Fifty Shades of Grey

By E.L. James

528 pages


1 1/2 Stars out of 5 Stars


If “Fifty Shades of Grey” seems familiar, it is because it started out as a fictional story, known as a fanfic, written by a fan of the Twilight series. This was originally a story about Bella and Edward. That is probably why the characters seem rather bland and annoying.

The plot is also very similar. There is a love triangle between a young woman(who has never been very sexually appealing until now) drawn to a high-class, possessive person with a lot of money. The other pseudo-love interest is very aggressive in his affections and appears like the boy next door. Except, the second man never had a chance because the jealous, intimidating man was such a blinding light of sexiness that Anastasia Steele(Bella Swan) blocked everyone else out. It also took place in Washington state.

The main appeal, or controversy, to “Fifty Shades of Grey” comes from its inclusion of a particular type of BDSM. James succeeded in bringing BDSM into a topic suited for the public sphere. She earns a star for bringing light to a consensual sexual lifestyle commonly thought of as only a symptom for degenerates and the insane.

That is the end of my applause for James. It was a herculean task to read this book. It stretched my suspense of disbelief to the breaking point. Steele is in her 20s, does not have much sexual experience, does not look at porn, and has never had an orgasm. Yet, her first time having sex she has multiple orgasms and it is amazing how sexually compatible Steele and Christian Grey are the first time they have sex. She says he is incredible at sex. Except, how would she know if she does not have anything to compare the sex to?

I also have a problem with how Grey stalks Steele. Steele just turned it into a joke. Stalking is not a joke, it is a problem. It should not be portrayed as romantic, because it only encourages the behavior. This also happened in “Twilight.”

Steele and Grey make a bunch of dumb decisions towards the other person and each get hurt. That’s probably the only realistic general concept I find believable, other than the BDSM. They are both ridiculous characters and I detested reading about them. Grey is too possessive and controlling. Steele is an annoyingly naive character who never uses the safe words even when she is scared and confused. If Grey had to keep reminding Steele about the safe words, then something is wrong and a mature, thorough conversation about their relationship needed to happen. Except, Grey did not want to do that so Steele just rolled over and it didn’t. I could not connect with either of them, despite that Steele was written purposefully vague so readers can pretend they were her.

There can be BDSM without also being in an emotionally abusive relationship. Grey is a manipulator and plays Steele as if he had done it all his life. Steele wavers between being angry at Grey and then hates herself for how she treated him. That is one of the big symptoms of an abusive relationship. If “Twilight” taught you it was ok to obsess over someone, then “Fifty Shades of Grey” taught it was ok to emotionally and mentally abuse someone. In either instance, everything was swept under the rug because they were in love. This is an incredibly dangerous message to send to people. There are ways to write a great BDSM story, and I do not believe this was one.

Also, do not throw tampons in the toilet or it can clog. Wrap it in tissue or toilet paper and throw it in a trash can. For such a cultured man, I thought Grey would know better.

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