Fifty Shades of Dumb (Blogathon 8/49)

***Spoiler alert*** I talk about characters and some of the plot from the first book in the Fifty Shades of Grey series. This post is also a little sexually explicit, so deal with that however you’d like to.

This week I broke down and read Fifty Shades of Grey. If you haven’t heard of this, clicky click on the link I just gave you.

So there were a few reasons why I picked up this book in the first place. The primary reasons being that it was a best seller, and I wanted to know why an erotic novel was so popular when there are probably hundreds just like it. Was it better written than others? Did it appeal for reasons other than the sex? The other main reason was plain curiosity. I had recently read an article that talked about rope sales increasing because of Fifty Shades of Grey, and my curiosity peaked. I’ll be honest, I don’t really have anything to compare the book to because I’ve never read erotic fiction before, but I do read a ton of fiction, so I’ll stick to that.

My first impression of the book: not impressed.

First there’s the characters. I hated the main character. I’m sure she’s likeable enough to some, but I just could not stand her. She was so up and down and couldn’t communicate her feelings at all. Which, okay fine, plenty of people are like that in real life, but for some reason I couldn’t relate to her and I think that really damaged my reading experience. Then we have Mr. Grey. Mr. Grey just happens to be the most attractive guy you can imagine. He has gray eyes (oh, I see wut she did there!), is young and has lots of money. He also happens to fly his own helicopter in his spare time. It’s a bit much.

Then there’s the plot. So the main character, Anastasia, meets Mr. Grey, graduates from college, gets a job in Seattle and moves to a new place with her roommate. Isn’t that exciting? Well, yes, there’s a lot of “plot” with Anastasia and Mr. Grey. Here’s how that goes: “I love you! ..Wait, I’m not sure. Does he love me? He tells me he doesn’t want to lose me. I love him! …Wait I’m not sure…” and so on and so forth. There really wasn’t much of a climax (well, there were lots of climaxes…but I’ll get to that in a second). Nothing really happened, except for -

The sex. Yes. There was lots and lots of sex as one might expect from erotic fiction. Sure, the sex was good. But it was just so…dumb. I mean, they came at the same time. Every. Time. Let’s be for real here. Also, Anastasia was a virgin. But somehow she’s amazing at everything she tries for the first time. How fortunate for her (and Mr. Grey).

I think one of the main appeals of this book was its descriptions of BDSM elements. Yes, there’s a bit of some kinky things going on in the story, but this bothered me as well. To be clear, the BDSM did not bother me at all. On the contrary, it didn’t shock me at all, but I can see how many people would be shocked and intrigued by it. My grudge with this was the idea that kept coming up. Anastasia was constantly trying to figure out why Mr. Grey is the way he is. She knows there has to be something that made him that way. She knows that Mr. Grey’s desire to be a dominant and control and punish his submissive (if she agrees to it) has to be caused by some terrible past experience. As it turns out, Anastasia is right. Mr. Grey has a dark past which makes him crave this BDSM lifestyle, and this leads Anastasia to the conclusion that Mr. Grey will never be able to love.

First off: woah. If I was to read this book without any previous knowledge of BDSM culture/lifestyle/kinks, I think this book would leave me thinking that someone like Mr. Grey who likes this in real life probably has had a dark past, or has some sort of psychological issues. And this just isn’t true. I know of several people who enjoy these things, and they’re just fine, thank you very much.

Granted, Anastasia does seem to enjoy some of the activities. When it comes to pain, though, she seems to think that no “normal” person would want to cause/receive pain. That’s where I hold my grudge with this book.

Long story short, I really didn’t like Fifty Shades of Grey. If you liked it, cool! Why did you? I’m fully aware that plenty of people enjoy these books; this is only my opinion of it. Am I thinking too hard about the BDSM psychology part of it? Do you think the way Mr. Grey is depicted is fair?

This is post 8 of 49 for Blogathon.

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About michaelyn
  • Jay

    Oh, there have been plenty of reviews tearing this book apart for the shoddy Twilight fanfiction that it is. (It really did start out as a Twilight fanfiction.) You’re not crazy or overthinking it, just google any feminist blog that reviews the series.

  • Whelve

    What Jay said…
    to add to that it is a horrible misrepresentation of BDSM that is going to give a lot of people the wrong idea. I’ve only read bits of if because I cannot stomach rotten tripe.

  • Carol Eberhard

    LOL…well said, Michaelyn. I wouldn’t give this glorified romance novel a sniff. I’d almost (almost) rather sit and read the Bible. I have no doubt it is everything you said.

  • neatospiderplant

    I started reading it because all the ladies I work with are reading it (and at least one of the guys!) and it really piqued my curiosity. I’m about 2/3 of the way through the first book in the series. I have a few problems with the book too.

    My biggest annoyance is how the word subconscious is misused on every other page.

    I understand it started as Twilight fanfic, but I don’t think enough was done to de-Twlight it. I get that it is going to have some similarities, but I think they got really lazy and only changed what they absolutely had to.

    For example, in Twilight, Edward saves Bella from being hit by a car. This is important to the storyline because Bella notices that Edward has superhuman strength and she starts to realize he might not be just an average teenager. In Fifty Shades, around the same point in the story line (IE, shortly after they met), Christian saves Ana from being run over by a cyclist. It didn’t really serve any purpose to the story (other than to remind the reader how unoriginal the story is).

  • Lisa

    I have several problems with this book. For one.. the writing style is quite sophomoric. She can’t even use descriptive words properly. ie: he touched me down THERE. (there always being in italics) I mean really.. we are all supposed to be adults reading this. You can use the real word, or if this book is supposed to be smutty, use a dirty version of said word. There’s lots to choose from!

    I never let it sink in that she thought he must be broken to enjoy such a lifestyle. Now that the point has been made, I completely agree. That’s not fair to people who have lived a perfectly happy, normal life that enjoy BDSM. I also know several people who enjoy things that others may find odd. But variety is the spice of life, and after a while, you need to do something to keep your partner interested.

    Additionally, it annoys me how everyone talks about how kinky this book is when really they don’t do anything but for the most part, have “vanilla” sex. I mean, yes he has his red room full of toys and such.. but they don’t really ever use it. There is the idea that the book could be really kinky, but you can see that the book was written by someone who has never tried any of the things she writes about. It’s written for housewives who dream of doing such things, but for the most part are too prudish to try. Oh, and it’s SUPER repetitive. After a while, I just skipped past all the sex stuff because it was the same thing over and over and over.

  • Victoria

    I agree. Let me tell you, it only gets worse as you go through the books. I didn’t mind the lack of plot. Erotic fiction rarely has more of a plot than boy meets girl, they have lots of sex, maybe break up but the end up back together in the end kind of thing. I hated the way she portrayed the bdsm. ALL the characters who were into it (Leila, Elena, and Mr Grey) were totally fucked up characters. She really demonized bdsm relationships and being a best seller,it makes me worry about what people are going to take away from this.

  • researchtobedone

    Yeah. I’m pretty much under the impression that the only redeeming thing about the book is that it might raise awareness of BDSM enough for people to start reading some true things about it from sources that have nothing to do with the book itself.

    Hoping no one dies or gets nerve damage from stupid use of rope. That shit is dangerous without proper safety knowledge and precautions. Never use rope without bandage scissors on hand, everyone!

  • Janee

    I don’t know if anyone’s mentioned it yet, but it was found online and was written and fleshed out from a Twilight fanfiction. Which, I guess, is why a lot of people enjoyed it.
    I haven’t read it, but it seems really poorly written and inaccurate in terms of BDSM.