I first read Fifty Shades in the height of its popularity, because there must be something to this, right? Spoiler alert:
I reread this series to drunkenly mock an illegal download of the movie. Two years later, I found all of my initial complaints valid. First, it’s not difficult to believe this was fanfiction, because it reads like fanfiction. We experience every selfish thought in Ana’s hateful head as we’re walked through each mundane moment of her day. During the first read, I was wondering if I had the wrong title. This wasn’t sexy at all, because nothing was happening. Once James finally got to the sex, it was just… bad…. and not because of whips. J.R. Ward totally pulled that one off and I’m not even into BDSM. It’s bad because it’s intensely repetitive and childishly worded in a super creepy way.
“I … quickly tie my hair in pigtails. …The more girly I look, perhaps the safer I’ll be from Bluebeard.”
Second, it’s not about a consensual kinky relationship or just one with an alpha male, like most paranormal romance. It’s about a woman who’s pressured to submit and share sexual quirks under threat of losing affection. It’s not that Christian spanks Ana. It’s that she cries, because she doesn’t want it. I’m no stranger to erotica, and that’s exactly why this book failed. The characters are assholes. It’s not sexy. Even if you don’t consider the relationship abusive, MY VAGINA FELT LIKE DRAGON SKIN.
Review Word Count: 246
Series Reading Order
1. Fifty Shades of Grey
2. Fifty Shades Darker
3. Fifty Shades Freed
Alternative Erotica Suggestions
Bared to You, by Sylvia Day
Knight, by Kristen Ashley (she calls him daddy, so there’s that)
Rush, by Maya Banks