Book Review: 50 Shades of Grey
Published: Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, April 3, 2012 13:04
50 Shades of Grey is a widely popular e-book written by E.L. James. Not yet published, this novel has already successfully fueled its way across America through a digital release. Amidst the raving buzz is a heavy dose of criticism for the novel’s sexual content and implied message.
Set from the perspective of the virgin protagonist, Anastasia Steele, 50 Shades of Grey depicts her encounters with Christian Grey, a self-made billionaire with a hidden side. They are attracted to each other, but their different experience levels and sexual interests complicate their relationship. Grey asks Anastasia to sign a contract that would allow them to enter a BDSM (bondage, dominance, submission and masochism) relationship. Inexperienced Anastasia is threatened by the thought of pain and violence replacing signature forms of love, and struggles throughout the novel with her decision.
Call it chick-lit, romance or erotica, this book is widely and appropriately considered “pornography for women.” The novel is comprised of enough sex scenes to near the double-digits, with witty banter and trite filler to transition from one steamy chapter to the next. Readers of the novel agree it’s addicting and hard to put down.
The novel, the first in the 50 Shades trilogy, started out as Twilight fan-fiction. James adapted her characters and tweaked the storyline to create the novel. The similarities are there: Christian’s old-school romantic, but dominating, demeanor easily resembles Edward Cullen’s personality. Anastasia’s ignorance of her effect on people as well as her constant insecurities resembles Bella Swan’s similar qualms. There are similarities, but enough differences to transcend into a successful new franchise.
50 Shades of Grey is a novel that, regardless of whether readers hate it or love it, is being talked about. Critics of the book admonish the controlling undertones, saying it depicts abuse and cultivates “rape fantasy” in readers’ minds. The book is a reflection of unhealthy relationships centered around dominance and submission.
Yes, there’s a lot of sex, and yes, the book touches on the BDSM fetish, but only slightly. The majority of sex scenes have a romantically erotic sense to them — “vanilla,” as James often refers to it. Pain, abuse and control are touched on, but so more through the personality of the characters and their individual histories. Readers may be put off by the theme of the book, but it shouldn’t be judged by this four-letter acronym alone. The dialogue is biting, the characters are endearing and the sex scenes will arouse readers to no end. If there’s ever been a book you shouldn’t judge by the cover, it’s 50 Shades of Grey.