“He only beats me because of his tragic past,” or, a review of Fifty Shades of Grey

You know, if I never hear the word Adonis again, it will be too soo–

Apart from the paintings, the rest of the office is cold, clean, and clinical.  I wonder if it reflects the personality of the Adonis who sinks gracefully into one of the white leather chairs opposite me.

Well. Here we go again.

This is not just a terrible book. If it were just a terrible book, maybe I could forgive that. But it is not. It is also terrible fanfiction. But I should evaluate it on its own terms, right?

I tried, dear reader. I tried. But it wouldn’t let me. Every time I tried to judge the book on its own merits, Christian would do something that vaguely reminded me of Edward, but he was so not Edward that I kept getting pissed off.

Case in point: Considering how sexually repressed Edward is or tries to be, he was probably voted least likely to own a sex dungeon in high school. Now, Bella, on the other hand…Bella might just be a little on the kinky side. Why couldn’t we have had THAT book?

Instead, we’re left with a Twilight that has been disemboweled of everything likable about Twilight, leaving one creepy little husk of a book with weird sex scenes and even weirder sentence structure.

It’s not just that E. L. James plagiarized Twilight. It’s that she didn’t even do it well.

Funny thing about fanfiction. It doesn’t need to establish the characters or the setting. Readers already know why Edward is obsessed with Bella. They already know why Bella is hopelessly in love with him. They already know that Jacob is a rapey dirtbag (well, not the Jacob fans) (sorry, Jacob fans).

Look, I got why Bella and Jacob wouldn’t have worked out. At some point, Bella would have wanted a little nineteenth century Gothic roleplay, and Jacob so wouldn’t have delivered. (Note that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.) But Edward always delivers, and Bella doesn’t even have to ask. Basically, Bella is too much of a weirdo for Jacob, and if Jacob had had brains, he would have gotten out while he could.

But you see, I don’t know Christian. I don’t know why he starts following Anna around and creeping on her hardware store. I don’t know why he considers her worth sleeping in his bed, why he considers her worth taking on helicopter rides (he doesn’t normally let girls do things like that. It’s…weird, okay?). Since he never indicated what was so special about Ana, I was forced to conclude that he told every girl she was the ‘first.’

I don’t know Jose. I don’t know why he and Anna are better as friends. I don’t know why he’s a rapey dirtbag. The author never bothered to establish these characters. I never understood why Anna doesn’t get her some of

He’s tall, and in his jeans and T-shirt, he’s all shoulders and muscles, tanned skin, dark hair, and burning eyes. Yes, Jose’s pretty hot, but I think he’s finally getting the message: we’re just friends.

…THAT (before she found out he had, uh, problems). As opposed to the creepy white dude she ends up with. Obviously, fictional women don’t need to justify their choices to me. But I would like to know why Jose never lives up to the “literary heroes” Ana has built up in her mind, but Christian, who is possibly even more rapey and annoying, does. I wonder if it’s because he’s rich…

And let me tell you, being rich does his characterization no favors. He basically does

Okay, maybe not like THAT. (Sorry, T. O. P. This gif was just too perfect.)

this all day.

He’s a CEO. He should be busy, not showing off his car to some minimum wage college student. But if that’s all he had done, I probably wouldn’t have complained that much. No, he committed much worse offenses.

First, he wore jeans with a tie and dress shirt. To his date.

Second, the sex. It disturbed me, not only because it was creepy, but also because it was boring. It was both creepy and boring, a combination I had thought impossible until now. Ana “shatters into a million pieces.” Frequently. Sounds painful.


Then Christian inevitably says something weird/creepy/cringeworthy and ruins the nonexistent mood. Here’s one:

He bends and starts undoing one of my sneakers. Oh no…no…my feet. No. I’ve just been running.

“No,” I protest, trying to kick him off.

He stops.

“If you struggle, I’ll tie your feet, too. If you make a noise, Anastasia,  I will gag you. Keep quiet. Katherine is probably outside listening right now.”

Christian has no way of knowing Ana is talking about her sneakers, not the sex itself. See what I mean?

I don’t know why people incorporate BDSM into their relationships. That’s their business, as far as I’m concerned. Literature is my area of knowledge, however, so I can tell you why a character might be interested in a BDSM lifestyle, given enough clues. Christian’s reasons are not pretty.

Christian is terrified of a normal relationship. And I don’t mean normal as in “vanilla,” I mean normal as in “getting to know each other before jumping into sadomasochistic sex slavery.” Christian doesn’t like getting to know people. He wants to skip straight to the BDSM sexing part, screw Ana’s fears and concerns. I point to their email exchange:

[Ana has just finished pointing out flaws in the BDSM contract]

Christian: That’s a long list, Miss Steele. Why are you still up?

The whole book goes like this. Christian talks about trust, the submissive actually being in charge, and a bunch of other dumb platitudes, but in practice, he continually shuts Ana down.

He may blather all day about how special she is (she wouldn’t let him grope her at a family dinner! OMG! So special!) and bright (Yes, her GPA is wonderful), but it’s obvious that he only wants her because she’s inexperienced enough to manipulate.

Ana isn’t much better. Just as Christian thinks that he can transform her into the perfect submissive, Ana prefers to ignore what’s in front of her and thinks that she can transform him into a fairy tale prince. One is more likely than the other. I’ll let you guess which.

Speaking of princes, what’s with all the dramatic imagery? Ana’s always calling him a white knight, a dark knight, blah blah blah.

yes joker I know
It’s the crossover we deserve, but not the one we need.

I…I just don’t get it.

Anything else? Oh, yes.

“Miss Steele, we meet again.”

Christian, darling, if you want people to take you seriously as a literary hero, you probably shouldn’t quote this guy.



8 thoughts on ““He only beats me because of his tragic past,” or, a review of Fifty Shades of Grey

  1. Oh Jesus. “Katherine is probably outside listening right now.” Yeah, that’s what’s gonna get me going during sex. “Someone is listening it.” Is Katherine their maid or what? I haven’t read the books, only recaps of them, so I only have a basic understanding of how bad it is. These books are messed up and women don’t even know how terrible it is for them to read them.


    1. Oh, it’s worse. Katherine is her roommate.

      On the one hand, I’ve read and enjoyed terrible stuff, and I hate it when people shame me for it, so I don’t want to do the same to other people…but on the other hand, this book is SO BAD. I don’t know what to think.


  2. ‘It’s not just that E. L. James plagiarized Twilight. It’s that she didn’t even do it well.’

    This line is legendary. This book, its characters, its weird sex and stupid writing. Just a heap of trash.


    1. Aw, thanks!

      Anytime something remotely redeemable happened, it was immediately ruined by something the characters did. I tried so hard to find something positive and I couldn’t. Now I just wanna scrub my brain.


      1. I was genuinely worried and angered when a school friend told me this was her favourite book. I can’t name one good thing about it.


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