Regular readers of my blog will note that I have mentioned several times that I wouldn’t read “50 Shades of Grey” because I hate reading rubbish books. Recently it was pointed out to me that I have never before given an opinion on a book I haven’t actually read for myself. This is true. I haven’t, as I don’t believe you should give an opinion based solely on someone else’s opinion of something, i.e. from reading other reviews. So why did I feel it was okay to go against this for “50 Shades of Grey”? It isn’t okay, so I decided to give EL James the benefit of the doubt and read “50 Shades of Grey” for myself.
Boy am I glad that I did!! Hmm, sarcasm doesn’t really work in written form does it?! No, I am not glad and my opinion hasn’t really changed from before I read it, I just hate James, the book, the people who love it and are adding to its popularity and myself a whole lot more than I did before. This book stinks. Seriously. I actually had to google how old James is because the writing is so immature I assumed she must be very young. She isn‘t, she was 51 at the time of writing this if anyone else was wondering. The writing is repetitive (I didn’t count but Ana must say “oh my” about 1000 times), the sex scenes are badly written and at times use extremely immature language (Ana describes getting a feeling “down there”, if you’re writing erotic fiction please use grown up language!) and the characters have no depth to them at all. I’m seriously concerned about Ana’s mental health with the number of different people she has conversations with in her head! I’m not entirely blaming James for this. She is not a professional author. She is someone who sat at her computer and wrote some “Twilight” fan fiction, just like hundreds of other people have also done. Nobody expects fan fiction to be perfect. However, when a publisher decided to turn the fan fiction into actual published books they really should have had them edited first, which they clearly did not.
First things first, let’s get out of the way some of the things that supporters of this book will probably be assuming about me right now. I am not a prude who was offended by the sex scenes. I regularly read erotic fiction online and let me tell you I have never been less turned on by a piece of erotic fiction as I was by “50 Shades of Grey”. I have no problem with people indulging in a BDSM lifestyle, as I know many consenting adults are doing right now. It’s not a lifestyle that I would personally choose but I think what other people get up to in their sex lives is entirely up to them. As this was an area I didn’t know much about I did do a little extra reading around this subject. There are a great many articles out there by people who actually are involved in BDSM who gone into detail as to how James has got their lifestyle wrong and how the 50 shades series has actually done more damage to their reputation than it has raised awareness of it.
Did anyone see what I did there, I did some research into a subject I didn’t know much about so I could gain a little better understanding. That is something James should probably have done before the books were published.
I have never been in an abusive relationship but I do know people who have and again I have done a little reading into the subject. The controlling behaviours that Christian Grey exhibits towards Ana are not romantic. They are the same behaviours that most abusive partners will use to ensure they maintain control of their victim. That’s right, victim. I know there is a popular meme circling the internet at the moment that says if Christian Grey lived in a trailer and was on benefits it would be an episode of “Criminal Minds” rather than a piece of romantic fiction and that is exactly how I felt whilst reading this. Major serial killer vibes from him.
Right near the beginning of the book, before any contract has been even discussed never mind signed, Grey tracks Ana down to her place of employment despite her never having told him where she works. She then goes on a night out with some friends, gets drunk and calls him, ending the conversation by saying that she doesn’t want to see him and she won’t tell him where she is. Now, bearing in mind this is a man she’s only met twice at this point, you would think that would be clear enough that he would indeed stay away. No. Not the wonderful Christian Grey. He ILLEGALLY tracks her mobile phone to find her. Considering she’s extremely drunk when he finds her outside the bar she was at with her friends does he take her back inside and advise her female flatmate to take her home? No. He takes her back inside and tells her female flatmate that he is taking her back to his hotel. Don’t even get me started on how much I hate Ana’s friends. No way in the world would I allow one of my friends to go off with a strange man when she’s as drunk as Ana is supposed to be, that’ s just not what friends do. Once he has got her back to his hotel, he strips her clothes off and puts her to bed. Even my own Mother doesn’t remove my clothes when I come home drunk so I certainly wouldn’t expect a strange man to do so.
Now, I could go on and on about how many times Grey is abusive towards Ana but several more qualified reviewers out there already have. Women who have experienced domestic abuse and been the victim of controlling behaviours like Grey uses on Ana have repeatedly stated that these books should come with a trigger warning due to the descriptions of abuse contained in them. I know a lot of James’ supporters have taken the stance that the physical “punishment” that Grey doles out to Ana is part of their BDSM sex life and tried to imply that these women are accusing everyone involved in BDSM as being involved in abuse. That is not what they meant. Abusive relationships come in many forms but all must contain an element of control. These people can’t have their partner telling anyone what they are doing to them so they make sure that they won’t. Grey uses a non-disclosure agreement as part of his control of Ana, meaning she can’t discuss any aspect of their relationship with anyone. Does that really sound like a healthy relationship?
Special mention goes to the tampon scene for being especially disgusting and disturbing. I’m not going to go into detail, if you’ve read it you’ll know what I mean, if you’ve not then be glad I’m saving you from it!
I am in no way a “book snob”. I will read anything and everything, from classical literature, like Dickens, to the latest James Patterson book. My hatred of “50 Shades of Grey” isn’t about me being elitist and wanting everyone to just read the classics. This is about a book that is so badly written it’s laughable being lauded by some as the best novel to be released in years! This is about a book that has led many women to proclaim they are now looking for their own Christian Grey. Don’t worry ladies, he’s out there, but he’s unlikely to be a billionaire executive and he may well make you sorry you ever found him. Needless to say I wouldn’t recommend this book to even my worst enemy and I won’t be reading the other two or watching the film as, quite frankly, I think I’ve been punished enough.