(Author’s note: I read 50 Shades of Grey trilogy for work. I was assigned to assess some of the popular books people would be reading this summer, “Beach Reads,” as we call them. I suggested many titles. I was overruled. But after investing hours of my life and the company’s money in the “50” trilogy, I couldn’t stop writing. Unfortunately, my editor only wanted about1/4 of my rant, so I’m publishing the full monty here.)
Title: 50 Shades of Grey, 50 Shades Darker, 50 Shades Freed by E.L. James
The books of this erotic, pornographic trilogy have occupied rarified air atop bestseller lists since March prompting its publisher to print more copies daily. The author, an English, 40-something former television producer and mom of two teenage sons, wrote these fan books for those (still) obsessed with Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series. James admits she’s not a great writer (Warning #1) and her characters differ little from Bella and Edward, the wide-eyed virgin and her beloved vampire. In Fifty Shades, Bella is now named Anastasia, a literature-loving recent college grad and the vampire figure is Christian Grey, an obscenely rich, “older” entrepreneur (all of 27 when the story begins) who’s into S&M and BDSM (You’re going to have to Google that yourself) and would like the innocent Anastasia to become his submissive (please keep Googling).
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If middle school-level dialogue between paper-thin characters sandwiched between scenes of sex and bondage and sex and punishment and sex and spankings and sex and sex and sex in a lushly-described playroom of pain, among other places, is your thing, go right ahead. Get the Greys. (Warning #2)
Still intrigued? The “love” (to use the term loosely) scenes are so repetitive and boring, you might start skipping them to get to the plot. (Good luck finding it.) You’d think that with floggers, whips, spreaders, and chains in the mix, the 16 (maybe more, I was dozing) sex scenes in the first book might call for more descriptive sentences than “Laters, baby,” ”He’s so freaking hot” and the variations on the exclamation “Crap!” — as in “Double crap!”, “triple crap!” and the sacrilegious “Holy crap!” Total crap utterances in first book alone: 92 (Warning #3)
If you’re still insatiably curious, read away. While you’re at it, throw down a couple jumbo-sized bags of Doritos, a dozen Big Macs and fistfuls of Ding Dongs. If you’re determined to consume all crap, you might as well go whole hog.
*If, on the other hand, you like some well-crafted pageturners about bizarre and complex relationships, try Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes. Weeks after reading, I’m still thinking about them.