Thursday, April 26, 2012

Book Club: 50 Shades of Grey {Review}

I love to read {as you probably have gathered}.  I also love to see what all the fuss is about when there's a new breakout trend ~  whether it be in entertainment, fashion, food or something else.  So when the buzz starting building {and building...and building...and exploding} about E.L. James' debut novel 50 Shades of Grey, I knew I had to check it out for myself.

If you've heard anything about this book, you know that it's got the literary world all atwitter over it's graphic, S&M-based sex scenes.  If you haven't heard anything about this book, you have most likely been living in a cave, away from the internet, television, newspapers, and bookstores, in which case you probably aren't reading this blog anyway.

From what I've gathered from the plethora of 50 Shades articles, interviews, and tidbits, 50 Shades began as a Twilight fanfic, although it has nothing to do with vampires and werewolves. {If you're unfamiliar with the world of fan fiction, read Wikipedia's explanation here}.  EL James is a wife and mother living in England, and 50 Shades was her first attempt at writing a novel {which became a trilogy}.  Side note for the wannabe novelists out there {myself included} ~ usually, the first piece you ever write does not skyrocket to the number one spot on the New York Times' Bestsellers List; it just doesn't.  James' 50 Shades trilogy was never intended for mass publication, to my understanding.  It simply gathered so much attention and popularity as a strictly-downloadable set that it ended up transitioning to print, and James has sold the movie rights as well.  {I have no idea how this can be adapted into a mainstream movie; absolutely no idea}.

I figured I would review this book as I review any other book ~ read it; give you an synopsis that goes a bit beyond what the book jacket tells you, without giving the entire story away, and give you my overall opinion on it.  Now that I've knocked out 10 or so chapters of 50 Shades, however, I'm going to take a different approach.  I am going to review the book section by section, as I read it, because I think my feelings on it may change daily.  I think I will see it through to the end, although as of today I'm not quite sure.  Today, I need a break from Christian Grey, without a doubt.  So instead of plowing through and reading a few more chapters, I'll review what I've read so far.

I bought all three books at once, figuring I'd plow right through them.  Now, I'm not so sure...

Day 1:  April 23, 2012
Started 50 Shades of Grey today and read through six chapters.  These chapters lay the foundation for the rest of the novel ~ we meet Anastasia Steele, a young and naive college senior; we meet Christian Grey, a cold, successful-beyond-his-years millionaire who is in his late twenties; and we meet a host of secondary characters such as Ana's roommate and best friend Kate, Ana's long-time friend Jose {who has romantic feelings for Ana that are not mutual}, Christian's brother Elliot, and a smattering of Christian's employees and Ana's acquaintances.

I probably would not have noticed the Twilight correlations if I didn't already know that this started out as a Twilight fanfic, but I can see the similarities.  Both stories take place in the state of Washington.  Ana is clumsy and awkward, like Bella.  Christian is cold and dangerous, like Edward, and warns Ana to stay away from him for her own safety, as Edward does with Bella.  Jose is the Jacob of 50 Shades ~ a friend of Ana's {almost a best friend} who wants nothing more than to be in a romantic relationship with her.

There is nothing overly scandalous in these first six chapters.  We are introduced to the characters and their personalities, and while foreshadowing into Christian's dark ways is abundant, Ana and Christian don't so much as kiss.

Day 2:  April 24, 2012
I continue reading 50 Shades, and in these chapters the "naughty" nature of the book starts to show.  Christian has made it clear that he would like a sexual relationship with Ana, but his type of sexual relationship is different than virtually any other you've ever read about in any other book.  For starters, involves a non-disclosure agreement and an extensive contract outlining the nature and rules of the relationship.  Ana sees what Christian refers to as his "playroom" {full of sex toys and...paraphernalia?}, and she is given the option of whether or not to enter a relationship with Christian.  He has an all-or-nothing approach to his relationships ~ do it my way, or no dice.  He doesn't do romance, he doesn't do "girlfriend"; straight up kinky sex, and that's about it.

Upon finding out that Ana is a virgin, Christian decides that the world of S&M is no way to be introduced to sex, so he breaks his own rules and has "vanilla" {as he calls it} sex with her.  Even these "vanilla" scenes are incredibly graphic ~ much what I would imagine reading a porn script is like {do porn movies have scripts?}.

Christian does show a softness and affection towards Ana; he holds her hand in public, he sleeps in the same bed with her on more than one occasion {going against another one of his rules}; and he even introduces her to his mother when she drops by unexpectedly.  {This, the man who refuses to have a girlfriend, ever}.  Is this foreshadowing into a relationship that turns more romantic in the future?  I'm not sure, but it seems like it.

By the time I wrap up for the night, Ana still hasn't decided whether or not to enter into a dominant/submissive sexual relationship with Christian.  I'm going to guess she decides to go for it...

Day 3:  April 25, 2012
I need a day off from the world of Christian and Ana.  50 Shades of Grey is a heavy book.  Not in weight {it's pretty standard in that department}, but in the tone of the book.  Christian is a dark, brooding character with a lot of issues {I think that's obvious}.  I also have no idea how realistic the having-to-sign-a-contract thing is ~ is that how S&M relationships work?  E.L. James says she did a lot of online research for this book, so I guess I'll take her word for it.  Still...

You can't possibly enter into the world of 50 Shades without knowing that there will be graphic, explicit sex scenes.  It's the reason there is so much buzz about the book in the first place.  I think it's fair to say if you are even remotely easily offended, this is not the book for you.  I am not easily offended, and I haven't even gotten to the S&M parts of the book yet, and already I just want to shout "Stop telling me about the sex already!  I don't want to know anymore!"  I'm just over it.  That's why I'm not sure I will wind up finishing the book ~ if I'm this over the sex scenes now, how I'm I going to feel halfway through the book, or three-quarters of the way through?

To be continued....?


{photo credit for first photo:}

1 comment:

  1. Keep reading!! I was at the same spot as you now I'm a litle further from reading last night. You can't stop - not now. Over the sex scenes Jillian?? how??? LOL, I understand about the dominating part and all the messed up toys and stuff but just keep reading their agreement is not what it seems as of right now. I think they will learn to compromise. I opinion. Again I'm only a little ways ahead of you.