Crazy Random Happenstance

Billy: So good... Hey, this is weird. I ordered one frozen yogurt and they gave me two. You don't happen to like frozen yogurt, do you?
Penny: I love it!
Billy: You're kidding? What a crazy random happenstance!
-Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

Monday, June 25, 2012

Laters, baby.

Ohhhh, Fifty Shades of Grey... ***SPOILERS AHEAD*** The story of college graduate, Anastasia (Ana) Steele and her adventurous? Erotic? Controlling? Roller coaster ride of a relationship with the oh so handsome, billionaire, Christian Grey. When Ana's reporter roommate (Kate) comes down with the flu on the day that she is supposed interview Mr. Grey, she begs Ana to go in her place. She begrudgingly agrees and an intense relationship with the billionaire ensues. You see, Christian is a Dominant. Meaning, he needs to dominate and be in control of women (with their consent, of course. That includes a contract.). He likes sexytimes but he likes it rough (to put it mildly). The first book deals with whether or not Ana is willing to agree to be in this type of relationship with him. The second book is more or less about them navigating their new relationship, with some crazy ex-girlfriends mixed in. The third book is about them taking their very new relationship to the next level and dealing with the consequences of that. In between all that there is A LOT of sexytimes. A whole, whole lot of sexytimes.

For those of you that don't know, This 3 book series started out as Twilight fanfiction. It was originally one long story, entitled Master of The Universe, written by "Snowqueen's Icedragon" (E.L. James) and published on fanfiction sites around the internet. The characters in the series were named after the characters in Twilight (IE: Bella, Edward, etc.). You know... because it was fanfiction. As people started to take notice of the story, some were complaining commenting on the explicit nature and James ended up removing it from all the various sites and started her own, FiftyShades.Com. She ended up reworking/renaming the story and removing it from her website prior to publication. And thus, we were cursed blessed with this insanely addictive story. 

I apologize in advance for what I assume will end up being a rambling post about this series. It has left me fascinated, furious and laughing all at the same time. I guess that means that I kind of have a love/hate relationship with it. You see, I don't like fanfiction so I was immediately put off by the story from the start BUT I felt I owed it to my pop culture heart to see what the fuss was all about. "What fuss?" you ask?? The fuss being that women everywhere are becoming absolutely obsessed with this book. The fuss being that this series is on track to surpass HARRY POTTER as the fastest selling paperback of all time. OF ALL TIME. In addition to that, hardware stores are seeing a huge increase in sales from people buying COTTON ROPE. Not to mention the fact that the sex toy industry is seeing quite a boom from it as well. I am fascinated by these statistics. I'm fascinated that people who don't normally enjoy reading are loving these books. I'm fascinated that it's affecting women of all ages and I am fascinated that they are going to *try* to make a movie out of it (how they are going to manage to do that is anyone's guess. Good luck getting a decent rating out of it). 

Before I get into my real thoughts on the story itself, please bare in mind that this is only my opinion. Also bare in mind that I am a gigantic fan of the Twilight series (admittedly, I have read the series 10 times. That's not an exaggeration. Make fun, if you will. I am OK with it). I know those books practically by heart and can quote from them without hesitation. With all of that being said, I think the writing in the Fifty Shades series is absolutely dreadful. When I started reading this story, I decided to read another book along with it, (Chuck Klosterman's Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs). I figured I would take that one to work with me and Fifty Shades would be my "read at home" book. This may have enhanced the bad writing for me. Going from a very well written nonfiction book to an erotic novel, my mind had to keep shifting gears. I had to readjust every time I picked up Fifty Shades of Grey and remind myself how different the writing style was. After awhile though, I got used to it and knew what to expect. I knew that she was going to continuously repeat the same phrases over and over again ("Oh my! Holy shit! My Fifty. Fifty, fifty, fifty. My inner goddess is doing backflips!"). I also knew that after awhile, the only dialogue worth reading was the dialogue between Christian and Ana. While every once in awhile theirs would seem absurd, her interactions with her roommate, mother and friend, Jose' were horrendous. Reading her back and forth with those other characters was cringeworthy. How do you write decent banter between the two main characters but completely drop the ball when it comes to the secondary ones? The English snob in me nitpicks at things like that. As well as continuity errors, grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. How can I not? This is a published book. This woman is making heap loads of money off of it. Why are these mistakes not corrected??? It baffles me.

Now, putting all that aside, there was obviously something within the story that compelled me to keep reading it. I could've very well stopped after the first one. I hated that Christian was so mean and controlling. Why would any girl want to begin a relationship with someone like that? Just because he's hot? Just because a boy is finally paying attention to her? But really, why was this dude so hostile and grumpy all the time? About halfway through book one, I was on the fence about starting the second one. By the end, I was more than willing to read it because of Christian's character. I wanted to know why he was the way he was, even if I had to endure bad writing to get the answers.

My favorite parts of the series are when Ana sticks up for herself. It happens for the first time at the end of book one and honestly, I was ecstatic with how that one ended. She finally tells Christian "no". That was more realistic to me than anything else that had happened prior because it made Christian more human and it made him question what type of person he is. I think my favorite moment out of the whole series is in Fifty Shades Darker, when Christian thinks Ana is going to leave him and completely shuts down and stops talking. This guy is so messed up that he basically reverts back to being a child when he couldn't talk, because he can't handle her rejection. No worries, friends, she doesn't end up leaving him but the idea of it happening gets him to open up to her. Finally.

Ok, yes, I would say about 75% of these books are filled with sexytimes. Detailed pages upon pages of sexytimes. That's all fine and good. Whatever. How two people could have that much sexytimes is beyond me. Maybe I'm old. Maybe I'm a prude but holy moly, people. It was excessive. My point being, that although it is an erotic novel (and erotic it is), this is not what propelled me to read the series. Those aren't the moments that I took away from it (because let's be honest here, after a few times they all end up blending together any way). The moments I took away from it were the heartfelt moments where Christian begins to trust Ana with the secrets from his past and the moments when they discuss his possessiveness and controlling issues. Because somehow, some way, underneath all that bad writing, crazy dialogue, and scenes stolen from Twilight, there is indeed a fascinating character there. Sure, Christian is a controlling megalomaniac but the reasons behind why he is the way he is make his character believable.

Going into reading this series, I thought of it more as a comedy. Because of the aforementioned detest for fanfiction, that was my coping mechanism to get through it. I think it helped. Especially when there were scenes completely taken from Twilight with just a word here or there changed to make it seem different. THIS IS APPALLING TO ME! But instead of getting worked up about it (ok, I'll admit it, I got real mad on a couple occasions), it made me laugh. The fact that this author has the audacity to actually steal snipits of another well known author's story and make money from it is just flabbergasting. Twilight fans are aware of this already, but there is a version of the first book, Midnight Sun, online as told from Edward's perspective. At the end of Fifty Shades Freed is a very short version of Christian and Ana's first meeting, as told from Christian's point of view. Again, it seems like stealing to me but I did enjoy reading from his perspective. Listen, this entire phenomenon is absolutely fascinating/baffling to me. If I had the time, I could probably make an entire list worth of Twilight/New Moon/Eclipse/Breaking Dawn VS. Fifty Shades of Grey/Fifty Shades Darker/Fifty Shades Freed comparisons. Don't worry, I won't but believe me, it would be a long list.

I know, I know, I sound like all I'm doing is berating the series but overall I really did enjoy it. It was entertaining. It kept me intrigued, I just had to look past a lot (A LOT) of stuff. Would I recommend it? Hmm... It's not the greatest story ever told (hahaha) but like I said, there is something about Christian Grey that makes you want to know more about him. If you enjoy books with pages upon pages of sexytimes, then this is the book for you. If you are looking for a more adult version of Twilight, then this book is for you (just don't take it too seriously while you are reading it). The fact that this book series has taken over the literary world by storm is so utterly mind-boggling to me. I would love to know the real reason why women love it so much. Any book that gets people to read is a good thing, I suppose. I just wish that the content had been conceived a little more organically than stemming off of someone else's already very successful ideas.

Much like Christian's character, this series has left me fifty different shades of confused. I went from loathing it, to loving it, to being appalled by it, to tolerating it. If you dig deep enough there is a decent story there. You just have to be willing to get your shovel out and start hauling some dirt. 

Now, I will leave you with some entertaining Fifty Shades of Grey links and reviews:

Mitch Albom article from today's Free Press.  (I know how many Mitch Albom fans there are out there! Hahaha)

This is 3 Grandmas reacting to the books:
Jimmy Fallon's Fifty Shades of Grey Karaoke:
Selena Gomez's Fifty Shades of Blue from Funny or Die:


  1. I agree with your review. The writing was messy and not to mention the random plot points. I think my frustrations with the series came to boiling point in the final book. There were things that happened that didn't add to the story or the characters. The writer arbitrarily goes between points in time and confuses you when things are happening. But you know, once I got my shovel out and hauled through 96% of the BS that last 4% was interesting. I mean it kept me intrigued to finish all three there's that.

    Also... I laughed when I read "The Greatest Story Ever Told..."

    1. Yeah yeah yeah, the back and forth in the beginning and end of that last book was real frustrating. And the whole thing with her dad and that car accident was completely pointless, which frustrated me.

      Hahaha, that was specifically for you, friend!

  2. Thank you for confirming why I shouldn't read these books!! :-)

    1. LOL No problem, Ashley! They are very quick reads though, if you are ever so inclined to check them out.

  3. Fair points, well made as ever, Mrs. Scott, you really aim to please your readers :)
    Seriously, great recap! You know that I enjoyed the story under all of the writing disaster.
    I can't wait to see the movie with you!

    1. LMAO! We aim to please, indeed Mrs. Proctor! The movie will be very very interesting. I can't wait to see who they cast as the leads.

      I just realized I used lots of shouty capitals in my post there. Mr. grey would not approve of that.

      Laters, baby :)

  4. I'm offended. Actually offended that this series may surpass Harry Potter. Ugh.

    On that note, excellent review that made me LOL, and nope...I still don't wanna read it. I can get my sexytime (again, LOL, I LOVE that!) from a host of other books.

    1. I know. The Harry Potter statistic actually made me gasp. It makes me sad.

      So happy I made you laugh!! Hahaha

  5. Sarah I guess my issues are more the content. Don't get me wrong I love a good romance novel but to me there is nothing loving about dominance and abuse. Having a daughter close in age to Ana I cringe at the thought that a young woman would subject herself to that kind of abuse thinking it's love. Maybe I'm just showing my age.

    1. Believe me, Leeann, I totally get what you're saying. 100%! It's not you showing your age. It's disturbing no matter how you look at it, which is why I am fascinated/sad by the fact that so many women are obsessed with it. Like I said, I went into reading it as a comedy and I think that helped a lot. I enjoyed it once it got going but I know the whole idea of it is hard to swallow.

  6. Hello! Great review! I haven't read it, but planning to. Now, I'm not so sure LOL. If it is like what you said (an adult version of Twilight), then it must be really crappy.