Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you're following me on Goodreads, you know I have a newfound mantra not to finish crappy books just for the sake of finishing them. Well, I finished this book (and the others in the series), and the writing sucks. It is painfully obvious that this began as fanfiction and had little in the way of professional editing.
This is not your mother's romance novel. Unless you're under 18, in which case, buzz off (for this particular post. The rest are great birth control).
When I think of romance novels, I think of quaint victorianism and words like heaving bosom, corset, and manhood. Fifty Shades of Grey has its own special oft-repeated words, of course, but they tend toward the poorly-written rather than the adorable. Think, apex, sex-as-a-noun, flush, and behind. Oh, and words like, dominant, submissive, and flogger. Readers have been known to require Google assistance to define some of the terms found in this book, but it's best to keep safe search on and don't search at work. 'Nuff said?
Now that I have your attention, let me mention that this book is also not your typical whips-and-chains erotica. No, it walks a fine line between these genres, and while FSOG does have its very own almost-but-not-quite-completely-lacking-a-personality heroine, it also has one character who is quite well, um, fleshed out.
Ana Steele is everything a romance novel's heroine should be: unknowingly gorgeous, barely-legal, virginal, and naive. When the series begins, she is clumsy and awkward, but somehow a feast of mind-blowing sex three times daily leaves her a smoldering temptress before long. That's... about as much character development as we get for Ana.
Christian Grey, on the other hand, experiences a lot of growth (heh), though it's mostly from one stereotype to another. He begins the series dark and broken - fifty shades of fucked up, if you will. He's into "kinky fuckery" due to a horrific childhood, and he struggles his way into becoming a strong-but loving personality who is exasperatingly-overbearing-in-a-kind-of-sweet-way and also hellfire in the bedroom.
Though the novel's plot starts out as weak and wibbly as any romance novel, it quickly escalates to kinky, hardcore erotica before fizzing down into the glowing embers of something resembling a real-life relationship. An olympic amount of kinky sex is thrown in to keep things interesting, and overall the book reads like its humble beginnings - poorly-written fan fiction with rebranded characters.
I'm not sure why the media is calling this "mommy porn," since the protagonist is a young and breathless college graduate. Unless maybe the media expects moms to need vicarious kinky sex, while non-moms are presumed to be able to have their own fun.
If you're squeamish or overly moral (in sex or in writing), you probably won't much enjoy 50SG, as it's lovingly called by fans.
I enjoyed it plenty, though I think I'd enjoy perusing it with my red pen almost as much.
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