Fifty Shades of Cliche: A Review of Fifty Shades of Grey

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I THINK it may be safe to say I’m in the minority, but I really hated this trilogy, I would go as far as to say it is perhaps the worst fiction I have ever encountered.

However, this said EL James’ Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, is now the fastest selling book in history.

So what is it about these three novels, which if most people were perfectly honest differ from each other very little, that has captured the interest of so many women?

For those who have not yet fallen to the temptation to buck their normal taste in literature and pick up this series of novels that all follow the story of Anastasia Steele falling in love with Christian Grey, here is the abridged version.

Christian is a troubled young billionaire who likes sex, but only if it is of the formal corporal punishment variety.

Anastasia, is a young, naive, virgin, who is blissfully unaware of her charms on the opposite sex.

Ensue a love story, where Anastasia gets into trouble a fair bit, gets rescued more than a few times, converts Christian to “vanilla sex” (sex of the non-sadomasochistic variety) and essentially everything turns out ok in the end.

I hope I’m not giving too much away but there is little in this serial to surprise once you have made it through the initial chapters.

Those reading this book may find a lot in this book that is quite familiar - EL James started off writing Fan Fiction for The Twilight Series.

I won’t go as far as to say I liked this series either, but at least Stephenie Meyer came up with own characterisation (or lack of it) and plot on her own.

So I go back to my original question, why are women so interested in this series?

It’s not like erotic fiction hasn’t been around for a while, Jilly Cooper, Mills & Boon, to name but a few.

So perhaps it is the hint the sex is a bit naughtier...but then is it?

Despite being introduced to Christian’s “red room of pain” fairly early on, very little action takes place here, and despite a lot of lengthy descriptions of the enamoured pair’s sexual encounters, their sexual exploits rarely go beyond anything particularly unconventional.

And then there are all the points when Anastasia “explodes” each time she has an orgasm...not literally unfortunately.

So perhaps it is James’ writing style?

This surely cannot be it. Most GCSE students could surely produce less cliché ridden prose.

Anastasia continual internal monologue between her “Inner Goddess” (which is perpetually doing irritating things like dancing around with a feather boa or sulking) and her subconscious, left me wondering if she had a mental illness, not wanting to read more.

The same goes for the ridiculous dialogue, “Those beautiful eyes look too large in your face, Anastasia”. Oh swoon!

Characterisation?

Well this is the truly frustrating point, because does Anastasia even have one? I have heard her lack of personality or interests is a literary device, used by the likes of Meyer, to enable all women to relate to her.

This I find confusing, how do you relate to someone, when there is no substance to relate to?

If asked what I knew about Anastasia by the end of the book, I could safely say she apparently likes books, yet rarely seems to read, is supposed to be very bright, although never acts like it, and is adored by every man she meets, but is blissfully unaware of this.

Oh and she doesn’t eat very much and likes sex.

Christian on the other hand has had a harrowing childhood, which has left him with many issues including the belief he doesn’t deserve to be loved, however quite miraculously Anastasia is the answer to all of these complex issues... qualified psychiatrists take note.

So perhaps it is the romance, with utter corkers of lines like “I’ve never felt the way I felt when you left Anastasia. I would move Heaven and Earth to avoid feeling like that again.”

Well if you like romance of the vomit inducing kind there is plenty of it.

But then there is the real crux of the problem with the romance argument, which is how can it be romantic when the romantic lead is a control freak, to the extent he even buys the company his girlfriend works for so he can control all aspects of her life, and frequently tracks her phone, has her followed, the list is endless...

I really hope this is not how Prince Charming behaved after he got his happy ever after with Cinderella.

In the end I can only conclude that this book had a very good marketing plan. Hey it worked on me, I bought this book.

And although I doubt even James, unless she is highly delusional like her characters, believes she has created a literary masterpiece, she’s laughing all the way to the bank.