What have I done the past week? Culturally enlightening trips to historical sites? Having lively and engaging political debates? Doing comedy in front of a crowd of drunken clubgoers? No, friends, none of these. I, Chrissie Adams, have been reading one of the trashiest, poorly written, and altogether “huh?” trilogies:
Fifty Shades of Grey.
I’m no snob when it comes to reading. Yes, my favorite author is Milan Kundera, but I’ll read the Twilight books, too. I’ll read Stephen King. I’ll read Dostoyevsky after that, maybe. It’s all fair game.
I first heard about Fifty Shades of Grey from one of my best friends. I had never heard about it before that and he was utterly amazed that I hadn’t.
“Really?! Where have you been, guh?”
Under a rock, I guess, because at that point they were already bestsellers and everyone had read the books but me. My friend told me they were kinky, but not really his thing (vaginas don’t do it for him). And then a few months after that, my boyfriend’s mom gave them to me. “Have you read them?” “No, but I’ve been told I should read them.” and then suddenly I had them sitting on my bookshelf, waiting to be read. I got bored last week and picked them up. I’ve read the first two and have the third one left to go. I debated on whether I should read the third one at all but I’m a “finish what you start” kind of gal, so I’ll probably get to it.
So here is some wisdom (wisdom?) I can pass on to those who haven’t read:
1. Yep, it’s just as poorly written as you think.
The first novel started out as a Twilight fan fiction – and then character names got changed and the story was adjusted to not contain werewolves and vampires and other things that aren’t real. But certain elements remain: girl who considers herself utterly ordinary is pursued by, and wins the love of, a hopelessly handsome and slightly dangerous rich dude.
Twilight wasn’t a work of literary genius, so the fact that this is based on that (however loosely) doesn’t set it up to win any Pulitzers. And, dear readers, it won’t. Erotic fiction is extremely difficult to write well, and with two characters having this much sex, there are only so many descriptions you can have for the same thing. There are lots of references to BDSM and other kinky shit – butt plugs, whips, chains, elaborate sex rooms, nipple clamps, anal beads, ball gags, etc. etc. But you know what makes this especially laughable? With all of this raunchy stuff going on, you know what the author calls the vagina more than anything? “Down there.” That’s right, a character is getting tied up, whipped, and having crazy sex and the author can’t even commit to the word “pussy”.
File that one under “Comedy.”
2. But is it kinky?
I think so. It’s certainly got all the characteristics of kinky. But something seems watered down about it. I think the descriptors are a bit safe, but if you’re looking to get turned on it might do the trick. Didn’t really do it for me. I guess my vagina is a snob that way.
The bad writing distracted me from fully engaging in it. The proofreader and critic in me just wouldn’t shut up and let me enjoy. First world problems.
3. Is it worth reading?
This is a tough one. I would love to say, “Oh my God, run far away and never look back.” but really, reading stuff like this is fun. Because it’s bad. We all have guilty pleasures – bad music, bad movies, embarrassing crushes, bad art, bad food. I could go on for days about awful things I love.
And that’s part of the fun of new stuff. Finding bad things, acknowledging that they’re terrible and of no great value, and having the pleasure to bitch about them because you’ve read them.
In conclusion, they’re everything you think they are. Do with that what you will.