Friday, March 16, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1), by E.L. James

Barnes & Noble

I am finally writing my review of James' 50 Shades trilogy, after having posted this elsewhere on-line.

I have very strong feelings about this series. Bear with me and take what I say with a grain of salt.

50SG started as Master of the Universe (MotU) in the Twilight fanfiction community. It was a decent fic. Not great, but also not terrible like some of the drivel out there. There wasn't a lot of character development, but it didn't matter because everyone knew who Edward, Bella, and the other characters were. The sex scenes weren't as hot as one of the other popular BDSM fics (tarasueme's The Submissive trilogy), but it was a surprisingly compelling read. And for a Twific, that's fine. It doesn't have to be a well-written story, because a lot is already assumed by the readers.

What I have a problem with, since MotU became 50SG:

  • Twilight fanfic (or any fandom's fic) is written BY people who love the series FOR people who love the series. A series that was written by Stephanie Meyer. She owns the Intellectual Property. Illegal? Maybe not. Ethical? I don't think so. 
  • This whole pull-to-publish phenomenon--while not exclusive to the Twi fandom--has caused a split in the community. While I realize this doesn't matter to people outside of the fandom, it has affected a lot of people. 
  • James made very few changes in a work that was previously posted on-line. For free. Which you can still download today, rather than pay $30.
  • The writing is juvenile. It's fine in fanfic, but as a published book? No. Just no.
  • James portrays BDSM in a negative light, with Bella/Ana talking about how she can change Edward/Christian and bring him out of the darkness. BDSM is about sexual pleasure; it's not this awful, painful experience that's going to drag you down into hell.
  • We are introduced to two Doms: 1) Edward/Christian, who was abused as a child and has mommy issues that cause him to play with subs who LOOK LIKE HIS MOTHER; and 2) Mrs. Robinson, a PEDOPHILE who started a D/s relationship with a FIFTEEN-year-old BOY. A boy who was acting out because he was abused and needed professional help. If it had been a middle-aged man taking on an abused fifteen-year-old girl as a sexual submissive, dude would have been arrested and branded a sex offender. 
  • BDSM is used as an excuse for Edward/Christian to be a domineering, controlling asshole. And Bella/Ana just accepts this.
  • A 21-year-old college graduate without an e-mail address? Really?
  • Edward/Christian buys the company that Bella/Ana goes to work for so he can keep an eye on her. Really? Really?
  • Edward/Christian is a 27-year-old billionaire who never seems to do any actual work. Entrepreneurs and C-level executives work all.the.time in real life.
  • The term "mommy porn" is ridiculous. Porn is porn. You know what I think mommy porn is? A hot guy to watch my kids and clean my house while I go to the spa.

I'll stop. I could go on and on and on.

On a positive note (you didn't think there would be one, did you?), I have to give the book credit for bringing female sexuality to the mainstream. Yay for women embracing their own desires!

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