Jane Austen? Jane Eyre? Please, leave them be! What has this 50 Shame … ehm … Shades trilogy by E.L. James got to do with that greatness and depth? It is a vanity fair of shallowness and pettiness. How can these books be anyway connected with those great classics? And I wonder how could they become best selling works with millions of readers?
Do you think I’m prejudiced? I am not. Never thought graphic sex inappropriate when well written and justified in a gripping plot.
Do you think I’m too harsh? That’s exactly what I intend to be. And yes, I read those books, I’m not talking of something I know nothing about.
I read the first instalment very quickly but then once I started the second one, I felt I was really wasting my time and left it when halfway through it . I couldn’t stand all that silliness one page more.
First of all it was so boring and repetitive. “O my! Holy cow! Holy f**k!”, these are the most frequent exclamations the young heroine, Anastasia Steel, utters or thinks every ten seconds. So irritating!
Steel. Not a meaningful surname since Ana (stasia)'s personality is nothing like steel nor iron, she’s more … butter. Insubstantial and unshaped, she gets numbly caught in the net of a seducing, incredibly handsome, sadist tycoon. Young and incredibly gorgeous Christian Grey has an enormous power on her will. She timidly attempts to run away from him but she is not very convinced: she is in love after all. Love? Is that love?
Someone considered Christian Grey a modern byronic hero, damned and romantic at the same time, a contemporary Darcy or even a Rochester type. Why not a Heathcliff? But I can’t find anything of those heroes. None of their depth or complexity.
Christian like Anastasia suffers from a certain luck of fantasy in his actions and his speech. Poor young man! It isn’t actually his fault. He comes out from the faltering, blabbering pen of a mediocre writer. He has a tormented past and an ambiguous personality, sex with him is meant to be everything but dull. So, why was it so boring to read about all that increbible amount of sex after a while? My inner goddess (I haven't got one but Ana always mentions hers!) cried: “No, not again please! Make something else happen!”
But not much more happened all the time. Nothing new was said, neither from time to time: ”Please, don’t bite your lip, Anastasia. You know what it does to me! “ , “Eat Anastasia, please. You must eat.” and then the same words and the same scenes again and again!
Anastasia can’t think of anything different to comment what she sees, hears, experiences. Nothing more than O my! or Holy cow! repeated hundreds of times all over the story. She continuously bites her low lip and rolls her eyes (and both things have got very predictable - after few pages - effect on Christian) while he always runs his long fingers through his disorderly hair, bends his head on a side and frowns, wears his jeans on his hip in a way that makes her lose her strength (what way is that?).
The language and the actions become hauntingly boring, nothing happens if not something that has already happened, described in the same monotonous way with the same monotonous expressions.
What do the millions of readers have found and still find in this story? I couldn’t see anything good. Does anybody need reading this kind of boring, badly written stuff to learn about sex, be excited, escape a boring depressing life? I really can’t believe this story can help. They would be even more depressed and got a distorted idea of sex.
Still I can’t explain the reasons of such a great success, they are a total mystery to me. And that is what makes me sick. Not the fact that someone wrote this kind of stories but that they can answer such a great demand.
I started reading the first book out of curiosity and, mind you, I’m really happy I didn’t buy none of the three! All that hammering advertising, an invasion of posts in the blogosphere relating this trilogy to classic literature or successful modern fiction (Twilight) , bookshops walled with those greyish covers, teenagers reading those books wherever I turned while on holiday in England (even boys!) : I had to discover what all that fuss was about.
I borrowed the Fifty Shades of Grey from a friend and read it, while travelling on my tour of south-west England in a rented car or in bed at night. At the end of the first book I was pretty sure I had had enough of those two gorgeous young people, both Ana and her Christian, but I tried to read some more pages from the sequel. “O My!”, just to quote HER, it was even more boring!
In Fifty Shades Darker , instalment II, Christian starts losing interest for sadistic sex ( well, not completely, of course, since she starts liking it) and becomes incredibly jealous and possessive, wants to marry her, have children with her, becomes almost addicted to his beautiful Ana.
She wants to know about Christian’s tragic past as an abused child. She was and is totally in awe with this man. There I stopped. I’m reading other books now. I hope the two beauties get married, have lovely children and live happily ever after but I won’t be there with them.
Unacceptably poor diction (too high a word?) , insubstantial characterization, irritating repetitiveness of the same events in the plot and of the same sentences in speech . I was tempted to use my read pen, underline, correct and add a very disappointed “RATHER POOR”, but it was not a work by one of my students, it was a best-selling book. Millions of copies. O My!
See? It can be dangerous, contagious. I've started speaking like Ana! Anyway, I'm sure I’ll soon forget this unfortunate experience and bury it under thousands of beautiful words from other books. But reading these kind of fiction can ruin and spoil young readers, their taste for beauty and their language skills. These books were not meant for them but I’m sure many of them will end up leafing through those pages. The trilogy has been translated into Italian too and I bet I’ll hear some of my students giggling for Christian and Ana’s bravados very soon .
Is there anyone who liked this trilogy? Could you please tell me if there is anything good that I missed?
I'll leave you with something to think about:
“Do you know why books such as this are so important? Because they have quality. And what does the word quality mean? To me it means texture. This book has pores. It has features . This book can go under the microscope. You'd find life under the glass, streaming past in infinite profusion. The more pores, the more thruthfully recorded details of life per square inch you can get on a sheet of paper, the more "literary" you are. That's my definition, anyway. Telling detail. Fresh detail. The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies” (from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury)