Fifty Shades of Grey – Lee’s mega-snark Goodreads spray from 21st June 2012

So, I had a comment from a fellow 50SOG hater relating to a Goodreads review I did on one of my hero Jenny Trout’s novels (Choosing You – it’s an e-novella – read it if you want to kill a couple of hours on a Sunday arvo with something light and fluffy)… ANYWAY it prompted me to read my review of Fifty Shades of Grey back from 2012. And I decided to share it here because it is still compeltely relevant….. (and if you then please do continue on to read the next post from contributor Rhi where she casts a very critical eye over the entire series from a decidedly non-snark standpoint – her writing is amazing, and she so perfectly sums up what is so so SOOO wrong with these books. She is sharing her original trilogy review that she posted on Goodreads, here on the blog as five parts. Please read!).

My Review

Jun 21, 2012
rating   1 of 5 stars
bookshelves 2012, read, why-the-hell-did-i-read-that

status Read on June 21, 2012
format ebook (edit)
updates view all 5 status updates
review In the acknowledgements EL James thanks her husband for doing the first edit. He must be illiterate, and her editors mokeys on crack because this awful lack of writing skill is making my brain hurt. The upshot is I am now very confident that if I came home pissed from a night out and decided to write an extended soliloquy about the intimate lives of two feral bogans from Western Sydney, that it would be picked up immediately and I would become a billionaire if the example set by this poor excuse of literary form is anything to go buy. However, as I am only up to page 4 I shall reserve final judgement till after the romp starts happening….

*later*

OK – so I am about 1/3 of the way through. I deserve a round of applause for making it that far. I wonder why the publisher didn’t buy the story concept from EL James, and then throw it at someone who, I don’t know, COULD ACTUALLY WRITE COHERENTLY, and go from there. It may have been slightly more redeeming.

And I can no longer call 50SOG a book. That makes all the real books cry. It even makes the boring stacks of reports that are bound with that plastic ring binder stuff that sit on my desk at my office cry at the thought of 50SOG being a book. Because the reports would love to be a book, and be interesting like many books are, yet they cannot attain that goal, and it makes them sad that the ink on paper that is 50SOG is being called a book.

ANYWAY

They are now past the first lot of “the sex”. I will grant that during “The Vanilla Ice Cream Sundae Date” sex her writing became slightly less annoying, and yes, she can turn on the raunch, however to be honest I found the scenes in the Sookie Stackhouse books (which now seem like the greatest literary masterpieces ever in comparison to this grey shit) much more lusty and intense.

And can we touch on just what an arsehole CG is in getting indignant that Anastasia Beaverhausen (because I cannot help but infer that name upon her in the style of Karen from Will & Grace) dares to be a virgin. That is one of MANY MANY “WHAT THE FUCK” moments that lumbered out at me (when I can decipher this atrocious writing style).

(Whilst we are on Character names, that Kate chick whose name I wish to forget, is now Kimberly Kardashian.)

ANYWAYYYYYYYY

What the problem is now though that I can’t see Christian Grey as how EL James tries to pass him off (hot young billionaire Edward Cullen replicant except extra super dangerrrooooouuuussss). And despite her descriptions of him being tall, good looking, beautiful, attractive, tousled hair, long fingers, tall, good looking, beautiful, attractive, tousled hair, long fingers. I just couldn’t take to him in that image at all (douchey stalker arsehole tendencies aside). Not the least because the continual Long Finger references skeeved me out that much in their grossness, to the point where all I could think of was this bloke as ET with tousled hair. (*shudder*)

So I went to sleep and woke up this morning and realised exactly who EL James’ description of Grey reminds me of – and it is none other than Montgomery Burns. And Anastasia is a Smithers/Marge Simpson mashup.

I mean think about it – he is a young billionaire (so was the young Monty Burns), attractive (there was one episode when MB had a flashback to driving round in his convertible and he apparently thought he was attractive, and also athletic), wishes to feed the world (who can forget the 3 eyed fish incident), and is a completely dominating arsehole (Smitherrrrrs).

ETA: I also have decided at about 1/2 way that Christian also has the disgustingly creepy overtones of Hugh “weekend at bernies” Heffner. Because unlike monty who is a cartoon character, Hugh is real. And a creepy manipulative abusive self-absorbed pervert. And that realisation made me want to go and vomit into the nearest rose bush. HUGH HEFFNER is the PERSON I think of when reading this tripey shit. So people who love this book, think of Hugh Heffner and then decide of all the fucked up crap he manipulates that girl into doing is still sexy, naughty and hot.***FINISH EDIT

Now I have my character descriptions firmly established in my brain, I think I can finish reading the rest of this ink on paper thing. Well I am going to give it my best shot anyway.

OH, and I almost forgot.

I want to rip Anastasia’s medulla oblongata out of her skull and step on it. Her REPEATED use of those two words alone have almost wrecked “Fight Club” (which truly is worthy of being called A BOOK) for me. Once may have been just bearable. But more. NO. NONONONONONOOOOO.
And I can never forgive EL James for that.

NEVER.

EVER.

*later*

so. I am now 2/3 of the way though this ink on paper.

There are soooo.many.MANY things I could say right now but basically I have lost the will to live.

All of the characters are insipid dipshits, cloned from the stupid twilight books, but not even good clones, they are those clones that happen when they are a clone of a clone of a clone and then the final clone (almost every character in this book) end up not quite right in the head.

The only character I even sort like is Emmett Elliot. Make the book about him and Rosalie Kate Kimberley Kardashian instead, even though KKK really shits me. Because Emmett Elliot seems hot (and without being a twisted creep stalker abuser). I do recognise though that Emmett was one of my faves in Twi, so liking him in this incarnation is understandable.

I DIGRESS.

EL James seems to have lost some of her intolerably bad writing style once The Sex came into play, as she can write The Sex ok. So I think she basically sat down and watched True Blood and then just channeled Erics sex scenes into the book.

And I will admit some of the email exchanges were the only bits I have found tolerable so far. She should have written the whole book as email exchanges. (actually, scratch that, it still would have been tripe).

But neither the couple of interesting sex scenarios nor the slightly amusing email exchanges (she did mean all of them to be amusing didn’t she, I could be suffering PTSD from having to read so far, so my judgment may be cloudy) can make up for the completely ridiculous Inner Goddess/subconscious shit, the stupidly ridiculous sex scenarios, the stupid cupping that keeps going on, the annoying hair grabbing obsession, the long finger references, the Yes Sir-ing, finger on the mouth stuff, the Ridiculous Red Room of Pain, EVERYTHING just makes me want to throw this pieces of shit writing at the wall.

OK – delving back into the rest of this, I hope to god I an finish it soon and then go rinse my eyes and brain out with dettol or something.

*Finished*

I can’t say more. This book is fucking stupid. And so help me the fact that there are women out there who will now be all “oohhh Christiannnnn, I lurrrve him, and would lurrrveee him to be abusive to me too” is just a completely horrendous thought.

The Mayans were right, the zombie apocalypse was coming this year, but they were late in their date assessment, it is here already in the form of the swooning ridiculous brain-dead “can’t wait to be dominated” raunch buckets previously sane women seem to be turning into after reading this shite.

Anyway, in the end HURRAH – she left him and all is good with the world again. Thank goodness there is no sequel and this ink on paper isn’t part of a trilogy or anything so I don’t have to keep reading…………… *shut.up*

ETA: I just had to add I had forgotten to mention that repugnant tampon scene. I was thiiiiis close to emptying my stomach contents all over the room. *FINISH EDIT*

FURTHER EDIT: For the record to be clear, yes, I am pretending other books in this series do not exist. It is better for all concerned that way.

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Fifty Shades: A Series Review

My review deals with all three books. I just found it easier, at the time of writing, to talk about them as a whole rather than three separate entities. I’m reposting it here in 5 sections over 5 days, the original can be found here. This is one of the heftier reviews I’ve ever written! But also one of the more sombre. Rhi x

Here we go.

It is important to note, there is barely a description of either character in here. When all we know about the main characters is she has pale skin, dark hair and blue eyes, and he is ‘OMG so FUCKING HOT’ with unruly copper hair and grey eyes, we actually don’t really know anything. These characters are 100% empty vessels for every reader to pour their own fantasy into. We are never told about the shape of a face, or the imperfect aspects of either of them. They are just blank images. This is important. This right here partly explains why thousands of women are swooning after Mr Grey; an otherwise abusive, self hating, control freak, as though he were a god. They don’t need to know what he really looks like, or how his actions reinforce disturbing patriarchal constructs. They can just imagine him as their dream guy. Who’s really really good in bed. (Which, is a matter of opinion anyway. Let’s just say, I’m not particularly down with somebody RAMMING me repeatedly.)

1. Virgin vs. Whore: ‘I want to fuck your mouth!’
Of course Ana is a virgin. OF COURSE. She has to be for the crux of this story (if that is what we are calling this hot mess) to work. She had to be either a virgin or a whore, because that is all women ever are. She couldn’t ever have been a whore to win Christian’s love, there is only room for one person to have the sizeable baggage he brings with him, so she was always going to be a virgin.
A virgin of her choosing. Because she hadn’t found anyone to meet her high expectations of romantic love. As displayed to her through her love of the glorious works of Mr (original-woman-hater) Rochester or Heath(I’m-psychotic)Cliff.

As we all know girls thrive on romance. And boys thrive on sex. This is a construct that is perpetuated throughout society. Which is why men having lots of sexual experience is acceptable. Whereas girls who are sexually experienced must have something wrong with their romance gene.

But that isn’t really the reason she is a virgin. She is a virgin because it would be unheard of to have an experienced female in control of her sexual desires. She has to be trained by her super experienced, super large hunk of man meat. It is acceptable for him to be experienced, whilst it would whorish for her to be so.

I am not taking issue with this being a story that portrays a virgin. More power to Ana. I am taking issue at this novel perpetrating the patriarchal expectation that female virgin = innocent, but female experience = whore. Ana is so innocent she can barely refer to her female organs as anything other than “there”. Hee hee, giggle giggle.

As Christian experiences new things such as actually sleeping with a woman, taking her home to his parents, somebody daring to speak back to him; they are noted by him as ‘another first’. They are all largely emotionally related. Yet the Ana overwhelming firsts are all sexual, something Christian revels in, glad that ‘some fucker’ hasn’t touched her before him, and that he owns her body and soul. She would have been dirty property if any man had got there before him, obviously.

It is a double standard that is just as much at play today as it was 10, 20, 30, 40, 500 years ago. What gets my goat is books like this encourage it. Books like this make it normal for the man to have the experience and for the woman to want ‘hearts and flowers’. Ana only enjoys the sexual acts performed on/with her, because she believes she has feelings for Chrisian. She knows he’s messed up, but she loves him anyway. Would she participate in sex if she didn’t have an emotional connection? Probably not. Because she is the innocent, virginal maiden; saving herself for The One.

Fifty Shades of Deceit – what I find so repugnant about the promotion of Fifty Shades of Grey

So, before I begin, I haven’t yet seen the movie. I probably will be in the next couple of weeks though, watching it after a meal on a night out with some girlfriends – and I am most looking forward to the meal and the company of said friends. But watching Fifty Shades of Grey. Yeah. Well, I’m not really looking forward to that at all.

And let’s be up front – most people would be all “Why are you going to shell out close on $20 on something that you don’t want to see”.

Which is a really good point actually.

Because I have read the Fifty Shades of Grey books. Well the first and the last one anyway – I didn’t bother with the second as I had borrowed the books, and Fifty Shades Darker was on loan when I was due to read it, so I thought I’d skip ahead.

And it says something for just how shit a series of books is if you can skip one entirely, yet really not miss anything (well, anything that can’t be recapped in an exceptionally witty email by Rhian, your Welsh penfriend…).

These books are literary garbage. If at any time the theory of 1000 monkeys with 1000 typewriters could be pulled into play, it’s with this series of books.

I do have to give some credit to the shrewd EL James, who has managed to make a ridiculous amount of money from the ballooning of her titillating Twilight fan-fiction, into a set of novels that has so captured the imagination of the minds of so many women around the world.

More power to her in that respect, but let’s be clear. She got lucky in managing to find traction at a point when obviously the world was crying out for mainstream erotica with a slick cover and marketing campaign that people who “don’t normally read books” could latch on to. Savvy timing can be a wonder. But bear with me on this, because her books ARE absolute rubbish – spack filled with ridiculous descriptions of every.single.flipping.thing, and then topped up with vapid catch-phrases, enough clichés to fill a warehouse, and knotted up in a grey tied world of (apparently) badly played out BDSM.

The fact that EL James’ scrappily written tomes were the ones that found purchase in a genre chock full to the brim of bodice ripping Harlequin or Mills & Boon novels, is one of the things that make me completely infuriated about her success, given that there are so many other authors in the erotic genre who write a much better sexy read, who unfortunately missed out on the eruptions of gush that Fifty Shades of Grey has unleashed. My fave recommendations that can deal out a much more well rounded bit of fluffy rauch – yeah, that’s my goodreads category – include Alice Clayton, Jenny Trout (aka Abagail Barnette) and the duo that form the pen name Christina Lauren – please do look them up.

What it seems that many (MANY) people do not realise this series started out as some dredgy Twilight fan-fiction, published online under the title Masters of the Universe (something that grates given the awesomeness of the rad 80’s cartoon – all hail She-Ra Princess of Power!).

I digress.

If you have read both Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey, you will immediately be able to pick up on the correlations in the story-line. As another pen pal Stacey so aptly put it on a Facebook comment she left for me today, where she described FSOG as “Twilight with a sadist instead of a vampire.” Which is a billion percent accurate description.

So it really infuriates me that a series that is basically plagiarised from another authors successful franchise has become so blisteringly popular. It’s like rewarding a 8 year old for copying their older siblings writing theme of “what I did on the weekend” in their story book in primary school. (But with, like, you know, sex and money and cars and things as the theme instead).

BUT I know many people actually do not give a flying rats either that it is fan-fic. Which I can understand. “It enlivened my bedroom” or “it’s just sexy fantasy” and many other such statements are the catch-cries commonly typed on comment threads everywhere.

Which brings me to the crux of why I really, REALLY absolutely HATE this series of books.

It’s the false marketing of abuse as romantic.

Because if I read the premise of a book or movie series as follows – “A creepy, controlling, manipulative stalker preys on a young virginal college student, using his money and good looks to lure her into a steamy relationship whilst isolating her from her friends and family.”, with the obligatory “Read/Watch the twisted erotic thriller of 2015” as the tag-line, then I would be all “ooohhh, wonder if it’s like Gone Girl or American Psycho”. And then I would be mentally prepared to read/watch a book/movie about a cringe-inducing handsome rich guy who ends up dragging a naive innocent girl into an abusive relationship. Because even if books or movies have very confronting content, if they are well written and rounded out to convey exactly what the story is, I will probably read/watch it.

And no – this has nothing to do with me being a “prude” or “vanilla” in the bedroom. I say more power to people who are in healthy relationships who can indulge in antics that steam up the place. GO CRAZY on it.

But Christian and Ana’s relationship…. It’s. Just.not.healthy.

Fifty Shades of Grey has Christian Grey as that creepy, controlling, manipulative stalker who due to his traumatic upbringing, preys on women who resemble his “crack whore” mother, and the young Anastasia Steele fits the bill so perfectly, that he wings his way into her life (or is that ‘blades’ – after all, Charlie Tango is a helicopter…), and seduces her with shiny shiny things like being RICH and driving AUDI’s and being OHSODASHINGLYHANDSOMEANDHOT. Ana is cajoled into thinking she can ‘fix’ and ‘heal’ Christian, and puts up with some really REALLY shady shit because he makes her believe that she is the answer to all his troubles, so she simply MUST do everything in her power (no matter how much her conscience – aka INNER GODDESS comes across against it) to make poor widdle Christian fweelings better.

*SPARE ME*.

What absolutely grates me about the books (and the movie promotion) is that it is marketing of what is by all accounts an abusive relationship (emotionally, physically and mentally), and bundling it up as “ROMANTIC” and “DESIRABLE”. And that people are eating that shit up like lollies at a party.

This series is NOT a “sexy romantic love story” as the display of the books and movie make out. It is in fact a “twisted psychological erotic thriller”.

And that is where many, MANY people are finding themselves almost smacking their heads up against desks all over the world in frustration at the “Fifty Phenomenon”.

Abusive relationships are not ok. It’s not ok to wrap them up in a tidy “Grey” bundle as being something every girl should want.

I mean, who watches American Psycho and wishes they could have their own Patrick Bateman – and he was rich & handsome (with a kinky fetish side) just like Christian.

It is fine to have fictional books or movies about really screwed up people in messed up relationships. But there needs to be honest portrayal of that aspect.

EL James has deluded herself into thinking her novels are the “marriage savers” the world needed. But they are not. They are a series of books that portray an exceptionally twisted relationship as romantic.

And that is just.not.ok.

I applaud Lisa Wilkinson and her candid review of what she thought of the movies, especially after not having read the books. It was brilliant. And I gave my own round of cheering ovation to her eloquent words and gutsy delivery.

So, back to why I will watch this movie? Well because. Because I have read the books. And hated them. But reading and hating them has allowed me to open dialogue with people about just what the books really convey, (once you take the sex out that has understandably captured the minds of so many). And because I have been so angry and vocal about the book series, I feel almost obligated to go watch to see just how it is conveyed on the big screen. Although, given some of the reactions of preview audiences I have read, I reckon I’ll be one of those getting shushed by fans for laughing inappropriately throughout at the cheesy dialogue – just like I did in the Twilight movies actually. Either that or I will be wanting to chuck Maltesers at the screen in shouting sheer frustration and anger about how horrible it is. One or the other.

Yep, I will most likely go watch it. On a night out with my friends while enjoying their company after a yummy meal somewhere. Knowing full well that it is a “creepy twisted erotic thriller” movie about an abusive relationship that I will be seeing, and not that smushy valentine romantic crap that it is being marketed as. And I’ll donate the equivalent cost of my ticket (actually, probably more than that) to White Ribbon Australia, so that they might be able to help someone who suffers an abusive partner, and who may need the help of a group like White Ribbon to leave that relationship.

**This is a Lee post**