Recommended for: NOT EVEN MY WORST ENEMIES
I read the entire trilogy. Why you ask? Because I get a twisted satisfaction out of reading and watching things in the "so bad it's good" category. Unfortunately, that only applies to certain parts of this drivel. Everything that wasn't laugh-out-loud hilarious managed to offend me on every possible level that I could be offended. These books are nothing but horrible trash, and I don't care if I piss off anybody by saying that.
As Mr. Plinkett would say: "it's almost mind boggling how complex the awfulness is." I don't even know where to begin. You know that thing people always say? "Still a better love story than Twilight?" Yeah, this is that one love story that is literally worse than Twilight. Stephenie Meyer has a better grasp on the literary craft than this woman. I hardly think it worth mentioning at this point that the portrayal of BDSM is terrible since everyone else seems to have it covered. But almost everything else in this sad excuse for a novel is WRONG. There's hardly a single likable trait to be found in any of the characters, and our two leads who are supposed to be in love exhibit no chemistry whatsoever between them. All they ever do is fuck and fight with each other and angst over pointless drama like they're still in high school. Not to mention, hardly anything about the story is realistic or logical. Let's break this bitch down, shall we?
Ana is an idiot, and quite possibly insane. Her levels of naivete and complete ignorance about the world push the boundaries of believability. You expect me to believe she's a 21 year old college graduate who has never owned a computer (but has an iPod), never touched herself sexually, has never expressed interest in a guy, thinks a full-grown adult is asking her to play Xbox when her takes her back to his fancy penthouse to show her his "playroom," and is too "innocent" to use the words penis and vagina? Apparently Ms. James does expect us to believe all this, as well as believe that such a sexually repressed blushing virgin immediately starts having orgasm after orgasm from the first time a guy touches her tits AND also has no gag reflex and can deepthroat with no problem. Ok.
Her other winning personality traits include shallowness, petty jealousy, and crippling insecurity. Just as with Twilight, large portions of this book consist of Ana waxing poetic about the supposed hotness of Christian. We're told that she loves him, but don't really get to see why beyond the fact that he's attractive and fucks her good. We also get plenty of pointless descriptions of her roommate's good looks as well. I still can't figure out if Ana's just jealous of Kate, or if she has a crush on her. I'll give a point towards "crush" for the sheer number of times she reminds us that Kate is gorgeous, and a point towards "jealous bitch" for her mention of "UNWELCOME sympathy" for her upon realizing that she's still attractive even when sick. Why are these two friends, and why does Kate always put up with Ana's bullshit? Oh, and literally every other woman in the novel is described as blonde and attractive, and every single one of them makes Ana feel insecure (You know, I wish female authors would just quit it with this senseless hate for blondes already). And again, just like her Twilight counterpart, Ana is astounded every single damn time she's presented with proof that yes, her love interest does indeed find her attractive, as does literally every other man in the book.
But apart from all these glowing positive traits, we actually know little else about Ana. We know that she likes books and tea and that's about it. Seriously, the one time anyone bother's to ask what her "thing" is, she screams inside her head that Christian is her thing, and all she can verbalize is that she likes books. But since we never see her reading or doing much else interesting involving books, we might as well conclude that her entire existence revolves around this man and none of her other interests are worth mentioning.
Christian: You know what I also wish authors would do, besides cutting back on the blonde hate? I wish they'd just drop this played-out "bad boy love interest" shtick already. I'm so sick of all these stories that present the same damn message that an innocent everygirl can change the brooding dickhead for the better if she only gives him enough love. Wouldn't it have been a bit refreshing to have a love interest who's sweet, easy-going, and approachable who just so happens to have a hidden kinky side? But no, we get this asswipe instead.
Christian, oh Christian, what's there to say that hasn't already been said? The guy's a controlling asshole whose whole existence is so wrapped up in being dominant and brooding over how "dark" he is that he really has no personality outside of that. So what do we know about him? He's rich, attractive, emotionally manipulative, mysterious, attractive, a CEO of his own company at a ludicrously improbable young age, has a compulsion to control literally everything, rich, scary when he's angry, attractive, plays the piano, sexually coercive, stalks women he barely knows, attractive, had an abusive childhood, rich, thinks that his sexuality is inherently bad... sensing any patterns here?
The fact that there are real-life women who have read this and
Romance? What Romance? Honestly, I haven't seen a "love" story this vapid since Attack of the Clones. I know that in smut fiction all that really matters is that the characters are sexy and have lots of sex, but please keep in mind that this is also meant to be ROMANCE fiction, so there should be a damn good reason for the lead characters to be in love. There's no substance to anything, and no apparent chemistry between Ana and Christian. What the hell do they see in each other? Christian's a controlling, manipulative jackass, and Ana's an insipid, spineless moron. Well, since she's spineless I guess I can see how an abusive control freak who just so happens to also be a self-proclaimed Dom might find that appealing, but whatever. These two have nothing in common and no reason to fall for each other except for physical attraction.
This has to be the unhealthiest relationship portrayed in a romantic, positive light ever to be put down on paper. Sure, Ana occasionally objects to the many questionable things Christian does, but in every case it's either quickly brushed aside and forgotten about or has a romantic spin put on it. Just days after meeting her, Christian tracks Ana cell phone to a bar to "rescue" her, partially undresses her while she's passed out, and then threatens to physically punish her (keep in mind that Ana is clueless about his kink at this time) for being drunk. As if this weren't bad enough, Ana then further perverts this unhealthy dynamic by thinking that Christian must not be attracted to her because (and I kid you not) HE DIDN'T TAKE ADVANTAGE OF HER WHILE SHE WAS PASSED OUT DRUNK. That's right, both author and protagonist have such a screwed up view of romance that creepy behavior is praised while courteous behavior is scorned.
And of course, we can't forget that one time that Christian secretly followed Ana all the way across the country just because she said she "wished he was there." Please keep in mind that Ana originally went to Georgia to get away from him for a while because she needed space to think. Ana quickly forgives him though once her mother gushes about how "romantic" it is that her daughter's boyfriend is a stalker. Lovely. Oh, and don't forget that when Christian found out that Ana planned to go he got so fucking ANGRY at her for not telling him that he wanted to punish her. Sorry, Christian, but that ain't how healthy BDSM relationships work.
Oh, and let's not forget that Ana doesn't even want the BDSM anyway! At least, not anything except maybe some light bondage. So... why didn't the book just end with her handing back the contract and saying "Sorry, this isn't for me. Have a nice life!"? Why, it's because she loves him, you see! And As EVERYONE knows the most important part of a healthy relationship is to go along with whatever your lover wants out of fear of losing him, and perhaps to get him to love you back! *facepalm* Don't believe me? At one point she states almost word-for-word in the narration that she has to take whatever he dishes out because it's his "therapy". That's literally what Ana's line of thinking is throughout the whole book: give him what he wants to earn his love, because her own feelings don't matter.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think I remember hearing somewhere that this book was supposed to be erotic. Could someone please point out where the titillating parts are, because I couldn't find them anywhere. The sex is so atrociously written that it's anti-arousing. Some parts are amusing because of the sheer hilarity of the bad purple prose,but after a while it gets boring due to all the repetition. You'd think that a novel that sells itself on being kinky would be a lot more creative when it comes to sex, but that's not what you get. The kink itself is pretty lightweight, and the vast majority of sex is extremely vanilla and fluctuates between cringe-inducing and snore-inducing.
DETAILS, SETTING, AND OTHER SHIT:
E. L. James is totally clueless when it comes to writing Americans, and it's obvious she didn't even try. Why even bother having it set in the US when eveyone's talking in Britishisms and the setting isn't important to the story anyway? The setting adds absolutely nothing unique to the story, and Seattle comes across more or less as "generic big city." She also has no clue how to write young twenty-somethings. An English major who doesn't own a computer? Newsflash: college students would be hard-pressed to get by without their own laptops these days. Also, what the hell is up with the emails between Ana and Christian? It just shows how out of touch and lazy with research James is when she has them using email like it's instant messaging. It don't make no sense!
Ah, the writing. I'll keep this brief because everyone and their mother has complained about the shitty writing already. E. L. James is one of the worst writers I have ever seen. None of the dialogue sounds like something real people would say. The narrative is plagued with a a ludicrous amount of repetition. One of her most oft-repeated words is "murmur," which makes me never want to here that word again, it was so abused. There's also two other issues with this word: 1) it's usually used inappropriately, in situations where it makes no sense for characters to be murmuring; 2) she's way too fond of dialogue tags in general and her aversion to the simple word "said" is irritating. Do I really need to bring up how stupid and god-awful the Subconscious and Inner Goddess are? As a one-off joke it's ok, but they show up all over the damn place. Either Ana is schizophrenic, or James is just bad at writing description and the human thought process. And the descriptions themselves are awful. Everything is "all blank, blank, and blank," in which the blanks are all nouns rather than adjectives, and when adjectives are used they're OVERused. The whole narrative reeks of laziness and lack of proper editing.
I think I'd better stop now before I burst a blood vessel. Sorry, I tend to get a little too worked up when it comes to this blight on the face of literature.