July 11, 2012

That Fifty Shades of Grey Craze..

Over the weekend I was off to my hometown in NY to visit family and participate in the Positivi-Tea Tealightful Conference.   Therefore, I missed on Storytelling Sunday.  And, wouldn't you know it, I looked up at my calendar today to realize I'd also missed Ten Things on the 10th once again.  How bummed am I?

So, while I have been off gallivanting around, I have been purposeful about making time for reading.  I have not been keeping you up to date, my bad, so look for a few more book reviews going forward.

Today, instead of a belated Storytelling Sunday's Kai-story,  I want to discuss my take on the "housewife porn" trilogy of Fifty Shades of Grey.  Now, to be clear, "housewife porn" is not my term, I'm just lifting it from various articles and reviews I've read over the past month or more.

To start off... I Love Smut.  I love smut.  Smut books are a release for me.  An escape.  So, I am biased about any book that has a large amount of detailed sexual activity.  Sorry... TMI?  You can stop reading any time.  :)  And, I'm sorry, but these books... while they had pieces of detailed intimacy... were not as overwhelming as typical smut that I have read in the past.  With that disclaimer, let me go on...

****Spoiler Alert:  I may be talking about some specifics.  If you do not like any piece of a story told to you, you may choose not to read further.  That said, I won't tell you the ending or any specific details that will "ruin" the main plot lines... I don't think. ****

Fifty Shades of Grey

50 Shades of Grey

The first book in the series grabbed my attention, but-quick.  Had a decent set-up, and an attention grabbing (if too young for my taste) leading man, Christian Grey.  Seriously, what woman doesn't fantasize about the well-to-do, smart, successful, rich man who owns his own business, flies his own helicopter and has the highest technology available at his fingertips?  Especially a woman directly out of college, young, struggling to make her own way... but now swept off her feet by someone she never thought existed - Anastasia (Ana) Steele?  Yeah, most women would be raising their hands about now... if only at the very superficial level.  All that and *love* too?  Yep, on board!  Of course, this book doesn't quite delve into love... but more instant attraction between two people, one of whom has very specific predilections.  Let's just name the elephant in the room:  BDSM.  (BDSM stands for Bondage/Discipline/Domination/Submission/Sadism/Masochism.  Yes, I know that's actually BDDSSM but the community truncated it for simplicity to BDSM.  Hey, I wasn't part of the decision, I'm just the messenger here.)  Have an open mind and want to learn more?  Click the BDSM link above to read the Wikipedia entry about this "kink choice".

Again... good smut, but I have a small gripe about how it is presented.  Aside from the power exchange, the dreamy rich guy, the awkward, smart just-out-of-college girl, this book is really about sexual tension, sex and the wild and crazy emotions around it.   The writing style is hard to get past (for me), and I really didn't appreciate the sweeping stereotypes.  The character development could have been much more deep and multi-faceted than it was.

Seriously, though, this book does not deserve the hype it is receiving as "housewife porn".  The marketing campaign is brilliant, though, as it seems everyone is talking about it, everyone wants to know what it's about, and apparently they're already going to make a movie out of it (sigh).  

For my technical review, I was somewhat frustrated with the writing style and the repetitive text... seriously repetitive.  And, if you pick up this book, be prepared to move directly into book #2... as in, immediately.  50 Shades of Grey's frustrating, cliff-hanger ending truly pissed me off and I was glad to have the 2nd book at my fingertips to continue and move out of that anger rut.  If I didn't have the 2nd book, and I wasn't intrigued by the mystery of Christian Grey, I might have been so angry that I would not have continued on to...

Fifty Shades Darker

50 Shades Darker

Here we delve further into the leading characters, Christian and Ana, their personal histories (including some major drama and trauma) and how they develop into a relationship together.  A very fast relationship... intense... with far fewer "smut" scenes in this book than in the first one.  This book is truly more along the lines of a typical "romance novel" hills and valleys of the romance between the hero and heroine than "housewife porn".  Don't like the first book because of the smut?  Then do continue on to the next two.  The plot seriously changes and there is much less of the "alternative BDSM" type of scenes.  Oh, and we add in a couple of antagonists (with guns and life threatening situations) in this book, setting up additional plot lines in the third book.

Technical review here again - SO seriously frustrated with the number of "Oh My" statements in Ana's head.  It was like a drinking game!  That and the two distinct personalities within Ana's mind (her "inner goddess" and her "subconscious") preening and dancing (goddess) or peering prudishly over her half-moon glasses (subconscious) every other paragraph... I was read to strangle all three of them!  *deep breath*  But if you can get past the not-very-good writing (I did)... keep moving forward to...

Fifty Shades Freed

50 Shades Freed

The final book in this trilogy and I had to push myself to get through it.  I read the first book in a matter of a day and a half, the second book in 3-5 days... the third book?  It took me a couple of weeks.  Now, to be fair to the book, I was extra busy, but I also wasn't called to it like I was the first one, and had to keep reminding me to finish it so I could pass it on to a friend.

What can I say about this book?  It is a continuation of the 2nd book, delving into Christian and Ana's more serious, now life-long commitment to each other, but still exploring Christian's mysterious effed up past, additional antagonist appearances and moving forward into the future.  I will not spoil this by sharing details, but I will say that getting past the Oh My's, the Inner Goddess and the Subconscious was much more difficult in this book, having had my fill in the first two installations.  What can I say... hmmm... well, it ended well.  It was a very happy, "romance novel" ending.  So... if you like that kind of stuff... read to the end and you will be very happy.

I was surprised to find an additional chapter at the end of this third book that shares with the reader Christian's mind and perspective of his and Ana's first meeting.  I do find it very entertaining to read things from the perspective of an alternate character.  Stephenie Meyer tried to do something like that for the first Twilight book, but it got leaked to the internet and she never completed it out of (rightful) anger.   It was fun to read, though.

Overall, I enjoyed the trilogy, but I didn't LOVE it.  If the line for reserving these books at the library hadn't been so large, I would have been happier to borrow them to read rather than buy them.  I would not read them again (which is a huge thing for me... because I do reread books that I love).  And I think the hype surrounding them is just that... hype. 

But then, as I've already stated, the smut books I read are much smuttier than the 2nd and 3rd... and perhaps even the 1st... in this trilogy.  So perhaps I'm just... jaded.  :)

Have you read any of the Fifty Shades books?  If not, do you intend to?  I'd love to hear what you have to say!


  1. I admit to having read the first one and being frustrated that a college graduate with a high gpa had such a limited vocabulary and still described her genitals in euphemisms. The whole inner goddess thing just made me laugh, but it is an overused trick, even in the first book. What I discovered is that I can't get Christian and Ana out of my head. Books 2 and 3 are on order. I already know not to expect much from the writing... but hey, I have a week at the beach coming up this month. And this stuff is nothing if not beach reading material!

  2. I totally agree with your view on the third book, as I too flew through the first one, slowed down a little in the second, and pretty much had to drag myself through the third.

    Being new to the genre - are there any of your favorite smut books that you could recommend?


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