I read all three books in three short days. Religiously for 72 hours. Sneak-reading during lunch breaks and lazy hours. Reading till the sun set and rose again. Reading till my iPad’s battery dried up.
Judge me. Go ahead.
I’ve never been a “trendy reader.” I read Harry Potter two years after its debut (though I made up for the delay with sheer obsession). I never felt the need to read the Twilight Saga since I thought watching the movies was painful enough. I read The Hunger Games (now also an obsession) after watching the movies. I did succumb to Dan Brown though, but more for curiosity’s sake and not because Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code were supposedly the “in” thing.
Truthfully, I had no intention of reading the Fifty Shades franchise. I first heard about it after seeing the Selena Gomez parody (50 Shades of Blue) in FunnyorDie.com. While killing time at the mall, I sat down with a copy and read the first 20 pages with vague interest. A few hours later, someone told me it was “porn” and my curiosity vanished in an instant. I’ve always gravitated toward the mystery section of bookstores so after a shudder, Fifty Shades of Grey (and its sequels) was forgotten.
A week after my brief encounter with EL James, however, my associate editor e-mailed me a copy of the three books with a dare. To read and finish! I couldn’t back out after that. In the spirit of trendy literature, let’s talk about what we learned, shall we?
First, the name. Anastasia. My friend, Momo, and I discussed this in great detail. It’s long–a whopping four syllables–complicated and derived from missing Russian royalty. It’s all very glamorous, but a bit… fantastical. Remember when you were young and picking out names for your future kids? The more elaborate the better! Serendipity, Liberty, Felicity, Chastity. Anastasia sort of falls under that category except it doesn’t end with a Y. I myself wanted to name my potential mini Cassiopea when I was 12 and first learned how to spell it. The choice of name itself screams fan-fic and while there’s nothing wrong with good ol’ fan labor, this one just hit the nail on the head a little too hard.
I liked Fifty Shades Darker best.
Second, the similarity with Twilight. Again, I never read the stuff so I’m not about to launch into a case by case dissection of the two. The fact that Fifty Shades was initially Twilight fan lore speaks for itself. Change the names, give everyone a set of fangs, and it might as well be Stephenie Meyer writing. Anastasia’s inexplicable appeal, her odd connection with the mysterious Mr. Grey, his deadly passion, the list goes on. The difference is–and this means a world of disparity–while Twilight, particularly New Moon, was sometimes a struggle to finish even to the most loyal of readers, one would find Fifty Shades absolutely indefatigable. The writing is somewhat off, the subject matter hardcore, but trust me when I say, you cannot put this down. Even when you skip the BDSM parts–which I did after the first three trysts (my mama didn’t raise no fool).
Third, you will want Christian Grey, the almost-sadistic, whip-wielding leading man, who’s only ever truly satisfied in his Red Room of Pain. While his, er, coital preferences are slightly off-putting, and his romancing unconventional, you will find yourself wanting to be his next “little brown-haired girl.” You will root for him, support him, dream about him. You will wish for little Miss Steele to fall flat on her face and die so you can take your rightful place as Mrs. Christian Grey. His methods may be questionable, but he only “aims to please.” He doesn’t make love, he loves hard.
And, unlike Anastasia, who, after three books, only grew in her fashion sense, we see much more development in our handsome Dom. I especially liked his post-coital confessions in Fifty Shades Darker.
Fourth, the title is irksome. Weren’t we taught that anything over nine or 10 (depending on the house style) should be written numerically? How annoying is that?
While I thoroughly enjoyed the book (frankly, it made me giddier than a Nicholas Spark novel), it was like riding a literary roller coaster with sugary Sweet Dreams-type moments interspersed with deep, dark psychologically rooted issues. A perplexing mishmash of heavy, light; high, low; teenage superficiality and R-rated content. In the end, I was slightly dizzy and desperately needing solid ground. So, I decided to treat myself to a good and bloody murder mystery novel afterward.
This is believable until the part where you see Blake Lively(who will never play second fiddle to Alexis Bledel again) and Matt Damon (who always has to be the star)