I am not usually swayed to read books based on the hype surrounding them. In fact that puts me off them, sometimes for good, often until the hype dies down and I can read it without the static in my periphery. Now that all the excitement over the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy has pretty much abated, I decided to go ahead and read the series, mostly because my daughter bought them and left them for me when she finished. Otherwise I would have put it off until I had a justification for spending $30. I have reached the end of book 1 and have come to some conclusions about all the crazed opinions - regardless of whether pro or con. My biggest observation being that I don't think a lot of the detractors even read the flippin' books! That is shameful! It is as maddening as when churches decry books and movies based on minimal information without ever having read or watched the entire thing and ensuring they know what the fuck they are condemning so vehemently... I really hate that!
For the sake of clarity, I went into this book with nothing more than curiosity to paint (taint? ;-) my imagination. I intentionally cleared my mind to be able to form reasonable thoughts of my own because the opinions out there were so varying and sometimes over the top outrageous.
I know little to nothing about BDSM. It is not something I personally want to become intimately knowledgeable about. Based on what I have read, I can see where folks might have a very strong love or hate for it. I can even see where some could see it as demeaning to either sex. I've come to realize that, unless you know what it is all about, having an opinion like that could well be considered ill-informed. I was actually somewhat disappointed that there was so little of it, simply because so much focus was placed on it in the media and on too many blogs to count. Granted that there is no shortage of sex, but who doesn't have sex a lot in a new relationship? I suppose on some level I wanted to satisfy some (morbid?) curiosity about it as well.
I am befuddled about the hatred of the Christian Grey character by so many people. To me he reads like someone who is injured in his heart and soul and is looking for a way -- any way -- to heal. That the BDSM he wishes to perform on/with Anatasia Steele is an outlet for him is not in question, but he makes it very clear that she can CHOOSE to or not to do ANYTHING in his bag of tricks. That shows more respect for her than many men show in relationships around the world. The effect of A.S. on C.G. is intriguing as well. It is very telling that he wants to learn to be what she needs in order to have her in his life. That appears to be a HUGE concession for a man who must maintain control in every aspect of his life. C.G. was HONEST about his nature and oddities. He flat out told her to stay away from him because he was "50 shades of fucked up" and therefore no good for her.
A.S. is an extremely unique individual in that she was a virgin when she met C.G. To make it all the way through college without having relationships of any depth and without sex to boot is an accomplishment to some and a failure to others. [Looking back, I myself sometimes wish I had waited longer for the sake of maturity and understanding about sex and what it means to me, but the children I have because I didn't are too valuable to be traded for a regret.] In just a short period of time, A.S. learns what she likes and does not like, forms deep emotional attachment to the one she lost her virginity to and she struggles to believe that she does have value to C.G. She chose to pursue this unusual relationship with C.G. fully aware of his "predilection" as she so aptly called it.
As picky as I am about what I read and how well written it is or isn't I was pleasantly surprised. This story has not been written as poorly as some reviews would have you believe. In spite of the fact that the various forms of the word clamber are quite over-used, the author did develop the characters well. Is it a literary masterpiece? Not by a long shot. Is it any better or worse than some of the Harlequin romances so many of us grew up reading (and that some still read...)? I would say it is better written and has better depth of character than many of those. That said, it definitely has bigger, dirtier, racier and hotter sex scenes than a lot of those and that could be over-whelming to some readers.
I have to question whether those who say this book is demeaning to women have actually read it AND if they have whether they even really understood what they were reading. From the get-go these characters had to learn how to make concessions and negotiate the choppy waters of new and unfamiliar emotions. In any relationship, talking things through is of utmost importance. Hubster and I still struggle with that sometimes even after 19+ years, as do most of the couples we know. It is normal and more difficult for some than others. C.G. and A.S. began to learn to communicate with each other. That it all fell apart at the end of book 1 is no surprise, as they hadn't figured out the dance yet.
50 Shades of Grey made me laugh, cry and hold my breath throughout. That is a wide range of emotion to capture and because of that I was very pleased. I would say that if you have chosen not to read it, maybe you should rethink that. Judge the story for yourself rather than based on what others have had to say. You might be pleasantly surprised like I was. I plan to ask Hubster to read it, because I really want to know what he thinks of it. Maybe I will even nag him into writing a review here from the male perspective.
I haven't read book 2 but I intend to. I look forward to seeing whether the integrity of the writing holds up through it and book 3. Many series begin to fall apart and others completely derail. I will definitely revisit my opinions and expand them after. I just hope I can find the "perfect quote" from the book for my title as easily as I found this one. As soon as I read the words on the page I knew it was the title.