10 Things Not to Like About Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of GreyRated M for Mature Audiences.

What’s wrong with Fifty Shades of Grey? What’s right with it? Read on, to find out!

Yet another blogger is taking it upon herself to critique Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James. Moi! This is not a review of the novel exactly. Because Ms. James needs no review from me. On Amazon alone, at the time of this writing, over 16,000 reviews were in place for her novel, the first in the Fifty Shades trilogy. The average rating is a little over 3 stars which is mediocre, so apparently a lot of the reviewers feel the same way I do. I’m not reading all 16,000 to find out though.

Like many others, I had to find out what all the excitement was about. I had started this tome before, and got half through, and was thoroughly not captivated, not amused, not titillated, and not interested in what became of Anastasia Steele and her ill-fated tryst with Christian Grey. But I decided to try again and this time, I would note all the things that drove me bug-nuts and then blog about it.

A handy itemized list of complaints for your easy consumption:

1. Repeating actions. Anastasia does the same things over and over, ad nauseum. Eye rolling and lip biting does get tedious. Maybe try some other quirky, I-am-so-lovely-yet-without-a-clue-how-lovely-that-is, twenty-something, amusing facial expressions. It would be appreciated by the reader. The wonderful, virginous, cutsily clumsy Ms. Steele even rolls her eyes at herself! Oh Ms. Steele, you minx, you.

2. Cliches. Pedal to the metal? Are we serious here, Ms. James? Your picture shows a woman so young as to not even have heard this particular phrase used in conversation. Do people still say this? When I think of it, I think of some of the guys I used to know with their primer-painted, fixed up ’57 Chevies. And Monkey’s Uncle? Please tell me this one got by your editor. Or maybe she was rolling her eyes at the time and missed it?

3. Stereotypes. Ms. Steele never knows how off-the-charts gorgeous she is, of course, in a messily, plump-lipped, doe-eyed way and so she falls into Mr. Grey’s office the first time she meets him. That’s right. She trips over her own feet and falls down, and he has to help her up. This sounds like a really bad chick flick to me, and we’re still in Chapter One. And she’s a virgin, at what, twenty-two? And the time frame is, uh, now? This is a rare situation indeed.

4. Overused craps. Enough with the crap, double crap and the occasional triple crap.

5. Wow-did-she-really-write-that phrases. Here’s three that made my eyes roll:

  • …tossing her silken reddish-blond hair over her shoulder.” I don’t know what is most annoying; the tossing, the silken or the reddish-blond.
  • …gasping out my name in desperate wonder.Wha-att? I didn’t really read that, did I?
  • He gives me a wolfish grin.Pa-lease, I’m biting my lip here.

6. Too-often-used physical reactions. Ms. Steele flushes and blushes and goes crimson so often I think she may need to consult someone who specializes in blood pressure issues.

7. Holy Repeating Phrase, Batman! Here’s where it really gets tedious. The holy craps, holy shits, holy fucks, holy cows, holy hells and even an occasional holy Moses became so repetitive and annoying that I decided to count them. The Grand Total is 139 instances of these various Holy phrases. Everyone must have noticed this. I’m not the only one. Why is Anastasia in awe or in shock so often?

  • Holy shit (50)
  • Holy crap (38)
  • Holy fuck (19)
  • Holy cow (18)
  • Holy hell (9)
  • Holy Moses (5)

8. Writing style. It was not beautifully written.

9. The subject matter. Surprising how many people don’t have a problem with it.

10.Miscellaneous. Charlie Tango is a dumb name for a helicopter.

Shocked Woman

Holy crap! That’s right, holy crap!

Lest this be considered yet another sour grapes epistle, let me congratulate Ms. James on being the first at something. She brought erotica mainstream and her trilogy was newly a phenomenon when the copycats were popping up as fast as Viagra ads in the spam folder.

Here’s what I liked about Fifty Shades:

1. Writing style. It was not horribly written.

2. Music. The references to music  (and when I looked up some of the pieces I found a Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack!) There’s going to be a movie! Of course, Hollywood has to get in on the action. How are they going to get that rated R, I wonder?

3. The ending. Probably some of the best writing in the whole book and I had to wait until the last few pages to read it. And it’s a hook to get you to go on to the second in the trilogy.

4. The cover. The tie has a special significance in the story, and what could be more a symbol of power than an understated, expensive tie?

I am going to pass on any more Fifty Shades. I found it to be tedious, and I was uncomfortable reading some of it. The writing was mediocre, but it wasn’t terrible. I’ve read a lot worse. But I guess with what this book is selling, the quality of the writing is not too important.

What do you think about it? Or are you tired of the whole subject?

Image courtesy of marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

32 thoughts on “10 Things Not to Like About Fifty Shades of Grey

  1. Without researching the history here, and therefore making a totally unfounded, and rumour comment, wasn’t this book originally self published, but it picked up an audience and a publisher picked it up? I could be completely wrong, but that might account for some things making it past an editor.

    I’m not intending to read it but I have to say well done to the author for the level of success.

    I like that you counted the “Holy” variations 🙂

    • Elliot, I think is was self-published first under a different title, then picked up by a small publisher who published it as an ebook. It somehow just caught on, from women whispering to each other about it. Just one of those strange things that happens. Good literature goes by the wayside, but Twilight and 50 Shades are elevated to obscene levels of commercial success. The first one with a new idea always does well, then the copiers aren’t far behind.

      • I thought it was something along those lines. I used to get annoyed with average authors getting too good sales (e.g. Dan Brown) but these days I figure if they are lucky enough to catch on and grab sales, all good for them. So long as they are not claiming themselves as one of the greats, then I’m not too bothered. Some people who don’t read many books might claim them good, but I ignore their views much like I would someone claiming some bland music album is fabulous and a must listen.

        • I think you nailed it when you said “people who don’t read many books”. Some read the best sellers and that’s all they read. And best sellers are usually all about hype and a gimmick. Yeah, it’s all okay. Good for those authors I guess. Wish it weren’t that way but it’s all about $$$ unfortunately.

  2. I couldn’t get past the free Amazon sample. The simpering, blushing main character alienated me and I wondered what sort of a person he was to want her – no challenge…
    Lynn, harking back to previous blog, I sent you an email of thanks, or so I thought, but it showed up as a comment on my own blog, DUH! I never cease to be amazed at my own cyber age stupidity.

    • Really, it is a tedious read. After I got the idea to count the Holy phrases, it became even more so because I was constantly having to note each occurrence so I could go back and count. And, June, you aren’t cyber-age stupid. I am the same way, sometimes can’t remember in what form a communication came from. Email, blog comment, Goodreads message? Facebook? So I end up hunting around.a while. It gets confusing when we are involved in so many mediums. I will go look for that comment. Thanks!

  3. This was a really good one! After listening to the passages Joyce was reading at the last GTE, I found I’d have no trouble passing on this particular ‘trilogy’ of pedestrian erotica. Really?? Riding crops?? Anyone came at me with one of those, if I wasn’t riding an actual horse, would be picking it out of a pretty sensitive place!

  4. I haven’t read these, and I don’t intend to, but like you, I give the author props for finding something people apparently want to read. More power to her, I say. The degree of her success is really mind-boggling.

    Guess both you and I are taking on a couple of best-selling authors today, huh? I’m sure they’re both devastated by our posts… 😉

  5. I’m glad you did this review. After the GTE I got the book and I still haven’t finished reading it because I agree with all you have said. I can’t believe this book was sold so much. Keep up the good reviewsl

  6. First of all I have to say…..

    I have to give props to the author and her marketing/promoting team for getting her work out there to the masses. Maybe there is something we can all learn about marketing here.

    Second, I have spent two hours reading 500 of those Amazon review titles alone (not every review!) and must say that was the most laugh filled and extremely entertaining hours I have spent since watching a Will Ferrell movie.

    Third, I couldn’t get past the first 10 pages of the free Amazon read because I had to go do something else…I haven’t been back, don’t plan on going back.

    Fourth, this was indeed a very well written observation of the book. My favorite part….the Holy Crap Count. I’m still wiping tears out of my eyes.

    • M.J., I heard that somehow this book just took off, amost a fluke, word of mouth. Maybe because of the subject matter, and curiosity prevailed? Not sure. Thanks for reading, and now I wish I’d thought of that — The Holy Crap Count — I could have worked that into the the post somehow. Glad you liked the post!

  7. I refused to read 50 Shades for several reasons and judging by your post, not reading it won’t be one of my regrets whne I’m on my death bed having a Holy Crap I wish I’d read it moment. Thank you for a brilliant and entertaining post, Lynn and for reasuring me that my time was better spent eating lots of chocolate after all.

    • There are so many reasons not to read it. You will not regret the time it took to get through this tedious book. Over and over and over, the same stuff. To say it is cliched is vastly understated. I read it so you don’t have to! Eat more chocolate! Thanks, Fran, for your nice words.

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    • Thanks, Benison. Hope I saved you the trouble. Eight (or more) hours of my life wasted to this effort. Not worth it. You’re right, too many really good books out there to bother with the liked of 50 Shades.

  9. Hi Lynn, I read this review before, but came back to read it today because I started listening to FS– Listening because it lets me see what all the drama is about without donating my precious reading time to the cause. I so agree with everything you wrote and don’t know if I’ll make it to the end–you may have to share a spoiler with me.
    And add to the list of annoying repeating phrases “OH, MY!”

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