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Summer Book Review: ‘Fifty Shades’ of Weird

by Maryann Pisano on June 11, 2012


Fifty Shades of Grey is the hottest chick lit novel right now.  Women everywhere  have been ranting and raving about it! Due to all the hype, I had to read it.  I’ve jumped on every series bandwagon from Harry Potter to Twilight, and of course, Hunger Games.  Fifty Shades of Grey is supposed to be a love story, so what did I have to lose?

Clearly, a lot!  I’m not too sure what women liked about this novel.  While reading, I couldn’t pinpoint what was worse:  Christian’s fetishes, Ana’s lack of technology, Ana considering becoming a submissive, or E L James’ choice of words.

Throughout the story, Ana uses the same phrases over and over again.  To describe her sexual escapes, she frequently says ‘oh my’.  She also refers to her inner voice as her “subconscious” and “inner goddess.”  One example would be when she states:  “My inner goddess was very proud of herself,” or “My subconscious soared!”  It would be one thing if James used the phrases once, but they are repeated over and over again.  I don’t know what kind of English classes James took, but oh my really isn’t a good description of one’s love life, especially with a gorgeous billionaire.  The sex scenes are also repeated over and over again.  I understand Fifty Shades is considered erotic literature, but at times it was too much.  Okay, we get it, they have sex!

Fifty Shades of Grey was originally a Twilight fan-fiction.  So, respectively, Ana and Christian have the same personalities as Bella and Edward. Like Bella, Ana is supposed to be shy, introverted, clumsy, and self-conscious.  Like Edward, Christian is supposed to be breathtakingly beautiful, play the piano, fly airplanes… and oh yeah, he’s a 27-year-old billionaire.  Christian also “appears” places when Ana needs him, like on a night when she gets intoxicated and needs a ride home.

Without the explanation of Christian being a vampire, his character doesn’t really make sense.  How in the world could a 27-year-old be a billionaire?  (Besides Mark Zukerberg!)  How could he “appear” places?  How in his 27-years of living could he have the time to run a major corporation and still have the time to learn fluent piano and fly air crafts?  Without him being hundreds of years old and super natural, his lavish lifestyle hardly makes sense.  I know it’s fiction, but come on!  His personality is too much like Edward Cullen’s for me to fall in love with the character.

A lot of other things about the story line also didn’t add up.  Ana, who’s a college graduate, doesn’t own a computer or an adequate cell phone.  In order to communicate, her and Christian e-mail each other back and forth.  Really?  In this day and age, young people don’t e-mail each other, they text.  I found it very strange… just like Christian’s character.

Christian has a “Red Room of Pain” to unleash his sexual fantasies.  Those fantasies include BDSM and bizarre toys.  Ana must sign a waver to make sure she doesn’t tell anyone about Christian’s room and fetishes.  Christian also hires women to be his “sex slaves” which he owns for several months.  His “submissives” as he calls them, must be at his beck and call at all times.  They must wear the clothes he buys and work out with his trainer.  Now, come on.  What normal girl would even consider doing this?  Wouldn’t any girl run for the hills upon hearing all of this?  Apparently not Ana Steele.

Ana is so intrigued by Christian that she continues to spend time with him while trying to decide if she should become his submissive.  However, Ana comes to the conclusion that she loves Christian, but that the relationship would never work.  He only wants a “sex slave” and not a girlfriend.

I’m not one of those feminists willing to burn my bra, but I found this novel extremely degrading towards women.  Ana knew all along Christian didn’t love her– he just wanted her for sex.  Yet, she still went back to him, over and over again.  Fifty Shades basically conveys being loyal to an abusive man is acceptable because one day he might change.  If you love an abusive man, staying with him because you love him  is okay, too.  Ana is also willing to lose her virginity to Christian after hardly knowing him.  Shouldn’t a famous book heroine have more respect for herself than this?  And, since when is it okay for a man to “own” a woman, and for the woman to happily comply?  Ugh.  

Maybe I’m looking too much into this, but I was very disturbed by Ana’s attraction to Christian.  What was it about him that she liked anyway?  His looks?  His money?  Those are pretty shallow reasons, and the book doesn’t really explain what Ana sees in him.

We need a book hero that has the courage of Harry Potter, the looks of Edward Cullen, and the personality of Peeta Mellark.  That’s the type of man that women  should be swooning over… not an arrogant billionaire with a fetish.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristie Belmont July 5, 2012 at 1:40 pm

I love this piece you wrote! So true. This book is not that great-I’m guessing it’s a bestseller because “Sex Sells”. Thanks for the great article!


Lauren September 9, 2012 at 10:45 am

First of all, did you read all of the books? Christian did not know how to love, Ana, came from a rather poor family. The two of them worked together to find their own way into todays society. Christian”s power was only his way of controlling his own life, which was taken from him starting at birth. Eventually controlling Ana, he was afraid he would lose her now that he had feelings for her. like he lost his Mother. I will agree that the sex part was no big deal and really who cares about the explicid sex they had, really, once was good enough for me to hear about. If you can get past the sex, the story was interesting to say the least. I hope Christian and Ana continue on and i would like to read about their life after the kids birth and how they managed their new home….. Just Saying….


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