Friday, June 8, 2012

The Fifty Shades Trilogy - E.L.James

Book Title: Fifty Shades Trilogy

ISBN: 0099580578
First Published in: May 2011, September 2011 and 
January 2012 respectively
Synopsis:A fictional insight into a highly successful man’s leanings towards Bondage, Dominance, Sadism and Masochism (BDSM) relationships will all his female counterparts.

Serious, Witty

Romance, Drama

Very adult language.

Favorite Quote:
Fair Point well Made, Ms.Steele.
(Not one of the best lines, but it was used so many times that I couldn’t get it off my head!)

Fifty Shades of Grey is a three-part book into the enigmatic personality of a business tycoon Christian Grey through the eyes of a college graduate, Anastasia Steele. The initially stifling dominant characteristics of Grey are slowly unravelled to show their more turbulent roots. Steele embarks on an unlikely and unexpected journey to discover, and unintentionally, heal him.
There are many drawbacks in the writing, but one cannot fault the story line – it is dark, disturbing and frankly, unforgettable. Depending on one’s perspectives, there are three way of reviewing this book:
  • Twilight fan book
  • BDSM
  • Language.

The Twilight Fan-Book Perspective
As most of the readers know, the story initially started off as a twilight fan fiction, and later spun off to form a standalone series. For those who didn’t (like me), the connection was not difficult to make. I was incredulous while reading it, and was planning on shouting “plagiarised” before I did a Google.
Take this line from "Fifty Shades of Grey" for example:
“…last to be picked for basketball or volleyball – but I understood that – running and doing something else at the same time like bouncing or throwing a ball is not my thing. I am a serious liability in any sporting field. Romantically, though, I’ve never put myself out there, ever. A lifetime of insecurity – I’m too pale, too skinny, too scruffy, uncoordinated, my long list of faults goes on.”
Compare that with this line from Twilight:
“Instead, I was ivory-skinned, without even the excuse of blue eyes or red hair, despite the constant sunshine. I had always been slender, but soft somehow, obviously not an athlete; I didn't have the necessary hand-eye coordination to play sports without humiliating myself — and harming both myself and anyone else who stood too close.”
This is just one example – of one character. To summarise:

Character Comparison - Fifty Shades Trilogy and Twilight Series
Source: ReadingAftermath 

I believe it is a crime to copy “characters” from another book and use similar names (Come on lady, don’t be so lazy!). This is even more disturbing than usual because of the first-person narrative.  
However, by the second and third book, Ana has been given more character. more spunk and definitely, more weaknesses ( She is nagging to the point of being irritating). She is witty, strong-minded, independent and career-focussed, while Bella remained monochromatic – Paranoid and obsessed with Edward.  To put it in perspective, Ana grew while Bella wanted to be “17 forever”.

The BDSM perspective
I didn’t find the book bold, shocking or more erotic than a normal Sidney Sheldon novel. It may have to do with the fact that I skipped a few of the descriptions –when 70% of the first book is on sex, it gets boring – be it for pleasure, for punishment or for teaching.
The book is borderline clinical in the descriptions and James took an interesting approach to introduce the concept novel to most of us – through a detailed agreement document.  Though I couldn't garner enough interest to google some of the terminologies, I found the approach different and informative! 

The language Perspective:
If you can get past the twilight-similarity (and that can ONLY happen if you haven’t read Twilight before) and the BDSM over-load, the language could be a potential deal breaker. James literally ran short of phrases and ended up using the same ones again.. and again. The few I found particularly irritating have been listed below, with the frequency of their usage in all three books (absolute numbers):
Common phrases Used in Fifty Shades Trilogy              
Source: ReadingAftermath

There were many more, but these were all that I could remember of the top of my head.
The language did have a redeeming quality: an almost effortless flow. Though it is no way on par with the breezy style of twilight and Percy Jackson series (I refer only to the style of writing), and though I wish Ana Steele’s vocabulary was not so limited, the punch lines and dialogue deliveries were smooth.

Little credit has been given to the story which packs a solid punch. That is the only way that a novel with so many sex scenes, plagiarised characters and an average style of writing could have such a deep impact. For every reader who is either OK with BDSM or is willing to skip a few pages, this book is strongly recommended.


Ashwin said...

Yemmaa!! You've provided way too many references & analysis for a BDSM trilogy ;) Nice!!

Heather said...

Awesome! I absolutely love that you counted how many times EL James used "Oh My!" You rock, and thanks for commenting on my blog. Heather at the Unexpected Twists and Turns

Kelly said...

Awesome review...critical review with charts! How cool is that! Thanks for stopping by my blog, and sorry...I just don't think I have it in me to read number 2 or 3, to make it all the way to page 241 of book 1, I had to skip and skim a bunch. And now I understand why, you opened my eyes with the Twilight comparison! I never realized the similarities before. And I have to say that I hated Twilight; I managed to finish it but wouldn't read the rest of the series. My daughters however, adored the whole series. I think I'm just too damn old for all that teenaged angst. (Fortunately, my girls and I agreed on Hunger Games....great books in my opinion!)

Anonymous said...

Wow fifty shades trilogy ...3 books in 3 days ... Loved them... Please tell me there's more to come

Anonymous said...

I have to say that the "Laters, baby" was the most irritating line.

Archana said...

Ya, regrettably I forgot many more too - Icarus to the sun, Laters, baby (like you said), Biting that lip (got on my nerves), something about the elevators and so on!!

Pam said...

That was awesome, charting the most-abused phrases in the book! I didn't really mind it at the time I was reading it (or maybe I did, but only mildly) but now that someone's actually plotted it, I really find it hilarious! But all in all, it warms the heart to find bloggers who decide to look past the many flaws of this trilogy to actually recognize the seemingly little good it carries. I'm so glad I stumbled upon your review. Thank you!:)

Archana said...

Pam, you just made my day!!

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