Books

Fifty Shades Trilogy

Book Description (from Amazon):  

When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.

Let me preface this review by saying that I am far from being a prude.  I have read too many romance stories since adolescence for me to be missish about detailed descriptions of sex scenes in books.  I really don’t mind them as long as the novel has a plausible plot, a strong female character with an equally strong and manly hero and a decently written story that will leave me giddy and happy.  While I concede that 50 Shades met my first two requirements, it failed miserably in the third.  This series was, to put it bluntly, very poorly written.

Although I admire the author’s courage in incorporating the theme of BDSM (bondage & discipline, dominance & submission and sadomasochism) into a mainstream romance novel, I find the book to be oversaturated with lurid accounts of the various sexual acts they performed.  I do not exaggerate when I say that sex dominated (pun intended) about 30 or 40% of the pages, which is probably why this series was classified as erotica.  That aside, I still find this novel extremely disturbing on so many levels.  We all know that this started out as a Twilight fan fiction, so it should come as no surprise that the main protagonists, Christian and Ana, are like the adult versions of Edward and Bella, except that the male lead’s dark secret isn’t that he’s a vampire, but that he’s into BDSM.  In most trashies, having an emotionally troubled hero is acceptable, sometimes even expected.  But any self-respecting female would balk at one who is a psycho sadist, a super control freak and a stalker to boot!  What really freaked me out was the part where Christain presented Ana with a contract, complete with annexes and a non-disclosure clause, detailing their bizarre relationship.  Ignoring the poor draftsmanship, the lawyer in me simply could not get over the thought of anyone stupid enough to draw up a contract which is obviously not binding on the ground of it being contrary to morals.  The idiotic contract made me feel so dirty about my profession.  And I haven’t even gotten to the part where Christian introduced Ana to his play room, aka the Red Room of Pain, with implements like butt plugs, genital clamps and other repulsive things which truly disgusted me.  At this point, I wanted to put down the book and move on to a new one. However, curiosity drove me to finish the entire novel.  The end left me hanging so I read the next book just to find out what will happen to Christian and Ana.

The second book is slightly more palatable than the first because here, they try to have vanilla sex without the kinky sex toys.  Nevertheless, their every sexual encounter (which was often) was still vividly described in full detail.  The only redeeming aspect of this second instalment is that this is where Christian and Ana fall in love and admit their feelings to each other.  Yes, finally, we come to the mushy romance part.  By the end of the book, I was happily rooting for Christian and Ana.

The third part of the series has more of a storyline than the first two because there is a mystery to be solved.  But again, there is a lot of sex.  You have to admire their stamina though, they’re like two energizer bunnies – they just keep going and going and going….

Several things make this piece of literature (and I use the term very loosely) horrible.  The mediocre writing was made manifest by the repetitive use of the same phrases, descriptions and scenes – the frequent emphasis on Christian’s long fingers, the many times that Christian put his nose in Ana’s hair and smelled it (it reminded me of that crazy hair-smelling villain-turned-ally creepy thin man in the Charlie’s Angels movie), Christian’s fixation on feeding Ana and the way he kept on telling her throughout the entire series that he’s in awe of her and that she has beguiled him.  I know that this is just a trashy novel but please, some attempt at good writing would not be amiss.  How these books have managed to remain on top of the New York Times Best Sellers List for 23 weeks and running is just baffling and honestly quite disturbing.

I’m not saying the series is totally hopeless.  If you take out the countless sex scenes, you can actually see some semblance of a story.  And compared to Twilight’s Bella, I like spunky Ana so much better.  I also found their light email banter to be cute and funny.

The verdict: You might want to read this book if: (1) you like the Twilight series, (2) you have a thing for overprotective controlling male protagonists and (3) you’re interested in BDSM or you can manage to ignore the disconcertingly thorough description of kinky sex.  Otherwise, don’t waste your time reading these books.

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