I’m doing something different. I’m going to attempt to update twice a week: one day about everyday things, one day about writerly, novel-shaped things. Today is the Writerly, Novel-Shaped Day. And if you haven’t guessed, I’m going to discuss a very popular novel.
If this is the novel that made your year, good for you. You read all three books? Well, awesome. Glad to see you engaging with a book. Please consider reading more books in the future. If this book did it for you, stop reading this blog post.
If, like me, you find this novel to be a thorn in the side of actual literature, by all means, continue reading. Many people already know Fifty Shades of Gray started out as fan fiction. I’m in no way bagging on fan fiction; in fact, not only do I read fan fiction, I’ve even written a couple. Not ashamed. Fan fiction is a good outlet. However, in the case of Fifty Shades, it was Twilight fan fiction. And bad fan fiction is BAD. We’re talking My Immortal standards here.
I’m no fan of Twilight. I found the plotline, when there was a ghost of one, simplistic at best, the characters were not developed, cliché, and Bella is probably the worst role model for every girl ever. She may be a teenager, but she’s utterly devoid of personality, common sense, and intellect. Fifty Shades may actually be WORSE. Unless you read it as a comedy. Then it’s hilarious.
Do you really expect me to believe that Ana, a 21-year old college girl, has never held anyone’s hand? And that she doesn’t have a computer despite being an English major? That she miraculously made it into college despite her apparent mental condition? “Her inner goddess” should know something is massively wrong. Aside from basically making every character a Mary-Sue, there is actually one thing that makes this “book” far worse. Let’s talk about descriptions.
“His voice is warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel… or something.”
Or something? With an ellipses? Seriously? Clearly, though the break allows the reader to fully grasp the emotional connection between subjects. The “something” implies that he is mysterious, something she can’t quite identify.
Oh wait, it’s just poorly written fan fiction.
There’s also a part where he mentions all the “vanilla sex” they’ve been apparently having in the Red Room of Pain (yes, it’s capped like a proper location). She says something like,
“I thought it was chocolate fudge brownie sex. With a cherry on top.”
Surely, I can’t be the only one with the “Are you kidding me?” face on. How the hell did this get published? E.L. James landed a book deal because it was a popular story based on Twilight. Her 21-year-old heroine acts like she’s 16, her 27-year-old protagonist is just a creepy stalker who likes tying people up. Sounds like a cross between Twilight‘s Edward and Jack the Ripper.
I could understand if the book was just poorly written, but the fact that it has no original merit whatsoever is a stab in the chest. Has all of literature seriously become some gimmick? Sure, editing accidents happen. I’ve seem some pretty funny typos.
But when the ENTIRE BOOK is one glaring error? How do you overlook that?
Those of you who’ve read my blog over the years know my writerly ambitions. For me, books like Fifty Shades of Gray mean only one of two options:
Either my work will be a godsend to the literary world, or I am absolutely fucked for knowing how to properly format a sentence and use a thesaurus.
I’m not saying don’t read it. I’m saying don’t read it seriously. As a comedy, Fifty Shades has some merit. It may be difficult to read through the blinding tears of laughter. I wouldn’t drop the money on the series either. Rent it from the library. Borrow it from a friend. Or just read another fan fiction. One with a plot line and actual formatting. They exist. I’ve read them.