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Book Review: I Cannot Relate To "Fifty Shades of Grey"
I enjoy reading books and writing reviews because the comment section is often like a virtual book club anyone can join in, and even comment on even years later. This has been the case with many books I have reviewed such as The Thorn Birds, which is a great book that I highly recommend. Recently there has been a lot of buzz about the novel Fifty Shades of Grey, but sometimes I feel like I am the only one turned off by Ana's choice in men, but for different reasons than some might suspect. Thankfully, I read the reviews on other sites and found out I am not the only one who is disturbed by the wacky noodle Christian, and I am not the only person who will not finish the series because of it.
I just searched Google to find out how this series ends, so do not read this hub if you think I might spoil that for you. If you want to marry a rich guy and go jet-setting, well more power to you, but what sort of fazes me about this book is people who post blogs about how bad the economy is on one hand, but then so many who are captivated by fiction like this on the other hand. I am not here to criticize E.L. James because I do think she is a talented writer, and I think if the characters made other choices I might not be so irritated with this book Fifty Shades of Grey. No I am not at all shocked by the sex scenes in this book, and anyone with an Internet connection knows there is content out there of a more suggestive nature. People are fascinated by this book because for the first time bondage has made its way into a mainstream novel, but some of the themes in it are not that far removed from many of the Harlequin novels I read as a teen.
The One-Percenter Hunk Phenomenon
I do not think this novel set out to advocate that women seek out rich men, but this novel is not all that different than all novels with formulaic heroes and heroines. Be forewarned, I might give away some of what happens in the Shades of Grey series in this synopsis, so you might want to stop reading now. E.L. James does have an engaging writing style, and I liked the way she described the characters, but I really hate Ana's motivations. Things would have been fine if Ana had stopped being interested in Christian after he came to "her rescue" when she was at a club, but the fact he tracked her cell phone down with computer software is creepy, stalkerish, and made me want to throw down the book and stop reading.
To be fair to the book I did read a little bit further to find out about her first "vanilla encounter" with Christian, and then skimmed a little bit farther into the book, but I was off put his dominating behavior. Okay, so maybe some people enjoy this submissive thing in the bedroom, but this novel takes it to other areas that are just weird. For instance, Christian is obsessed with how much Ana eats, and wants her to work out and dress to his specifications. Does this not sound like an exclusive escort to you, because it sounds that way to me! What woman would want to be in that situation, and does it have anything to do with his wealth? Oh boy, what a new twist to a romance novel!
Twilight had these same undertones with Bella being drawn to Edward who drives fancy cars, wears designers clothes, and oh his family just happens to have a swanky house in the secluded woods. I mostly just read the Twilight series to find out what all the fuss was about, and I would not say I was on team Jacob, but this guy was much more appealing than the brooding Edward. Perhaps my prejudice for Edward is because I am part Native American, but honestly the entire vampire thing is just creepy-weepy. Jacob was there for Bella when she needed him, and he was a sweet guy who did not brag about his toys. Edward is not overly boastful about his possessions, but Christian Grey makes snarky remarks about how thousands of people would not be able to make his mortgage payments if it were not for him. Oh great, we have another "job creator" on our hands.
Sure it would be nice to win the lottery and go to Tahiti tomorrow, but is that realistic? There is nothing wrong with reading novels about rich hunks that offer women that lifestyle, if that is truly your cup of tea, but I feel it is unrealistic because people always yearn for what they do not have. These type of novels are also unfair to men, and often justify the gold digging phenomenon where women are constantly looking for a man who can provide better for them. What about writing a novel where the woman is drawn to a guy with a small business, and who can jet set without going on a private jet? He might even enjoy walking or taking public transportation, oh my! Romance novels are not meant to be political statements, but how can so many women decry Wall Street's practices and the 1% paying less and less taxes, and then be drawn to characters like Christian in Fifty Shades of Grey. Maybe I am the only one who analyzes things like this?
Ultimately, what turned me off finishing this book was that the treatment of the character Jose. He is very similar to Jacob in Twilight, in that he is a sweet guy who is easily rebuffed just because he tries to kiss Ana. Oh my goodness! Ana and Jacob are out drinking at a club after graduation, and he kisses her, call the brigade immediately! However, we are only supposed to be mildly concerned that Christian has access to online software that tracks the location of Ana's cell phone, and that he can come and get her at the drop of a hat. That is not supposed to be overly creepy?
A sweet and artistic photography major like Jose incenses Ana just because he kisses her, after years of putting up with the mixed signals she was sending him. To be clear: I am not supporting guys who kiss girls who are not interested in them, but it seems the creep factor is being transferred to the wrong person in this situation. Admittedly Christian tells Ana he is broken and she should stay away, but she is drawn to this project like a magnet. Oh goody, I love stories where people try to change other people, even thought we know it does not work that way in real life.
This is the theme in many romance novels with the nice but not so rich guy playing second fiddle to the wealthy hunk, and the woman going off with him into the sunset on his helicopter. Of course according to Christian Grey: people who can afford to spend millions on their hobbies have more engrossing ones, because painting, drawing, or music done on a budget cannot be engrossing? Do not expect me to feel sorry for the 1% who want to pay less tax than ever under the proposed Ryan plans, but who have no problem with middle class and working class people getting social security and medicare cuts, and having to pay more payroll tax. I am not saying we can never read fun novels, and I do too, but why is it the hero is always a rich guy like Christian? Ana eventually marries him at the end of the trilogy, so despite all the kinky bondage in this novel, it is pretty much just a formulaic romance in many ways. What about a woman holding out for a guy who is not rich, who does not like to drive, or maybe just deciding she wants to be single for life? Some how I doubt a book like that would be a best seller, but I have to be honest about themes that annoy me in novels the mainstream seems to love at the moment.
If you disagree with me about Fifty Shades of Grey, then you should write your own review about it. If you are curious about the book, you can always read it and decide for yourself.