So I became fascinated with the rise of Fifty Shades of Grey, et al. So, naturally, I had to pirate a copy to find out. I was sure that I’d buy it if it were quality.
It began as Twilight fanfiction, and it feeeeels like Twilight fan fiction. Worse, it feels like rampant Mary Sue-ism. Which, it can be argued, was the entire premise of Twilight. Moving on.
We’re supposed to feel bad for the characters–she’s just being chucked into the BDSM realm, he’s got lots of hang-ups and mental blocks surrounding intimacy. But it’s hard to feel anything for the characters. He’s limitlessly charismatic, handsome, wealthy and powerful. She’s klutzy, awkward, unsure and strange. Yet he is unspeakably and mysteriously attracted to her (Mary Sue alert!), and wants her all for himself, even though he doesn’t want any intimacy between them. Because of his hang-ups.
It’s glorified Harlequin romance with a BDSM kick. But the BDSM feels somehow exceptionally vanilla. The bondage, I’m to take it, is just a sexual representation of his own control issues. I feel like the author wants us to believe that all participants in BDSM are misunderstood. That the dominants are actually more fragile than their steely (get it) facades will allow; that submissives are just people who aren’t familiar with their own sexualities, who need to be guided and molded.
My boyfriend read excerpts out loud to me, and I couldn’t stop giggling. The longer he read, we decided that Mr. Grey should be a large, burly Cajun. It just spiced things up for us.
Frequent typos were in the text of the copy I got my hands on, nevermind the sentences that weren’t necessarily typos but simply didn’t make sense. Reading it aloud, we often found ourselves stopping mid-sentence, re-reading the sentence, then debating whether the author’s word choice was rampant misuse and misunderstanding of the words at work.
And, oh God, the emails. There are emails. At some point, you’re expected to wade through lengthy email correspondence from the characters. Because that’s what anyone on earth wants to do, ever.
It’s supposed to be mindless erotic drivel. I get that. But if it’s going to be on the shelves of housewives across the country, I think the author should’ve done a little more than change the characters’ names. There’s a lot of debate around the internet about whether what was once free online should be paid for. I think that if the author had done more to make this a compelling story with real characters, I would say “Undoubtedly.” But I’m just not sure.
See… here’s a review of the original fanfic. I’ve never read it (as far as I can tell, all online versions of Master of the Universe [ugh] have been removed.) But the review sounds… so familiar. She didn’t even change the name of Edward the CEO’s helicopter. She didn’t change how Edward describes himself–fifty shades of fucked up. Edward is still the ridiculous stalker that he is in Twilight, and Mr. Grey is, too.
Is it “right” to charge people for it now? Well, sure. But is it “right” to pass this off as a totally original book? I don’t think so.