A few days ago I was playing Words With Friends with my cousin and she asked me if I'd read that much talked about book, Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James. I suspect she asked because I write romance novels and my love scenes are a bit sensual. But, I told her no. The book is too way over hyped for me (I really hate when people make a book bigger than it is) plus I hadn't heard nice things about how the book came about, meaning the premise was stolen from the Twilight books, and-although I never read the Twilight books because of (1) the over hype (2) the horrid writing (3) my daughter read them and she was like "meh" and (4) I saw the second movie of the series on TV and WANTED TO PUT MY FIST THROUGH THE BIG SCREEN!! it was sooooooo horrribly stupid!!!Anyway....she had the book in PDF and said she would send it to me, so I figured....sure.
I have to confess, I was pleasantly surprised. As a reader, I really enjoyed the story and the characters. Ms. James does a wonderful job of bringing Ana to life so you feel like it's you. The story grabs you from the first chapter because it's so entertaining. This book wasn't the over-sexed BDSM that was hyped about. It was a coming of age story of a young woman's innocence and how she grows sexually. Sure, there was some BDSM, but it wasn't the over the top, cringing kind like Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty--written under a pseudonym I can't remember or pronounce..hah (I couldn't even get through half that book!) The way Ms. James' scenes are written, along with the characters, makes them very sensual and HOT, but they didn't have me wanting to wake my husband at 3:00 in the morning for wild kinky sex....well maybe a little. haha (sorry...TMI??)
Now, as a writer, I had a few issues with the book. Namely, as everyone knows, the editing. Really? You write a book with all intents and purposes of getting a big contract or making loads of money and you can't take the time to edit properly??? And the "editor" who bought the book.....do you not know who Strunk & White are?? Or what the Chicago Manual of Style is??? Do you even know what an editor's job is?? Also, the formatting.....say it with me...for-matt-ing. Work on that too, would ya? Okay, sorry....probably shouldn't bitch about the editor---burn bridges and all---but it's not like they'll ever read this blog. haha
Another issue for me is the language...meaning, Ana, who is something like 21, is from a very modest up-bringing and goes to Washington State (not an Ivy League school mind you) uses words in her every day language that I not only never heard before, but had to look up. Granted, she's supposedly smart---perfect GPA, but who uses loquacious when speaking to someone? There were many other instances when she used words I didn't know, but I don't feel like looking for them in the story. There were also times Ana didn't speak like someone born and bred in the U.S. I think Ms. James needs to learn the English language as Americans speak it.
Issue three....tags. Why the hell does everyone murmur when they speak or why do they speak 'dryly'? Do these two things mean something different in England? Or does everyone murmur there?? It was very distracting for me...I'm reading, getting into the character's head then the dialogue is followed by... he/she murmured...just use SAID. Also (and this goes back to formatting) there would be an action/attribute then the next line would be dialogue, then an action and dialogue and it became very confusing as to who was speaking because there were no tags. Sometimes the two lines/paragraphs of dialogue would be from the same person. And the 'speaking dryly' thing....to me when someone is being 'dry' it's sort of like being sarcastic....when used in this story, the dialogue doesn't mesh.
Issue four, the end of Part One. I didn't like that it ended with unresolved issues. Although I think this was a brilliant move on the editor's part (at least he/she did something right) because it compels you buy the second book. And I suspect Part Two will do the same.
I think there were a few other writing issues, but I can't remember now. :)
All in all, if you've been hesitant to read the book for the same reason I was, welll....I'm here to tell ya, it's actually an entertaining read. I found myself smiling often as I watched Ana come into her own and discover a new side to Christian. And I was enamored by him (although I'd have preferred to see him in his early thirties as opposed to 27.) Ms. James has a fun, entertaining voice and I'm looking forward to part two.
Okay, so, I read books two and three and I stand by my original comments. I know it's totally wrong how Ms. James went about writing her book....taking the characters from Twilight and putting them in an alternate world and making them much older and less vampirey....but for me, it's a non-issue...maybe because I'm not a Twilight fan...who knows? I mean, no one is screaming foul at the zombie books featuring Jane Austen's characters.
In my opinion, Ms. James still has a great story (that could have been better crafted) and likeable characters. Again, as a romance novelist and reader, I enjoyed the story. It was entertaining and had some fun moments (and I don't mean the sex). I will say book three was over-written and there were several gratuitous sex scenes that she could have done without. And the epilogue was a waste of time as well. But, all in all...a good read. Now as to whether it will make a good movie.....I don't think so....it's so much better in the imagination than to see it all live-ish.
So....what are your thoughts? Have you read it? Will you read it? And why not?