Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Book Review: 50 Shades of Grey

For a while now, I had been hearing the hype. Everybody was reading it and falling in love with it. The story, the plot twists, the... sex. Not just sex, but crazy, hardcore, tie-you-up sex. You know, the good stuff. So, curiosity got the better of me and I bought "50 Shades of Grey."

First released in 2011 by literary newcomer EL James, "50 Shades of Grey" is the first in a trilogy exploring the relationship between young, naïve, recent college graduate Anastasia Steele and millionaire entrepreneur Christian Grey. Set in a first-person narrative, it follows Anastasia as she meets Christian and is introduced to two new worlds - a lifestyle of the rich and famous, and as a shy virgin, an exciting world of sexual discovery.

The genre of "erotica" or romance novels (of which Ren from "Ren and Stimpy" was fond of reading) have been around in some form for approximately 40 years. "50 Shades of Grey" falls into that category. Most do not get as much mainstream attention and become as popular, though. It looks like "50 Shades of Grey" became popular for two reasons - first, it is a good story and secondly, the sex scenes - the "romance" aspect of the romance novel - are of a taboo variety.

Character-wise, the story is developed nicely. Anastasia Steele is very easy to relate to for nearly anybody. Not a single physical characteristic about her is mentioned; that way, girls reading it can see themselves in her. All that is really known about how she looks is that she doesn’t like to dress up and she likes Converse shoes.

She is a late bloomer sexually, as she is in her early 20s and has yet to have a boyfriend. That’s not for a lack of suitors, as she has a couple guys in her life who have crushes on her. But, she has yet to feel that way about a guy yet. That is, until she meets Christian Grey.

The courtship with Christian begins normally enough (well, normally enough for a multi-millionaire who can fly you on his own private helicopter on your first date). Things take an intriguing turn when Christian discusses his sexual interests with Anastasia. He describes himself as being "50 shades of fucked up." As she becomes enamored with him, she acknowledges his unconventional methods and refers to him as her "50 shades of Grey."

As things progress with Christian, Anastasia is torn between what is conventional and "normal" and she is unsure how to feel about her blossoming relationship. She enjoys her newfound sexual identity, her "inner goddess" as she puts it. But she longs for the traditional boyfriend-girlfriend dichotomy that she has never experienced. And that is where the drama in our narrative comes about.

The author did not finish "50 Shades of Grey" as a singular work and then spawn sequels from that. It is written as a trilogy in the sense that if you want any sense of closure, you must read all three books.

If it sounds like something you would be into, go read it. I don’t think the 50 Shades trilogy will go down in history as literary classics; they seem to be a media-created hype story that has gotten a lot of attention, a "flavor of the week" if you will. Check them out if you want to see what all the fuss is about.

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