I Tackle “Fifty Shades of Grey”

“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:

  1. 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.”
  2. I needed a good laugh.
  3. 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:

ray

2b3

filet

(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.

gtface

“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!

*Sarcasm off*

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.

On Writing: A Chart of Popular YA Novels’ Word Counts

“Words are only painted fire; a look is the fire itself.”

–  Mark Twain

 

I’m sure there are other charts or lists like these elsewhere on the internet, but I wanted to contribute one as well.

Word count is something you get to disregard if you’re just writing for fun, but any manuscripts which hope to be turned into books should have at least some grasp of their length, at least according to the agents and editors of today’s publishing industry.

I’m not going to talk about official guidelines for word count because that information is already available from far more qualified informants. Plus, the guidelines vary. Some editors say middle grade novels should be between 50,000 and 70,000 words, whereas others might say 60,000-80,000.

My novel is YA Fantasy, most closely resembling Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson stories in terms of age range and the feel of the story. To roughly gauge my target word count, I looked into the word count of The Lightning Thief. That one is 87,223 words long. The final draft of my manuscript totaled to around the same, give or take a thousand words.

That’s kind of a bad example, honestly, because I would’ve been fine if it was off by even five or ten thousand words. Also something to note: I didn’t tailor my manuscript to that length, or any length. I just wrote, made sure the story felt full and complete, then went back and looked at word count. I cut probably two thousand words, but I wouldn’t have hesitated to leave them in if I’d thought they should be there. Like I said, the guidelines are flexible, so an estimate will often do. If I’d written a YA Fantasy that was 130,000 words long—roughly 520 pages—then that would bother some publishers. Not all, but some. Same as if I wrote one that came in at 110 pages. As it is, mine comes in at a healthy average of 324 pages.

Anyway! Enough about me. Should anyone reading this plan to take my advice and look at word counts of popular books, I’ve compiled a chart of some of those YA books here.

The standard formula is page count= word count/250, since most novels generally have 250 words per page. So you can guess any book’s word count by multiplying its page count by 250. That being said, I made this chart with the help of this handy website, which will tell you the exact counts of just about any novel.

Word Counts

Well Thank God That’s Over (Movie Reviews: Breaking Dawn Part 2 and Vampires Suck)

“You’re going to hear a lot about Breaking Dawn Part 2 being the best of the Twilight movies. That’s like saying a simple head cold is preferable to swine flu. They all make you sick.”

 –  Peter Travers

 

Oh my oh my. What rich fodder this franchise has provided for this meager blogger trying to make his mark on the world of humorous commentary.

Let me start off by saying that I don’t have a passionate, burning hate in my heart for the Twilight saga like most teenage guys do. I don’t like it nor think it’s worth much other than laughing at, but I don’t see it as the bane of humanity, either. I did read the first book…granted, that was on a personal mission to discover what all the hype was about; a quest that I have yet to fulfill. And I did see all the movies, though that was more because it was on my list of 100 Things to Do Before I Graduate, right under “walk to the back of Spencer’s” (which I actually accomplished yesterday…my God. Dear, sweet God).

So, then. I watched all of the movies this past summer, an endeavor that cost me just over eight hours of my life and a generous amount of IQ points. But I did survive, and I decided that I needed to see this final chapter of the saga when it hit theaters.

And oh, my dear reader, did I see.

This is the point in the review when I warn you that there are spoilers, except I’m not sure if that’s the right word. Because this is a rare case where if you’re told about the end of the movie before you see it, I believe you’ll enjoy it more. 

So. The first hour and a half of the movie is about what I was expecting…mildly funny, sometimes intentionally and sometimes not. The plot, for want of a better term, is as follows: Bella’s all changed into a vampire and adjusted to her life. Except someone sees her daughter and assumes she’s an “immortal child”…a member of this awful race of vampire kids that must be killed or they’ll destroy all life. You know, the usual.

So, the Volturi—the only movie villains to have names more ridiculous than their outfits—set out to kill the kid once and for all.

The fascinating part of this plot twist is that it occurs about half an hour into it, yet the baddies take until the end of the movie to finally get to Bella’s home land. I’m not sure if they walked all the way from Italy to Washington state, but in any case it gives Bella and Edward a good while to gather vampires for a confrontation.

And then, they confront.

It begins with negotiations between Edward and the villain, Aro. The only thing I remember about this conversation is that Aro, upon spotting the child, lets out a laugh so indescribably absurd that I am officially labeling this movie as a comedy.

Seriously, look this laugh up on YouTube.

Then, a battle ensues, and several main characters die. Everything is in ruins, and Aro is just getting his head ripped off (literally) when…a flash and…

It was all a dream!

But seriously. I guess the more accurate word is ‘vision,’ but that doesn’t change the fact that the entire last half hour of the movie was just a projection of the future from one of the Cullens, Alice. None of it actually happened.

Blanket sweep, anyone?

There is no battle, there are no deaths, and the movie closes with everyone just going home.

Which, I think, makes me safe to tell you that by the literal definition, NOTHING happens in this movie. No characters are born, none die, there are no revelations, and most importantly, there’s no development. The characters, much like the audience, come out of the movie as they came in: filled with regret of the time they’ve wasted.

In conclusion: see this movie if you want a few laughs, but keep in mind that you won’t get much else out of it. The film drags on too long, stumbles through dialogue, and in the end is as much of a dull, listless cheat as its main actress.

Rate: 2 out of 10.

 

Vampires Suck:

 

I don’t want to talk about this movie too much, but I did feel this was a good time to give a brief blurb of my thoughts on it.

I saw a commercial for this back in August 2010, texted all of my friends saying we had to see it, and the Sunday before 10th grade started, we did.

Okay, I’ll admit it: I had a great time watching this.

Is it a stupid movie? Absolutely. But it has a joke about every thirty seconds, and while most of them miss their mark, a few stick and overall it’s a good time. I’d definitely encourage seeing it with friends…when I did, I found it to be well worth the money. I don’t know why…there are just lines I can’t help but laugh at, such as when Bella’s new friend, Jennifer, walks up to her in the school cafeteria:

“Hi, I’m Jennifer! I’m going to pretend to be your BFF, but if you touch Rick—” [draws switchblade] “I’ll cut you.”

It’s stuff like that I think is at least mild entertainment. I just find this movie to be fun, if nothing else, and at least it—unlike the actual Twilight saga—knows when we’re laughing.

In conclusion: don’t expect this one to blow you away with hilarity, but if you and a few friends want to see a short, stupid parody of Twilight that makes fun of it in all the right ways, go for this. I’d recommend it over the real thing, anyway.

 

Rate: 5 out of 10.

*Just fyi, I apologize for the bitterness. In all sincerity, I don’t disrespect anyone who likes the Twilight saga. If you roll that way,  more power to you.