50 Shades of Awful

50 Shades of Grey has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide.To put that in perspective: Beyoncé has sold about 118 million albums worldwide, Taylor Swift is sitting around 110 million and the iconic Michael Jackson album, Thriller, has sold about 65 million copies. I recently posted a Facebook status about how awful the 50 Shades of Grey series is, and was pleasantly surprised about how many people agreed with me.

I first heard of the series in a staff meeting at an internship. (That’s a blog post for a different day.) It didn’t sound like my cup of tea, so I ignored it. I’ve been able to successfully avoid 50 Shades until a few weeks ago. Blame Beyoncé’s voice in the trailer haunting me. Curious, I downloaded free .PDF versions of all the books (because let’s be honest, I’d rather spend my Amazon dollars on YA fiction).

It didn’t take me long to figure out how awful the book was. I’m not just talking about the abusive, borderline rape things that were packaged as romance, wrapped in a silk neck tie. But hey, if that’s your thing, I’m not here to judge what you’re into. You do you, boo boo.

However, I will judge how poorly written the book is. I learned from the fantastic responses on my Facebook status that the book started as Twilight fan fiction. Now it all makes sense. (For the record, I read all of the Twilight books and Stephenie Meyer’s writing is a hellava lot better than E. L. James, and that’s not saying much).

Here’s the cliff notes version for those of you haven’t read/ are smart enough not to read the book:

The main character Anastasia Steele, is a 21-year-old (soon-to-be) college graduate, but is literally one of the dumbest people on the planet. Filling in for a friend, she goes to interview Christian Grey, the 27-year-old billionaire tycoon and S&M enthusiast, for their school newspaper. From the moment she trips into his office à la Laney Boggs (albeit — the courting in She’s All That is actually quite sweet), Christian decides he wants her. There’s a hundred or so pages of:

Ana: Why do you want to spank/whip/tie me up/boss me around/stalk me/buy the company I work for? Can’t we be a regular couple?

Christian: Because I like it. No.

The book ends with Christian beating Ana with a belt, and her realizing that their relationship may never be normal and leaving him. Spoiler alert: In the books that follow, they  get back together and get married.

Now that the summary is over. Let’s talk about why I hated this book, but also continued to “hate-read” it:

  1. Ana’s inner goddess is a tween with 5SOS posters on her wall:
  • My inner goddess has her sequins on and is warming up to dance the rumba.
  • That’s the bottom line. I want to be with him. My inner goddess sighs with relief.
  • My inner goddess is beside herself, hopping from foot to foot.
  • My inner goddess jumps up and down with cheer-leading pom-poms shouting yes at me
  • My inner goddess looks like someone snatched her ice cream.

These are direct quotes, people.

 2. I’m pretty sure E. L. James wrote the first draft, and then went back and right-clicked random words to pull up the thesaurus to try to make herself sound smarter. It doesn’t quite gel with the majority of language she uses — which is kind of just a bunch of “holy”, “Jeez” and “oh my’s”.

3. Ana is just basic. Best example — she’s a college student that doesn’t have email. Um, how is that possible? I bet she was the girl who never knew the changes to the syllabus, and was the one person sitting in the lecture hall because she missed the email about class being cancelled.

4. Here’s another example of E.L James’ terrible writing:

And from a very tiny, under-used part of my brain— probably located at the base of my medulla oblongata where my subconscious dwells—comes the thought: He’s here to see you.

Um, I learned back in my 8th grade health class the purpose of the medulla oblongata. For those of you who may have been sick that day: your medulla oblongata handles involuntary actions like breathing, body temperature regulation and your heartbeat.  Sorry, E.L. James your “subconscious” doesn’t “dwell” there.

5. If normal guys did the things Christian Grey did to Ana, we would label them as “stalkers” or just plain “creeps”.  He buys her a cell phone so he can utilize the GPS to always find her. STALKER. He shows up at her place of work – a hardware store three hours away from him, and proceeds to buy bondage gear there. STALKER and Stage Five Creep.

Ana even calls him a stalker: “One minute he rebuffs me, the next he sends me fourteen-thousand-dollar books, then he tracks me like a stalker.”

Around chapter five, he takes a very drunk Ana, back to his hotel.

” ‘Anastasia, you were comatose. Necrophilia is not my thing. I like my women sentient and receptive,’ he says dryly.

Oh thanks, Mr. Grey, for being decent enough not to tie up a drunk woman you hardly know and take advantage of her. Also, let’s talk about the repetition of: “You are mine, and only mine.” Now we’ve passed creepy to borderline psychopath.

I could keep listing things, but eventually the blog must end. Where was the editor? Was the real publisher out on sick leave? Needless to say, I didn’t finish the trilogy. I gave up, and I never give up on books. But a couple pages in the final installment, I realized there were a million other better things I could be doing with my time. You know, like counting the grains of sand on my patio.

Have you read the book? What are your thoughts? Are there other books that you’ve hate-read to see what all the hype was about? Leave a comment or tweet me @donnicakelsey.


One Reply to “50 Shades of Awful”

  1. Well I saw on the lowcountry news Wednesday afternoon a teacher some vococably words from fifty shades of gray for her student to find definition for some parents was angry .

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