Friday, May 18, 2012

50 Shades of Hype

Like so many of the curious, I found myself a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey so I could read what all the “hype” was about. I read some reviews, watched Ellen’s little skit on Youtube and decided I would take a look for myself before passing judgement. I’ll admit I was looking for the “wow” factor that transitioned E. L. James from a Twilight Fan Fiction writer to a traditionally published author.  The little green gremlin inside of me is still searching for it.

Fan fiction aside (both the author and publisher insist it is an original work of art, despite evidence to the contrary), the writing is redundant and lacks polish. The editor should be mortified over the misuse of words such as “subconscious”, not to mention the repetition, the word is found on nearly every page. In addition to its blatant misuse, it quickly loses effect and becomes boring because there is very little variation in Ana’s internal dialogue.

Still, pressing forward, what is it about this book that so many women are gushing over? It can’t be the sex. Either I’m too jaded, have read too much or “just don’t get it”. There is much better erotica easily available to women everywhere: erotica that isn’t degrading, but still involves rough play, bondage and other fetishes. A trip to a sex show will easily illustrate these are very common activities and not really so taboo as they once were. After a while, even the shock value of the sex wears off and loses its appeal – perhaps the author is simply giving away too much.

I must be losing my marbles – I can’t find any redeeming features in this book. At this point, I have read about one half of it, have skimmed over other parts and am struggling with finishing it to the end. Looking at character development – there simply isn’t any. Ana is whiney, annoying and nearly spineless, despite her last name of “Steele”. Christian is an ass – overbearing, selfish and quite frankly, rather bland. Perhaps I need to force myself to read a bit further, but my time is valuable, and I think, for my purposes, I’ve done enough research to answer my own question.

The hype is very simply our human need to be in the “know” of what’s cool, popular or scandalous. I fell for it, as I’m sure many others have. I’ve read comments by people who “don’t normally read books” who simply loved the series. I have also read comments by others, who hold the same opinion as I do, but bought and read the book anyway – to see what the fuss was about. I’m very much guilty of proliferating the publicity for Fifty Shades of Grey by posting this review on my blog.

Vintage Press, an imprint of Random House, should be embarrassed by this publication. Not because of its contents, and not because of its origins, but because of its poor presentation. For all intents, they seem to have been in such a hurry to deliver it to the public that they couldn’t be bothered to give it the attention and invest the resources any published book deserves. Sure, it’s selling millions of copies, and making them millions of dollars – but what it’s done to their reputation is irreparable. In fact, the entire situation makes me glad I’m an Indie writer. If this is what one of the “big six” puts out, I’d rather be dependent only on myself. I'll be spending my pennies on Indie Books in the future. Many of them are better written, with more engaging characters, and interesting plots. There's no point in supporting major publishing houses when they can't be bothered to spend the money necessary to make an author's work the best it can be.