There is only one word that comes to mind when I think of 50 shades of Grey, the fastest selling paperback of all time, and that word is awful. Yes, I may be contradicted by the millions of women who have all rushed into their local family-friendly supermarket to snap it up, but I am certainly not alone; just ask the 600+ reviewers on Amazon who only gave the book one star.
It’s not that I’m adverse to a bit of erotica, but ladies, let’s make something clear. Every time you announce on Facebook or Twitter “Just finished 50 shades of Grey in a day! Onto book 2″ you’re basically admitting that you probably just spent the last 24 hours with your knickers down and the rabbit out (and I’m not talking about the newspaper…) More to the point, it was probably also incredibly unsatisfying, and the only reason you are moving onto the next in the trilogy is in a vain hope to discover exactly what all the hype is about. After all, even the erotic passages in the book which have supposedly so excited the world, are frankly, boring. Just ask the readers of the Black Lace series.
Supposing you can accept that the book is not the highly anticipated ground-breaking sexual reawakening of the world, you might be hoping that at least it’s well written/has a good storyline/has engaging characters, right? Wrong. The warning signs are surely there in the fact that it was originally slash/fic (Google at your peril) based on the other great failure of Literature to date, Twilight. Written like an adolescent’s dream diary, the shoddy writing is probably the biggest insult that this book makes to the art of Literature; read it alongside one of the great classical authors (or, for that matter, authors of our time) and you’ll see exactly what I mean. One reviewer describes it as ‘so shallow, reading it is like splashing through a puddle’. An apt description.
Finally, I can’t help but write a small worded rant on the massive step that 50 shades takes in the wrong direction with regards to feminism. The heroine (and I use the term very loosely) is weak-willed and flimsy, completely lacking in substance, whilst Christian Grey simply represents yet another patriarchal figure. The boundaries of acceptability have once again been pushed back, not by men, but by women. At risk of sounding too much like Germaine Greer, I’ll leave it there and make one last observation.
When the maternity wards are overflowing in nine months time with screaming, vomiting and pooping babies, you’ll know who to blame. And I’ll say, I told you so.