Series Overview: 50 Shades, E. L. James
I’ve seen enough frightening quotes from this series to induce a sense of de ja vu when I actually start reading it. And… yes: I own a copy of this book: that came about after one of the guys who works at my local Savers and I got to talking about trends, unfortunate and otherwise, in literature. I chuckled and said I imagined that there would be trends– like about two months after the latest Christmas release Bryce Courteney comes out, they hit the shelves at Savers, like abandoned ill-thought puppies and kittens which someone a bit dim assumed would make a lovely surprise for an unsuspecting friend. Like how, for awhile about five or six years ago, there must have been an entire section marked “Dan Brown.” Like how… yeah. There’s Twilight. I saw the wave of no Twilight to, well, now.
And next on the list: “I wonder when you’ll start getting the 50 Shades books in,” I pondered aloud.
“We already are.”
Oh. Okay. It’s not that it’s hard to find: the supermarkets were selling copies of it for under ten bucks. Everywhere was selling it. It surpassed Harry Potter sales.
Now, I really had no interest in reading it, to be perfectly honest. I don’t really do romance novels. I don’t have a specific dislike about romance as a genre, I realise it’s just as escapisty as your superspy stuff marketed to the guys (and to be honest, I roll my eyes at that stuff, too), I have friends who are very into the genre and I respect that, and I know that it sucks when people judge my preferred reading by the worst examples, so I try to avoid doing that. it’s just Not. My. Thing. And thankfully, I’m usually smart enough to go, “One person’s bodice ripper is another person’s headfucky suspense with sex scenes that will incite nightmares and the wrath of Amazon’s good taste council” and leave it at that.
50 Shades was a different matter. This book permeated everything. If you’re on the internet, you’ve heard about it. If you’re in the fanfictiony end of a fandom, you’ve heard of it. And if you’re a snarky bitch, you’ve laughed at it.
I know I’m the wrong target audience, but Twilight unnerved me. It wasn’t so much the idea of a horror novel about a naive young virginal school girl with crippling self-doubt and traces of narcissism getting stalked by and becoming obsessed with a vampire who turned out to be both glittery and a control freak… it was the way it was presented. Dark subject matter doesn’t scare me. But when I see it presented as romantic fluffy fare, and seeing people get insanely suckered into it as such… I get really fucking freaked out. It goes beyond a story, or simple escapism when people glorify the events.
Anyway, 50 Shades started out as Twilight fanfiction. One one hand, hooray for seeing fanwriters make it in the mainstream sphere, and hooray for E. L. James saying she’d be flattered rather than horrified by someone writing fanfiction about her work.
On another hand… the quotes I’ve read scare the fuck out of me. Not so much that it was written… or published… but that it was so fucking popular. Hooray! Let’s spread the idea to the masses that love looks like:
It’s taking all my self-control not to fuck you on the hood of this car, just to show you that you’re mine, and if I want to buy you a fucking car, I’ll buy you a fucking car,” he growls.
Ahhhm. Okay. I’m pretty sure, his noble self-control aside, that’s skeetering on the edge of implied abuse. That sounds like he’s wanting to fuck her as punishment for not liking the car he bought her to me. Then we get this:
“I want you sore, baby,” he murmurs, and he continues his sweet, leisurely torment, backward, forward. “Every time you move tomorrow, I want you to be reminded that I’ve been here. Only me. You are mine.
It wasn’t just me who wasn’t sure if she wanted some lube or a barf bag reading that, was it?
The thing is, I realise something: I’m being unfair. Perhaps these gems are being taken out of context. On the off chance they’re not, well, I didn’t want to do my bit to encourage the publishers to make more of this stuff, so I picked up my copy from Savers, much to the bewilderment of the guy working in the book section– and I keep meaning to be reasonable and fair towards it and to read the damn thing. It does seem a little bit nasty to poke fun at something just because everyone else on the internet is, and I suppose in the interests of diversity and truth-seeking, I should actually read the book (no, I’m not promising the series at this stage… I never made it through Twilight).
I didn’t say I wouldn’t snark, just that I’d be an informed snarker.
I seem to have diverged wildly from the intention of this section, though to be honest, not having read the books, I can’t give much of an overview or confirm what the blurbs tell me. I don’t know if there is a great deal of plot to speak of– that hasn’t been what people have been speaking of in regards to the book, if you know what I mean.
I think a basic summary goes like this: girl (who is degree educated and who hasn’t had sex with anyone) meets boy (who is a considerably older dude who rocks a suit and has lots of money). Both are dysfunctional adults who act like lovesick teenagers, he’s a sadist with psychopathic tendencies– or the other way around and a lot of angst, she’s not, and at some point BDSM ensues. And, I suspect, from the first quote, he buys her a car.
We’ll see how this goes, hey?