Just in case there was any doubt in your mind, allow me to assure you that 50 Shades of Grey is very, very bad. The fact that its origins can be mentioned in the same breath as “Twilight fanfiction” doesn’t leave much room for confusion on this point, but all the same I feel this disclaimer is necessary lest you be at all tempted to read these books — even if it’s just to make fun of them.
While most amateur and professional reviewers have focused on the incredibly graphic nature of the book’s sex scenes (which are admittedly far less shocking if you’ve read any fanfiction before this), what no one is talking enough about are the unsexy and highly ridiculous plot points and character depictions in-between the whips-and-chains erotica.
Since I can only seem to get through about 10 pages a day before wanting to drown myself, I’ll break my coverage of this book into pieces. To start with, I’m going to introduce our dynamic two leads. Christian today, Anastasia on Monday.
So let’s get started.
Perhaps the only semblance of Twilight that the final product has retained is both the location (the Pacific Northwest) and the general looks and personalities of the two main characters.
First up is the Edward-inspired Christian Grey, the 27 year old telecommunications magnate who was adopted at age 4 and seems to harbor a deep secret that has led to his desire for a BDSM lifestyle that has rendered him incapable of engaging in a normal relationship. Christian is mysterious, controlling, wealthy, handsome, good-looking, hot, sexy, fit and also handsome.
How Christian managed to become a telecommunications magnate at 27 is never really explained, but all you need to know is that he is very young and very rich, because this is very, very impressive. As Anastasia (our yet-to-be introduced female lead!) so eloquently explains:
If this guy is over thirty, then I’m a monkey’s uncle.
What he does, or when he finds time to do it, is unimportant so long as it helps to establish that Christian has reached that level of fictional wealth seen only on reality TV or in books like this: someone who never seems to work, yet can afford to fly around in his private helicopter and take ladies on lavish dates, buying them cars, ball gags and first editions of Thomas Hardy novels on a whim.
Also, like Edward, Christian has “bronze” hair, which as I’ve explained before cannot be a natural hair color, but is rather the shade you wind up with after a bad bleach job. Unlike Edward, his hair is “streaked with copper,” which makes this particular hue sound even more like a bleach accident and less the tussled, wavy magnificence that the author is trying to sell us on. But apart from his implausible hair, everything about Chrisward is sexy — right down to his voice, which is described as “warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel… or something.”
Christian even wears pants in a sexy way. I have no idea what this means — so maybe someone can help me out — but EL James is obsessed with describing the way that his pants “hang from his hips,” which forces me to imagine that he’s constantly jutting out his hips at an unnatural angle like an abused, discarded Ken doll. Some examples, which might help to clarify things:
He’s wearing a white shirt, open at the collar, and gray flannel pants that hang from his hips. His unruly hair is still damp from a shower. My mouth goes dry looking at him… he’s so freaking hot.
Don’t let the above quote mislead you — there is a disappointing lack of unnecessarily detailed clothing descriptions in this book. Sure, there are more than you would ever find from a competent author, but Kristin Hannah has really spoiled me for long paragraphs on navy-blue boat-neck sweaters and crisp white chinos.
He’s in gray sweatpants that hang, in that way, off his hips and a gray sleeveless T-shirt which is dark with sweat, like his hair.
First, it sounds like he may need some kind of clinical anti-perspirant, but second: what is that way? What is it? How can EL James have such a clear idea of what she means and yet I’m stuck thinking that despite his wealth, Christian can’t help but buy pants several sizes too large that balloon out from his hips?
But don’t be fooled into thinking that he’s all brawn and no brains. He’s a real Renaissance man:
“You like classical music?” I ask, hoping for a rare insight into his personal preferences.
“My taste is eclectic, Anastasia, everything from Thomas Tallis to the Kings of Leon.”
Ah, yes — the Kings of Leon. Truly the poets of our generation.
Christian also plays the piano when he’s sad and alone and has the best taste in restaurants and Anastasia’s hair looks all dumb in the morning, but his always looks perfect and he wears Converse shoes because he’s still young and fresh and hip and sexy. Oh, also he’s a sadomasochist and something of a stalker — but, you know, a handsome one.
Which reminds me: if you’re going to read this book — and please, please don’t; the author does not need more encouragement — get ready for the most ellipses you’ve ever seen outside of a YouTube comment thread. I’m not sure why, but the poorly-educated and generally lazy love ellipses, as it seems to be the only form of punctuation they use with any regularity.
In any event, Christian is super crazy retarded good-looking — and don’t you forget it! Otherwise his sadomasochistic tendencies and general assholishness might start to make you question why a 22 year old virgin consents to a BDSM relationship with a man she barely knows.
He’s not merely good-looking — he’s the epitome of male beauty, breathtaking, and he’s here. Here in Clayton’s Hardware Store.
You’ve been told.
True story: Clayton’s Hardware was actually called Clayton’s Software Store until Christian penetrated its threshold for the first time. Wocka wocka.