“He steps out of his Converse shoes and reaches down and takes his socks off individually. Christian Grey’s feet…wow…what is it about naked feet?”
– Yep, that’s a direct quote
Oh yes. I read it. Cover to cover.
Before I start my review, I think it’s important to establish why I decided to read this book. It was for the same three reasons I read the first Twilight book a few years ago. The reasons, in no particular order:
- My favorite teacher from high school always told me, “You aren’t allowed to criticize a book you haven’t read all the way through.”
- I needed a good laugh.
- This book outsold Harry Potter. My book hasn’t even been published. This lady has to be doing something right.
Google helped me get through it by providing a variety of parody memes:
(Photo credits to fiftyshadesmeme.com)
I was initially hoping to just get through the book and move on with life, but the reading experience was such a unique form of torture (and not the kind Mrs. James was going for) that I couldn’t help but dissect this work. Now, before you yell at me for not being from the target audience, relax. I’ll leave the characters and their actions alone. Instead, I’ll focus on the writing style, plot and content.
First of all, the writing of this novel has to be some of the most unintentionally hilarious I’ve encountered. I’ve compiled a list of my personal favorite bits.
“If this guy is over thirty, then I’m a monkey’s uncle.” Ah, yes, a monkey’s uncle! The obvious go-to comparison for any twenty year old girl narrator.
“I flick through the TV channels.” You FLICK through the TV channels? Don’t you mean, “flip”?
“I feel the color in my cheeks rising again. I must be the color of The Communist Manifesto.” Oh yeah, of course, the Communist Manifesto! The obvious comparison when describing the color red.
“Ana, anyone can see that. He’s mad about you. Won’t take his eyes off you.” “Mad about you?” I think this British author forgot that her story features college girls who live in Washington state.
“Kate wanders back into the living room, grinning from ear to ear. “Ana, I’m off to bed. I’m pretty tired.” “Me, too, Kate.” She hugs me. “Shall we finish packing first?”” Well it’s a good thing this totally necessary passage was included in the narrative. Otherwise this 514 pages might not have felt long enough. Also, “shall we finish packing?” This is a twenty year old girl!
“He’s wearing a white shirt, open at the collar, and tray flannel pants that hang from his hips.” This is common throughout the book. Christian Grey doesn’t truly wear clothes. Clothes hang from his body.
“Oh my.” This phrase is used fifty-three times throughout the book, which is really distracting when I hear it in George Takei’s voice.
“It slips down my throat, all seawater, salt, the sharp tang of citrus, and fleshiness…ooh. I lick my lips, and he’s watching me intently, his eyes hooded.” And this, ladies and gentlemen, is how she describes eating oysters.
“I flush at the waywardness of my subconscious—she’s doing her happy dance in a bright red hula skirt at the thought of being his.” Look out, Dickens.
“The room is spacious, tastefully furnished in creams, browns, and pale blues—comfortable, understated, and very stylish.” You literally just described an entire room by mashing together adjectives.
“Oh crap.” This phrase is used 94 times throughout the book. That’s once every five pages.
“I won’t forget. I’ll put an alarm on my calendar.” Did anyone even read this out loud before they turned it into a book?
“‘Breakfast,’ he whispers, making it sound deliciously erotic.” Oh, for God’s sake.
Now, to storyline.
Does Fifty Shades have a plot? Not really. My litmus test for a plot is if someone refuses to talk to you about the book in fear of you spoiling something. In this case, the spoiler alert freaks can relax. There’s nothing to ruin here, unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last few years. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the story (and I’m using the word detailed sincerely):
- Meet Ana, a reporter who interviews a business dude named Christian Grey
- Christian asks her to coffee, flies her via helicopter to his mansion, and shows her around
- They have lots of happy time
- Ana meets his brother, graduates college, and emails Christian almost nonstop
- They have lots of happy time
- Ana meets Christian’s parents and argues with him some
- They have lots of really weird happy time
- On the third to last page, she decides he’s too intense, and says bye to him forever.
This book is 514 pages, mind you.
Analyzing the content: I won’t linger on the obvious part of it, apart from saying I found the bedroom scenes to be a little, ah, too much. And keep in mind, I’m a teenage guy.
Seriously. No one needs this much steamy material.
In any case, a few miscellaneous things I noticed:
Excessive product placement is excessive. Christian stays at the Heathman Hotel, drinks Cristal champagne, listens to his iPod, and puts on his Converse shoes so he can drive his R8 to Ana’s house to give her a Macbook Pro and iPad so she can Google how to use her new Blackberry and find someone to buy her Beetle so he can replace it with an Audi.
Also, they do it in an IHOP at one point.
You think I’m kidding.
Finally, my biggest problem was probably how stalker-ish Christian is. You thought Edward Cullen was bad? At one point in the novel, Ana is on work travel and emails Christian saying she wishes he was here, so he finds out what flight she’s on, books one too, and emails her an hour later while sitting thirty feet away from her in a bar.
Uhh…wait, readers, come back! I know that sounds creepy, but it’s really cute in the book!
Overall, this novel was awful on a number of levels. I could stay to comment on how degrading this is to women, or all the immorality surrounding its messages, but I’m not here to preach. I’m just here to give advice: stay away from the book and just look up Gilbert Gottfried reading it instead.
Rate: 2 out of 10.