This is a post I have procrastinated for the longest time, as it’s been quite a while that I read this series; I guess a couple of years at-least. But now with all the hype surrounding the movie adaptation of the 2nd book, Fifty Shades Darker (which released today), I thought it is about time, I share my thoughts on this book series.
Having said that, I feel compelled to begin with a disclaimer/code of conduct statement, lest I find myself in the middle of unnecessary controversy, ’cause I have seen people have very strong reactions to the Fifty Shades series.
So, here goes..
It’s okay if you don’t agree with my opinion(s) on this series (which are pretty mixed anyway); it’s okay to point out the disagreement and engage in healthy debate.
However, it is NOT OKAY to use this platform for negative/hate filled comments. God knows we have enough of that going around in the world, and we really don’t need more of that over a book, of all things! But if you choose to ignore this friendly piece of advice – know that the comments are moderated anyway. Enough said. ?
On the whole – I liked this book/series, in-spite of the fact that I have
some many issues with what is represented. Mostly because people read different books for different reasons, and this was essentially my mindless read fix, which it worked well for.
Sure it’s not a great piece of literature, nor are these characters people who you could write grad school thesis on, but you know what? I liked the romance (yes, it exists, under 50 feet of crap, but it exists), enjoyed the unexpected humour , and LOVED the emails – they were smart, witty, and interesting – and were pretty much the highlight of this series for me.
Moreover, this thing was addictive enough for me to overlook the extremely pedestrian, troupe-y writing, a mildly (at first) annoying narrator, and the fact that I had to skip over major chunks of the book (something I never ever do). But I will make a concession for the last point, because erotica is not my thing, so I can hardly blame the book for being what it set out to be.
Reading 50 Shades of Grey was like witnessing a train-wreck; you know you should look away, but you just cannot stop watching (reading in this case).
Now, I don’t feel like any kind of plot summary is required for this book/series, as by now, I suspect the entire English speaking world is at-least aware of these books, even if they haven’t read them.
Mousy Anastasia Steel meets uber rich, yet oh-so-emotionally-disturbed (understatement alert) Christian Grey, sparks fly, BDSM, yada yada yada…
So I decided to approach this in another way. By introducing Christian & Ana to you.
Christian Grey is possessive (overly), a little stalker-ish (understatement again), domineering (duh), authoritarian, elusive, mercurial – all of those things, and more. He is also one of the most tender, tortured, sensitive heroes I’ve ever read. His despair and need for Ana in his life are like living, breathing things, and they jump off the page.
Having said that – would I ever go near someone like him in real life? Hell no! Wouldn’t dream of touching him even with a ten foot pole. I might even consider getting a restraining order and a personal body guard. But this is fiction and we’re all allowed a little guilty pleasure, right? Right? Well at-least that is what I’m telling myself.
Speaking of guilty pleasures – in spite of him having like a bazillion (made up word alert) issues, the author has left no stone unturned to dump positive attributes on him. He is a billionaire, who is also incredibly hot, who happens to know how to drive (is this the correct word?) his own helicopter, is a concert level pianist, AND an expert dancer. I was fully expecting that he will find a cure for cancer by the end of the third book!
Anastasia Steel on the other hand is one of the most exasperating narrators I have ever read (she had the crown for a while, but then, I hadn’t read Twilight at that point, so now Bella is the reigning queen of exasperating narrators).
Now since I mentioned Bella here, I must also say that in Bella’s case, every single issue I had with her, was a personality issue. I can’t really say that about Ana. Yes, she was naive to the point of being downright stupid (especially during a plot point in Book 2 – I will come to that later), but overall, I could kind of understand Ana’s actions for the most part, so personality wasn’t really the biggest problem, the writing was. Which is exactly what I will be addressing next.
Okay, most of you already know that I am not overly fussy about the actual mechanics of the art of writing, so long as the reading experience isn’t adversely affected to a great extent. Pedestrian writing wouldn’t necessarily mean I dislike the book. But this author has truly tested my patience.
For instance, she has not met an adverb or an adjective she doesn’t love, and so as to not play favorites, she uses them with equal vigor, and far too often. But that is not even my main issue. My biggest grouse is the amount of repetition in this book. It’s borderline embarrassing!
Firstly, there are only 3 responses that Ana’s vocabulary consists –
‘Oh my’ – for something good,
‘Holy F***’ – for something bad,
and ‘Jeez’ – for something unexpected.
If you do a drinking game, on every time she says those words, you would be drunk out of your mind before you finish the first quarter of the book.
But how can I forget, the 100 million repetitions of
Fair point well made. Mr. Grey. Mrs. Grey. Twitching palms. Mr. Mecurial. Oh, my Fifty, Fifty, Fifty! My poor lost boy! Your Mrs. Robinson. B*tch Troll. My control freak. You don’t eat enough.
Don’t bite your bottom lip. You’re mine. Mine. Mine. Hush. He’s really mad. Mine.
I also got tired of hearing how much she ‘loved this man’, this ‘beautiful man’, her Fifty, yada yada yada… He’s gorgeous. We get it. Move on!
On Domestic Abuse
I don’t think I can review this book, without addressing the issue of domestic abuse, so here goes – Yes, I have issues with what is represented. I do. Some of his thought processes are extremely disturbing.
But you must remember that I was 30 when I read this book, so my outlook on many things was more defined and certain, and past the stage of any real influence. Which is why, I could ignore a lot of his disturbing behavior patterns as just another of his crazy quirks, but I wouldn’t be comfortable recommending this to impressionable teens/young adults (who are unfortunately the target audience).
Having said that – I think that domestic abuse is the absolute wrong term for what happens in this series. I know many people are inclined to believe that Christian is the big bad man who abuses a weak young woman. But trust me, that is not the case.
There is nothing, I repeat nothing, that happens between the two of them that Ana doesn’t give consent to. Sure, she may whine about it afterwards, or use the excuse that she doesn’t want to lose him, but she makes the choice – every. single. time.
Mutual consent for mutual pleasure is not, in my book, domestic abuse.
Note: I choose to not address BDSM, even though that was clearly the main theme of this book/series. There are many reasons for that, but the most important one being that I don’t understand it enough to debate it.
Until I read this book/series, I wasn’t even aware of its existence or for that matter the full-form of the acronym. So, I am clearly in no position to comment on whether this was an accurate representation of BDSM or not.
The Fifty Shades Trilogy
Now let’s talk about the actual books. First things first – these books cannot and should not be read as standalone reads. It’s essentially one big story broken up into 3 books. And if you do remove all the annoying, grating repetition, it could possibly all fit in one really-big-book.
Book 1 is all about the newness of their connection. This book has all the excitement of a new crush, it’s interesting, fun, makes you giddy with excitement, while still leaving you uncertain about their future. I say this, because Book 1 ends on a terrible cliffhanger (and I just hate those!).
Book 2 is decidedly my favorite of the lot. This second installment of Christian & Ana’s journey has all of the emotion and depth that I felt was missing from the first book. This is actually where the romance takes center-stage. Christian is more human (which I like), a little insecure (which I don’t know how I feel about), but in this book he certainly did fit more in the traditional romantic-hero-mould, as much as Christian Grey could fit in that.
The one thing that irked me about this book was the conflict resolution from Book 1. I don’t want to give out spoilers here (so I won’t), but while Christian & Ana were discussing the conflict from Book 1 – he was upset with her, and she fell for that shit. She somehow managed to believe that all of it was her fault. That my friends was the time when I realized that little Miss Steel, was not merely a naive young woman. No. Poor Ana was just plain stupid.
Book 3, as a whole, is my least favorite of the lot. For starters – the first 75% of the book was useless. Completely, utterly waste-of-space useless.
But you might understand it better in the context of the earlier books. Like I mentioned earlier, I liked the first book, and the second one was even better, because outside of the whole romance, Book 2 was when Ana stepped up and the power disparity between them finally leveled out.
Now, I ended Book 2 completely satisfied and certain that Christian & Ana were headed towards a happy, healthy relationship. So I was pretty pissed to find that the third book had decided to take their relationship in reverse. It just felt like a retread of the issues they had already worked out.
Having said that, the last quarter of the book was good, like a completely-different-book good. The conclusion and the HEA were nice too. But it could have just been added to end of Book 2, and that would have made an already good book, better.
All in All
I liked the read. I would recommend to anyone (exclusions follow) who is looking for some light reading. Would NOT recommend this to the intended audience of teens/young adults, but that’s just me. If I had an impressionable teen, I wouldn’t want them reading this, so I don’t want to be a hypocrite, all-right?
Note: If you plan to buy all 3 books, outside of paperbacks of these, the most cost effective option is buying them on Kindle as a bundle.
When I had bought it, I had bought it for $19.99 (so I know that’s legit for sure), but now I see the $15.99 option too, so adding the link to that as well. Of-course, those prices are for US, but I believe the same links will take you to the kindle versions in your own country. They are supposed to at-least. If they don’t, let me know.
For people in India – I guess the Kindle version doesn’t exist (I could be wrong), but the cheapest prices are not on Amazon, but Flipkart (links below)
That’s all from my end guys. Have you read this book/series? Or actually, did you even read this whole post? Because this surely was one long ramble-y monologue. If you did, care to share your thoughts?
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