It only took me about two months, but this weekend I finally managed to turn the final page on the first volume of Fifty Shades of Grey. And believe you me, I will not be picking up the second or the third.
As I began reading, though, I was most certainly disappointed. The writing did not jump out to me as bad, necessarily. Redundant, yes, but so is Stephanie Meyer. Personally, I simply found it...boring. I don't know if it's because I didn't find any of the characters likable, or because I don't deal with vaginas in my sex, but I had a very hard time getting myself interested in the story.
One thing that annoyed me greatly was the character of Christian Grey being a hyperbolized heterosexual male ideal: he's rich, he's successful, he's handsome and everybody wants to bang him and Anastasia Steele just can't believe that he wants her! Who doesn't want that? Well, lots of people with more sensible priorities, but I'll leave it at that. Of course, he is also a stereotype in that he is absolutely terrible at communication and expressing his feelings, and then Ana's mother gives the predictable sexist lecture about how men and women speak a completely different language and will never be capable of understanding one another. It's no wonder this woman had three divorces (was it three? I don't care enough, so I'm estimating.)
For those who aren't up to date on the Fifty Shades gossip, the reason this series is so familiar for Twilight readers is that it was originally written by E.L. James as Twilight fan fiction. And as one reads, it is not hard to pick out which characters originated as which undead hunk or babe. What I found funny, though (less in the 'ha ha' way and more in the 'eew' kind of way) was the lack of readers' concern about the relationship between the main characters. A lot of commentary on Twilight has stated that the romance between Edward Cullen and Bella Swan showed symptoms of emotional abuse. I don't completely agree with that, but I'm not going to argue. What upsets me is that, even with the whips and chains aside, the relationship between Christian and Ana is way more unhealthy than anything I ever read in Twilight. And that is saying something.
From the moment Ana is introduced to Christian's "Red room of pain", whether she likes the activities they partake in or not, she pegs him as being deeply disturbed and needing 'changing'. That old boot. While the character of Mr. Grey is, indeed, fucked up (fifty shades of it, to be exact) most people who partake in kink are remarkably down to earth... Some of the most grounded human beings you will ever meet. So readers, don't get it twisted.
But the main thing I want anyone who has read the book to be aware of is that this is a terrible model for building a relationship. As someone who has had a very emotionally unhealthy relationship (some may call it abusive) there were some serious triggers for me in this book. The ultimate point is this: two people may like each other, but if you don't want the same kind of relationship, sometimes, you just have to let it go. You may think you can meet have way, but in many cases, that sort of compromise will only result in neither of you getting what you want. Relationships are not a game where you battle it out and see who gets their way. If you feel as emotionally tortured as Miss Steele does in these painful 500 pages...GTFO.
I fear for what happens in the next two volumes. Shame I'll never know.
Actually, I probably will. Someone at work will tell me.