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.

Rhi’s intro

There are many reasons I jumped at the chance to write this blog with Lee.
1) She is the best Australian I know and have never met.
2) She has become a good friend over the years and is always the person I turn to to snark about the latest YA novel.
3) Because this trilogy really holds far too many opportunities for snark to pass up.

But most importantly, because I believe as much as this series is good for a laugh, it is simultaneously terrifying. The popularity these ‘novels’ (and when we use that word on this blog we use it very loosely) have garnered have terrifying implications for the role of women within our society. They say things about relationships, expectations, rape culture, and misogyny that need to be looked at in closer detail.

As an English Literature Major (and currently a high school English teacher) part of this blog will be a great laugh. It will be written with the incredulity to the power of a thousand that this book was written, and got published, and is being touted as good work, let alone good erotica. I plan to recap the novels for those of you who can’t face reading them, and Lee has some outrageously witty notes on some of the most important chapters.

But most importantly as a Gender Studies minor, and proud feminist, the other part of this blog is really going to look at how this novel represents the insidious and scary realities of living in an unequal and frequently problematic society.

So strap in and come for the ride. It will most like end up being you and me reading this stuff, Lee! But boy, is going to be great.

You can read more from Rhian here.