Black and White: 50 Shades of Grey Mini Review

Unless you’ve been living off world for the last couple years you’ve at least heard for E.L. James’ 50 Shades trilogy. I have to confess, I was curious as to what all the fuss was about and since I am a writer of erotica myself I felt duty-bound to read Part I at least. I have to confess it took me almost a year to read it. I don’t know why I struggled so mightily to be interested in the book and what I discovered was it came down to the characters and not the writing itself. The book is well written, detailed, and for all intents and purposes immersive, but again the disconnect came for me when I tried to relate personally to the characters themselves.

I guess I am as cynical as most, perhaps more so, but I found it really hard to relate to the main characters Ana and Christian because they are so far from the kind of real people that would have made this story more compelling. Sure, you have to have certain elements but does Ana have to be a virgin (I mean I found that really hard to believe especially being attractive and on all accounts pleasant)? Does Christian Grey have to be an eccentric millionaire who is also drop dead gorgeous? Sure, people like that really exist but for me I find them to be the exception to the rule and therefore too distant from my reality. So, I think 50 Shades was the direction for the characters but not the destination. It didn’t deliver; the characters to me were more black and white than 50 shades, more archetypal than nuanced. I suppose I stopped believing in the fairytale a long time ago and am somewhat put off by the persistence of it. I can understand some of the grief she feels at the end of Part I, realizing for the first time that you can’t change a man by any means you possess, but that’s a lesson we all have to learn eventually.

I am ambivalent as to whether I will try to read on, but more so I am interested in your thoughts. The books have merit because they have striven to make erotica more mainstream, which I think helps all writers of erotica. I am not saying I can write a better story, it’s just when something becomes so monumental and I can’t see why, I have to ask. So anyway, comment away if you feel so inclined.

2 comments

  1. “the characters to me were more black and white than 50 shades”
    The most PERFECT summary ever!
    It did open up a lot of conversation in previously quiet bedrooms across the country but one can’t help but squirm at the idea of these books as being someone’s sole primer to kink.

  2. I had the same thoughts on the characters. That really made this lack for me. An average book, really. Although in erotic novels most of the men are hunky millionaire’s and the woman tends to fall arse over tit to please him!

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