Yes, yes. I did it with the Twilight series, then the Harry Potter books. I was able to put it down with Hunger Games, but I think I'll have to continue with this one.
You're probably thinking "What the heck is this lady talking about!" Well, should I hang my head down with shame, or stand an imaginary 10 inches taller than my 5 feet? If anyone that knows me knows - I can read just about anything. Sure, fantasy fiction is probably my favorite genre of all time, but I just can't resist when there is a title that is being a made a big deal. So, I had to do it!
I read Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James.
Okay, if you're easily offended by bad words and sexual content, then stop here. If you're like me and can read just about anything, then read on. :-)
Now, when I first started this book, I didn't find it any different than any other romance novel out there. Shallow characters, weak story and lots of super descriptive sex. Reading about sex, fiction or non-fiction, it doesn't bother me. Sex is a perfectly natural part of life and there is nothing shameful in it as long as the participants are all consulting adults. I've read some series from some pretty good writers like Laurel K. Hamilton or Anya Bast. Sure, their stuff is paranormal, but to me, the books were enjoyable because their writing styles were good - they just throw in the sex to make it sell better - and I'm sure it does.
Now, going back to Fifty Shades, you have two really messed up characters and neither are very likable. Ana, the main character, was almost Twilight Bella depressing, with a totally stupid self image of herself and absolutely no self esteem. Sure, she was young (I believe in her early 20's), but come on! My own 22 year old niece has 100 times more back bone than Ana - and my niece had a pretty messed up childhood! Ana, who grew up with loving parents and had a pretty comfortable, though not spectacular, life. So where the heck did her hang ups come from?!?!?!
Mr. Grey - he's almost as unbelievable as Bella's vampire lover that sparkles. He's super uber rich, owns his own mega empire, beautiful beyond anyone's imagination... but messed up in the head really, really bad. As he described himself in the book: "Fifty shades of fucked up." Yes, this guy should have never allowed himself to have any kind of relationship with anyone with all of his hang ups. So why are so many women going ga ga over this book?
Well, I can't speak for myself, but I'm thinking that Grey was the perfect 'wounded animal' type of characters that they hope the heroine, messed up Ana, will somehow change and save from himself. You can pick up just about any trashy romance novel and see very similar stories.
What made this book different from many of the others that I've read is the detail that goes into the whole dominant/submissive/bondage lifestyle. It certainly gives one a good glimpse into this world, even if the story is totally fictional, I have a feeling that some of that messed up thinking is true with some of the people in that world. What kind of fucked up person do you have to be to actually enjoy beating someone into submission like that? Okay, I can't pass judgement on someone else's personal preference on how they want to have sex. That is something that is almost as personal as someone's religion, but are all dominants and submissive that messed up? Even one of Anita Blake's lovers, who used to be a submissive before she rescued him from that world, was messed up in the head. You know what? I really don't want to know...
Okay, enough of that because I don't think that is what this whole book is about. There actually was a story in there after you get through all of the garbage that is probably the reason that this book became such a hit. About three quarters through the book, Grey and Ana actually start to show signs of having a normal relationship and do fun things together that any 20-something gazillionair may want to shower on his naive and sheltered girlfriend. The story actually becomes cute and a shade of realistic.
Our two lovers also do something that I don't see in some of these other novels that I think makes this one unique in another way - they communicate! They actually go through different points as to what they expect, what they want and what they cannot tolerate. Okay, Grey does this, but it takes Ana almost the whole book to finally open up (yeah, can you tell that this really annoys me?) and grow a backbone. This went into more detail than what you'd expect to see in some of the trashy novels. I just wish that the author didn't have to give us this wonderful treasure of a story at the end of the book!!!
The end is a bit of a cliff hanger, so I have to download the next installment and see what else Ana and her Mr. Grey are up to. I just hope the writer rewards us that choose the next installment with her true writing talent for the whole book instead of just a taste at the end.
As you can tell, I'm not really a huge fan of romance... I've read quite a bit of it - maybe a couple hundred books, so I think I can honestly say that it's not all that great. There are some awesome writers out there - I just wish Laurel K. Hamilton would have been able to stay in my favorite genre of fantasy fiction because she is a wonderful writer. Her Anita Blake books are really popular and I can see why... but I wonder how much better these books would could be if she left all of the sex up to the readers imaginations instead. :-) :-) :-)