Evening readers, something a little different review wise for you today from mylittlebookblog. A number of weeks ago, around the Valentine’s Day weekend, I went to see the new fifty shades of grey movie with a number of close friends. We equally laughed, giggled and looked a little horrified throughout but the main question discussed after the film was, which was better the book or the movie? Although firstly deciding rather adamantly that the film was better (which isn’t saying much,) I went home and fished out the book from the top of my wardrobe and the place where books that need moving on go to lie. After re-reading a few of the chapters of the book a number of feelings came flooding back to me and I decided to pen a review. I know there have been many many reviews of this book but I thought it was my time to put my two pennies in.
So I guess the first thing to mention is that I’m not going to be suggesting that EL James is awarded any prizes for her writing style in terms of the quality despite her best-selling novelist status. The novel as most of you will know follows the 21 year old English student Anastasia Steele who finds herself caught up in a relationship with the mysterious and foreboding Christian Grey, a billionaire with some interesting relationship ideals including a penchant for bondage. We watch the two as Anastasia struggles with the constraints of their relationship (no pun intended) trying to break through to the broken Christian and prove that he can love her and that the two are meant to be together.
So, I guess the question is; if you haven’t already, is it worth getting hold of a copy and attempting to read the book dismissing everything you have already heard about it? The answer I would say is yes, but only if you’re ready to hit the clichéd wall of James’s writing. At times it is a little overwhelming with Gray looking at Anna with his steely grey eyes, or Steele’s ‘inner goddess’ who is often doing yoga positions, or backflips, or the fact that I’m surprised Anna has a bottom lip left after all that biting of it she does. Additionally the plot line lacks originality; vulnerable and receptive woman falls for deeply broken but domineering older man and tries to heal him. Its clichéd and although the BDSM parts of the novel add a different tone it didn’t save it from being a little tired.
In terms of characters both Anna and Christian although not completely unlikeable lack the qualities to really make you fall for them and I felt indifferently towards their relationship on the whole. She is so susceptible and easily influenced that you find you want to shake her a little. (I did feel she was played better in the movie than the book saying this.) Christian is a little better although his domineering side is so powerfully placed that you are a little terrified for Anastasia and I know that this is something that many have critiqued as not being a real portrayal of a safe or true BDSM relationship.
So, as like a number of readers I assume, fifty shades of grey was the first erotic style novel that I read and the world of BDSM was and still is incredibly new to me in terms of reading about it. I think what intrigued me was the unfamiliarity with this style of writing and since reading it I have read more from this genre of book. The sex scenes do not hold back and although many have critiqued it my friends and I had a lot of giggles reading different sections out to one another cringing at the language used. I think James deserves some credit for making this genre more accessible. When I first read the book this power play in terms of a sexual relationship was completely new to me and although I think in the film the idea that Anna is an equal of his is much better put across than in the book, it’s an opening to talk about the different types of sexual relationship that people have.
So, yes the writing is terrible. Both characters are neither likeable nor unlikeable but are both stiff in their portrayal (another unintended pun there.) Their dialogue is stilted and their relationship at times is both farcical and laughable. However, since Fifty shades burst into the literature scene we have seen a huge increase in the popularity and certainly the blogging about this genre which is great. For many of us it’s something new and although a little unfamiliar it’s nice to see the genre being seen in a different light; something I think the film has further helped to address. Erotica is not smutty or indecent and I think Fifty Shades has only helped to continue to expose the potential for brilliantly written erotic style books.