Fifty Shades Trilogy Review

As you may know, I sporked the first book, Fifty Shades of Grey. I stopped after the first book, not because the series broke me, but because there was really nothing left to write about. A sporking is constrained by the source material, and with material as repetitive and boring as Fifty Shades it’s bound to get dull.

Still, I wanted to review the series as a whole to delve into the mind-boggling excruciating badness that is Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed. Let’s begin!

I think there’s one question on everyone’s mind, and that is how the abomination that is the Fifty Shades trilogy got to be so popular? Everyone and their mother is reading it, although even the book’s fans admit it’s a crock of shit. It’s sold an astonishing 40+ million copies worldwide, and made the news when it became the best-selling book series of all time on amazon.co.uk, which means…well, jack shit. It’s amusing that it outsold another series on one website in one country, but it’s not like it’s outselling Harry Potter. 40 million copies is pretty impressive, I admit. Harry Potter sold 450 million. Let me know when you’ve sold another 400 million, James, and I might give a shit.

That being said, there are three contributing factors to Fifty Shades’ surprising success:

1. Everyone likes porn.

This one is simple. People like sex. A lot. Men and woman consume it in very different mediums, but it’s one of the most basic, fundamental drives within humans. Fifty Shades of Grey is porn, plain and simple, and it’s a rather unique kind of porn for a lot of people.

2. It follows the Twilight model.

Twilight, which has sold about 116 million copies, is also incredibly popular despite being incredibly shitty. It found its niche by creating a bland, characterless heroine so readers could insert themselves into the story, added an incredibly handsome idealistic man (with a dark side!), threw in a twist (vampires!) and started counting the money. Fifty Shades of Grey is Twilight fan fiction, and it had a built-in audience of every sexually frustrated fan of the Twilight series who desperately wanted Bella and Edward to just take their clothes off and fuck.

3. It’s uncracked The Da Vinci Code.

The Da Vinci Code is similar to Fifty Shades of Grey in that they’re both poorly written, they’re both somewhat controversial, and they both sold more copies than anyone would consider reasonable. The last reason is due to, in part, self-fulfilling prophecy. At a certain point, something is so popular that everyone keeps hearing about it. This causes other people to go out and purchase it. Regardless of whether these individuals enjoy it, it keeps up sales, which keeps it at the top of the bestseller lists, which keeps it in the public consciousness, which drives more sales. I personally kept hearing people blather on about Fifty Shades of Grey until I finally I went out and bought a copy to see what all the fuss was about. But don’t take my word for it. Go check out all the 1-star reviews on Amazon that talk about how they decided to buy it due to all the hype only to discover it was a poorly written crock of shit. Sure, it’s a negative review, but they’re not hurting James’ sales.

Plagiarism

This book is fanfiction, and therefore plagiarism. Nothing would make me happier than to see E.L. James and company be hit with a huge multi-million dollar lawsuit for ripping off the Twilight series. Unfortunately, if it hasn’t happened by now, it’s unlikely that it will ever happen. Still: this is fundamentally plagiarism. James is profiting off the work of another writer. Sure, the book is no longer explicitly about Edward Cullen and Bella Swan having kinky vampire sex, but the characters are essentially the same. This story came into life as Twilight fanfiction.

James and her publishers claim that the original fanfic, titled “Masters of the Universe,” was substantially rewritten into the Fifty Shades trilogy, and that they were “two distinctly separate pieces of work.” This is bullshit. If you write fan fiction and then change the names around to make it unique, it’s still fan fiction, still a knockoff, and you’re still a shitty writer who can’t come up with your own characters and locations.

I wanted to find out exactly how different the two stories were, and happily, someone had already done the work for me. Please do read the linked article, but if you’d rather not, let me sum it up. They ran the two manuscripts through several comparison engines. According to Turninit (a program designed to catch plagiarism), the two works were 89% the same. EIGHTY-NINE FUCKING PERCENT. That’s the difference between changing all the names, removing the vampire references, and a very light edit.

E L James, you are a disgusting sack of shit.

But, that being said, let’s really delve into the wonder of Fifty Shades and why it’s one of the worst-written books of the last hundred years.

The Length

Much of the criticism leveled against the Twilight series is that nothing ever fucking happens. Fifty Shades makes Twilight seem like the most action-packed novel since The Princess Bride. And, despite there being absolutely no plot whatsoever, the series is excruciatingly long. Case in point: the four Twilight books total about 571,000 words in length, whereas the three Fifty Shades books are 621,000 words long.

The Repetition

Unsurprisingly for someone who has only ever written fan fiction, James is a terrible writer. In a series that is already incredibly repetitive, James feels the need to describe things the exact same way every fucking time. Example: her much-derided “inner goddess” bits, which are a rather clever idea in the same way that Hitler’s invasion of Russia was a clever idea. For the uninitiated, it’s basically the thoughts of Ana’s sluttier subconscious. They include such gems as “My inner goddess bounces up and down like a small child waiting for ice cream” and “My inner goddess jerks away suddenly, all disheveled with a just-fucked look” and “My inner goddess is bouncing about like a five-year-old.” It’s simultaneously creepily disturbing and stupid. The first time you ask yourself “The fuck is this?” The second time is mildly amusing, and by the third time you’re done with it. Unfortunately, this inner goddess nonsense is used 150 times throughout this series. One hundred and fifty fucking times.

Still, maybe some readers found the repetition of the inner goddess parts to be amusing. It doesn’t stop there. For example, throughout the first couple of books Christian and Ana use condoms. Nothing wrong with safe sex, right? It’s described the exact same way all 31 times: a “foil packet”. Now, a discerning reader might ask why she needs to describe the condoms at all? Who gives a fuck, there’s nothing sexy or interesting about the act of putting on a condom. At the very least, couldn’t you mix it up a bit? Something like “He slides the condom down his Jack Johnson and dives into me like Michael Phelps doing the 100 meter butterfly.”

Ana has a couple favorite phrases – variations of the word ‘crap’, which is used 194 times and “Jeez” which is used 219 times. Christian doesn’t really have a catchphrase besides “Laters, baby” which I would expect to find in an adolescent’s text message history instead of an erotic romance fanfic. Still, it’s used 24 times.

Like most shitty authors, James has an aversion to the word “said.” You see, any writer worth his or her salt will tell you to use “said” as a dialogue tag almost all the time. The reason is simple: dialogue should stand on its own and if you know what you’re doing the reader will be able to pick up on how the character is saying it. There are exceptions, certainly, but “said” should be used around 90% of the time. Christian (and Ana, to a much lesser extent) are very fond of murmuring, doing it an astonishing 770 times throughout this literary abortion. They also whisper 828 times, which is not a typo. They also like smirking (217 times), blushing (116 times), flushing (277 times), gasping (182 times), saying “oh my” (186 times), and scowling (120 times).

Lastly, some special mention should be made of the title. Most authors don’t include the title of their books inside the book itself unless it makes sense in context. Christian frequently refers to himself as being “fifty shades of fucked up,” which sounds retarded, and Ana uses “Fifty” as a nickname for him, even though it’s stupid and doesn’t make sense in context. Honestly, how often do people use “fifty shades” in casual conversation unless it’s to describe shitty erotica? At any rate, it’s used 66 times.

The Setting

EL James is a middle-aged British woman. I don’t expect her to know what American college students in the Pacific Northwest talk like. However, if she intends to write a book about them, I do expect her to do her bloody homework, and if not her, perhaps her editors? If there were any?

Ana has a “smart rucksack” (we call them backpacks, thank you) and characters frequently head off on “holiday”, which is called “vacation” in the US of A. “Arse” is used 13 times, which we never use. I think it’s the mention of the pram that is most unforgivable, even though that only happens once. A close second would be ringing someone, rather than calling them. And, of course, pain “smarts”, a word that is used in America exactly never.

The Characters

There really aren’t any characters worth noting in this series. Much like Twilight, only the minor characters are remotely interesting. Out of the entire series, I like Christian’s bodyguard, Taylor, the most. He’s barely even a character at all, but he’s the only genuinely nice one, and the only person I can actually sympathize with. Still, that’s like saying Bill the Pony is your favorite character from Lord of the Rings. Bill’s fucking awesome, but he’s not exactly important to the plot and basically is an extended cameo.

Almost everyone else can be summed up the following way:

[name] is [Christian’s/Ana’s] acquaintance. They do not do much and could be
excised entirely without changing the plot in any significant way.

But let’s delve into our main characters:

Anastasia Steele

Ana is bland, uninteresting, nondescript, has no quirks or interesting personality traits or really anything about her that makes her even remotely interesting. She is a blank slate, existing for the reader to insert herself into Ana’s place to live through the fantasy of this wish-fulfillment novel. Sound familiar?

Here is a side-by-side comparison of their interests:

That’s it. I’m actually being rather nice here – the books aren’t really much of an interest for either character since they’re not significant or influential toward the plot. But at least it’s an actual described interest.

Christian Grey

Christian disgusts me. Not because he’s a manipulative, controlling douchebag, although that disgusts me as well. It’s mostly because he’s ridiculously over-the-top insanely perfect. You thought Edward Cullen was ridiculously perfect? He has nothing on Christian Grey. Let’s go through this:

Sure, he’s a control freak, and the book does actually portray this as a bad thing, unlike the Twilight series. And he has a dark past. Both of these give him that coveted edgy Bad Boy with a Heart of Gold status.

Despite Christian’s unnerving lip fetish, the way his pants hang off his hips, and his Mysterious Past, he’s still an incredibly dull, one-dimensional character. He has no redeeming qualities and the only real conflict throughout the series is whether or not he’s going to stop treating Ana like a piece of shit.

The Plot (or lack thereof)

Here’s where this series really goes to hell, though. Nothing. Fucking. Happens. Many people have complained about how little actually happens throughout the Twilight series. Compared to Fifty Shades of Grey, Twilight is an action-packed thriller.

It’s readily apparent that Fifty Shades came to life as serial fiction. There’s almost no overarching plot and it’s very serialized, especially about halfway through the series, when it devolves into each chapter featuring arguing, sex, and some little plot nugget. I could almost picture James hunched over her keyboard thinking to herself “Okay, new update time. Gotta include a sex scene to satisfy my horny readers, and I’ll have them argue about how controlling Christian is to show that Ana is Spunky and has a spine, and then I better throw in a reference to Jack Hyde or Leila to remind them that yes we have a plot!”

Here’s a complete timeline of the trilogy, just to help you out:

Fifty Shades of Grey

May 6: Ana interviews Christian Grey.
May 13: Grey visits Ana in the hardware store where she works.
May 15: Jose photographs Grey for Kate and Ana.
May 20: End of classes – Ana gets drunk, Grey tracks her cell phone and hunts her down
May 21: They fly to Seattle, discuss the NDA, his rules, and they fuck.
May 22: They fuck.
May 23: Grey gives her a MacBook. He shows up. They fuck.
May 24: Argue about the list.
May 25: Date!
May 26: Graduation! Grey gives her an Audi. They fuck. He spanks her. They fuck again.
May 27: Grey spends the night. He gives her a BlackBerry.
May 28: Ana and Kate move to Seattle.
May 29: Kinky fucking in the Red Room of Pain. They meet Grey’s parents for dinner, and then fuck in the boathouse. Then they go home and fuck again.
May 30: They fuck on Grey’s desk. Ana interviews at SIP, then takes off for Georgia.
May 31: They exchange emails.
June 1: Grey shows up in Georgia. They fuck.
June 2: They go gliding.
June 3: Ana flies back to Seattle. They fuck. Then they fuck again. Ana asks him to show her how bad it can be. After Grey beats her ass, she breaks up with him.

Fifty Shades Darker

June 6: Grey sends her flowers.
June 7: Ana is miserable and cries a lot.
June 8: Grey emails her asking to go to Jose’s gallery opening.
June 9: They fly to Portland in Grey’s helicopter. After some discussion, they realize they are still in love with each other and try to make things work. Grey gives her an iPad.
June 10: They email each other while Ana is at work. Afterward, she hits up a bar with Jack Hyde and has a weird encounter with a strange woman, who is Leila, Grey’s crazy ex-submissive. Grey shows up at the bar and later reveals that he’s bought SIP where Ana works. They fuck. Then they fuck again, with ice cream.
June 11: Ana wants a haircut. Grey takes her to a place run by Mrs. Robinson, the woman who fucked him when he was 15. This displeases Ana. They argue. Then they fuck, twice. They go to a masked ball and a dance with Ana is auctioned off for charity. Grey wins with a $100,000 bid. He spanks her and they fuck.
June 12: Someone slashes the tires on Ana’s Audi. Ana and Grey go to a hotel to be safe and they fuck twice. Grey takes her to a car dealership and buys her a Saab 9-3 to replace her damaged Audi, and then they go sailing in Grey’s yacht. On which they fuck. Then they go home, argue over whether Ana gets to go to work the next day. Grey spanks her and fucks her.
June 13: Ana and Grey email while Ana is at work. Jack Hyde wants Ana to go to a conference with him, Grey says no, Ana says yes, so Grey pulls strings behind the scenes to make it impossible for her to go. Jack Hyde hits on her. Grey and Ana fuck in the elevator.
June 14: They fuck on the piano. Ana and Grey email while Ana is at work. Afterwards, Grey drives Ana to her apartment to pick up her friend Ethan…but Leila is inside with a gun!!!! Grey comes in and takes the gun away and they bundle Leila off to a psychiatric hospital. Problem solved! Grey asks her to marry him.
June 15: They fuck. Ana and Grey email while Ana is at work. At the end of the day after everyone’s gone, Jack tries to blackmail Ana into having sex with him because of all the personal emails she’s been sending. Ana kicks him in the balls and runs outside, and Grey calls the CEO of SIP and has Jack fired and escorted out of the building by security within minutes. Problem solved! Then they fuck.
June 16: They fuck. Ana gets promoted to replace Jack. She emails Grey while at work. After, Grey shows her the mansion where they could live if they got married. They get dinner, he fingers her in an elevator with other people present, and they fuck.
June 17: Ana gets drinks with her friends. Then discovers that Grey’s helicopter, with him in it, HAS GONE MISSING. There is four pages of terror, then Grey shows up, alive and completely unharmed. Whew!
June 18: As a birthday present, Ana agrees to marry Grey! They fuck. Then they go to the Red Room of Pain and engage in kinky fuckery. There’s a confrontation with Mrs. Robinson who insults Ana, Grey tells her to fuck off, they announce their engagement, and the book ends with someone plotting their demise.

Fifty Shades Freed

June 19: They discuss prenups.
Aug 1: Wedding!
Aug 2-15: Honeymoon and fucking.
Aug 16: They fuck and he buys incredibly expensive paintings and jewelry for her.
Aug 17: Ana goes shopping and buys expensive things. They fuck.
Aug 19: Honeymoon ends.
Aug 21: They are pursued home by an unknown person. When they get home, they fuck in the car. Then they fuck again, several more times.
Aug 22: Grey tells Ana that after a year, he is going to give her SIP to run as a wedding gift. They fuck.
Aug 23: They fuck.
Aug 25: Ana goes out drinking with Kate, which pisses Christian off. When they get home, they find that Jack Hyde has broken in! But security takes him down without a problem.
Aug 26: Grey is absolutely furious that she went out with Kate instead of staying home, even though if she’d stayed home as he wanted she would have been in the house when an armed psychopath broke in. They fuck. Then they fuck again. And again.
Aug 27: Ana and Grey go to Aspen, Colorado. They go shopping. They fuck. Elliot proposes to Kate. They go clubbing. A guy hits on Ana on the dance floor so Ana slaps him across the face and then Christian punches him.
Aug 28: They fuck several times.
Sep 5: Leila shows up and Christian flips his shit because the bodyguards weren’t supposed to let her see Ana, even though Ana demanded it and made it happen. They fuck.
Sept 9: Ana’s father has been in an accident! OH GOD NO! Turns out he’s okay.
Sept 10: Her birthday!
Sept 11: They fuck. Later, Ana finds out she’s pregnant.
Sept 13: Ana freaks out. They talk. Grey freaks out and splits and talks to Mrs. Robinson. Ana flips her shit.
Sept 15: Jack Hyde calls. He’s kidnapped Christian’s little sister, Mia. Ana pulls off a daring rescue by herself but bumps her head. Jack is arrested.
Sept 16: She wakes up in the hospital.
Sept 17: Christian finds out that he and Jack go way back to the same foster home! For no real reason.
Sept 19: They fuck.
Sept 21: They fuck.
Flashforward to 2014. They have a kid!

Yes, you read that right. They get engaged six weeks after they first lay eyes on each other. They get engaged nine days after they’ve broken up and gotten back together. The entire trilogy takes place over a 4 ½ month span, during which time basically nothing happens. About 95% of the series is them arguing, emailing, eating, and fucking. 3% is irrelevant things happening between the other things, and 2% is actual action, of the remarkably idiotic type. The two action beats, if you will, are Leila, the crazed sub, who stalks them for awhile then apologizes and that’s that, and Jack Hyde, who stalks them for awhile, kidnaps Mia, is arrested and that’s that. Neither of these “plots” actually affect the characters in any meaningful way, although it provides more ways for Christian to be ridiculously controlling and them to get into arguments.

The series is porn. It’s a long series of sex scenes with bits of plot and dialogue to string the scenes together.

The Wish Fulfillment

One of the primary reasons this series is a piece of shit is the blatant wish fulfillment. Both characters are Mary-Sues to an ludicrous degree, and the entire series is nothing but blatant wish fulfillment for women. You graduate college and fall in love with one of the wealthiest, most attractive men on the planet; immediately are hired and then promoted at your dream job; you live in his penthouse while traveling the country first class or private plane, enjoying his chauffeurs and his yacht and helicopter; he showers you with ridiculously expensive gifts including multiple cars; then you get married and go on a honeymoon to London and Paris and stay on ANOTHER yacht, distracting yourself by going shopping with your black AMEX credit card, take off on vacation to your vacation home in Colorado, then jet back home to decide how you want your dream mansion overlooking Puget Sound to be built, and all of this is interspersed with incredibly kinky mind-blowingly-good sex.

BDSM

You know why people like BDSM? Because they were abused as children.

Source: Fifty Shades of Grey.

Control Freak

I’ve mentioned numerous times that Christian Grey is a pathological control freak. In this, he imitates Edward Cullen, except he’s ten times the control freak Edward was. Theoretically, I should give Fifty Shades of Grey some credit for actually drawing attention to his controlling nature and portraying it as a negative thing, however, I will also have to remove credit for the fact that Ana always gives in and lets Christian have his way, refuses to take a stand, and basically lets him walk all over her and more or less dictate her every move while she smiles bemusedly and murmurs inwardly at how controlling he is. And then she’s rewarding with amazing sex. Nice work, James. After all, that’s how most hyper controlling relationships in real life work out, isn’t it?

Let me give you just one example. This is immediately after Ana went out to get a couple drinks with Kate, and when they got home security subdued Jack Hyde, who was there to kidnap her. Setting aside that security for Christian’s penthouse is absolutely atrocious, let’s dive into this and start with an email Ana sends to Christian, pointing out he’s full of shit, on page 230:

Had I been FULLY INFORMED of the situation, I would have taken a different course of action.

(later)

So are you going to tell me? Or will you continue to treat me like a child, guaranteeing that I continue to behave like one?

You are not the only one who is fucking pissed, Okay?

This is actually pretty standard for much of this trilogy, and it’s the beginning of something that would theoretically be good. Ana is standing up for herself, pointing out that Christian is being a hyper controlling douchebag, and that he needs to get his shit together and stop being a male chauvinist.

Ana gets home and Christian has slutted himself up in his ripped dreams, and is doing his combination of flirtatious rage and anger, which is slightly terrifying. He has a printout of her email.

My gaze returns to his, as his eyes blaze bright with anger.

Uh.

The following will be edited, but take it from me, I am not using creative editing to change the meaning of this piece at all.

“Why did you fly back from New York?” I whisper

[snip]

“Because you went back on your word, and you defied me, putting yourself at unnecessary risk.”

[snip]

“Christian, I changed my mind,” I explain slowly, patiently, as if he’s a child. “I’m a woman. We’re renowned for it. That’s what we do.”

He blinks at me as if he doesn’t comprehend this.

[snip]

“You changed your mind?” He can’t hide his contemptuous disbelief.

[snip]

“This morning, I wanted to punish you, badly.”

[snip]

“You were worried you’d hurt me?”

[snip]

“I didn’t trust myself,” he says quietly.

“Christian, I know you’d never hurt me. [snip] I know you’re not going to beat the shit out of me.”

“I wanted to.”

“No you didn’t. You just thought you did.”

That’s a superbly comforting clarification to make.

Christian then tries to convince her to come to bed, although Ana wants to talk. He answers a couple small questions, then realizes that she hasn’t eaten today, so he blindfolds her and feeds her dinner, and then they fuck. Except he prevents her from having an orgasm, on and on, until she finally uses their safe word. And that’s about it.

That is what this series is. This exact scene plays itself out, over and over and over again over all three books in the trilogy. I want to stress that I don’t think that writing about people in controlling relationships is a bad thing. In fact, a great deal of the manipulative, controlling nature of this relationship rings very true. That being said, the overall point of this, or message, if you will, is that relationships don’t require you to actually work through these issues and for people to make changes. Because Christian doesn’t change throughout the series. Not one iota. They fight and argue and Ana makes her points, generally very good points, and then Christian says “Let’s fuck,” and they have amazing sex while Ana reminds herself how much she loves him even though he’s “fifty shades of fucked up”. That’s not healthy. That’s absolutely appalling. Every single time it happens, Ana is tacitly encouraging Christian by refusing to hold him accountable for being controlling and treating her like a child, and then eagerly having sex with him. And James is essentially saying that if your husband treats you like a child, controls everything you do, flies into a rage when you defy him in the smallest way and fantasizes about beating you for it…well, that’s okay, just petulantly argue about it every so often and then drop the entire thing and never mention it again, because that’s the best way to work through problems in a relationship.

I didn’t think it was possible to portray unhealthy relationships in such a positive way any more than Twilight did, but Fifty Shades of Grey, you have risen to the occasion.

I’ll leave you with this:

“What are you thinking?” Christian murmurs, stopping my thoughts in their tracks as he pulls his finger out of my mouth.

“How mercurial you are.” (page 241)

Mercurial.

Think back to the last time you heard that word used in casual conversation.

Warning: this review contains massive spoilers for the series. But, if you are truly concerned about spoilers for the Fifty Shades trilogy, you need to reexamine your life’s choices.

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Comment

  1. swenson on 27 November 2012, 09:56 said:

    Before I delve into this (a bad choice of words for this book?), can I just say how amusing I find it that the spoiler warning is at the end of the review?

    Anyway, there’s not much I could say that you haven’t already. Your complaints are pretty much the same as mine. The extreme repetitiveness of language (I understand there is a limited number of phrases in the English language that can reasonably describe sex scenes, but for the love of Edward there’s more than the ones James uses!), the infuriating lack of plot, the transparently serial nature of the original that was never cleaned up, the incredibly disturbing relationship… ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. And also ugh.

    A few things I’d like to focus on particular, though:

    On a vaguely more pleasant note, I also liked Taylor the most, because he seemed sensible, and I think my brain was desperate for someone to like. I also kinda liked the female bodyguard from the third book, but then she was abruptly fired because Christian is a controlling bastard and never returned.

    And then to the bad stuff… the second book. The first book has no plot at all. The third book has a relatively normal plot structure, if a stupid plot. But the second book? The second book’s plot makes me angry. Multiple times throughout it, there starts to be the beginnings of a conflict, some sort of rising action, some sort of tension. There’s the Mrs. Robinson stuff. There’s the ex-sub. There’s Ana’s creepy boss. There’s the helicopter crash. And every. Single. Time, just when the reader is getting ready for some plot, the rug gets yanked out from under them. Every single conflict is resolved quickly, easily, and without apparent consequences. The ex-sub holds up Ana with a gun in her apartment! But it’s OK, Christian fixes everything instantly. Ana’s boss is harassing her! It’s OK, Christian owns the company now and fires him. Christian’s helicopter crashes! But no worries, he’s totally fine. There’s simply no plot structure at all. It’s a random series of events with a bizarre tacked-on PLOT TWIST!!!! at the end. Somehow this makes me angrier than almost any other aspect of the series.

    whew

    Anyway, we should also spare a few words for the epilogue to the third book. Did you get a lot of innuendo out of it, or was that just me? Please tell me it was just me. Please tell me there wasn’t similar phrasing and actions in the context of Ana talking to her son as there was in sex scenes earlier in the novel. And even if you saw it too, please please please tell me it was not deliberate on James’ part… because if the second book made me angrier than any other part, the epilogue to the third book disturbed me more than anything else. Like, a whole other level of disturbed. shudder

  2. Nate Winchester on 27 November 2012, 09:58 said:

    And, of course, pain “smarts”, a word that is used in America exactly never.

    Actually I can say I’ve heard it used frequently around the south. Usually as a teasing pejorative.

    Yes, you read that right. They get engaged six weeks after they first lay eyes on each other. They get engaged nine days after they’ve broken up and gotten back together. The entire trilogy takes place over a 4 ½ month span, during which time basically nothing happens.

    Seriously? SERIOUSLY? Just…

  3. HimochiIsAwesome on 27 November 2012, 10:02 said:

    //applause
    Now I don’t have to bother reading sporks of the last two books! Hurrah!
    You deserve lots of cookies for reading all of that. And Skittles. //gives ALL the food

  4. Nate Winchester on 27 November 2012, 10:04 said:

    And then to the bad stuff… the second book. The first book has no plot at all. The third book has a relatively normal plot structure, if a stupid plot. But the second book? The second book’s plot makes me angry. Multiple times throughout it, there starts to be the beginnings of a conflict, some sort of rising action, some sort of tension. There’s the Mrs. Robinson stuff. There’s the ex-sub. There’s Ana’s creepy boss. There’s the helicopter crash. And every. Single. Time, just when the reader is getting ready for some plot, the rug gets yanked out from under them. Every single conflict is resolved quickly, easily, and without apparent consequences. The ex-sub holds up Ana with a gun in her apartment! But it’s OK, Christian fixes everything instantly. Ana’s boss is harassing her! It’s OK, Christian owns the company now and fires him. Christian’s helicopter crashes! But no worries, he’s totally fine. There’s simply no plot structure at all. It’s a random series of events with a bizarre tacked-on PLOT TWIST!!!! at the end. Somehow this makes me angrier than almost any other aspect of the series.

    AHHHHHHHH, I hate that too! (just in general)

    I guess you could say… men aren’t the only ones who climax disappointingly.

    (seriously though, am I the only one who notices that a lot of writers nowadays seem to have problems with payoffs?)

  5. Fireshark on 27 November 2012, 10:14 said:

    WHY THE FUCK DO PEOPLE LIKE THIS SHIT

    [cough] I mean, thanks for the insightful review.

  6. swenson on 27 November 2012, 11:46 said:

    @Fireshark – ditto.

  7. Prince O' Tea on 27 November 2012, 13:36 said:

    If Christian and Ana weren’t a billionaire and his trophy wife, their kids would have been taken into care so fast the Inner Goddess’s head would spin. These people can barely function as human beings in a relationship, how the hell are they supposed to raise two small children?

  8. Epke on 27 November 2012, 16:53 said:

    Well, Prince, we know that Christian advocates spanking, so I guess there’ll be discipline for the kids.

    Aaaand I just creeped myself out. If anything, they’ll do what Catherine and Heathcliff did, and we all know how splendid that one went!

    Rorschach, I can’t believe you didn’t do a count for how many “Oh my”‘s there are! They’re everywhere.

    It’s amusing that it outsold another series on one website in one country, but it’s not like it’s outselling Harry Potter. 40 million copies is pretty impressive, I admit. Harry Potter sold 450 million.

    Not to mention that Fifty only sold in paperback. How many hardcovers and paperbacks did Harry Potter sell? That’s right, suck it, James.

    “two distinctly separate pieces of work.”

    “Ha, ha, ha” I laughed, just like Aro the vampire. For being heavily rewritten, it’s surprising how much the FANFICTION just blares out in the writing. The lack of research, the inability to use proper idioms and words, the bad, bad writing that belongs on fanfiction.net (and the darker parts of Livejournal, where people like Ariana Black, Rose Potter and Neil of “Hogwarts Exposed” all burn in eternal hellfire), the purple prose, the extreme similarities between Edward and Bella and Christian and Anastasia (and Twilight in general), and finally the completely messed up message it sends: “Don’t worry girls, even if your man is fifty shades of fucked up (see what I did there? Har har, I iz genius!!1), the power of LOVE and your vagina can save him!” Plus all the abusive stuff.

    The Setting

    And how Kate’s extremely wealthy parents buys her an apartment complex near college, despite the insane prices of such a complex, or the apartment in Seattle that are only for sale to shops and the elderly?
    What’s in a name? That which we call a hack by any other name would write just as bad.

    On the marriage thing: I personally don’t mind people marrying quickly: some just fall in love that fast and know they love each other and can make it work. But the problem here is that Ana and Christian have zero chemistry, one is a doormat and the other’s shrink is probably sleeping through their sessions, they’re almost always at the extremes of the emotional spectrum, they’re never portrayed as genuinely happy together and there’s… there’s just no emotion to it. Nothing. Plus Grey’s a ginger, and we know they’re evil.

    On a semi-related note, I like reading what the husbands/S.O’s of these writers think. We know Poncho Meyer doesn’t really care, but apparently James’s husband said something along the lines of not liking Fifty Shades because his mother raised him to treat women very differently than Christian Grey. Says a lot about what he thinks of his wife’s “dream man”, doesn’t it?

  9. Prince O' Tea on 27 November 2012, 17:04 said:

    Well, the thing is with Harry Potter sales and 50 Shades sales, is that Harry Potter has been out for the better half of twenty years, consists of seven books and has a eight movies behind it released over again over a ten year period. The fact that 50 Shades has managed to sell 40 million without those sales boosts is something to not be sniffed at, unfortunately. On the other hand, it’s a perfect retort to anyone who insists that popularity/sales = quality.

    50 Shades of Grey: where feminine sexuality is not only anthropomorphised, it’s represented as a bratty five year old.

  10. Pryotra on 27 November 2012, 22:26 said:

    …You deserve either therapy or a large plate of cookies for this.

    Seriously, it’s works like this that lower my faith in humanity bit by bit.

    I have to say that I’ve never heard of a work, fanfic or otherwise that was that bad. Most writers at least pretend to have drama for a while. It’s not just one big orgy with some occasional attempts at porn. What really annoys me is that no one in this world seems to have any kind of conflict or problem whatsoever. What’s the point of reading about a bunch of perfect, happy people who never have anything bad happen to them, but are constantly whining when things don’t go their way?

    Mercurial… snerk

  11. Prince O' Tea on 28 November 2012, 02:10 said:

    It is quite Teschian that the author seems to dislike any idea of suspense or conflict, to the point that she goes out of her way to remove anything that could actually be somewhat of an inconvenience for her protagonists. The massive fortune is to Christian what the pool of blood is for Maradonia’s Suesome Twosome. If she actually does attempt to let some drama percolate, it’s resolved as quickly as possible, so Snivel and Douchebag can get back to the kinky fuckery.

  12. HimochiIsAwesome on 28 November 2012, 06:14 said:

    These people can barely function as human beings in a relationship, how the hell are they supposed to raise two small children?

    Because their super speshul twu wuv can let them do anything!
    Although knowing the creep, Grey would probably threaten to hurt the children if Ana didn’t do what he wanted… //shudder

    Plus Grey’s a ginger, and we know they’re evil.

    You’d think, what with all the ‘Grey’ symbolism, she’d have made him have grey hair. But I’m glad he’s ginger, because it stops me picturing him looking like D.I. Lestrade from BBC Sherlock. Mmm, Lestrade…

  13. swenson on 28 November 2012, 09:31 said:

    If she actually does attempt to let some drama percolate, it’s resolved as quickly as possible

    More like, if she accidentally allows some semblance of plot or interesting things to slip in, she has to immediately remove it.

    You’d think, what with all the ‘Grey’ symbolism, she’d have made him have grey hair. But I’m glad he’s ginger, because it stops me picturing him looking like D.I. Lestrade from BBC Sherlock. Mmm, Lestrade…

    Actually, despite all the mentions of his “copper” hair, I have to admit I never pictured him as a ginger. I didn’t really picture him at all, to be honest, but if I had, I think I would’ve seen him with blond hair. Not sure why.

    And ditto re: Lestrade.

  14. Epke on 28 November 2012, 14:58 said:

    You’d think, what with all the ‘Grey’ symbolism, she’d have made him have grey hair. But I’m glad he’s ginger, because it stops me picturing him looking like D.I. Lestrade from BBC Sherlock. Mmm, Lestrade…

    Indeed, in Richard Gere style, who actually pulls it off better than his black hair. Although, that might have been too much on the grey part: he already has a closet full of grey suits (probably all identical and labelled “Monday”, “Tuesday” etc), grey eyes and a grey tie that is used way too often. Grey, grey, grey… Lestrade looks familiar.

    Actually, despite all the mentions of his “copper” hair, I have to admit I never pictured him as a ginger. I didn’t really picture him at all, to be honest, but if I had, I think I would’ve seen him with blond hair. Not sure why.

    I have to keep reminding me he has ginger hair when she writes “copper”: a colour I’d normally not associate with hair or the colour red. I mean, she couldn’t get away with “bronze” (which would be auburn) because that’s Edward, but copper is close enough on the metallic hair colour scale.

  15. Cristina on 1 December 2012, 09:46 said:

    Of all that’s wrong with these books, I didn’t even notice how some words aren’t used in America. I thought everyone knew that Americans don’t say “arse”, but I honestly had no idea that pram, holiday, or “ringing” instead of “phoning” aren’t used. Or rucksack. Huh.

    Guess that’s the reason why I would never write a book where the protagonist is an American living in America. I’ve no idea how that country works.

    And I hate it so much when stuff is badly researched. Blegh.

  16. Danielle on 1 December 2012, 11:12 said:

    We don’t really even say “phoning.” When we want to phone someone, we “call” them, “give them a call,” or “talk on the phone.” A pram is a stroller, a rucksack (whether for school or camping) is a backpack, and when we say something is “smart,” we are always talking about a person.

    I know fanfic writers get away with that stuff (Americans botching British slang is a staple of the Harry Potter fandom) but you’d think James’ editor would have caught this.

    And don’t even get me started on Ana’s vacation to Georgia in the first book.

  17. Prince O' Tea on 1 December 2012, 12:35 said:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Anastasia Steele sounds like a high class escort name. Which makes it funny when she accepts cars and macbooks in exchange for her midnight-fuck-a-thons with Grey.

    It’s also hilarious her name is Steele, when the girl has about as much backbone as a blancmange.

  18. Danielle on 1 December 2012, 12:55 said:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Anastasia Steele sounds like a high class escort name. Which makes it funny when she accepts cars and macbooks in exchange for her midnight-fuck-a-thons with Grey.

    That would actually make more sense than her original backstory. If she were a high-class escort who got roped (haha) into being Grey’s sub, and eventually fell in “love” with him, the story overall would be more plausible.

  19. Apep on 1 December 2012, 13:42 said:

    And don’t even get me started on Ana’s vacation to Georgia in the first book.

    Since I didn’t subject myself to the full sporking, and I live in Georgia, I have to know.

    Or at least get linked to the relevant spork.

  20. Danielle on 1 December 2012, 14:32 said:

    Since I didn’t subject myself to the full sporking, and I live in Georgia, I have to know.

    Georgia isn’t really described, to my knowledge, so I can’t comment on that bit. What bugged me was the fact that James so obviously picked a random state out of a hat and said Anastasia and her mom were going there on vacation.

    I don’t live in the South, so to Southerners, Georgia might be a perfectly viable vacation destination. But I did live in Washington, so I can tell you that a college student from Seattle would not go to Georgia on vacation unless she had family there. Most people from Seattle with enough money to go to another state on vacation would pick someplace like San Francisco or San Diego. Those who preferred the Northwest but wanted to see another city might pick Salem, Oregon; and the more outdoorsy types might go camping near Spokane or Northern Idaho. Others might go to a ranch in Montana or even Wyoming, but Montana is far more likely. She might also visit Newport, Oregon for a taste of small-town coastal life and views of the gorgeous Oregon coast.

    If a college student from Seattle had the money, she and her mother might also go to New York City or Boston or (if they enjoyed history) Philadelphia. They might also go to Miami or—what the heck—even Hawaii, if they wanted someplace tropical and had the kind of money Ana and her mother seem to have (despite Ana’s crappy car).

    TL;DR: It is a very rare college student in Seattle who wants to visit Georgia. Said college student would need a very good reason to want to go there.

  21. Apep on 1 December 2012, 15:12 said:

    Yeah, that’s about what I figured. I mean, unless there’s a specific reason (family, Civil War history, etc.), there’s really no reason for a college student living in Seattle to go to Georgia rather than, say, Florida.

    Unless they went to a specific city/destination. If James didn’t specify, then there’s literally no reason to have her protagonist come to Georgia.

    Still, now I’m morbidly curious. Which part has them in Georgia?

  22. Danielle on 1 December 2012, 15:21 said:

    I think it was part 11 of the sporking, but I’m not sure.

    checks it out

    Actually, she might have been going to visit her mother there, but again, that seems a pretty arbitrary place to pick.

  23. Prince O' Tea on 1 December 2012, 20:31 said:

    I guess variety for Ana and Christian is having kinky fuckery in a different state.

  24. Danielle on 1 December 2012, 21:00 said:

    I can think of a dozen kinkier states than Georgia offhand.

    Not that James would know about them….

  25. Prince O' Tea on 2 December 2012, 00:54 said:

    What James doesn’t know could fill Georgia.

  26. Danielle on 2 December 2012, 02:05 said:

    And Seattle.

  27. Jaggers on 2 December 2012, 04:48 said:

    Fireshark, people like this book because it has blatant sexuality in it. It’s the LADY CHATTERLEY’S LOVER of its day. English-language literature generally lacks compelling depictions of sex, so people latch on to it where they find it. You read FIFTY SHADES for the dirty bits. Not that there aren’t lots of erotic stories, but most of those stories are exchanged more clandestinely than the FIFTY SHADES books. Hopefully this will open up the market to better-written erotica in a more public sphere. Sex isn’t evil and the repression of healthy adult sexuality in society, especially non-male sexuality (as agent) and non-heterosexuality, is bad.

  28. Prince O' Tea on 2 December 2012, 10:37 said:

    It makes me wonder how naive people are about sex, if something as badly written as Fifty Shades manages to be… arousing. Though recently I have begun to think that it is doing some good: it’s gotten more people openly talking about sex, especially people who are the least thought of as being sexual (older women and middle aged housewives and even a few grannies). I hope it will lead to these people taking more control of their sexuality and being a bit more open about it, and finding better written smut to enjoy. The only thing I worry about is people idealising these creepy controlling men and things used for bondage that are not intended to be used for that (such as duct tape and heavy duty rope).

  29. Epke on 2 December 2012, 16:35 said:

    That would actually make more sense than her original backstory. If she were a high-class escort who got roped (haha) into being Grey’s sub, and eventually fell in “love” with him, the story overall would be more plausible.

    That… that would be pretty good, actually. I’m getting Veronica Franco vibes here. A high-class escort who entertains wealthy men to put her through college and get some basic financial stability. Then she meets Mr Grey, who wants her to do things she usually refuses, but is sorely tempted because he’s offering to pay for her education, she’s falling for him, and she thinks he’s falling for her too. Could Mr Grey be her way out of the life she chose and could he be more than just that?
    And then she swallows a banana whole and freaks him out. It’d be epic.

    Since I didn’t subject myself to the full sporking, and I live in Georgia, I have to know.

    I think it’s because Mom’s latest husband… Bob (?) lives in Georgia and now Mom and Dad #4 (hold on… first husband was Ana’s dad, second husband was Ray, third was in Vegas and this is the fourth. Black Widow?) are living there. I think that’s why, anyway.

  30. Prince O' Tea on 2 December 2012, 18:34 said:

    Well we have Pretty Woman and Belle De Jour, reminding us that in real life, prostitution is a glamorous, risk free-profession in which handsome, charming men screw you and then shower you with money and gifts afterwards, and you keep everything you earn.

  31. Fireshark on 2 December 2012, 19:57 said:

    the repression of healthy adult sexuality in society, especially non-male sexuality (as agent) and non-heterosexuality, is bad.

    Wake me when a book with healthy adult sexuality hits the shelves, then. FSoG certainly isn’t it, and I think most of the BDSM community would agree with me there.

    And honestly, I think porn should stay on the Internet/in the home where it belongs, not in bookshops and bestseller lists simply by virtue of being a novel and being aimed at women. Certainly, pornography aimed at men stays out of public and nobody complains (if anything, people complain about there being too much of it).

  32. Cristina on 4 December 2012, 12:05 said:

    I don’t write fanfiction about Americans because I know I’ll get the Americanisms wrong. I used “path” instead of “sidewalk” once, and the Americans I was talking to didn’t even know what that was supposed to be. There are so many words, idioms and what have you that you can mess up, you should be sure to do the proper research before publishing a book.

    It’s something that truly irks me – if you are going to do something, then at least do it right. The colloquial mistakes in this atrocity – gone unnoticed by me do to the fact that I’m British and have little experience with American English – are just ghastly.

    Not to mention everything else that’s wrong about these, er….books.

  33. Danielle on 4 December 2012, 23:38 said:

    I don’t write fanfiction about Americans because I know I’ll get the Americanisms wrong. I used “path” instead of “sidewalk” once, and the Americans I was talking to didn’t even know what that was supposed to be. There are so many words, idioms and what have you that you can mess up, you should be sure to do the proper research before publishing a book.

    This is true. I don’t notice all of the Britishisms in books until the characters are supposed to be American. THEN it’s easy. I started writing HP fanfiction before I realized that Brits use different slang than we do, and when I realized my mistake I studied up on British slang and left out whatever I wasn’t sure how to properly use. I will never, ever, EVER write and publish a book set in Britain unless I live there for at least a year. It would be insulting if I did anything else, in my opinion.

    As I read these sporks, though, I keep saying, “Where was the editor? Was the editor British, too?” There’s nothing wrong with British editors, but if you’re a British author writing a book set in Seattle, you had better get an editor who’s from Seattle. Not New York, not Chicago, but Seattle. It’s a culture unto itself, in many ways.

    The colloquial mistakes in this atrocity – gone unnoticed by me do to the fact that I’m British and have little experience with American English – are just ghastly.

    Heck, I’m American and I don’t feel comfortable writing about areas I haven’t lived in. There are so many cultural differences between geographical areas that Washington and Arizona may as well be separate countries. Even people who are from America can misrepresent an area of the country they’re not familiar with. People who haven’t visited Wyoming seem to think they’re all uneducated, sexist hicks, but they’re really quite the opposite. And you’ll never know unless you go there with an open mind.

    In short, I refuse to write about New Orleans or Massachusetts or South Carolina until I’ve spent at least a week or two there. I stick to Oregon and Washington.

    Not to mention everything else that’s wrong about these, er….books.

    There’s a lot, yes. If you were to write it all down you’d get at least a trilogy.

  34. swenson on 5 December 2012, 00:39 said:

    There’s nothing wrong with British editors, but if you’re a British author writing a book set in Seattle, you had better get an editor who’s from Seattle. Not New York, not Chicago, but Seattle. It’s a culture unto itself, in many ways.

    This brings up something I hadn’t really noticed before, but… the setting does not feel like Seattle. It feels like Generic Big City. It could just as easily be New York City, Chicago, San Diego, any large American city near water. Well, maybe not Chicago, because mountains do get mentioned, but seriously—there’s very little that even implies “West Coast”.

  35. Jaggers on 5 December 2012, 01:19 said:

    Yes, Fireshark, but people are desperate. Once again, look at LADY CHATTERLEY’S LOVER for precedent. The sex in that book is boring. But people had never read anything like it. They wanted to read it because making love wasn’t something people did in novels. THE WELL OF LONELINESS, a landmark of lesbian literature, is also one of the dullest books ever written, but it was still banned because Stephen* liked the other ladies. Stephen didn’t even really get it on with other women very much. Mostly kissing, and then losing her darling at the end.

    People don’t read books with healthy sexuality because they aren’t available. People read books with unhealthy and unrealistic sexuality because that is what they can get. FIFTY SHADES is just the most famous of a long line of silly romance novels with explicit bodice-ripping scenes. The bondage stuff is just a kink, if you will pardon the pun. They’ve been pushing terribly written sex scenes for decades. Look at George R. R. Martin or Henry Miller. Or any number of pulpy paperback romances you can get at the secondhand bookshop for next to nothing.

    *Yes, Stephen is the name given to a female character. Her father wanted a son, and raised Stephen to be super-butch. THE WELL OF LONELINESS has contributed a lot to the “ugly” butch lesbian stereotype, even among people who have never read the book.

  36. Danielle on 5 December 2012, 01:30 said:

    This brings up something I hadn’t really noticed before, but… the setting does not feel like Seattle. It feels like Generic Big City. It could just as easily be New York City, Chicago, San Diego, any large American city near water. Well, maybe not Chicago, because mountains do get mentioned, but seriously—there’s very little that even implies “West Coast”.

    One of the many, many things wrong with this series, and more evidence that James didn’t do her research. Big American cities don’t often lend themselves to Generic Big City treatment. I mean, you get that a lot in comic books that treat every big city like another New York, minus the landmarks, but what I love most about big American cities is that they’re so unique. San Diego has a completely different feel to it than Seattle does, and Seattle feels entirely different from Tucson. Even cities technically in the same area have their own culture—San Diego is easily distinguished from San Francisco, Seattle is hardly the same as Portland, and Tucson and Phoenix aren’t all that alike, even though they’re only two hours apart. I could go on, but I think authors like James who take a wonderfully unique city like Seattle and barely even mention the landmarks (the Space Needle! Pike’s Market! the world’s first Starbucks!) or the history (two words: Kurt Cobain) aren’t just being lazy; they’re cheating their readers out of a fun reading experience. And they’re forsaking all of that atmosphere (it’s the rainiest city in the nation; that’s some good urban gothic stuff right there; not to mention Seattle’s….unique population) and charm because they couldn’t be bothered to do the research.

  37. swenson on 5 December 2012, 09:12 said:

    Big American cities don’t often lend themselves to Generic Big City treatment.

    Yeah, I would very much agree with this. While I’m from a small town myself, I’ve been to Detroit and Chicago many times, and I’ve traveled to other large cities a few times as well (Washington DC, New York City, Phoenix, San Antonio, even Mexico City). Every city has a thoroughly different feel to it. Chicago and Detroit are nothing alike, even in architecture, even though both are large cities on the Great Lakes. New York City is nothing at all like Washington DC, and Phoenix is nothing like any of them.

    I suppose we could say cities in general don’t lend themselves to Generic Big City treatment, though. Is James a well-traveled person? I don’t mean that to slight her personally if she isn’t, but I wonder if perhaps that could be part of it—if she’s never spent time in a number of large cities all in the same country, she may not realize that differences between cities even in a single country could be all that large.

    Unless, of course, she is well-travelled and either just never noticed how every place is different or just didn’t care.

  38. Nate Winchester on 5 December 2012, 12:16 said:

    I don’t write fanfiction about Americans because I know I’ll get the Americanisms wrong. I used “path” instead of “sidewalk” once, and the Americans I was talking to didn’t even know what that was supposed to be. There are so many words, idioms and what have you that you can mess up, you should be sure to do the proper research before publishing a book.

    Why? Maybe II should set up a writers’ workshop of sorts. We can exchange stories to people from areas and let them ‘normalize’ some of the culture oddities. Like Swenson & I could assist with anything taking place in the south (I think she’s the other southerner around here). Those from Britain, etc can help with british mannerism and so on.

    On the other hand, this isn’t one of those things that bother me THAT much. But then, that’s probably because I read a lot of sci-fi and… well obviously the future will have their own mannerism and slang about them, but we don’t know what it will be so… most often modern ones are used. Works that try inventing new culture can often end up overdoing it/doing it very badly. It’s very rare to find the work that does it quite well. So, for me at least, my suspension of disbelief has a large margin of error for cultural mishaps.

    Yeah, I would very much agree with this. While I’m from a small town myself, I’ve been to Detroit and Chicago many times, and I’ve traveled to other large cities a few times as well (Washington DC, New York City, Phoenix, San Antonio, even Mexico City). Every city has a thoroughly different feel to it. Chicago and Detroit are nothing alike, even in architecture, even though both are large cities on the Great Lakes. New York City is nothing at all like Washington DC, and Phoenix is nothing like any of them.

    Or Louisville vs Lexington which are two cities in Kentucky just an hour apart, yet there are some differences between them.

    Heh, remember how much work Tolkien put in his landscape just for rural areas? Man, imagine if he had written a city-story…

  39. swenson on 5 December 2012, 14:24 said:

    Eh, off by a few hundred miles. Michigan. But close enough. :)

  40. Cristina on 7 December 2012, 19:25 said:

    Well, as for SciFi, we could chalk it up to the future mixing different types of slang…these days, however, it annoys me to no end when people get slang and local idioms wrong. I don’t know why….maybe it’s because during my time in America, I got asked if I’m from Australia one time too many. It could be a legacy of my public school sense of propriety, as well, who knows.

    Seriously though, I simply thoroughly dislike it when people get the details wrong in a story. If you are going to write something, then do the bloody reseach. I do it, you lot do it, and so can everyone else. I’d welcome it if there were people here to answer my questions on American slang, should the occasion call for it – I would be happy to do the same for them regarding the peculiarities of the language as used in southern England. I just don’t want to insult anyone by abusing their English and the culture surrounding it.

    If even people from America get regional idioms and slang wrong…imagine how someone from another country will do. The same thing happens in the UK, too. You’ve got people from the East Midlands asking people from Kent whether they’re from South Africa. True story.

    Bottom line: if you get out of your comfort zone, just do the research. It’s all it takes to make me happy.

  41. Nate Winchester on 9 December 2012, 17:36 said:

    Oh… oh this is rich.

    “The difference between the way male and female fantasy is explored – it’s interesting. Look at male fantasies: Lord of the Rings, Batman, The Avengers. It’s lauded. Anything written by a woman, like Twilight, my huge inspiration, is derided. All female fantasy is derided. It’s an insight into how misogynist the world is.

    “Take the phrase ‘mommy porn’. It’s one of the most misogynist things I’ve ever heard in my life. It is derogatory!” She bangs the table for emphasis. “How dare they? It’s just a book, for god’s sake. A love story in which people have sex – and they do do that.

    As the blogger I found the link at said:

    The difference between The Lord of the Rings and Twilight is that the former is a literary masterpiece of the English language and the latter is a ludicrous travesty.

    Of course, the big difference between male fantasy and female fantasy (per James here) seems to be that in male fantasy, SOMETHING HAPPENS!

  42. swenson on 9 December 2012, 18:10 said:

    I like the implication that women don’t/can’t enjoy Lord of the Rings, Batman, or the Avengers. And that all women’s fantasies involve sex. I would like to sit down with this women for awhile and explain to her in precise detail why I enjoy Batman more than I enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey, in desperate hopes that she will understand that yes! Some women like big fight scenes and superheroes and themes about justice triumphing over evil!

    Also, the books are explicit erotica. Explicit erotica is often considered written porn. It’s hardly new for this label (which I find appropriate) to be used. Yet she acts like it’s her and her alone that gets this label. No, hon, trust me—erotica far predates you.

    “[A new book she’s planning] has to be the story of two people coming together. One of the books has no sex scenes at all.”

    None?

    “Well… I could always put some in…”

    Yes, because that’s what should determine whether or not sex scenes should be in a book—whether or not the readers want them. Not characterization or themes or plot or whatever, but whether hey! Sex would be cool! That’s pretty much the definition of gratuitous sex scenes.

  43. Prince O' Tea on 11 December 2012, 09:07 said:

    “I’m not a bad writer! It’s misogynists putting me down because I’m a lady!”

    I don’t think even the most angry Social Justice Sally on Tumblr would agree with you there, lady.

  44. Epke on 13 December 2012, 13:46 said:

    Augh, my eyes! Nate, that article… it burnssss us.

    “The difference between the way male and female fantasy is explored – it’s interesting. Look at male fantasies: Lord of the Rings, Batman, The Avengers. It’s lauded. Anything written by a woman, like Twilight, my huge inspiration, is derided. All female fantasy is derided. It’s an insight into how misogynist the world is.”

    I don’t even… I’m going to my corner to cry now. But before I bawl my eyes out at the stupidity of James; Ayn Rand, J.K. Rowling, Susan Cooper, Ursula K. Le Guin, Astrid Lindgren, Robin Hobb. All female authors of fantasy and they’re lauded. Just maybe, James, your (and SMeyer’s) books are considered trash because they are trash? Ignoring the lack of plot, the bad characters, the terrible messages they send, the creepy stalker-vibes, the rape-fantasy, the value placed on virginity… ignore ALL of that and just focus on the quality of the books. What’s left? Bad grammar, boring sex, bad and purple prose and a serious thesaurus-syndrome that should be treated with shock-therapy. People don’t put down your books because they were written by a woman – they put them down because they’re bad. I can’t even begin to explain why Lord of the Rings is so much better… I just… gulping like a fish now. If she herself doesn’t get it, I’ll just…

    Now I can go and cry in my corner.

  45. swenson on 13 December 2012, 14:45 said:

    Let’s not forget that even if she wants to go the superhero route, plenty of women have written both male and female heroes—Gail Simone’s written everything from Deadpool to Batgirl, after all!

    You’re right. She just… doesn’t get it, does she?

  46. Taku on 13 December 2012, 14:57 said:

    Epke: You forgot Dianna Wynne Jones, the late godmother of fantasy.

  47. Epke on 13 December 2012, 16:51 said:

    Oh, Deadpool is awesome, even for a psychotic, amoral murderer, he’s brilliant. I didn’t even know who wrote (or has written) him, but kudos to Simone. And if we’re expanding a little: an insane amount of mangakas are female.
    Indeed, swenson, I don’t think she even has a properly functioning link between her brain and mouth, if she can say stuff like that… and defend the abusive, rapetastic, downright nightmarish scenes she’s written as “sexy” and “romantic”. Or if she does, she’s, to use the clinical term, whacked.

    Damnit, I knew I forgot someone. Say what you will of the movie adaptation, but it got me to read Howl’s Moving Castle. And Anne McCaffrey (how I forgot her is beyond me). I’ll add hanging my head in shame to my err… manly crying.

  48. Prince O' Tea on 14 December 2012, 09:34 said:

    I’d like to add Louise Lawrence, one of my favourite authors, though she isn’t as recognised as the ones here. And don’t forget Madeleine L’Engle.

    I think James really needs to shut her mouth. It’s really disgusting that she’s taking a genuine problem, and claiming it’s the reason for the critical backlash of her horrid wankrags.

  49. Thea K on 16 April 2013, 10:07 said:

    You skipped the abuse part. It’s actually pretty amazing how these books that represent abuse unintentionally manage to represent it so accurately.

  50. Tara on 27 June 2013, 06:51 said:

    I stumbled across this page and ended up reading all 52 pages. To everyone here I am profoundly grateful to you because I laughed until I cried and my sides ached. Thanks to so much exact scrutiny I don’t have to waste my audible credits on the exploits douche baguette and copper dong. This way I don’t end up on the floor in the fetal position wondering why I actually ended up paying for my own iPad…

  51. Samantha on 12 August 2013, 02:40 said:

    You know what really bothered me during the whole series….

    I like the BDSM and spanking scene… and he keeps telling and threatening her that he will punish her, but in the end he barely ever does, instead he fucks her again and again. So for true lovers of the scene… the book is a very big disappointment.

    She obviously tried to keep it very very vanilla for commercial purposes.
    She did do some research on the terms we use, vanilla is a common word that I put on the same shelve as “muggles” – I suspect she does truly have interest in it in real life or a little experience. Though not much or she would know, a couple of swats does not make you run away.

    I did like it when they argued, and every time I hoped that he would spank her again, as he only did once in the whole series (besides a single swat here and there, that can’t be actually called a spanking).
    Anastacia is what we call a brat. She triggers him into getting upset with her, he threatens her possible punishments, she sort of keeps going and then he should carry out what he threatens her. I mean, you might not understand it, but a man who does not do what he threatens to do, is not trustworthy. If he would be consistent and carry out what he promises, you know what is coming and then you have the choice to either behave (and not get the punishment) or keep going (and choose for the punishment).
    The fact that he does not keep his promises, makes him unreliable. And random. And a bad Dom.

    The BDSM kink was the sole reason I started reading it, it might be a lot to take for a vanilla person, but for us (and trust me, there are a LOT of us), this book was hilariously soft.

  52. Leslie on 10 September 2013, 11:22 said:

    Loved your review and timeline! I just finished the first book. Thank you for saving me from the agony of reading the next two books. One overused word you forgot to mention… CLAMBER. “Clamber out of bed. Clamber out of the car. Clamber out of the plane.” And on an on. No one uses that word! I wanted to rip the fucking page out every time I saw that word! Well, thanks again for your review!

  53. Regina on 15 September 2013, 10:31 said:

    I am an American living in the UK. I bought this piece of rubbish, er…book for a pound at a boot sale. Thank god I didn’t pay more. I read FSoG to chapter 21 and couldn’t take it anymore. I threw it away to save any other unsuspecting bloke from wasting their time. I noticed the lack of research straight away. Americans don’t use the word “duvet”, we use blanket or comforter. Also, Brits primarily drink tea, as does Ana. Hello….it takes place in Seattle, the mecca of COFFEE!!! Not to say people in Seattle don’t drink tea, but come on mate!! Also, I am surprised that Ana let her car be sold. If she didn’t completely trust him, she would have let Jose mind it so when the non-relationship contract ended she wouldn’t be left with nothing. Come to think about it, did it sell and for how much??
    Thank you everyone from saving me from reading another page!!

  54. Epke on 15 September 2013, 13:24 said:

    Regina: The car sold for about $24 000. And, fun fact, Grey kept this money: he threw it into his bank account and then writes Ana a check for the same amount that she can cash in (and later piss away). So yeah, he steals the money and when she asks for it, gives it back.

    And only chapter 21? Shame, you missed the best sentence in the whole book:

    “he’s pulling me into his arms, all breathless and compassionate… and I want none of him.”

    Or when she calls him fucked up, that’s nice too. Actually, all of chapter 26 is basically Ana growing a spine and strangling Grey with it.

  55. Aisha on 26 October 2013, 18:37 said:

    I wouldn’t say those books were the best i’ve ever read but minus all the kinky fuckery(which was just too much) i like it. i think you guys didn’t get the story line- which was about Ana helping Christian, helping him to love himself, and that what happened when he was a child was not his fault. But i was disappointed because the book didn’t dwell on that( i mean that was supposed to be the story line but obviously it wasn’t. And nobody mentioned Elena(Mrs Robinson). Remember that Christian said she helped him, in what way, by introducing BDSM to him?

  56. Epke on 26 October 2013, 20:22 said:

    i think you guys didn’t get the story line- which was about Ana helping Christian, helping him to love himself, and that what happened when he was a child was not his fault.

    No, I think we got the story: boy meets girl, boy’s a psychotic woman-beater who only lasts a few seconds, girl breaks up with boy, boy and girl get back together, boy’s crazy ex shows up, boy becomes even more controlling, Mrs R is a paedophile, boy and girl gets married. Somewhere in there’s also total “girl does 180 degrees in character” and “rape”.

    Also, Ana uses the “oh poor little copperhaired boy!” as an excuse for everything. He also had a childhood beyond his first four years, you know. Where are the other years spent in wealth and love?

    Remember that Christian said she helped him, in what way, by introducing BDSM to him?

    EL James is under the delusion that what she’s written is about BDSM. It’s not. It’s about Christian beating women that look like his mother because he gets off on it.

  57. AJ on 5 December 2013, 14:48 said:

    I only started reading it out of curiosity just to see what all the noise was all about.Truth be told this book lost me from the beginning.I suddenly found myself having to use all reading skills,from skimming to scanning and one i added myself skipping, just to get through the first book. I mean how badly can a book be written and this poor quality runs through the other books which i just skimmed,scanned and skipped as usual to see if the series developed into to something worth reading.But one thing i know for sure after going through these books is that James should never have sat behind her computer to write and i hope she takes this advice in the future.

  58. Dan on 5 December 2013, 15:19 said:

    As i went through these books i couldn’t help thinking,“are these the books they are going to make a movie out of and if so what would be the movie based on since there are no plots in these books?I mean this movie would be full of hard sex scenes,so then it makes me think if they going to use porn actors?Then there wouldn’t be any need to make a movie because all one needs to do is go to a sex shop to buy hardcore porn video and there that person has a fifty shades movie.

  59. Epke on 5 December 2013, 17:23 said:

    @AJ: You can tell her, but she’ll claim that you’re only negative because she’s a woman and all female fantasies are derided, because everyone is a sexist.

    @Dan They’re actually making two movies, if you can believe that: one “tame” and one more explicit (which is ironic, seeing as the “dark sex” in the books are very vanilla).

  60. Lisa on 17 April 2014, 11:56 said:

    Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy has sold 100m copies worldwide – The Guardian

    Just saying

  61. Tim on 17 April 2014, 12:51 said:

    I suppose you will be defending Michael Bay as a filmmaker, McDonald’s as a purveyor of good food and PewDiePie as a human being next?

  62. Epke on 18 April 2014, 11:54 said:

    Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy has sold 100m copies worldwide – The Guardian
    Just saying

    So? Quantity isn’t indicative of quality. Fifty Shades, like it’s source material (Twilight), is the result of good marketing, not good writing. I honestly can’t recall the last time someone said “Well, it’s sold X amount of copies, so obviously it’s good!” with a straight face.

    and PewDiePie as a human being next?

    Dude. Don’t be an ass.

  63. Tim on 18 April 2014, 14:11 said:

    Dude. Don’t be an ass.

    Since when is a giant manchild screaming “arrrrrr! Rape!” into a microphone for dollars in some way respectable?

  64. Epke on 18 April 2014, 19:11 said:

    Since when is a giant manchild screaming “arrrrrr! Rape!” into a microphone
    for dollars in some way respectable?

    Yes, because he does that in every video, all the time and then endorses what he says and thinks his work is the best thing since sliced bread. >>

  65. Tim on 18 April 2014, 19:32 said:

    His willingness to make money from it does not appear to be diminished by any hypothetical disgust he feels at his own disgustingness.

  66. Epke on 19 April 2014, 18:36 said:

    His targeted audience (gamers, trolls and swedes) find it funny and so he cashes in on something that works. You seriously think he’s scum for doing what everyone else would do? He’s not making rape “romantic”. He doesn’t try and portray stalkers as lovable boyfriends. He doesn’t slut shame, victim blame or do it all for fame. Yes, granted, he exaggerates occasionally and acts like he’s 12 and just discovered girls, but that does not make him disgusting.

  67. Tim on 20 April 2014, 12:18 said:

    I think he’s scum for the same reason I think the creators of Epic Movie are scum. It’s cynical, brainless trash and they should have higher standards. Same with Twilight and Fifty Shades (and Dan Brown, for that matter).

    Attacking a position nobody is actually defending is the classic strawman fallacy, BTW.