I had been hearing so much about this book 50 Shades of Grey – practically raving reviews – from almost everyone I talked to on Twitter. Being a keen reader myself, I was immediately intrigued, so I went to the library to check it out. It was on hold – with 12 people on the waiting list! I decided to try to download the e-book from the online library – only to discover there were 25 people on that waiting list. Needless to say, I then decided that I couldn’t wait – a book with that many people on a waiting list for it must be good. So, I went ahead and purchased it.
Now, going into this book, I didn’t really know much about it beyond that it was about a young college girl who falls in love with a wealthy, successful man named Christian Grey. I had gathered – from the comments on the book, that there were some sex scenes, but that’s nothing surprising as so many were stressing the point that the book was “for adults”.
So, I began reading this book. By about the third chapter, I almost quit reading. The writing style and main character just reminded me so much of the Twilight “heroine” that I nearly couldn’t take it. I am over this trend of authors penning these ridiculous female protagonists that are so naïve and weak. I would like to know what happened to writing protagonists that are strong and intelligent, and not merely intelligent because the author tells us so a million times.
This character Anastasia Steele is presented as an awkward, insecure klutz who “doesn’t fit in” anywhere – as per usual (read: Bella Swan of Twilight). Of course, she meets this charming, immaculate, wealthy man who the reader knows is immediately smitten with her – though the protagonist herself is naturally clueless (read: Edward Cullen of Twilight). To top it off, the entire story is set in and around Seattle, Washington (need I say it – read: Forks, Washington of Twilight).
Of course, it is at this point that I decide to Google more information about this book – and what should I discover? The book was originally a fan fiction piece based off of Twilight. That explained so much. Having learned that it was an acknowledged semi-copy, I decided to try to get past my dislike (I just really cannot stand Bella in the Twilight series) and continue the story.
I don’t want to give away too much of this book, for those who haven’t yet read it, but let me just say that this book – the underlying plot – has so much potential for a good, heartbreaking story about a man who, because he was a victim of child abuse, doesn’t know how to love people the “right” way. However, paired as it was with this very visually descriptive BDSM story-line (if you don’t know what BDSM is, I could suggest you Google it, but use caution on the links that you click; stick with Wikipedia or something known), that superior story-line is easily lost in the shuffle.
I do have to say that I did like the use of e-mails as the method for handling what would have otherwise been several awkward – for both the readers and the characters – conversations, particularly pertaining to Ana’s feelings towards BDSM and the rules therein. It was also one of the few scenes I found amusing, due to their witty, bantering exchanges.
As for the writing style in general, as I mentioned, it is very Twilight-esque, and there are several phrases and points that get repetitive to the point of being obnoxious (such as Ana’s “hot, distracting” lip-biting habit, and her shy, timid mannerisms that are also just so “hot” – again fitting with the role of the weak female protagonist). Then again, the book being what it is, I suppose that’s to be expected?
Somehow, at the same time, you get a crash-course in SAT vocabulary. That is, of course, provided that they would want you to know the definition of words like lascivious, concupiscent, and salacious. Often, these SAT vocabulary words seemed unnecessary, as though E.L. James got tired of using the same words to reference sex, and so utilized the “synonyms” option in Microsoft Word. Of course, Ana makes a joke to that extent at one point, asking Christian Grey if he’d been “playing with the thesaurus again,” to which he responds: “you know me so well, Miss Steele.”
Overall, I’m glad that I read it because I was very curious about the hype, though it’s not a book I’ll recommend. I wish that the story had focused more on the psychological problems of Christian Grey and less on the BDSM – but that’s just my preference. It wasn’t my first experience with the BDSM genre – though that genre in general is not my thing – however, I do feel that, if that is your thing, there are other more well-written BDSM books than Fifty Shades of Grey, though none as popular as this book is right now.
Now, in related news, movie rights to this book have already been acquired (by Universal and Focus Features), and of course, the main topic of conversation is which actor they are going to get to play the “fifty shades of messed up” man known as Christian Grey? I’ve heard some say that Twilight’s Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson are willing to take on the role (personally, I can’t see that pairing – even though the book was essentially based on them and their characters).
In addition, Ian Somerhalder (of The Vampire Diaries) voiced interest in this role during his interview with Ryan Seacrest, and Alexander Skarsgard (of True Blood) did the same in an interview with Access Hollywood. Of course, there is a strong advocacy out there for Matt Bomer (White Collar) and Paul Wesley (The Vampire Diaries) to audition for the role as well.
Who would you like to see for these roles? Is there anyone you can particularly imagine playing either Ana or Christian – or would you rather more unknown actors take it on? Tell us what you think about this book, the movie, or possible casting decisions in the comments.