After all the hype I decided to read Fifty Shades of Grey, trying to keep an open mind. I had been somewhat skeptical simply because of where the story had originated from…which is a fan fic based on the Twlight franchise. It seems this trilogy had captured the world because of its BDSM theme, and I couldn’t help but think of several other BDSM authors who have fantastic original works.
So I bought the ebook version and sat down to read it. First of all, the book could do with some serious editing. The original version of the book had been published through The Writers’ Coffee Shop and then picked up by Vintage Books and the author should have demanded a professional editor fine tune her manuscript because much of the grammatical and punctuation mistakes are distracting. I’m not trying to say I’m an expert on these things but there are too many that are obvious, especially toward the end of the book and typos rule almost every page.
Second, there are many repetitive phrases that get quite a bit annoying and dumbs down the narrative. For example, I can’t count the number of times that Ana frowns, or Christian frowns, or one of them rolls their eyes or she bites her lip. Sometimes you just want to slap her or slap him or slap them both! The comparison between Anastacia Steele and Bella Swan are so obvious it’s almost nauseating.
Third, this is not a work that is going to win any literary awards. The beginning felt very stilted, almost immature in the delivery of us learning who Ana Steele is. She’s clumsy, she’s shy, she’s got an inner goddess that has her own personality, and she has no idea why men find her attractive…again I refer to Bella Swan.
And yet, despite my criticism, I have to admit that the author writes in a way that makes it easy for you to turn the page. As one reviewer said “It’s awful, but oh so addicting.” Toward the middle of the book the tone of the story starts to change and toward the end the darkness of Christian’s mind comes out full force. The ending made the book, in my opinion. Through the whole story we read about the “Red Room of Pain”, and some scenes are light BDSM, nothing too harsh, but then we finally learn the black depth of Christian’s “need to control” as does Ana, and suddenly her wallowing in love is seen for what it is and what it can not give Christian. I really liked that moment; it was a very sad, poignant moment that brought the book together for me.
I think I know why this book has become so appealing to those who previously had never picked up an erotica romance. Like I said, this book will not win any awards for its writing style, but what makes this BDSM book different from others is that it is introduces the world of fetish in a way that ordinary women hadn’t been privy to understand before. Ana is you, she’s me, she’s anyone normal, for lack of a better term. Those of us who have “vanilla” sex, like it, and live our lives with men who say they love us, without any darkness involved. This book teaches us a why and a how, starting with the contract that teaches the reader exactly what Christian expects in his Dom/sub lifestyle. Most women will quell at the thought of being told to sit demurely by a door, eyes downcast, hands on thighs, wearing nothing but panties and waiting for a master to tell them what to do. We were brought up being taught that our mothers and grandmothers burned bras, protested and participated in free love in order to gain the feminist movement, so how dare we let a man debase us in such a way?
And yet, Ana is such a normal girl that we follow her journey, we want to know her journey because we don’t have the courage to take that journey ourselves. In the book, Ana is shown and slowly enters Christian’s world, but like all romances, Christian starts to fall in love with her, only he can’t emotionally handle that and he strikes out as only he can. Ana tries to please him and the answer to her dilemma keeps us hanging on because we ask ourselves: what choice would we have made?
It is a clever book and because it is a clever book, I liked it. Past all the typos and mistakes, past the repetitive phrases, there is a dark path to explore and I look forward to reading the next installment. A movie version might be planned and I wonder how that might be explored, getting by without an X rating. All I can say is that I hope the sudden interest in BDSM themes leads more people to explore erotica romance, bringing along a new wave of uneducated people.