On How I Didn't Find 50 Shades of Grey All That Bad (So Sue Me)

, by Zoë Gulliksen

Alright, let's get a few things out of the way first: '50 Shades of Grey' by E.L. James as well as it's two sequels '50 Shades Darker' and '50 Shades Freed', are not good books. They are written just as awfully as everyone has been telling you. And yes, they are blatant Twilight fan fiction rip offs. The main character Ana, is a 21 year old mousey college student who has never kissed a guy before. Her low self esteem rivals Bella Swan's. Christian Grey is just as over protective and obsessively controlling as Edward Cullen. The locations are also the same (Washington State and Texas), the Grey family is much like The Cullen's and the friends surrounding the romantic pair are quite similar as well.


For crying out loud, this book was originally called "Master of the Universe" published online where James used the pseudonym "Snow Queen's Ice-dragon". Just so we are clear: these are not good books and I would never recommend them to anyone at all.

That being said, I willingly read all three books. (Stop reading now if you do not want spoilers) I started the first one after seeing women EVERYWHERE read it. In a single subway car I once saw three women reading the book. On the airport in San Diego a woman was desperately engrossed in it. And so, I downloaded my first eBook onto my iPad. I am against eBooks, but I would not be caught dead reading '50 Shades of Grey' in public.

The book started out exceptionally awful, and it took a good 40 pages into the book for me to get used to the poor writing. But once I  did, I admit that I became increasingly engrossed  with Christian Grey and Ana Steele. Christian is the adopted son of friendly socialites, himself a multi millionaire in his mid twenties. Ana is quiet, yet surprisingly resistant to Christian's over protective ways.

And yes, there is sex. God there is so much sex, but none of it was as kinky or graphic as I thought it was going to be. This book has become known for its BDSM relationship, when actually it isn't about that at all. Christian Grey was tortured as a child, and so he is too psychologically fucked up to show affection for a woman any other way. However, Ana does not give into the masochists relationship, instead putting her foot down on most kinky actions save for bondage, and the occasional rough sex. The more graphic actions are a hard limit for Ana and it doesn't get too bad at all. Christian never manages to truly coax Ana into the Dom/Sub lifestyle he was used to, instead creating a relatively normal relationship.

So why did I not just stop after the first book? Why was I compelled to buy both sequels? Mainly because the story turned out not quite I had judged it to be. I quickly grew attached to these characters, and the drama was just as plentiful as the sex scenes: murder, arson, politics, romance and suspense. I wanted to know what happened, if the villains won, and if Christain Grey would be able to hold onto his beloved Ana.

These are by no means, good books. But there is a certain allure to them that women cannot get enough of: a man who is wholeheartedly devoted to them. It's the same Twilight effect found in nearly every supermarket trashy romance novel. As a woman, the idea that a strong attractive, over possessive intellectual man could need you as much as you need him... why that feeling is addictive.

The Edward Cullens and the Christian Greys of the fictional world are appealing to women because these fictional men are so devoted to their women that they would never, ever cheat on them. Christian Grey is terrified of losing the first woman he has ever truly cared for, and so he is obsessive and controlling. Yes it's frustrating and annoying, but bottom line you know that he would do anything to protect her.  That sense of security and devotion  is perhaps anti feminist, but I am not a feminist. I am not ashamed to admit that I connected with these books because underneath a hard headed woman who does not like giving into relationships or needing ANYONE at all, I crave that sense of security that comes with knowing a man would never leave you for someone else. That is not a feeling easily found in real life.

Once again I MUST repeat, these are not good books. They started out on a fan fiction website for god's sake and every complaint about the book is accurate. The sex became SO repetitive and so often that even *I* was skipping the dirty scenes just to see if the characters would live to see another day. They are the reality tv of books: awful characters with awful dramatized plots.

But at the end of the day when you want something to read on your commute home, or sick in bed with very little cognitive abilities, these books will suit your needs. However, I am NOT recommending that you spend your money on these books. They are not worth the $10 a piece from the Apple store. However, if you borrow them from a friend, I will not judge you. If you are too arrogant to succumb to the lowest levels of fiction, well then go read 'Tale of Two Cities' next time you're sick and I hope it helps your headache.

Although, in the future if I'm craving smutty fiction, I'll look no further than Galeen Foley's collection of novels. They are well written beautiful tales of pirates, princesses, politics, and of course: sex. If these sound like books you might be interested in, I suggest you start with "Pirate Prince". That book is my favorite and the perfect introduction into that author's world.

Overall, I did not hate the 50 Shades of Grey books, so sue me. They are supermarket trashy romance novels that leaped to success because of the Twilight origins. A girl is allowed her guilty pleasures. Now excuse me while I go find myself a grey tie ;)

Ps- why should my opinion matter? I have a degree in Creative Writing and I pride myself on my fantastic opinion on books. I am also not a book snob, I recognize books for what they are: entertainment.

1 comment:

  1. It's funny how easy it is to get attached to characters, even in poorly written, trashy books. I think that's a testament to the strength of our ability to connect with human emotion.

    I have to admit I'll never understand the "If he's controlling that means he loves me" mentality. But then, I'm not a woman. I think the psychology and cultural changes behind that is a much trickier conversation. But I will say that so far I have never been able to understand it. Be an interesting topic for a blog post!

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