Fifty Shades of Garbage!

The Fifty Shades Trilogy: My Opinion

My attention was first drawn to the fifty shades trilogy after seeing one of those irritating, over-popularised memes with the tag line ‘the awkward moment when you realise Christian Grey doesn’t exist’ – not recognising the name and with nothing better to do I googled it, initially disappointed to discover that Mr Grey was merely a fictional character in a kinky novel aimed at middle-aged women. Reading on further however, I was fascinated and pretty amused to learn that this ‘mummy porn’ as it has so aptly been labelled, has recently claimed its title as the fast-selling novel of all time, over-taking the likes of Harry Potter and the Da Vinci Code. Letting curiosity get the better of me, I am ashamed to admit that the lure of the ‘best-selling’ and ‘mummy porn’ in the same sentence was just too intriguing and so I bought myself a copy to see what all the hype is about. After wasting a week of my life reading fifty shades of garbage, to put it bluntly I have absolutely no idea how or why this seriously terrible trilogy has made it to the top spot, here’s my opinion on the three bestsellers…

Book One: Fifty Shades of Grey

I guess most reviews start with a basic synopsis of the novel, however that isn’t necessary here because it’s quite easy to summarise the whole novel in full in only a few short sentences. Yes, the storyline is that simple. Ana is our protagonist, a dull uninspiring virgin who studies literature at university. She meets Christian – a flawless, perfectly formed philanthropist and billionaire businessman and almost immediately falls in love with him, yet later discovers he is incapable of having a proper relationship and instead wants her to engage in a dominant/submissive arrangement. Unable to ignore her feelings for Christian, she reluctantly enters into the agreement in the hope that he will eventually give her more. The novel then plunges headfirst into an endless stream of repetitive BDSM sex scenes finally emerging only to leave us none the wiser as to whether Christian can ever give Ana the loving relationship she desires. The end, literally.

Aside from the storyline left seriously wanting, the first thing that really began to annoy me about the book was how wholly unrealistic it is. Christian, the male lead, is apparently a wholly self-made billionaire at the ripe old age of 26. I mean millionaire may have even been a tad unrealistic but billionaire, seriously? Not only that, he’s also practically a concert pianist, a fully-trained pilot and the most handsome man on the planet all despite the fact he was born to a crack whore and orphaned at the age of 5. How anyone could possibly have had an awkward moment realising men like this don’t exist is beyond me!

In spite of the fact that surely any man like Christian Grey would have endless reams of women queuing, if not sleeping on his doorstep, the one he falls for is Ana, our heroine – a plain, underweight brunette who can’t apply make-up, has never used e-mail despite being 21 and it being 2011 (hmm!) and who studies literature (favourite novels being Jane Eyre, Tess & Pride and Prejudice – how original(!) Now I understand that the beauty of fiction and escapism is that we can all dream that our very own Mr Grey-style character is out there somewhere, for us to believe that this dull, unimaginative college student can sway a man with serious emotional and commitment issues to fall in love verges on comical.

The second thing that really got under my skin about the novel is the serious underdevelopment of any of the other characters/sub-plots. It’s almost as though E.L. James realises she’s been enjoying herself too much writing the BDSM scenes and suddenly thinks ‘oh crap’ (incidentally Ana’s most commonly used phrase) I’ve been writing too much of the kinky stuff – better develop the storyline a bit. The only real other characters we are introduced are Ana’s flaky but well-meaning mother and stoic, well-grounded stepfather (Twilight anybody?!) and a couple of her college friends but they are never properly developed, nor do they serve to add anything to the novel. Rushed, sweeping statements along the lines of ‘I’m filled with joy as I realise how much I love my mother’ serve to add nothing and feel like they are only in there because E.L. James realised that there has to be more to a novel than just sex scenes.

Returning to the Twilight point I made earlier, I understand that the novel is fan fiction based on the Twilight series, which only serves to make the novel more frustrating. Whilst I am in no position to criticise and admire anyone who manages to get a novel published, I feel like Fifty Shades is simply a badly written, sexed-up version of Twilight without the vampires and without any of the empathy. Whilst I often found myself frustrated at Bella’s miserable, selfish attitude towards the oh-so-terrible dilemma of having to choose between two guys, I am ultimately a lot more frustrated towards Ana, who appears to have a serious lack of self-respect and dignity. One minute she’s understandably angry at her lover for wanting to control her every move, including her diet, wardrobe, sleeping patterns, social life, then all of a sudden at the loosening of his jeans or the undoing of one shirt button she’s back in his arms complying wholeheartedly with his demands. Call me a feminist, but I found myself wanting to shout at her to have some self-respect!

Finally, the sex scenes. Whilst initially quite fascinating, after a while I found them repetitive, unrealistic, almost boring, which is quite ironic considering the activities involved. Whilst it’s refreshing to read a novel that pushes the boundaries and isn’t afraid to explore a taboo subject and portray it in a different light, it skirts on the edge of being wholly unbelievable. Without getting too graphic, to believe that Ana can go from being a virgin one minute to having approximately 6 orgasms an hour to me isn’t going to spice up middle-aged women’s sex lives, it’s just going to leave them disappointed! I’d therefore recommend anyone to give this dull badly written erotica a miss!

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23 Comments

  1. Before commenting, I must give a little bit of background. I used to write book reviews on erotic romance novels years ago. A lot of the books came from 2 online eBook publishers, the main place women could find the more risque novels as opposed to the tame by comparison Walgreens’ Harlequin Romance novels. They focused on monogamous erotic stories where the sex enhanced the relationship.

    You wanna talk about taboo topics those books are eons beyond 50 Shades of Grey. I myself found Grey to be tame when I think about some of the books I’ve read back in my reviewing days. I too found myself skimming through the sex scenes only cuz by the 3rd book, yes I read all 3 I believe in sticking things out, they got repetitive.

    If women really wanted to spice up their relationship I’d suggest these publishers over a read of 50 Shades, but considering almost everyone has read it nowadays, maybe they’ll be in for a more satisfying experience.

  2. I couldn’t agree with your review more and I’m only on chapter 3. The only thing I think you didn’t really cover that annoys the hell out of me is E.L James obsession with using 5 adjectives back to back per each description. “She pondered miserably, sadly, strangely” wtf? Serious lack of writing skill or talent. So as an American, we have Stephenie Meyer and now UK has E.L James. lol

  3. I have to agree with all of you. I had no interest in reading this book, until my best friend handed her copy to me and said it was “hot!” After I read it, I didn’t agree, and like you, found myself skimming over the sex scenes because they were too monotonous and the multiple, earth-shattering orgasms were unrealistic. Besides the repetitive adjectives, I was tired of reading “oh my” and “it’s (that’s, he’s, etc) so hot!” We get it! Except for the subject matter, I thought I was reading one of those teenage angst/growing pains/broken heart stories.

    I also had a huge problem with the control thing. I kept “willing” Ana to open her mouth and tell him what she really thought. Maybe because I’ve been in controlling relationships in the past, this did not sit well with me, and I would have liked the “story” a little better if Ana had spoken up more. Plus, falling madly in love within the span of 3 weeks? Does the author think we are total fools?

    It would have been a lot more interesting if E.L. James had delved more into the psychological aspects of why a person wants to dominate another or chooses to become totally submissive. That’s a subject that’s interesting and never talked about in polite society. I would have liked to know why Christian chose to be that way.

  4. I think the character Ana sounds like a insult to the girl population. It annoys me when I read a book with a female lead that is either the stereotypical, swooning damsel with no self-respect or an extreme feminist that comes off very tomboyish. The second of these two stereotypes isn’t as terrible as the former, but still appears to overcompensate. Why can’t we have a main character that is feminine AND has self-respect?
    I totally agreed about Bella in Twilight by the way. She had the teerrrrriiibbblllleee decision of having to pick between two perfect, utterly devoted guys. Boohoo. It reminded me of one time when I heard a girl complaining that she was just TOO pretty. Cry me a river, right?

  5. I was tottering slightly on the edge of reading this book, just because so many people were talking about it. That’s why I read Twilight. Bella drove me crazy with her submissive, “whatever you say, Edward” crap. If Ana is worse than Bella? There’s no way I would be able to stand her. Thank you for saving me the time and keeping my blood pressure down, haha!

  6. Finally! Females who are not fanning themselves over this…this….Sorry. I have no words. I’m an author and was in a Barnes & Noble to sign some of my books and there it was, perched in a place of honor: the customer service desk, not three feet away from my signed copies! I was thinking this may not be a bad thing, given all the shockingly good press the book received. Although never intending to buy a copy, I am ashamed to report that curiosity got the better of me. I approached it sideways, sneaking up on it, glancing about to make sure no one was watching. I plucked it off its stand and opened it up, somewhere in the middle. I read a bit. I put it down. That was enough. Now to hear you ladies talk about it makes me so proud that I am in the ranks of the few smart women who have not only brains, but I would imagine pretty healthy sex lives. Thanks for giving me back my faith and belief in our gender!

  7. Just moments before reading your Twilight references I thought to myself “wow, plain girl, unattainable guy, sounds just like the adult version of Twlight.” Terrible shallow books those were. No desire to read 50 Shades! Lovely post.

  8. Honestly, it was the amount of sex scenes that kept me from ever wanting to read these books. It’s poor pure and simple. And I found it would be disrespectful to my husband to read these when pornography (in the past) has almost ruined our marriage. I’m glad to hear that I’m not missing much. Some books I can read and skip over those scenes because the storyline is well written and the sex is an add-on I can skip without missing much. 50 Shades always seemed like the kind of books that wouldn’t go far in the way of story and went too far in the way of sex. Sounds to me like these could have been published as a series of short story formatted sexual escapades instead of marketing them as “novels”. Although in that format they probably wouldn’t have hit it as big and they definitely wouldn’t be making “Hollywood Porn” out of these books… SMH

  9. Oh thank God! Someone somewhere understands why The Fifty Shades Trilogy is just utter bullshit. I wasted 2 weeks of my life reading it and I even did a review on it. It’s so sad when talented writers stay in the dark while everyone is going crazy over 3 pieces of garbage!
    Love the reviews Becky Hutchinson!!

    1. Thank you and I completely agree, it’s such a shame that books like this make it onto the bestseller list when there are so many amazing writers left unpublished! All I’ve seen for the last few weeks is people posting about how brilliant it is, it’s nice to know someone else agrees it’s garbage!

  10. All we can hope for is that this awful series never gets written into screenplays and filmed.
    If it does, I’m taking the next rocket to Jupiter, please.

  11. Interesting blog and comments. I can’t say I look forward to looking into the boo, but as a writer I must. Without having read it, and with no plans to read it, I still remain in shock by its success, especially when juxtaposed to the researched opinions here. Seems like a case of the McDonald’s complex to me: going for the lowest common denominator, with a high success rate, yet offering what is offerred…

  12. Yes! It’s like I’ve stepped into normality once again. Everyone I know keeps banging on about this book, I read two pages from my sister-in-laws kindle and I could tell from that it was badly written. With the right promotion, any piece of crap can sell. The fact that she’s a fan of Twilight says it all.

  13. Becky, the title of this post made me laugh out loud! It frightens me to see a few of my friends reading this horrible excuse for “literature” when, frankly, they’d be better off watching reality television. And the Twilight comparison is SPOT ON! These books are Twilight to a T, replacing vampires with kinky sex, of course. I look forward to reading more of your reviews!

  14. I’m ashamed to admit I am reading this trilogy now! It’s awful, repetitive, vapid and has the main character chewing her lip or Grey smiling mysteriously every other sentence. So very frustrating!

  15. This post just opened my mind. i’m about to finish the second book and i really think the phasing is so slow… there’s a lot of sex and seems like the story revolves around it. But i will finish it nonetheless, who knows, something might come up. thanks for this post by the way… what an angry review you have here. haha. 🙂

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