Monday, July 30, 2012

50 Shades of Grey trilogy by E.L. James

Yes, I read them.  Shocking I know.  Actually it was pretty funny seeing a face to face reaction of this news from one of my admins at work.  She thought I would be too straight laced to even contemplate reading these books.  And it's true, erotic fiction is not my usual forte.  I left behind regular old romance novels over 10 years ago as well.  But the buzz on these books was such that I was curious.  How did this "mommy porn" catch on anyways and is it really worth reading? 
I've chosen to post on the trilogy as a whole, rather than 3 separate posts about each book.  This post also contains many spoilers, so don't continue reading unless you really want to know.
The premise of the series is this:  Anastasia Steele, an about to graduate college student meets Christian Grey, an extremely good looking, young, successful businessman.  He notices her and becomes interested, but not in having her be a regular old girlfriend, no, he's into the kinky stuff and wants her to be his new sub.  And the story goes on from there.
Now for my opinion.  I think these books were poorly written, poorly edited and repetitive.  Yada, yada, yada, she bites her lip, he's turned on and then the descriptive sex stuff goes on for a few more pages, (which I really find boring to read in books) and then it happens all over again in the next chapter.  The only thing I found interesting, that kept me going through the trilogy was trying to find out exactly why Christian is the way he is.  What was the big secret in his past anyway?
Christian himself is one of those characters that really only exists in fiction - incredibly handsome, incredibly wealthy and successful he can play piano like a pro, fly planes and sail a boat, he does big sports for fun and owns several properties and of course he has accomplished this at an impossibly young age. 
The danger in this series and its popularity is that despite all of Anastasia's reservations about Christian's 'requests' in the bedroom, she agrees to most of them.  It's the whole, "Don't do that, but I like it" crap and of course ends up "changing" him.  Christian has all the traits of a controlling, abusive man.  And there's the danger.  How many young women will fall in love with this character and then end up in such an abusive relationship, thinking that they can change the man.  Guess what? In real life that doesn't happen. You can't change anyone! They have to want to change themself and it it is a lot of work and proper counselling that will help to make that happen.  It's the Twilight syndrome only 10 times worse.  And yes, I'm quite aware that these books started as fan fiction with the main characters being Bella and Edward rather than Anastasia and Christian. 
I think the reason these books have become so popular is because it is now socially acceptable reading and women are curious.  Sales from companies specializing in erotica have gone up in proportion to the popularity of these books.  I'm all for women taking control and being in touch with their sexuality, I'm just concerned for those women who mistakenly believe that they can change an abuser, much like Anastasia.