A few weeks ago, I saw and read more than one interview/article talking about E.L. James and her book FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. My interest, sparked by all of the controversy, led me to download a preview of the book to my Kobo. After reading the preview, I admit I was hooked. I wasn't hooked by the fact that the story centered around a relationship between a so-called older wealthier man and a so-called younger virginal girl or even that the story concerned BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Sadism and Masochism), I was hooked because for some reason I just had to know what happened. It was like watching a train wreck - I knew it was going to happen, I knew someone was going to get hurt yet I couldn't look away.
This is NOT an actual review but more of a RANT about all of the hoopla surrounding this book so I hope you'll stick with me on this. I can't give you a review as I will not have read the whole story unless I read all three books.
I'm still confused about what exactly IS the controversy regarding this book. I heard some experts say that it was damaging to women. That a story such as this where an older wealthier man of power taking advantage of a younger innocent girl gives women of all ages a warped sense of romance. That a woman fantasizing about such relationships is dangerous to her sense of self-worth.
EXCUSE ME - did they read the book? Because I did and that's NOT what I read.
First of all, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY is NOT a romance novel - not in the true sense anyway. It's been said that this trilogy is a spin-off of sorts of the Twilight series. Although, this author makes it a contemporary minus the paranormal aspects, it's said she drew her original inspiration from the romance that existed between a hundred year old vampire and an innocent young teenager. Of course, I've also heard comparisons to the movie PRETTY WOMAN which I actually see more readily than any comparison to Twilight.
Quite often when I read Ana Steele begging for more from the relationship (she means emotional connection not beatings), I was actually reminded of Vivian, the prostitute, telling her millionaire client, Edward that she wanted more - she wanted the fairy tale.
Whereas with both the Twilight series and PRETTY WOMAN, I felt the emotional attraction as well as the physical and felt the romance surrounding the characters but in FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, you experience only angst, humiliation, anger, resentment and intimidation. There is no happy ending here. In fact, it ended with angry tears and a line that read END OF PART ONE. Imagine my disgust when after reading the entire book on my Kobo, I reached the last page and saw that. If I want to see if Christian ever gets his head out of his ass or if Ana ever grows a pair and tells him where to shove his so that they can possibly fall in love, I have to read two more books. SO EXPERTS - don't compare this book to Romance Novels. It is NOT one and never will be.
Secondly, everything I've read or seen in regards to this book talked about this OLDER wealthier man taking advantage of a YOUNGER VIRGINAL GIRL.
Okay, Christian Grey is wealthy, very wealthy but OLDER? Read the book. He's supposed to be some kind of business genius who has made his millions and yet is only around 30 years old. Oh my, that's ancient, isn't it?
As for Ana Steele ... oh my, well, she is younger - a whole 8 years maybe, she IS innocent and a virgin, mainly because she's never ever been on a real date. She's a graduating senior from university and she's never really been kissed or much of anything else. That doesn't really make her innocent, it just makes her strange by today's social standards. She has extremely low self esteem and envies her roommate and best friend who has no problems getting action whenever and with whomever she pleases. You'd think after living together for four years, that some of Kate would have rubbed off on Ana, but it didn't.
Christian Grey is a controlling, self-absorbed, emotionally unavailable man who knows immediately that Anastasia Steele is a shy young woman with absolutely no self-confidence who is completely enamoured of him. Whether he is truly attracted to her or to her flaws which make her a perfect target for his dominating ways, I'm still not sure. Whether Ana is truly in love with Christian which is the only reason she submits to his rules and perversions, I'm still not sure. Frankly, I see a young woman with intelligence but lacking in social skills who finds herself intimidated yet completely infatuated with this handsome, intelligent, well versed and very wealthy man who shows her the first real sexually desirable attention that she's ever known. Is she in love with him? I don't think so. I don't feel it. I feel her lust, her need to win him, her need to convince herself that she is truly able to attract such a man. I feel Ana's need to be with Christian as a purely sexual one much the same way that Christian's only need to be with Ana is to satisfy his need to be totally in control of another human being.
Strangely enough, I found Christian Grey attractive except when he was knee-deep into his strange proclivities then my stomach turned as I read the passages. I found some of the BDSM scenes surprisingly sensuous but most of them made me tense and highly disturbed. In particular, the scene when Christian arrives at Ana's apartment after she sends him a sarcastic email. The author can call it what she wants but I read a rape scene that left Ana feeling used, humiliated, and emotionally crushed. Just because a woman is sexually aroused by a man, any man, doesn't mean that she wants the sex. Christian Grey doesn't make love, he doesn't even f--k as he refers to it - he TAKES!! He takes it when ever and where ever he wants. He may say that he is all about giving his Submissive pleasure through which he gains his own but I think he's full of bull and so is the author of this book. This is no romance but rather a study in emotional avoidance and sadistic control.
The author has set up Christian as a tormented, emotionally devoid man even incapable of accepting a gentle touch or any sign of affection. He hates to be touched. He's a man who claims he doesn't date or sleep in the same bed with a woman because he has no need to do so. We see Christian go against these rules with Ana which leads us to believe he might actually be developing human emotions in regard to her but at the same time, he treats her as an object. He approaches her with his offer to let her into his life, into his secrets yet when she informs him that she is a virgin, he's annoyed by this news. Instead of turning her away, he merely shrugs it off and proceeds to remedy the situation. Ana's first experience with sex is one where she is told she cannot touch him, she cannot do anything but lie there, her hands tied with his necktie, and allow him to do his thing. He keeps telling her that everything he does is for HER pleasure which, of course, she believes because she knows nothing else. She has nothing to compare his lovemaking to and so accepts it.
Christian wants desperately for Ana to enter into an agreement whereas whenever they are together or in his red room of pain, as she calls it, Ana is to submit to him in every way but only according to her own stipulations in the agreement. The only problem is that she never actually signs this agreement yet Christian begins to treat her not just as his Submissive when they are together but all of the time. I've researched BDSM enough over the years and seen enough programs referencing it to know this is not the norm. What Christian really wants from Ana is TPE - Total Power Exchange. This is a relationship where he is the Dominant and she the Submissive all of the time, 24/7 and it's not just a temporary, in the bedroom thing, it's all of the time. Christian monitors her every move, who she sees, where she goes, what she drives, what she eats and even what she wears. If she does anything at all that he doesn't like, he threatens her with punishment. Rarely, does he reward her when she does what he wants without his asking. Geez, Ana even mentally refers to him as a stalker. HELLO!
The most romantic, tender, caring thing he ever does is to take her for a ride in a glider which she later refers to as the most special moment of their time together. That certainly doesn't say a whole lot about the time they've spent together, does it? I kept hoping that Ana's enthusiasm for a normal relationship, her influence on him that made him actually want to sleep at her side and to date her, and to actually take her home to meet his family would result in Christian's defenses breaking down. I kept hoping he would curl up in Ana's arms and weep like the unloved child he feels he was. Christian is tormented. Tormented by the meager memories of the first four years of life which I can only assume held a lot of abuse which has left him incapable of showing affection or accepting affection. He sees a psychiatrist but frankly, I think he needs a better one. As for Ana, I think she needs to spend the night in the arms of another man, any man, who will treat her like a woman and not a whipping post.
You're probably thinking, 'geez, she really hated this book' - well, the truth of it is, that I honestly don't know yet. You see, I will admit that once I started reading it, it was seriously difficult to put down. It's been touted as highly erotic and explicit but frankly, I've read much more explicit sex scenes in some of our Happily Ever After Romance Novels than I read in this one. The BDSM scenes were not horrific just unlikable because of the way that Christian was presented in them. He gets aroused by stifling others, controlling others, and giving pain to others. He's not about truly giving pleasure to anyone, not even his family. I can't say if I like or dislike this story because I haven't finished reading it. I have to read two more books to know what actually happens and whether or not I will be satisfied with the end result. Will I read the other two books? I don't honestly know that either. I have not purchased them but I have read the preview for the second one, FIFTY SHADES DARKER and I have the preview for the third, FIFTY SHADES FREED available on my Kobo. At ten dollars a pop, I'll have to wait and decide at a later date if I'll read them - perhaps when I honestly have nothing else to read. But I will say this, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY did nothing for my thoughts of fantasizing and it certainly didn't lower my sense of self-worth. So experts, look for damage elsewhere because you WON'T find it here.
So what do you think of all the hoopla over this book? Will you read it? Have you read it? If you have, I'd love to hear what you thought of it. Please tell me if I'm way off base.
Happy Reading Everyone!!
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