Today: Jun 25, 2024

Review of the steamy “50 Shades of Grey”

The three installments of the "50 Shades of Grey" trilogy

Brianne KaneSpecial to the Southern News

            First, some context: it is exceptionally impressive this series is even being talked about, considering it started as fan fiction based on “Twilight” only to be published by a small Australian publishing company. But, alas, everyone has been talking about it. As most know, the novel (at first) focuses on Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey’s BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Sadism, Masochism) sexual relationship but it evolves to…sadly not much more.The first novel focuses on their immediate attraction, how far from similar these two are, and how odd and wrong Christian’s BDSM sexual preference is. The second book, they finally get together officially and are carefully navigating their relationship when an ex-submissive of Christians comes back, threatening them both. The third book, they marry and are living happily ever after until Jack Hyde (Anastasia’s former employer, who sexually harassed her and attempted to sexually assault her) threatens the entire Grey family – oh, and Anastasia gets pregnant.

            The sex scenes are done as well as anyone could expect (really, how many ways can you explain an orgasm without resorting to hyperbole and cheap onomatopoeia); I enjoyed the description of her “climbing” and then “spiraling down” once she climaxes and comes. One thing however that I did not like about these scenes were how typical they were and how unaware of her own body Anastasia was. Almost every time these two characters have sex it is Christian who initiates and has total control over the sex. Also, Anastasia’s character is very cliché when it comes to sex: she is a virgin who has never masturbated, and who has never even really heard of BDSM – no surprise this trilogy sprung from “Twilight” fan fiction. The biggest problem with the sex scenes in this series is sometimes it is confusing how consensual the sex actually is, on more than one occasion Anastasia feels unsure,  isn’t aroused for sex, or doesn’t want the specific sex play Christian wants – but they do it anyway, because Christian wants it. Usually in these circumstances, sometime during the act Anastasia feels aroused and enjoys Christian’s dominance but the problem is the lack of enthusiastic consent before the sex act has begun. Essentially, Christian rapes Ana on more than one occasion until later in their relationship when they have better discussions about what lines Anastasia doesn’t want to cross during sex.

The three installments of the "50 Shades of Grey" trilogy
The three installments of the “50 Shades of Grey” trilogy

            Anastasia and Christian’s arguing I enjoyed however because it made them interesting – the only time these characters were less cliché and more human was when they were fighting. I also liked that Anastasia argued with Christian at all, considering how submissive (no pun intended) she usually is with him. And Christian’s reaction to her arguing, although unrealistic and again cliché, was interesting to see evolve. How can arguing be so predictable and yet interesting you ask? Well I will tell you: his “lifestyle” involves him being dominant and in control at all available times and yet he puts up with Anastasia’s taking his control by arguing with him (to a point). It is cliché though because his “lifestyle” is seen as wrong, unnatural and something that he can be “cured” of and this is the biggest thing they argue about (the second being how controlling he is).

            Lastly, Anastasia’s inner goddess and subconscious are characters within their own. Her inner goddess is her libido, solely sexual and wet. Her subconscious on the other hand is judgmental and prudish, usually depicted as peering judgmentally over a classic British novel Anastasia is known for loving. But to be honest, they are both my favorite character: they are funny, creative, and never so boringly cliché as Anastasia and Christian.

            But now onto the tough stuff: the things I did not like at all about this novel. Firstly, the writing is simple and got lazier as the trilogy went on. It resorted to cheap plot twists (crazed ex-submissive, crazed ex-boss, attempted murder, stalking, mysterious accidents, accidental pregnancy, car accidents and comas – someone call General Hospital!) once the initial excitement of their sex was over; and the adjectives and grammar were elementary and repetitive. Also, Christian is far from the dreamy Adonis he is portrayed as: he is insanely controlling, snooping, emotionally crippled, boastful, self-hating, and anything but delicate with Anastasia (considering Anastasia’s only budding sexuality).

            My biggest criticism however is this:  it is so incredibly cliché it makes me weep. Of course she is a virgin who never masturbates! Of course he was incredibly abused as a child and now takes joy in abusing others with sex! Of course the person who introduced him to BDSM life style was a pedophiliac Mrs. Robinson type next door to him!! And of course, Anastasia’s mother bounces from husband to husband; and of course Anastasia doesn’t know her real father because he died when she was young. Of course one of Christian’s ex-submissives falls in love with him and has a psychotic break, trying to kill Anastasia for trying to change Christian. And of course Christian discovers, through his growing feelings and “vanilla” sex with Anastasia that he doesn’t need nor want the rough BDSM, essentially being “cured” by Ana (our perfect virginal princess). And of course she gets pregnant, and after his initial outrage he loves the idea of being a father and becomes the dream example of fatherhood.

            All in all, I couldn’t recommend this book for much more than a paper weight. If you’re looking for trashy, steamy sex scene – look elsewhere. If you’re looking for an intellectually stimulating literary piece – look anywhere but here.

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