Wednesday, May 23, 2012

50 Shades of Ranting

One of these days I will do a little more research before I buy a book. In this case I didn't. So today this post is a rant in the guise of a review for 50 Shades of Grey.

Some of you are probably like, I think I've heard that name before. Others are probably like, Oh... that book.  Well, last week I was in the first group. I didn't pay a lot of attention to what was going on, just that I'd heard it was being made into a movie and it was Twilight Fan fiction. So when I saw it on the table at Costco, I thought I would see what the buzz was about. There's an innocuous looking gray tie on the front cover. Sheep's clothing people.

The first 3 chapters were torture. Absolute torture. It was forced, stilted, and generally made me want to run back to Costco for a refund. Terrible writing, but I persevered because millions of fans can't be wrong right? Well, I suppose that's a matter of taste.

I was expecting vampires, I was not expecting straight up S and M. I skimmed through the parts that I wouldn't show my momma. But still I was drawn in. Why? I have no clue. The writing was very basic, the character's personalities were swiped wholesale from twilight, and there were no paranormal elements at all. Just fifty shades of screwed-up soap opera-ness. This absolutely shouldn't have worked. She took the very worst parts of Twilight (whiny girl who think's she ugly even though she's hot, rich overprotective guy who thinks he unredeemable) and beat them like a dead werewolf. Yet, I kept turning the page because I still wanted to know if the power of love could transcend a messed up start.

Would I recommend this book or the series, heck no. If you choose to, be forewarned that it has mooey X rated parts. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, I wanted to move past this and on to the rant. Content aside, this series has sold 10 million copies. My jaw is on the floor right now. It boggles the mind. It's right up there with Jersey Shore being one of the most popular TV shows.

Part of me (the author part) is enraged that this... stuff... becomes bestseller material. I have friends whose work is clean, smart, and emotion evoking. Their writing craft makes this looks like a high school essay. So I'm indignant on their and quite frankly my behalf.

Other part of me, the non-judgemental part, says that this work clearly has value. Just like Twilight is not a masterpiece in the literary world, they both tapped a vein that resonated with the public. People love LOVE these books. Don't ask me why, but they do. And isn't that really what it's about? Drawing people in with you story, making people care about what happens to your characters.

I think as an author, we can get especially snobby about good writing and using pretty words. Some literary writers look down on mass market paperback writers or romance writers, thinking their style is ordinary and   unintelligent. Yet, this seems to be what the general non-english major public wants to read. To lose themselves in a story without be belabored by big words and artsy metaphors.  Quick and light.

So can I really condemn this book and others like it as being subpar horrible pieces that should be burned? No, it may not be to my taste, but clearly others love it, so the authors must be doing something right.
And as much as I want to shake my head at it, E.L James is laughing all the way to the bank with her million dollar paychecks.


  1. "...beat them like a dead werewolf..." I had to laugh :)
    although I haven't read this book, I've seen lots of bad comments from people who have. But you're right, if so many people love it, it's obviously got something.

  2. nice idea.. thanks for posting..

  3. Thanks everybody for the comments. Each one just makes my day.

  4. I, too, get upset that such lame writing and such perverted stuff gets so much attention. It's a sad reflection of what America wants these days. :-( I'm with ya!

  5. I'm with you on this. I wrote a similar response on my blog a couple of months ago when the book kind of blew up all over the place. But I'm glad you actually read some (all?) of the book because I didn't. I just jumped to conclusions. Thanks for confirming my assumptions. :)

    I've been stalking your blogs today, over from your Author's Think Tank link, reading various items. I like your style. Thanks.