Fifty Shades of Drivel

Author: Mel Brownlee /

Fifty Shades
of Drivel

***Please note that this review contains spoilers***

It has been a few months since I first heard about the sexually explicit wonder that is Fifty Shades of Grey and for that time, I have put up a very brave and noble fight to avoid succumbing to what millions of women have succumbed to – to actually spend £8 of my hard earned money and subject myself to reading a novel filled from page to page with graphic, S&M sex. This appeals to a lot of women, and I am not going to lie, it does spark my interest a little. But after learning the author, E.L. James was once a Twilight fan fiction writer, I just couldn’t bring myself to sit down and seriously read a book that I was convinced would mirror Twilight and the poor writing of Stephanie Meyer in every way.

Fifty Shades has featured quite heavily on almost every single day time chat show, especially those ones specifically aimed at women/mothers. It became a focal talking point on social networking sites, it filled the shelves in every book store, my friends had started to read it – even my own mother had read it. I was starting to crack under the severe pressure society was piling on top of me. The hype around the book has been ridiculous, this isn’t the first book with gratuitous sex and it certainly will not be the last. So why is Fifty Shades an exception? Why is it on a totally different level to all the other books of its kind?

Well, in the end I wanted answers to these questions so badly that I caved. With a gentle nudge from a friend and a spontaneous decision to run into Waterstones and shamelessly buy the book, whilst asking the checkout man not to judge me, I had started my journey into a sadomasochistic nightmare that promised erotica beyond my wildest dreams. To say I had high hopes would be an understatement. I was expecting my world to be rocked, my head to spin, and my eyes to be opened to new and thrilling adventures that would allow me to explore my inner deviant who I had never unleashed into the world.

With all of this in mind, I braced myself and got stuck in.

Now, I have never written a review before, for a book or a movie. I dare not after I raved about Prometheus being one of the best films I have ever seen in my entire life only for the majority of my friends and family to find it to be a complete flop, much to my disappointment. So, as I am sure my taste in both film and novel is quite questionable, I have refrained from putting my opinions and reviews out there. But, in this particular instance I just cannot stay silent.

I have yet to finish Fifty Shades but have already read/skimmed my way through 200 painful pages of illiterate nonsense that has left my mind considerably numb. I intend to write this review over a matter of days as I am making my way through the book and to keep you up to date with how I am finding it. But so far, as I feared deep down, I am beyond disappointed. Fifty Shades doesn’t start off too well; it is unfortunate that the protagonist - a very withdrawn, introverted Miss Anastasia Steele - meets the antagonist - a wealthy, attractive, arrogant and seemingly enigmatic Christian Grey – far too quickly for the reader to be able to form any real connection with the lead character. I don’t know about anyone else, but I could not understand her. For those very few paragraphs before she meets Mr Grey she seems shy and quiet, but the minute she gets into the presence of her leading man she becomes clumsy (much like Bella Swan, one of the many similarities with Twilight that I will highlight in this review) and then suddenly very feisty, patronising and sarcastic. I didn’t understand this, surely if anything it would be the other way round? For most of my life I have become more introverted around attractive men rather than more extroverted like Miss Steele. But this is just the start of it.

About an hour into my reading (okay I lie, it was about 20 minutes considering I was just zooming through trying to end my literal torture) I had just about had enough of the already apparent repetitive nature of the book. If I had to read “His long fingers”, or “He ran his hands through his hair” or “His grey eyes” or “Stop biting your bottom lip, it’s very distracting” or, and this one is a particular favourite “Oh…please” (anyone familiar with the book knows exactly where that little nugget is heavily featured) or anything to do with her flipping “inner goddess” one more time, I might have just considered smashing my head through a brick wall in the hope that my memory would be wiped clean and I would have no recollection of ever reading the strenuously tedious Fifty Shades of Grey. I frequently found myself huffing and puffing throughout the first 50 odd pages, slamming the book shut and throwing it to the other end of the bed, hoping that it would grow legs and piss off out of my life.

In the books defence, I was informed by a close friend whose opinions and judgements I would rely quite heavily on when it comes to books, especially of the sexy kind, that the writing in Fifty Shades is appalling to say the least and yet I still made the conscious decision to read it. I had prepared myself for an exasperatingly bad read, but somehow I am still not sure that I can handle it. As I am about 200 pages into the erotic novel I haven’t yet stumbled across a truly filthy sex scene, but I have witnessed the intense and incredibly unrealistic loss of Ana’s virginity. This threw me off. I had expected Ana to be an already well experienced woman of the world who was up for a bit of rough and tumble, not a 21 year old virgin who had never even experienced a penis, let alone kinky sex toys and floggings. That one little revelation made it very hard for me to come to terms with the storyline or accept it as realistic. Think about it ladies, the last thing you can think of doing after losing your virginity is embarking on a loveless relationship with a sadistic man who wants to beat you, whip you, dominate you, punish you and just generally inflict pain on you during sex. A man who does not “make love” but, and pardon my French, “fucks hard”. As a considerably wholesome, sexually disadvantaged and inexperienced young woman with two brain cells to rub together, would you really even have a passing thought about consenting to being a sex slave in Christian Greys “Red Room of Pain”?

Hell no, is what I would say to that. No way, not straight after losing my virginity and not ever. You could make an exception if you were in a loving relationship with a partner who worshipped the ground you walked on and if you were both interested in experimenting a little in the bedroom, but with some stranger who has made it clear he wants you for one thing and one thing only? And what’s more, Mr Grey is practically emotionally blackmailing Ana into submitting to him as he has made it very clear this would be the only way she could ever have a relationship with him, in the full knowledge of how much she likes him (already). What is with that? Anastasia Steele is meant to be an intelligent university student and yet she is going to be a willing participant in Mr Grey’s inexplicable S&M fantasies? I don’t know about the rest of you, but I find this all extremely difficult to buy into, thus making the book even harder for me to read.

It could be said that I am picking a lot of holes here, but that is because I am. So far, Fifty Shades of Grey has left me frustrated (and not in a good way), annoyed and seriously bored. One would have hoped that the sex scenes would make up for E.L. James’ complete lack of literacy and storytelling skills, but even they have exasperated me and left me feeling turned off rather than turned on. The constant nonsensical ramblings of Christian Grey during the sex scenes, which I can only imagine is meant to be his dirty talk, make me want to rip out his tongue, slap him about with it (although I am sure he would love that, the dirty bastard) and let him watch as I fed it to my dogs. And yet Ana loves it so much that she actually consents to becoming his dirty little sex slave. I don’t get it, I just don’t get it. If a man was telling me to “taste myself” during sex I am fairly sure I would have him out of my bed, house and life quicker than he could blink.

Perhaps I will start to enjoy Fifty Shades more and more with each page, with each sex scene - but I am not holding out any hope. The immature and repetitive writing only adds to the fact that the storyline is very weak, a bit of a kinky take off of Twilight and that the characters have no substance to them, there is nothing to differentiate one character from the next. There is no depth to Ana or Christian, to their story (so far) and to their lives before they even met one another. A good book is one that you cannot put down; a bad book is one that you cannot wait to put down. And then there is Fifty Shades of Grey, a book so bad that I will be taking it to my local vets to make sure it is properly put down and disposed of immediately before it can cause any more damage. No funeral, no mourning period for my loss, no wishing I could unread it all just so I could read it again. None of that nonsense. I just want to get through it in one piece, rebuild my intelligence with a real book and pretend that this never happened.

Until next time, unhappy reading.



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