "the mean machine" instead of "laptop," and the literary abomination that is "Laters baby."

Now let's take a look at why Anastasia Steele sucks:

1.  She never stops having orgasms.  She loses her virginity to Christian in a horribly unromantic and violent way, but there she is having not just orgasms, but earth-shattering, mind blowing multiple orgasms where she is just out of her mind, shattered to smithereens, swirling and writhing, head spinning around on her shoulders with steam coming out of her ears, deaf, dumb, and blinded with sheer ecstasy.  Then her inner goddess gives her a high five and wraps a pair of pantyhose around her neck.   AND THAT WAS AFTER HER FIRST TIME.  The next day she wakes up a little sore, but gladly lets Christian pound her again.

2.  She becomes mentally retarded the second Mister sculptured lips hangy-pants so much as hands her the remote control.  At one point she actually asks, in all seriousness, if it's "legal to look that good?"  She loses all ability to speak, think, walk, and use her medulla oblongata (don't look at me, Ana mentions it several times).

I think that most of this relates to the fact that she has zero self-esteem.  She thinks she's unattractive, klutzy, and worst of all - she's a brunette!!!!!! NOOOOOOOOOO!! Everyone knows brunettes are hideous! No man will ever love you Ana!  Face the facts!  Just oil up that butt plug and get on with it already.  CHRISTIAN GREY IS YOUR ONLY OPTION YOU HIDEOUS BROWN-HAIRED MONSTER!

3.  She doesn't care that Christian is a controlling, abusive, mind-f*ck, because he's just so darn hot.  Her self esteem is so low that she literally says she would do anything to be with him.  "Anything" includes allowing herself to be whipped, spanked, and stalked across the country, even though he scares the hell out of her.  She says that she's in love with this man who she can't even make a joke around without being terrified that he's going to get angry and spank her

All of these things, and more, made Ana a weak, pathetic, joke of a character.

Why Christian Grey sucks:

I don't care how huge his d*ck is, or how much money he has, the man has absolutely nothing to offer. Between his lack of personality, his lack of a sense of humor, and his general desire to beat women into submission as some sick form of "caring" for them, he is nothing but a disgusting self-centered pig. Oh he was abused as a child? He didn't get enough love? Fine, that's a perfectly reasonable explanation  for him turning out the way he did, but it's no excuse for what he's doing to Ana.  If two adults are both into that lifestyle and the woman is begging you to beat her with a riding crop, then okay fine.  Maybe that's how real BDSM relationships work, I don't know. What I do know is that's not the case with this book. Christian Grey is a manipulator, who takes a girl with no experience, no self-esteem, and no mind of her own, and convinces her to do things she's not comfortable with in order to "please him."  He wants to hurt her. He's stated it several times.  And Ana, the moron, does all this shit on the off chance that in return he'll decide to be a normal boyfriend who takes her out to dinners and movies.

And to top it all off, Ana is just giddy with joy over the idea that someone like him could actually like her. The idea that a man who is controlling, threatening, physically violent, and doesn't allow you the time or space to have your own life and thoughts, is actually romantic, is a seriously disturbing trend.  

And so I conclude, so I may get on with my life...

As a self-published author myself, I am not sure I would want to make my millions off of a book like this.  I'm not the type to sucker people out of their money and then laugh all the way to the bank.  Oh I would still go to the bank, for sure.  Most of us dream of being rich.  But I would go to the bank with my head down. I would go to the bank with a promise in my mind to one day make up for perpetuating this twisted and dangerous version of love. I'd send a damn lot of my money to charity.

That would almost be fifty shades of decent. But I won't hold my breath. 


  1. Wow!! Guess I wil not be reading that book.
    You sure have a way with words.
    That was great!!!

  2. So I gave a talk at a library yesterday about how to publish an ebook, and I included your blog and told everyone, I found this lady on Twitter, and ended up buying her ebook! You can do it too! (Of course I have not gotten around to reading it yet. But that's not the point.) I thought you would think it was funny that secretary 4 life was up on a projection screen at a public library in CT last night.

    Also somewhat funny, I set off to tell you this this morning, pre-coffee, and sent it to you in 4 tweets. Of course, I tweeted it to the last person who had tweeted at me, and not you (like I said, no coffee. Also, idiocy). So I figured this I'd go the comment route instead, ha.

  3. I have read the Grey trilogy and have to agree with you. Anastasia needs a therapist, Christian needs one worse, and the employees who do his bidding need to be debriefed in the worst way. Yet, they are fictional characters.

    I thoroughly enjoyed learning new words despite all the ridiculous near bumbling in stupidity sex scenes. Mostly I enjoyed the knowledge that the work of Mr. Thomas Tallis would reappear as relevant to the masses.

    What concerns me the most is that perhaps we've taken a step backward into allowing our daughters to believe blondes have more fun and prince charming (or danger) is an acceptable way to find her path. I'll give E L James credit that Anastasia fights for her identity separate from Christian yet to what avail?

    Ladies, it is unrealistic to expect sex to be the way your imagination dreams these charachter's is. Your husband is not broken, cheating, or unattracted to you if he can't "do it" all night. You are not broken if you don't orgasm with penetration.

    Perhaps when all is said and done, it is Ms James who needs the therapist. We are, after all, seeing into her soul.

  4. The best thing about the FSoG books is that they gave rise to reviews like yours pointing out their failings. The idea of being tied up and/or beaten does not appeal to me at all and I read the trilogy because I wanted to try and understand what all the hype was about.

    I am flabbergasted by the response of people who praise the books; it bothers the hell out of me that so many women don't seem to look beyond the fact Ana has lots of orgasms - some on command, which to me is a truly fascinating concept - and fail to see that Christian is an abusive, manipulative, control freak who wants to beat the shit out of Ana because it turns him on. Or maybe they do see those things about Christian and find it acceptable. I'm not sure which is worse. I am equally disturbed by Ana and the fact she tolerates that behaviour. They both need therapy.

    Thanks for the great read.

  5. This review is great even though you missed a lot of things. How whiney Ana is, how Christian basically manipulates her from day 1... but yeah, you did cover the main things. Awesome!

  6. How on Earth can anyone who didn't like the first book go on to read the whole trilogy? That is what bothers me. It's bad enough you gave your money to ELJ for the first crap book, but to buy the others as well? GAG! I couldn't even finish the first one, but I've read recaps of the others and I certainly didn't miss much.