Friday, 3 March 2017

Book Review: Fifty Shades of Grey


I have to admit, there was such a hype surrounding this book (and it's series and film adaptation) that I've been curious to see what the fuss was all about for quite a while. After having a browse on amazon, I took the plunge and bought it on kindle for a steal of a price. I was pleasantly surprised towards the beginning of the novel; the build up to meeting the main characters was interesting and there was a definite starting storyline. I enjoyed the banter between Ana and her flat mate, Kate and seeing their relationships with men develop. I initially found Ana to be quite a strong lead, until she become swallowed up entirely by the introduction of Christian, or 'Mr. Grey', which completely ruined her character for me. I found out through discussing the book with a work mate that it was originally written as fan fiction for the Twilight series. Once I knew that, I became more and more aware of little tidbits of similarities; for example, the lenghty and drawn out part where Christian and Ana discuss trust and she mentions that he 'dazzles' her. 

I felt like this book really undermined the female characters; the two main female characters come across as utterly lovesick to the point where they can't survive without men. Which was incredibly disappointing as both Ana and Kate were originally introduced as being level headed, strong willed young women who had clear ideas about life. However, by succumbing to their love interests they suddenly lost a lot of interest from me as a reader. The story being told from Ana's view was interesting, initially but became increasingly repetitive, particularly as the author was using the same phrases or descriptions throughout the book. On the whole, it felt like that the constant descriptions of how Ana feels whilst having or dreaming about sex were fairly unnecessary and a little bit pointless. I'm not a prude by any means, it's more that I simply didn't care. I didn't connect with what her character had become; the Ana at the finale of the book didn't match with the Ana the reader is introduced to at the start.

The main issue I had with this book was how Ana seemed to be constantly making excuses for Christian's unacceptable and frankly, abusive behaviour towards her. She was always excusing him and his ways through blaming his past, his family background and past lovers. Her insane jealously is geared  toward his (what she would call abuser, the reader would call) past conquest, whilst failing to connect the signs of abuse she believes he endured, with her reality. Somehow, Ana thinks it's reasonable for him to beat her almost senseless, that it's acceptable that she is forced to follow absurd rules and address him as 'sir'. Yet, despite this, there were times when I found myself sympathising with her; she's so incredibly naive. She's understandably overwhelmed by his lavish gifts and obviously adores having the attentions of this handsome man. However, there are also moments where she does defy him, where she seems to be able to control her desire for him and his attention; but she always returns to the same, dependant and lovesick persona.

Overall, I found the majority of the novel wholly unbelieveable. Considering that Ana had no experience with men, she somehow doesn't seem to realise how self destructive and erratic her behaviour becomes after several rounds of Christian stalking, beating, threatening and essentially controlling her in every way. I honestly can't understand how it took her so long to understand just how much Christian was ruining her; forcing her to stay using sex as a weapon. She eventually does realise that what she believes to be love, is in his eyes simply an easy fuck. Which leads me on to the last point; it was so frustrating reading so many descriptive words that could've been used replaced by expletives simply for the shock effect. The truth was, it stopped being so shocking and eventually became annoying. I'll admit, I'll likely read the next one as I am curious to see where the story goes as the ending of this novel did shock me. Ana eventually woke up, but not soon enough and I feel like the novel came across as a bit of bad joke. It had the potential to be an interesting commentary on abusive relationships, but I'm so angry that the whole book feels full of excuses that abuse and controlling behaviour in any context is ok, which it should never be. I feel like this book gives completely the wrong message, particularly to young, impressionable girls.


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