Reading 50 Shades of Grey (despite promising to “obsess and possess” me) prompted little more than a rather dull Facebook status upon completion, yet (like many others) I feel compelled to write a review (for those inspired to rush out and buy a copy) to explain why this book is nothing more than a tragic attempt to explore some kind of “taboo” genre in literature.
The second I wrote the word plot I regretted it immediately as I am about to type something likely more humdrum than you’ll read in the book! “What plot?” may have been a more appropriate heading as the story is as mundane as this: girl meets man, girl fancies man, man fancies girl, man is strange and mysterious, girl loves man, man doesn’t love girl…
Anastasia Steele – perhaps the most annoying protagonist I have ever had the misfortune of coming across. Anastasia (referred to mainly as Ana) is a young ‘innocent’ who lives with a domineering (and equally annoying) flatmate – rather than representing women as empowered, self-controlled, able and intelligent, Ana’s ability to repel the damaged Christian Grey’s advances is, quite frankly, pathetic. She cries on a number of occasions as she reaches the realisation that he is “50 shades of f***** up” but agrees to his demeaning contractual agreement which allows him to control every aspect of her life from the clothes she wears to the food she eats. It is disturbing that the book has on many occasions been referenced as a breakthrough and a sexual revolution as nothing about Ana’s conflict with her inner self is healthy.
Christian Grey – described throughout as having gray eyes (yes, the book really is that obvious) and of course being ‘the best looking man in the world’, Christian is controlling, possessive, mentally disturbed, sexually aggressive and obnoxious. Although he has moments where Ana describes him as charming, he is clearly not a nice person whether on the surface or deep down. What happened to the days of Heathcliff and Mr Darcy? There is no romantic element to Christian’s character and it is extremely hard to like him.
Other minor (and pointless… and dull) characters include Katherine, Ana’s room mate who engages in a relationship with Christian’s brother Elliot. Jose – typical ‘boy best friend’ who is clearly in love with Ana and offers little more than a reason for Christian to punish (sexually) Ana for maintaining a friendship with him. Christian’s family are also included during an awkward dinner exchange with his mother, father and sister offering no insight into why he is the way he is and are not explored on any relevant level.
The sex scenes
Let’s face it, the main cause of the hype surrounding this book is due to the graphic sex scenes between the two lead characters Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele and I’ll admit… the only appeal of this book! This is a story that has supposedly re-ignited dormant flames in relationships and made women become more experimental in the bedroom – I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Sadly, much like the plot and characters, the sex scenes are typically un-exciting. Yes, there are enough references to personal body parts and imaginary conveyed that you can see why it’s all causing a stir but I frankly found the BDSM part of Christian’s desire quite disturbing. How can a book that has been said to empower women in the bedroom and improve sex lives be about a very controlling, abusive and unhealthy relationship? A contractual agreement between a young woman graduating college and a slightly older (but far more disturbed man), empowering? I don’t think so.
The following joke has recently been circulating on social network sites: “The met office have reported that this is the wettest July on record, I blame 50 Shades of Grey.”
If you want to read a book for the sake of sexual description and are happy to read the same language (just with the words in a different order) over and over then this book is for you. If you are hoping that this story will re-ignite some kind of passion in your relationship… you might need help.
To sum up
If you are looking for a book that’s a little bit naughty but that will still grip you with a good plot line, engaging characters and provide a generally enjoyable and entertaining read… avoid, avoid, avoid.
This book promises much and delivers little; I conclude that its 50 shades of sh…