If you haven’t read the book yet, there might be some plot spoilers here.
At the end of Monday’s post, I mentioned the new book I started reading: 50 Shades of Grey.
Well, Monday night I finished it. I am SO confused. At the beginning, I hated it.
First of all, 50 Shades of Gray is about a soon-to-be college graduate, Anastasia (hate the name) who goes to interview an obscenely rich CEO in place of her roommate when her roommate suddenly gets sick with the Flu. The CEO is Christian Grey – a stubborn, condescending, and ridiculously handsome 27-year-old. Ana is clumsy, shy, and immediately bewildered by his presence. Naturally, they have some sort of chemistry which neither understands. After a week or so of knowing each other, Christian approaches Ana with an indecent proposal and Ana struggles internally for much of the book, trying to decide whether she is better or worse for agreeing to it. They fall in love, although Christian fights it because of his mysterious and apparently abusive past (although we never find out to what extreme he was mistreated). Obviously, there is more to the plot, but not much.
My biggest qualm was with the unbelievable dialogue and poorly edited narration.
I believe the author is British, and as an American who falls into the same demographic as her main character, I know the phraseology and expressions used are not something a 21, soon to be 22-year-old, would think and/or say. They’re clearly British idioms (like using “she’s not well” instead of “she’s sick,” or “can’t have” instead of “couldn’t have”) and that annoyed me. It continued throughout the book, but I think I grew accustomed to it.
Also, I can tell the author is going for some sort of moderately sarcastic and self-deprecating tone, but to me it fell short and felt forced.
But those were not the most irritating things. Many times I found myself wanting to put the book down and stop reading because of grammar issues, such as her constant use of “me” where “I” should clearly be. The first time I noticed was in this sentence, “she is more nervous than me!” Obviously, the correct way to say that is “she is more nervous than I!”
Many of you are commenting anonymously so I can’t address you in an email response. A lot of commenters seem to think that because this is a casual, laid back narration, the use of poor grammar is acceptable. I disagree – I use “I” in place of “me” in my everyday vocabulary, as I think the majority of educated people do. If you’re taught to make it a habit, using “me” sounds much more out of place than using “I.” I do agree that it would probably be said, “more nervous that I was/am/are” instead of simply ending with “I.” This is just one grammar issue that I’ve highlighted and I know I’m harping. The book is riddled with others.
Also, to the people who think I used the wrong form of the word “practice/practise,” please see my response in this post.
Now, given the laid back pacing of the narration, I let it go as a stylistic freedom. But it happens often. And that drives me nuts – I hate reading a book and stumbling over sentences. Authors should know better than to practice poor grammar or ignore the basic rules of English.
And after I learn more about the main character, like how she’s an English major and a well read student (who appreciates the likes of Thomas Hardy, etc.), I just can’t forgive it. We also learn that she’s got a high enough GPA to qualify her for several prestigious internships at Seattle Publishing Houses (one of which she ultimately lands)…so if she’s going to be doing professional editing or something along those lines, then she should most definitely understand when to use “I” in place of “me,” whether she is thinking or speaking.
The two main characters are vastly underdeveloped. We never find out much about Ana – even she questions what her hobbies are. All we know is she doesn’t like clothes or shaving her armpits. We know Christian suffered some sort of abuse as a child, which is why he is so aloof and prone to mood swings, but that’s all. I don’t know HOW IN THE WORLD a 27 year old is some sort of magical business tycoon, running his own empire and buying a girl he’s known for 1 week a new Macbook, new phone, and NEW RED AUDI to replace her VW Beetle because it’s “dangerous.” Makes no sense. (Apparently in the orginal version, he is some sort of vampire – which explains his many years worth of knowledge and refusal to let her ever touch his chest. Thank goodness they removed this part because I would have immediately burned the book).
My last issue when I first started reading was the relationship between Ana and Christian. I knew it would probably develop a little bit further into the book, or into the trilogy even, but I personally struggled to connect with it. Other than his apparent dreaminess and irresistible good looks, I didn’t understand the appeal to the Dominant/Submissive relationship, nor the freaky S&M stuff they were about to get into. Sure, they have some sort of unspoken animal magnetism, but that alone is not enough to fuel this entire plot. I don’t think the author gives away enough about Christian’s mysterious past, and his ridiculous cryptic phone calls annoy me – if they turn this into a movie, he will be a very difficult role to cast (personally, I was envisioning Ryan Gosling the whole time and I will absolutely throw a hissy fit if they cast Robert Pattinson). It’s not the type of “love story” I’m accustomed to or generally interested in, so I had trouble getting behind it. It didn’t qualify as a love story to me until much later in the book maybe around the very last 1/3 or so, when he started giving her the “more” for which she’d been longing.
The sex scenes were graphic and the author is no doubt very good at articulating what’s happening between the sheets/in the shower/in the red room of pain. While very detailed and somewhat grisly at times (thanks for letting me know when he pulls out her tampon), they never made me uncomfortable, which I was warned they might. They did seem to get a little bit repetitive at times. OH she’s biting her lip again, Christian wants to nail her…how surprising. OH he wants to spank her but she doesn’t know if she wants him to do that…how surprising. OH he won’t let her touch his chest so she keeps prying him for answers about his past and then he gets angry…how surprising. I definitely preferred the more natural sex to the Dominant/Submissive stuff – those scenes seemed to me to be the rare times when I saw Christian break down and I was able to understand how this might actually be more than just a trashy novel. And I was very pleased by her omission of the word “throbbing.” I don’t think she used it once.
At first I was angry because I kept thinking, “I guess all it takes to be a New York Times Bestseller is a poorly written novel riddled with unnecessarily graphic humping.” I rarely jump on board with the book crazes sweeping the nation. I’m a snob, I know. But if I’m going to dedicate days to reading a novel, it needs to be worth my time – I need to enjoy reading it instead of fighting the urge to pick it apart in my head. It really has been a long time since I’ve read a normal book (and not an English literature assignment), so maybe I’m just out of habit. I started the book on Sunday evening and finished it after work on Monday – so it was definitely an easy read. I wasn’t really into the story until it became clear to me that Christian did in fact have feelings for Ana, so naturally when she leaves him at the end of the book, I was a bit perturbed.
All in all, I have to say I liked it. I wish the book had started in the middle and carried on for quite a bit longer than when it ended, but I guess that’s the point of having a 2nd and 3rd book.
Anyway, that’s my take on it. I know a lot of people enjoy this series and that’s fine – yes, I could have quit reading at any point and would not have been the worse for it, but I wanted to be able to write an accurately opinionated review. If you disagree with me, who cares? I’m sure plenty of people in history have hated books that I love.