Category Archives: 50 Shades of Twilight
There are life’s guilty pleasures, and then there is the guiltiest spectacle of them all: the Fifty Shades of Grey spectacle. It’s time to review this precious pearl of literary genius, so I’m going to dive on in. Hold me.
When we last left our romantic icons, Ana Steele and Christian Grey, they were newly engaged and facing (a) Ana’s ex-boss, Jack Hyde, whom Christian fired in a fit of jealous pique when Jack made a pass at Ana and (b) Christian’s “Mrs. Robinson,” the woman who initiated him into his life of BDSM. Can these two crazy love birds find happiness and contentment? Thank goodness E. L. James doesn’t keep us hanging and gives us the GIFT that is Fifty Shades Freed.
The tale opens just after Christian and Ana’s wedding, as the two bask on their European honeymoon. They bicker, rock the headboard, bicker some more, and have make-up rocking of the headboard. While enjoying their romantic interlude, Christian learns that someone apparently tried to sabotage part of his building. Enter the “plot” portion of the festivities. The threat to Grey Enterprises increases, and we are meant to be on the edge of our seats in anticipation of how this AWFUL THING will transpire. There also continues to be friction in the Grey marriage. These two argue about the same damn thing all the time, followed by furious headboard rockin’.
So there’s your story.
While this one shares certain similarities with Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker, in Fifty Shades Freed, James actually attempts – gulp – style. There are flashbacks, seemingly set at even intervals, but then mysteriously dropped. Until, that is, the epilogue, where they show up again. Clearly E. L. James realized that we don’t read these books for STYLE. I mean, really.
Let’s get to the good stuff, shall we? Because, let’s face it: we also do not read these books for their plot. Please. There are more important things to anticipate.
THE BUTT PLUG SHOWS UP!!!!!
I know some of you have waited in breathless anticipation, and you will not be denied! We also meet the flogger AND the cross is used AND the grid. Insert jumpy claps here. Christian and Ana continue to Know Each Other in the Biblical Sense in different locales, including – but not limited to – an airplane, a yacht, a couch, a shower, a bathtub, a picnic blanket and – thank GOD – the red satin bed in the Red Room of Pain.
But you know what is not used in any romantic situation whatsoever? The grey tie! I am bereft with grief. I got attached to that tie, and while it makes a brief appearance, it does not do so wrapped around anyone’s appendages. It’s a tease, and I am not amused.
Also missing: any sign of a competent, coherent editor. What IS present is the same repetitious writing. It takes less than three pages for the first smirk to appear. And this time? Christian and Ana aren’t the only two who smirk. Other characters get in on the action. I suspect that E. L. James is f-ing with me. We also get bitten lips, rolled eyes, lips pressed into a hard line, frowns and sighs.
But a new play has entered the repertoire: Christian rubs his nose down the length of Ana’s nose.
Naturally, this being E. L. James, he does that A LOT. Almost as often as one of them says, “Hmmm.” Clearly the message is that in the absence of the ability to write dialogue, insert a breathy moan.
And now, an excerpt. Feel free to use this as an interpretive dialogue:
Hmm … my Fifty wants to tumble.
“Don’t bite your lip,” he warns.
Compliantly, I release my lip. “I think you have me at a disadvantage, Mr. Grey.” [They call each other Mr. and Mrs. Grey ALL THE TIME, as if they forgot their first names.] I bat my lashes and squirm provocatively beneath him. This could be fun.
“Surely you’ve already got me where you want me?” He smirks [!!!!! – of course he does] and presses his groin into mine once more.
Ah, language. Its mellifluous use is a lost art, isn’t it? Thank goodness E. L. James is here to reinvigorate writing.
As I typed that, I mistakenly wrote “goddess,” rather than “goodness.” That brings me to another repetition: Ana’s subconscious, complete with the half moon glasses and disdain, shows up again. The inner goddess is not as present, but that subconscious school marm sure is. Oh, lucky us.
So is Fifty Shades Darker worth the read? OF COURSE IT IS. You can’t stop at their engagement! You need to read about the wedding and the honeymoon and the corporate intrigue and the early months of their marriage and the in-laws and the Evil Ex-Employee and the Evil Ex-Dominatrix. You can’t stop at the second one! You must read this!
Oh, it’s awful. Don’t get me wrong about that. It is just as badly written and edited as its predecessors. But, as I have said before, it is literary crack. So bad for you, but so addicting.
A plus: at the end, we get a brief glimpse of Christian’s point of view. And then – AND THEN – E. L. James says, “That’s all … for now.”
OH MY GOD – THERE WILL BE MORE! Please let it be. For the love of Mark Twain, PLEASE LET THERE BE MORE.
I previously extolled the virtues of 50 Shades of Grey, and after taking a break for a few days from Ana and Christian’s tortured romance, I girded my loins and cracked open the second book of the trilogy, 50 Shades Darker.
For those of you who have found this blog by Googling “butt plug” or “fisting,” half of you will enjoy your lucky day, because one of those is kinda sorta featured in this book. As it is, the only fisting we ever see – ever come close to seeing – is that of Ana’s or Christian’s hands in the others’ hair. And that happens a lot. Not as often as Ana or Christian gasping, or Christian setting his lips in a hard line, or Ana biting her lip, or Ana coming undone, or Christian frowning. In fact, Christian’s frowning is such a “thing” that, when Ana frowns, another character observes that she’s turning into Christian.
It’s just … WHERE THE HELL WAS THE EDITOR?
But I digress.
To dig too deeply into the spectacle that is 50 Shades of Grey is to approach Sisyphean frustration. Trust me, because I know of what I speak. I spent an inordinate amount of time wondering how it was that Christian Grey was 27 and a billionaire as I read the first book. I don’t think we are meant to really ponder this stuff. I think we’re supposed to strap on our dildos and have at it, as it were.
Okay, so. When we last left Christian and Ana, she had walked out on him, horrified at the depravity entailed in his life of BDSM. (Go ahead and Google THAT, people. I had to, so you might as well.) As with its muse, Twilight, we see our heroine descend into despair, but unlike Bella’s months on end, Ana really only suffers for five days. Christian gets in touch with her, and it’s game on, kids. Christian is prepared to let go of his need for dominance in his playroom, because all he really wants – all he really needs – is Ana. She has admitted that she loves him, but it takes Christian a little longer.
Now, before you start thinking that this is the end of the Red Room of Pain, let me tell you that it is not. Don’t worry –
Edward Christian keeps the room, and Ana remains inexplicably drawn to it. So those butt plugs come in handy (no pun intended), although – SPOILER – Christian does point out that for the anally virgin, a finger is a better start. So Ana has something to look forward to, so to speak.
Back to the plot, such as it is. It turns out that one of Christian’s former subs remains fixated on him, so she enters the story to muck up Christian and Ana’s relationship. Also causing trouble is Ana’s boss at the publishing house. He wants her, which pisses off Christian, who reacts as only Christian can. Meanwhile, Christian and Ana’s romance progresses in fits and starts. She loves him, he really cares about her, can he say the “L” word, can they get past his need for control, why does he love her, why does she love him, can he overcome his tortured childhood, blah blah blah.
What you really want to know about are the sex scenes, right? RIGHT? I’m pretty sure you butt plug searching people aren’t here to learn about the dialogue.
In this book, they rock the headboard in an elevator, on a boat, in Christian’s childhood room, in the shower (again – evidently they enjoy that spot), Ana’s apartment bedroom, Christian’s apartment bedroom, and – YESS! – the Red Room of Pain. Oh, and on top of a piano and a pool table. There may be more. Did the desk happen in this book, or the previous one? I think they wind up on Christian’s desk in this one, too.
During one of the many times Ana challenges Christian, they are in the library, competing in a billiards game.
“You know, Anastasia, I could stand here and watch you leaning and stretching across this billiard table all day,” he says appreciatively.
I flush. [SHE FLUSHES A LOT. That’s another thing that is repetitive, and so again, I ask, WHERE THE HELL IS THE EDITOR? Oh – those are “shouty caps,” according to Ana. Back to the program.] Thank heavens I am wearing my jeans. He smirks. [HE SMIRKS A LOT. So does she. Sometimes they smirk, bite lips and eye roll, all at the same time.] He’s trying to put me off my game, the bastard. He pulls his cream sweater over his head, tosses it onto the back of a chair, and grins at me, as he saunters over to take his first shot.
He bends low over the table. My mouth goes dry. Oh, I see what he means. Christian in tight jeans and white T-shirt, bending, like that … is something to behold. I quite lose my train of thought. He sinks four solids rapidly, then fouls by sinking the white.
Foreplay, Christian styles.
And now, for the butt plug searchers:
“What’s this?” I hold up the silver bullet thing.
“Always hungry for information, Miss Steele. That’s a butt plug,” he says gently.
“Bought for you.”
What? For me?
He nods slowly, his face now serious and wary.
I frown. [AGAIN – she always frowns. Or he frowns. They frown a LOT.] “You buy new, er … toys … for each submissive?”
“Some things. Yes.”
So there you go. They come up again, so buy a copy and knock yourself out.
Is 50 Shades Darker good? Hell to the no, it is not good. But is it entertaining? Yes. Is it hot? Yes. Is it worth reading? Yes. If you can get past all of the awful writing, it’s very enjoyable. I admit that I read it cover to cover, and I look forward to 50 Shades Freed. Do not, however, mistake an enjoyable read for something well written, because this is NOT well written. It’s like literary crack. You know it’s bad for you, and you feel dirty and low for enjoying it, but you can’t stop.
Yes, FOUR. Don’t judge me.
Published by Vintage and available on Amazon.com.
It had to happen, sooner or later. I knew I would give in and succumb to curiosity. What is the big deal about 50 Shades of Grey? What fresh hell of spanking did E. L. James write? Is it worth the hype, or not?
And so I did. I bought a copy of 50 Shades of Grey, and despite feeling kind of dirty and kind of pervy, I read it, cover to cover, over the weekend.
In case you live in a tree’s knot hole, here is the basic synopsis of 50 Shades of Grey: on the cusp of graduating from college, Anastasia Steele (for reals, that is her name) meets 27-year-old billionaire Christian Grey when Ana’s roommate, Kate, cannot make her appointment. Kate is supposed to interview Christian for the school’s newspaper, and so, in the throes of the flu, she enlists Ana to take care of business. (One of the interview questions: are you gay. Again, for reals.) When Christian and Ana shake hands, each feels an electric current, and each is undeniably attracted to the other.
Now, when most couples discuss the parameters of their relationship, they focus on things such as weekend plans, seeing other people, favorite foods, etc. When Christian and Ana have that little chat, they cover things such as fisting and butt plugs.
See, when Christian thinks you are a naughty girl, he takes action, and he leaves you – if you’re lucky – with a pink bottom, glowing from the spankin’ you got. He’s also been known to use other paraphernalia, that of the leather and metal variety, in what Ana comes to think of as the “Red Room of Pain.”
Can a girl who wants true love find it with a man who likens affection to a massage by a riding crop?
Well, sure she can! And if you don’t believe me, just ask Bella Swan, who found true love with a vampire.
See, E.L. James started this zippy tome as a fan fic homage to Twilight, a book written equally as wretchedly.
Now, I’m going to admit, straight up, that I liked 50 Shades of Grey, but perhaps not for the reasons Ms. James would prefer. I found it wildly entertaining and cannot tell you how many times I laughed out loud. I’m sure that number count is lower, however, than the number of times we are told that Christian presses his lips together in a hard line, that Ana bites her lips, that Christian runs his hands through his hair, that Ana “clambers” over him, that Christian does not want to be touched, that Ana wants to touch Christian, that Ana thinks she is unworthy, or that Christian does not want to lose her.
Sound familiar? It is just as draining and ridiculous as Twilight, which begs the question of whether or not the same person edited these books.
Anyway. A scene:
He steps back and gazes at me, his expression hooded, salacious, carnal, and I am helpless, my hands tied, but just looking at his lovely face, reading his need and longing for me, I can feel the dampness between my legs. He walks slowly around me.
“You look mighty fine trussed up like this, Miss Steele. And your smart mouth quiet for now. I like that.”
Standing in front of me again, he hooks his fingers into my panties and, at a most unhurried pace, peels them down my legs, stripping me agonizingly slowly, so that he ends up kneeling in front of me. Not taking his eyes off mine, he scrunches my panties in his hand, holds them up to his nose, and inhales deeply.
I am laughing so hard right now, and I’m pretty sure that I’m not supposed to do that. But I just … this is funny stuff, kids. I know it’s supposed to be hot – and believe me, there are some pretty hot scenes and some serious headboard rocking – but this? THIS scene? Is FUNNY. I’m still laughing.
So, 50 Shades of Grey. Read it for its entertainment value. If you liked Twilight, and GOD HELP ME, I liked that stupid series, you will like this. It is just so bad that it’s good.
Published by Vintage and available on Amazon.com.