Thursday, October 24, 2013

Poorly written smut (and other things I’ve read lately)

I wasn’t going to read E. L. James’ Fifty Shades trilogy. I’d read too many negative reviews slamming the terrible writing. Then some friends and I decided to see Spank, the on-stage parody, and it sounded too funny to pass up. So I would understand all the play’s jokes and references, I read the entire trilogy while we were in Hawaii, which made me only slightly more tolerant of the awful writing.

Many other bloggers and critics have already beaten this dead horse, but I can’t resist sharing a few reasons I found Fifty Shades excruciating (aside from the "Red Room of Pain" of course).

Unforgivable misuse of words
First, James frequently misused the word “literally.” For example, when Anastasia and Christian are flying in his helicopter, she describes the view as “literally out of this world.” No! If you’re looking at the earth from a helicopter, your view is literally of the world, not out it. If you were looking at the stars through a telescope or from a spaceship, that view would be literally out of this world.

Second, two parts of Ana’s brain are continuously in conflict. She refers to her practical side as her “subconscious” who constantly tells her “inner goddess” that Christian is bad news. Her subconscious puts down her book and looks displeasingly over the rim of her glasses whenever Ana gives in to her primal desires. Okay, can someone please tell Ms. James that your subconscious doesn’t talk to you? That’s why is called your subconscious.

Inner-what? Really? 
The other part of Ana’s brain that’s always in conflict with her (apparently quite conscious) subconscious is her raging libido, or her “inner goddess.” Has James attended too many female empowerment seminars? Watched too much Tyra and other terrible daytime television? Seen too many women’s razor blade commercials? She should have just called it her “va-jay-jay” and gotten it over with.

Um, aren’t they supposed to be in Seattle?
Much of the dialogue is very British. When we ask someone get the wine, we say “Please get the wine,” not “Please fetch the wine.” When we tell someone to pick us up at six, we say “You can pick me up at six,” not “You can collect me at six.” This is not how Americans in their twenties speak. So annoying.

Let’s just call it what it is. Porn. Totally absurd porn.
These books are touted as porn for women. (Don’t worry these links will not take you to actual porn, just my rantings on the topic.) Does James think she’s written “erotica for women” simply because she slapped a plot around some sex scenes? Granted, I’ve seen very little porn (zero, to be exact), but isn’t regular porn basically plot-less? Or if it does attempt a plot, isn’t it minimal and ridiculous? Fifty Shades isn't that different.

The whole story is absurd. Young college grad, Ana, meets gorgeous, older (but not quite thirty because that would be too old) billionaire, Christian, who’s way into S&M. He invites her into his “Red Room of Pain,” and she’s all “yeah, okay sure.” Oh, and she’s a virgin. Of course. And her first time – not yet in the Red Room of Pain, that happens later – is this joyous, climatic experience that makes her inner goddess do back flips before collapsing onto a chaise lounge.

Yeah, because that’s what your first time is like, ladies.

Some say the sex scenes are hot, but I found them to be gratuitous and repetitive. Each intimate encounter seemed to be just like the one before and entirely unrealistic. And Ana kept describing Christian’s scent as “so very Christian.” Really? He smelled like himself? Again? Wow, how creative. Really paints a picture for the reader. Nice work, E.L.

My version of porn for women would be a man who cleans the house. (PS: my Hubs steam cleaned our carpets a couple weeks ago. I didn’t even ask him to do it. Trust me, that’s way hotter than all three Fifty Shades books put together.)

As for other absurdity, I don’t care how rich or good looking a man is, crazy is crazy. And this Christian character? Totally bat shit. Of course, Ana finds reason to excuse all his jealous, controlling, possessive, psycho stalker-ness because he had a traumatic childhood. A legit reason for being crazy is not a reason to marry the crazy person! (Oh, yeah, spoiler alert. They get married. Crazy!)

Finally, as if their first names aren’t annoying enough, their last names are Steele and Grey. Yes, Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. As in steel gray. (Insert eye roll here.)

It’s a good thing the show Spank was hilarious because it’s the only thing that made those books worth reading! 


Since my friends and I started a book club this summer, I’ve read several other books that I can’t wait to tell you about. I’ll have to save them for the next post, though, because my annoyance over Fifty Shades took up way too many words. I promise my other reviews are more positive (and shorter) than this one. I hope I at least saved you some time so you don’t read this awful trilogy and you'll just wait for the movie. Or maybe I piqued your interest even more and now you just have to read it. Well if you do, remember I warned you. 


1 comment:

  1. Lol, best review of the trilogy yet!
    I read them all too. Pretty much felt like if I read the term "inner goddess" one more time I might stab myself in the eyeball with a fork.

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