Thursday, May 10, 2012

I Stopped at Page 105

I know it's all the rage and Hollywood is in a bidding war, but I didn't like "Fifty Shades of Grey" by E.L. James. In fact, this book is receiving my "Starring Sally J. Freeman as Herself" award for a book I refused to finish. This is a very short list.

It's a fact that many people love this book and as a writer, I'm thrilled a connection was made. I'm not a critic here to tell you why you're wrong. This is simply my experience, as a reader, with a Single Shade of Two Dimensional Predictability.

One of the most important things a writer must do is make the reader care about the characters. Titillating topics are fine, but a reader must believe. I put the book down for several reasons. The most important was because I DIDN'T CARE.

Let's look at all my issues with the book because I suspect that there are others out there looking around, saying "Seriously? Am I the only one...?"

In my opinion, this story is entirely directed by a dominating author and I don't play submissive well. Beginning with Christian--I never believed what I was told about him. Of course, his first strike against him was that he was a bad, rich boy too handsome for words and successful beyond measure. Ummm, yawn? I read Harlequins in the pool so that if they fall in, there's no loss. Unoriginal, titillating books have their place  in a disposable environment--for me. Again, these are just my thoughts.

Despite being the worst kind of generic male lead, Christian is a two dimensional game piece to get to the kinky sex. Is he developed more later? Maybe, but the beginning of the book must hold my interest for me to work that hard.

Which leads me to the most unbelievable female of them all, Ana--a 22 year old college student who has no idea of her own value and has never dated, let alone kissed a guy. Plus she loves sensual literature--red flag! Oh my Dooce, I don't believe it! We're reading about that greatest myth of all, the virgin who turns the bad boy around. I kept waiting for a damn unicorn to make the story realistic.

Each and every incident was predictable. Some were cute and one hot (despite broadcasting it a chapter earlier with the newlywed couple)--yes, the elevator scene. So see, I'm not writing this as a prude. It was hot. But I still didn't believe that in a single interview these two characters were set to scorch the earth. In other words, the scene was hot...for a short story. In fact, the "relationship" reminded me a of a bad porno (is there any other kind?). I'm too literal for those things so when the handyman with a huge tool moves in and upon meeting, his neighbor does a handstand into his face, I roll my eyes. That's how fast Christian and Ana ignite and with as much conversation and provocation.

What do we have so far? A ton of telling instead of showing and two dimensional characters with no credibility. Okay, if I was reading a manuscript for another author, I'd push through to see if the author turns it around, but I wasn't. I was reading for pleasure. So when my suspicions about the "paperwork" were confirmed, I set the book down and moved on.

Now we have reached my personal reasons for not continuing with the book.

I've watched a few documentaries about dominates and submissives, as well as swingers. This is not a world  I relate to. If people find happiness in these sexual expressions, that's all that matters. However, I would never be dominated in a demeaning way, nor would I ever humiliate someone. I think that kinky sex should begin with trust, sincerely developed trust, and not used to establish trust through humiliation. So since I didn't care about the two dimensional characters, particularly since it was a virgin changing a bad boy, I had no interest in reading about consensual brutality.

At page 105 I was so angry, I couldn't sleep. The only other time this happened was while watching a documentary about a dominatrix den. I didn't care for the man who wanted to be treated like a bad dog, but the woman who was spanked until her bottom was red, her cries genuine, had me so livid I was pacing.

One of the people who recommended the book told me the rest of the story, lest I might be interested in finishing the series knowing that it "wasn't what I expected." I admit, I was happy to hear that Ana stands up for herself and says no. The reason for Christian's tastes, though bordering on stereotyping, also piqued a tiny spark of interest, but at the end of the day, I didn't care enough about the characters to finish reading.

I had to laugh when the other reader told me that Christian is Edward and Ana, Bella. It made sense and I applaud the parallel of a masochist to a vampire. But since I can't stand Bella, it's no wonder Ana and her poorly developed personality was enough to make me say, "No."

Listening to "Love Song" by Sara Bareilles on Pandora - rather poetic.