Fifty Shades of Grim?

By Paige Hickson 


The much anticipated film adaptation of the bestselling erotica, Fifty Shades of Grey, is due to hit our cinemas this Valentine’s day. Now are you reading this article, a die-hard Fifty Shades novel fan having already booked your tickets months in advance or are you the opposite, rolling your eyes wishing the world would stop banging on (pun not intended) about the so called Fifty Shades phenomena? It would appear that Fifty Shades has the marmite effect, that people either love it or hate it, though literature snobs may argue that better writing is seen on a marmite label. Yes dear readers for once, I am taking a side.

Now don’t get me wrong, I hold the sincere belief that people have a right to read whatever they choose. In fact as someone who wants to go in the Education sector, any novel that gets people reading and talking about literature is a step in the right direction for me. However please do not insist that I am missing out on a literary legend or that I will definitely regret not reading this insanely awesome book. It’s not that I am prudish or against the sexual content (on a side note this article is going to be so hard to write without innuendo) if you want to get into BDSM and have sexual fantasies featuring Mr Grey, go for it – at least you’re helping economic growth. And I don’t have a moral or religious view against the series, what people want to do in their own time is entirely up to them. I have even had some laughs with the series at one point, where a poorly placed joke Secret Santa nearly led to a housemate’s kid brother discovering the birds and bees a bit too early and a friend of mine from home, giving a dramatic reading of a particularly raunchy extract in the middle of a supermarket. At one point in time in an attempt to keep up with popular culture, I tried to read it. However, and this is where I don’t make friends with the Fifty Shades fandom, I read the first couple of chapters and had to put it down.

Vintage Books
Vintage Books

I do apologise to any Fifty Shades fan who picked up the Palatinate and was delighted to find an article about their favourite series, as this is not going to be the most complimentary of reviews. However as a literature student I feel it is my duty to tell the truth about the series. The truth is the series is not going to win any literary awards any time soon. In all honesty, it wasn’t so much the writing itself that annoyed me, but its laziness. It is so obvious that Fifty Shades has been brought into the world as a fanfiction. There is nothing wrong with fanfiction in itself, but if a novel is to be published as an original then it should be edited from all recognition of the fanfiction. However lo and behold when I opened chapter one, I was annoyed when the description of Mr. Grey held insane similarity’s to that of Edward in Twilight. Compare Mr Grey; ‘So young – and attractive, very attractive […] with unruly dark copper-coloured hair’  to that of Edward; ‘all devastatingly, inhumanly beautiful. It was hard to decide who was the most beautiful – maybe the perfect blond girl, or the bronze-haired boy.’  Sound familiar? In truth one of my main gripes with Fifty Shades is that if a novelist or editor can’t be bothered to edit it past recognition of the original fan fiction then why should I bother to read it?

As a first impression of the book, I very much felt like the first couple of chapters were merely window-dressing, eager to get out of the way with lots of dialogue so they can get down and dirty as quickly as possible.  Naturally, the down and dirty is what people read this series for, but I wonder how many people like me were put off because of how poorly written it felt. Don’t worry, I’m not expecting Man Booker prize-worthy erotica, but if the writing is that bad that is unreadable, then something is quite obviously wrong.

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