October 4, 2012
I wanted to see what all the fuss was about - Fifty Shades of Gray, the ebook, self-published (and, back in the day, free) sensation by E.L. James that so rocked the nation with all kinds of revelations about the female sexual psyche. All us wimmin, we're reading books that have sex scenes in them! Who knew?
I like a good romance novel myself, so I logged into my account on the Midwest Library Collaborative and put my name on the waiting list. "You are patron 980 out of 1012." Wow. I have never, ever, seen a waiting list that long. I calculated that I might be able to download the book in about 2 years, thought about giving up my virtual place in line, but shrugged and thought "Eh, what the hell."
While I was waiting, I found a sample chapter somewhere online and read it. The experience made me even more content to simply wait a few years to read the book. Anastasia and Christian...well, fifty shades (less, really - maybe, like, 10) of gray could describe their personalities and the prose, IMO.
Imagine my surprise when I got an email this weekend that I could download the book.
Imagine my further surprise that I am on page 170 and bored out of my mind.
You would think the sex scenes would save it. Well, I am here to tell you, that is just wrong-headed thinking (ha.). As a reader of romance novels, I can assure you that the sex scenes are best when you know who the characters are, and the scene is set up carefully and written well. None of those things have happened so far in this book. Christian is a successful, wealthy owner of his own business in Seattle, but I have no idea what his business is. Anastasia is graduating from a college in Portland and is looking for an internship in Seattle. Don't know what kind, don't know what her major is other than it must be literature or something because she likes "classics." But they are hot for each other, hoo-boy, yeah. Except I don't care. Because the author hasn't invested in making me care.
But I am reading this so you don't have to, so I shall bravely carry on. Heh.
However, if I have to read another 215 pages of Anastasia biting her lip or looking up through her lashes, or Christian being beautiful (and big - why are they always big?), I'm gonna...I dunno. I can't throw my ereader against the wall and I'm not much for puking.
You know when you do something - oh, like, say, READ A 385 PAGE BOOK (ereader pages, your results may vary) - and you will never, ever get those hours back again? Yeah. That.
I've got Gone Girl queued up on my reader fer cryin' out loud.
So, ya'll know this is supposed to be a kinky BDSM book, right? That would be Bondage Dominance Submission Masochism (and variations thereof). Zero explanation of this type of relationship, absolutely no context provided, other than The Contract. Christian wants a contract for these activities, and we get to read the entire thing not once, not twice, but three times. Anastasia bites her lip because this beautiful man wants her. Christian wants to fuck her every time she bites her lip. We have spankings, hair-pulling, cable ties and some kind of riding crop thing, and it's tedious. I keep thinking maybe an implement failure on a massive scale will end it all for both of them, but no such luck. They don't even use the carabiners on the ceiling of the Red Room of Pain, with all of their risky possibilities.
You want to read it now, don't you. But like every other discussion, article and analysis about this book, my post is way more interesting than the actual novel. And infinitely better-written.
Christian is "fifty shades of fucked up" by his own admission, and that alone should be fascinating. Except it's not. Because other than the mildly kinky sex, there are very few indications of his fucked-up-ness and none of it is explored.
And now I've exceeded the Livingston Post's hard limit on the f-word. Fifty Shades of Grey exceeds my hard limits for "inner goddess," "beautiful man," "big," "wet," "confusing," "panting," "mercurial man," "overthink," "I wish I knew what you were thinking," "Holy crap" (seriously, Ana's favorite expression apparently - bad news for a lit major) and a panoply of repetitive adjectives and phrases.
So, as you rush out to a local library that hasn't chosen to pull this book off their shelves in a misguided effort to protect the innocence of women everywhere, don't say I didn't warn you. You definitely have better things to do with your time.