Why I will never read Fifty Shades

I might as well apologise in advance to those people who loved Fifty Shades Of Grey, who said it was a revelation in erotic literature for women, who’s sex lives were revolutionised by it, for there are bound to be some of those people reading this, given that 95% of the world read it, it seems.

Before we start, I would like to state for the record that I’m not dismissing it because it’s erotic literature and I’m some kind of straight-laced prude. I can read anything if it’s written well. That’s the secret of a good writer, I think. To make the writing invisible and let the story shine. If you’re having to pay attention to the writing, in a bad way, the story is lost.

The names are probably a good place to start. Has she really called them Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele?! It’s as silly as if I decided to write a novel about cake baking and named the main characters Mr. Butter and Miss Sugar. Grey and Steele. It might even be ok if she left it at that but she just goes on and on about things that are grey and steel, as if she’s trying to send secret messages to my subconscious and create atmosphere except that she’s been so obvious about her subconscious messaging that I’m now paying more attention to the stupidly obvious references than the story.

How many people, when they are walking along and see a building with lots of metal things and some writing in silver by a door, how many people do you know that would describe it as being written in ‘steel’? O yes, I often see things written in steel… It’s so stupidly obviously a reference to her name and is trying to build a theme.

Please grant me with more intelligence than needing nonsensical references to names and words to create ‘atmosphere’.

It goes on and on. Lots of things are described as ‘gray’ too, the building, his suit, his eyes, his stare… Blah blah blah. It was either written in a really contrived way or an editor came along after and used the ‘find and replace’ tool on Word to replace every possible other word with ‘grey’ or ‘steel’. It bothers me, this type of thing. Bad writing. Poorly disguised efforts at ‘themes’. Bad editing. It bothers me.
The book also lost me when the Steele girl first goes into the Grey man’s office and is all intimidated and nervous then suddenly sees some paintings and just goes, “They’re lovely. Raising the ordinary to the extraordinary.” Like a deranged elderly person might. Just go off into their own little world and start saying odd poetic things in a singsong voice. How many people do you know that would come out with a line like that in normal conversation?

Next up, the language used in the first ten or twenty pages to build the theme of ‘sex’. Right after she’s turned into a deranged elderly person and started saying odd thing, he ‘cocks’ his head at her. Now I might not think anything of it if he didn’t ‘cock’ his head about six times over the next few pages. What an extremely poorly disguised way to get the word ‘cock’ in early on, to build the ‘atmosphere’ (I guess). I could hardly stop myself from screaming when he kept ‘cock’ing.

There is lots of finger talk too. I’m guessing fingers play a part later in the story? He gives her a ‘long-fingered’ handshake, she’s all ‘fingers and thumbs’, etc etc. Check this sentence out.

“He’s watching me, one hand relaxed in his lap and the other cupping his chin and trailing his long index finger across his lips.”

I mean, come on! It’s straight from a badly written porn film. As is this one…

“I squirm uncomfortably under his penetrating gaze.”

The ‘penetrating’, like the head cocking, is repeated to a fault. I’m still only about ten pages in and already I’m bombarded with bad writing and more references to sex than I can handle without rebelling.

I feel like saying, “Calm down, author lady! I get it! It’s going to be sexy. Don’t force the point.”

And that, my friends, is why I will not be reading Fifty Shades of Sex.

If I want badly written porn, I will go and find some actual badly written porn.

28 responses to this post.

  1. You’re so right. Bad writing is bad writing. Unfortunately, the success of the book says more about today’s readers who β€” sigh β€” wouldn’t know good writing if it hit them with a steel beam. Your review, on the other hand, is clever and delightful. (Love find and replace”)


    • Thanks. I love a bit of Find And Replace. I used to do it in essays when I worried about overusing a word. I’d go and change a few to avoid repetition. It seems the editor of Fifty Shades had the exact opposite idea to me!


      • I do exactly the same thing with find and replace. Sometimes I wonder how writers like Jane Austen and Mark Twain managed to write really good books with just pen and paper. I wish I were so fluid and good!

      • O goodness. If I write stuff with pen and paper, there’s scribbles, there’s arrows here and there, there’s bits where the pen ran out. Interestingly, though, I can write pretty fluidly on my WordPress app on my phone with hardly any going back and editing.

  2. I did actually read the book. I find it really hard not to finish a book once I start it. Having said that, I will never read another of the series because it was so badly written. So, just in case you were tempted to pick it up to see if it got better, I’ll save you the hassle and tell you that it doesn’t.


  3. This post gave me a good, early morning chuckle. Heh.

    I made it through the first book and halfway through the second before I finally gave up. I mentioned this at a party with a bunch of my female relatives and the reaction was an overwhelming, “OH MY GOD, NO, YOU’VE GOT TO READ THROUGH TO THE THIRD ONE!”

    I’m on the “can’t read bad writing” train myself, and oh my god is the writing bad, but I DO understand why the books were so popular. For one thing, the sex scenes are quite titillating, and women are known to be more aroused by their own imagination than what’s visually right in front of their eyes. For another thing, though the writing seems awful to us, it seems perfectly logical and understandable to people who don’t normally do a lot of reading, like how someone who knows nothing about astronomy probably won’t read a book on astrophysics, but might enjoy a book that shows them how to find the constellations. You get what I’m saying? My mother reads very little – like maybe one or two romance novels every five or six years – and she loved the 50 Shades books. And I can’t really blame her too much, because knowing her reading history, what are the chances that she’d be able to enjoy something like, say, Game of Thrones? Not likely, hmm?

    Okay, I’ve gone off on a tangent, sorry. lol


  4. Posted by Maggie Thom on September 23, 2013 at 15:36

    I too have no plans on reading it. I thought I was alone. πŸ™‚ When there is so much hype about something I tend to think that people have forgotten to see if there is any truth to what is being said. I really don’t know what the series is about other than I have heard it referred to as pornographic. Kudos to the author that figured out how to market it so well. Maybe they’ll take all that money and spend some on writing… It’s too bad that good marketing and good books don’t always go together. πŸ™‚ Great post.


  5. Posted by Robyn on September 23, 2013 at 16:06

    I didn’t read them either, for the precise reasons you outlined so perfectly. I did, however, read this: http://www.snarksquad.com/category/books-2/fifty-shades/fifty-shades-of-grey and cannot recommend it highly enough. You can read it in a relieved way knowing that somebody else is as infuriated by the whole concept as you.


    • Thank you Robyn. Thank you for introducing me to this website. It is fabulous! I love the chapter-by-chapter analysis so I can get hold of the finer details of the story without having to actually read it and feel like punching someone.


  6. Posted by Alex Jones on September 23, 2013 at 18:41

    Your brain will thank you for it.


  7. Posted by pamasaurus on September 23, 2013 at 18:49

    Oh man, I couldn’t agree more!!

    50 Shade fans are the worst, too. I had my FB Status as ‘recommend a book, and not 50shades, please’ and I had at least 5 people try to talk me into liking 50shades. Really? I said I wasn’t interested, shutup now, kthx. Ugh.


  8. You are right, I’ve never referred to anything written in steele, but I have the feeling I will from now on. Will see if I can slip it into (oo err) the team meeting this week. I gave up reading the first one, got bored even skipping to the racey bits.


  9. i read (and reviewed) it, so that others didn’t have to πŸ˜‰ It made me SO angry!


  10. I am with you. Couldn’t get past the cringe inducing writing. Histoire d’O does it better – and it’s a hell of a lot shorter.


  11. […] one of the bloggers that i follow recently posted a pointed and well-written blog about why she would never read fifty shades of grey. […]


  12. […] of the bloggers that i follow recently posted a pointed and well-written blog about why she would never read fifty shades of grey. Β herein lies my […]


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