It’s here at last—a romance author’s review of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Originally, I was going to post a review for each of the novels, but after a questionable reaction to the first, I decided to read them all before posting. As a writer, I’m not usually comfortable posting critical reviews of other romance novels. It just feels wrong and mean to me. That said, all this hullaballoo, an impassioned response to the subject-matter, and multiple inquiries as to what I thought of this book, prompted this post. So if you are Fifty Shades of Grey’s biggest fan, you might want to click back now. I would like to point out that I went into this with an open-mind, wanting to like the books despite the warnings that there would need to be a serious suspension of disbelief.
As you may or may not know, the story was originally written as Twilight fan fiction (fan fiction is a story created using the characters if not the entire world of an established TV show/book/movie/etc.). Having grown up writing a couple of my own fan fiction pieces (go Buffy!), I was interested to see how she was able to get this published with these roots. In my opinion, there’s an intrinsic flaw in using characters created by someone else when publishing your own work. Yes, their names are changed, but still. If someone were to one day write fan fiction with the characters I created, I would be truly be thrilled and flattered. However, all those happy feelings would rapidly circle the drain the second I heard they were trying to publish their work after a quick search-and-find name replace. Now was it a direct funnel from Twilight over to 50 Shades? No. Christian wasn’t a vampire, but that’s what they call Alternate Universe fan fiction. Ana, however, is a young, impressionable and klutzy young woman who literally falls into his office and proceeds to jump into a relationship without knowing all the facts. What a coincidence.
The story follows young and innocent Anastasia Steele and her developing relationship with sexually experienced billionaire Christian Grey. Essentially, she wants a normal “vanilla” relationship with Christian, but he can’t give her one. I’ve read and heard so many people call this “groundbreaking” and “fresh.” I don’t want to shock you too badly (as the book’s already apparently done so to many people), but erotica is not new! BDSM is not new!
Maybe it’s that I’ve read novels where the author has done in-depth research into the BSDM world and done some research myself for a WIP, but the titles (dom, submissive, etc.) shouldn’t be used as an excuse or as an explanation for their actions. He had a horrible childhood, so he’s a dominant?! Umm, that’s not how it works. Christian’s needs and desires shouldn’t be portrayed or treated like they’re a sickness. I applaud that he was going to a therapist, but the novels made it sound like he needed to be cured. People like what they like and as long as it’s safe, sane, and consensual, it’s OKAY.