Dear authors, publishers, agents, and anyone else dealing in getting books to print: not everything needs to be a trilogy (this goes for movies, too). Particularly books that are ill-conceived, poorly developed, and terribly written. The Fifty Shades Trilogy can barely be called a trilogy as it is, so I decided to review them as one. Before I get into the details, I’ll give you a brief summary of each book. I will warn you here, there will be slight spoilers for the entire series from here on out.
Fifty Shades of Grey: Anastasia Steele meets hot, rich Christian Grey, and after discovering he likes kinky sex, they have lots of it.
Fifty Shades Darker: Anastasia and Christian fight in between having lots of kinky sex until he finally proposes.
Fifty Shades Freed: Anastasia fights and has kinky sex with Christian before getting kidnapped, saving herself, and eventually marrying him.
Plot: For those who are unaware, these books started as Twlight fan-fiction. I have nothing against fan-fiction, and there is a lot of great stuff out there. I also find it amazing that her fan-fic was so popular, it ended up getting her a book deal. She was made to change names and other details before print, but the similarities are painfully obvious, right down to the poor writing. Here are a few of note:
- Boring, naive, heroine who doesn’t think she’s pretty, yet all males are infatuated with her (or at least want in her pants)
- Controlling, yet otherwise perfect love interest (rich, gorgeous, and even plays the piano)
- Flighty mother who lives across the country, and emotionally distant, yet loving father nearby
- An early marriage proposal, with the heroine unsure at the start
- Someone out for revenge on the heroine for ruining their life (this time an ex-boss who made a move)
There is no real plot to these books other than the “romance” and sex. The story-line following Anastasia’s ex-boss feels like a quick add-on, and I found it didn’t do anything for character development or advancement other than to further prove that Ana could do no wrong.
Characters: Ana is annoying, and if I am brutally honest, stupid. She is with a man who is controlling to the point of stalking and borderline abusive. To Christian’s credit, she often acts like a petulant child. Aside from his psychotic tendencies, Christian is the uber-fantasy: a billionaire who barely needs to do actual work, a philanthropist, pianist, the best looking man alive, and (who could forget) well endowed. Oh, but Ana can so easily cure those bad tendencies!
Writing: The first line at the beginning of this review does a great job of showing you some of the ways I found the writing terrible. The repetitiveness grew tiresome. Scowling with frustration. Looking at myself in the mirror. It’s cumbersome. The repetition continued beyond sentence structure. Her word choices made even the sex boring by the end (which is really all the book was). If there are only so many ways you can describe sex, maybe you shouldn’t write a book that has a sex scene around every ten pages.
Ana becomes sexually liberated, yet continues to refer to her vagina as her “sex” or “down there.” Her subconscious is personified, as is her libido. The former wears half-moon spectacles, reads Charles Dickens, frowns, and calls Ana a whore. The latter dances a lot, though at one point she hid behind a couch.
And what is with the random use of full names? Do you refer to your friends or significant other by their full name, even in your thoughts? Well apparently, Ana does. She also bites her lip or rolls her eyes more times than I cared to count. Look elsewhere, people have done searches of the repetitive terms or phrases used and can give you an exact count. My personal favorite may have to be when they refer to Christian’s birth mother as “the crack whore.”
Final Thoughts: I cannot fathom how these books will be turned into movies not considered porn. When you take away all of the graphic sexual descriptions, you are left with a terribly executed plot that has been done a million different ways. Neither of the characters are particularly endearing and show no real growth. I was particularly disturbed by the end of the third book, where within paragraphs, the author goes from describing a kinky sexual encounter between the now married Ana and Christian, to him licking a melted popsicle off his own son’s finger. The only saving grace of these books was that they were a quick read for me. I was in between two large novels, and it was much needed fluff.
3 out of 10
Author: E.L. James
Category(s): Romance, Erotica, Contemporary
Pages: 514 (Grey), 544 (Darker), 592 (Freed) – Paperback count