Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy

Fifty Shades of Grey - E.L. James This book being all the hype, I borrowed it to know what exactly it was all about. Because whether I say "this is great" or "this is crap", formulating an opinion when I haven't actually read the book is unfair. Then I wondered if I should bother writing a review or not. And then I thought, screw that, a lot of things in FSoG bothered me, so I might as well write them out in the open.

First, this book is way too long. I don't plan on reading #2 and 3, but I'm positive that the three of them would just deserve to be condensed into one novel, not more. While I found the first half okay-ish, the second one just bored me, hot scenes included, and mostly I had to force myself to finish and not skim too much. The plot is pretty much inexistant, since what is at stake is given to us fairly quickly, and the 'twist' at the end didn't feel like one at all (in fact, it even felt forced to me, in a "oh, heh, so it took her THAT LONG" way).

Second, I don't understand what's all the hype about the sex scenes. I've read better fanfic porn than that. Hell, I write better porn myself, and I've got, what, two porny short stories under my belt, at most? Maybe it feels hot if all you've ever had in your life is sex for the only sake of procreating; or if you're a virgin and only have had books/movies to enlighten you about what it's like. And please, authout, please, stop ruining sexy scenes by inserting WTF reality-check moments in them. For instance, we women know very well what it's like to be on our period; but do we really need to read about Christian removing Ana's tampon? Or being given the image of Ana lying naked in a hotel bed afterwards... probably putting blood in the sheets? Sorry, E.L. James; not aroused here.

Third, I also don't get all the "this book is empowering" talk. It isn't. Ana's telling of her relationship just looked like abused woman thinking—including moments when she's afraid of Christian, speaks in terms of "being hit" (and not spanked/other BDSM/sex play terms), and so on—and I just can't fathom that this would be "empowering" in any way, to anyone. As for the BDSM aspects, even though I'e never been attracted to that kind of play and don't know that much to it, I fairly doubt that people who enjoy such relationships behave like those characters. Just like I don't appreciate the underlying message of "every person into BDSM is necessarily like that because s/he's fucked-up deep inside". Uhm, (bad) cliché much? (Any review reader who's into it, please, enlighten me if I'm wrong.)

The characters themselves didn't do much for me. What we are told about Ana and the way she behaves are mostly contradictory. Just like the way she treats her friends and family doesn't show her as a kind person, but as egotistic persona who's only able to bitch and criticize. E.g. almost everything we're presented with regarding her best, excellent friend Kate is derogatory, when all Kate's wrongdoings are being pretty, catching a cold, getting into a relationship with a handsome man, and questioning Ana about what she instinctively perceives as being a fucked-up relationship (I guess *I* would like a friend to be like that with me if I'm ever heading into a dangerous love affair with a manipulative man who hits and frightens me—yeah, so empowering, that). As for the cliché of the pale, thin clumsy brunette who sees herself as ugly/not deserving attention: so tiring, especially when the author TELLS us that, but all the other characters seem to consider her as beautiful... and her clumsiness is presented as her only flaw (such a mighty flaw at that...) while her real flaws (like, being a shitty friend) are overlooked.

Also, do your homework before characterizing things like "subconscious" and "inner goddess", especially since they're so present in the novel. If we want to dive into psychology here, Ana's "subconscious" is really her Superego—it's way too reasonable and logical to be anything else. And her "inner goddess" is definitely an Id in disguise, which is why the author using that expression is another of my pet peeves. (Seriously, the wording"inner goddess" would naturally mean to me "every woman is like a goddess and deserves to be respected, worshipped, etc." Here, it's all but that. My Id/reptilian mind/instincts are allowed to call for sex and/or pain; not my "inner goddess". And let's not delve into how that goddess of hers is almost constantly compared to a child, jumping up in expectation for ice-cream or play, which is... disturbing when put on the same level as sex.)

There are nice things in FSoG, though. I enjoyed a lot of the e-mails between Ana and Christian, much like I enjoyed their use of Mr. Grey/Miss Steele in their conversations (now that's the kind of play that can easily become pleasant if, like me, you enjoy teasing banter). But all its flaws definitely put me off too regularly to allow me to enjoy even those fully.