Subject: doctorlit reviews Fifty Shades of Grey (spoils, SFW?)
Posted on: 2018-04-07 04:48:00 UTC

I was going to lead off with some hyperbolic defense of my choosing to read this novel, which I thought would very cleverly mirror Anastasia’s stubbornness and free spirit in the face of Christian’s controlling tendencies. But I just don’t have the energy. Let’s get this over with.

Other than mentioning the word “sex” sometimes, I think I’ve managed to keep this safe for work. Unless the word “sex” is too much, in which case, click away. Spoilers for only the first novel of the Fifty Shades trilogy.

This was dull. This was, by far, the least interesting novel I’ve read since The Magic Mountain, although at least Fifty Shades of Grey was shorter. Being asexual, I’m hardly a stranger to waiting for pointless sex scenes to end so the plot can continue. Well, FSoG is basically all the “waiting to end” part, and almost no discernable plot. And I get it, I’m obviously not the target audience. But there should still be something happening in a story, and for several wonderful chapters at the start of this novel, it really seemed like that was a possibility. I convinced myself that it was hinting at Christian doing something interesting in his business practices. Maybe something heroic and selfless, maybe something shady and illegal. But something. And maybe he actually was; Ana overhears some of his phone conversations throughout the novel, and maybe the reader is supposed to piece clues together from those dialogues and figure out what he’s doing? If so, I wasn’t smart enough to figure it out. Maybe answers are revealed in the following books, but I’m not going to read those. But most probably, I was just tricking myself into looking for plot threads that weren’t really there. The point of the book is the sex scenes, and sex scenes that go nowhere aren’t a way to carry a plot.

Knowing that FSoG started out life as a fanfiction, I really thought it would be a lot more amusing than it is. I mean, most of us have read a sex scene in a fic that’s just so awkwardly written, it becomes hilarious. But no. It was all just straightforward sex. I found myself wanting to skip past them all to look for more . . . dialogue, and . . . whatever. There wasn’t much else to look forward to, but at least people talking to each other is something I can relate to.

Christian Grey. Good Lord, what a wasted character. Orphaned early, survived trauma, grew up rich, constantly bored, uses his wealth to fight world hunger, learned to fly airplanes and gliders and heaven knows what else. Do you see it? How very close Christian was to being Batman? Or at the very least, Sherlock Holmes. You’re so bored, Mr. rich executive man, why don’t you go out and solve some dang crimes? But it’s that control freak portion of his personality that ruins it all. Yeah, he does charitable efforts through his company, but he’s also got his huge, fancy house, his private helicopter, his demands for the biggest suites in the hotel, his personal staff. One side of the coin tarnishes the other. It leaves little for the reader to feel endeared to the character in any way.

Anastasia Steele, on the other hand, surprised me. I’ll admit I like her quite a bit. Her “innocence,” as the novel kept putting it, about romance makes it all the more impressive that she consistently stands up to Christian. She doesn’t accept that the rich dude should get whatever he wants, but makes her own needs clear, and fights against Christian’s expectations of her where she feels they would get in the way of her own life. Best of all, she looks at this potential relationship of nothing-but-sex and demands more from it. And Christian starts to follow down her path, beginning to feel romantic love for Ana. My one complaint about Ana is that she keeps putting pressure on Christian to let her touch him, even after he expressed that being touched reminded him of his mysterious childhood abuse. I realize that the power dynamic between them is terribly skewed, but he’s essentially telling her that he has an emotional trigger, and she keeps trying to do it anyway because dat body be hotty. Like, no. Christian made so many concessions to her through the course of the novel, it’s pretty disrespectful of her to not recognize this one personal limit of his.

But that drift towards an equal, loving relationship that characterized the second half of the novel makes the ending feel all the more abrupt and jarring. It seemed like they were heading down a path of compromise and working together to make the relationship function for both of them. I was even starting to like Christian a bit more, since he was allowing Ana some control over him. . . And then, literally in the last four pages, it rather felt like the author forced the resurgence of some of the earlier conflict between them to break them apart again. On the one hand, I get it: two more books. But on the other, did there really need to be more books? Maybe it’s not even my place to say, being ace and maybe/probably aromantic, but . . . even after not really enjoying the rest of the novel, the ending still managed to disappoint me. It just felt very artificial.

The one thing keeping me sane through this novel was Taylor. (Well, that and picturing Christian as a giant, sentient aye-aye in a business suit.) Taylor is Christian’s . . . “butler” for lack of a better word. His specialty is not being in a place, then suddenly being in the place when Christian needs something. Is he a supernatural being? I know in my head he can’t be, because this is a realistic Earth setting, but in my heart, I desperately need him to be a supernatural being. The universe was spawned from the Twilight one, so it must have some supernatural elements in it, right? Heck, it could even be set in Twilight, for all we know. Taylor = glitterpire confirmed, Taylor is best character confirmed, I love you, Taylor, you kept me sane, you deserve so much more.

Oh, one cool thing about the cover of my paperback copy. “Fifty Shades” is written in white, and “of Grey” is in a very light grey, but in certain lighting, like in my pantry, the colors reverse. It’s quite a cool effect, and fits the title very well. Kudos to the cover designer. When a PPCer is complimenting the cover designer, you know he is fishing for things to say.

Enough of this. If you’re looking forward to me reading the sequels, don’t. I’m not reading them.

—doctorlit is glad his subconscious will stop coming up with objectively unfunny jokes now, like when the cricket crawled up out of a sink drain, and he thought to himself, “Fifty shades of cricket.”

I can hardly contain the riotous feelings—or are they spoilers?—that rampage through my body. I can hardly contain the riotous feelings—or are they spoilers?—that rampage through my body. I can hardly contain the riotous feelings—or are they spoilers?—that rampage through my body.

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