Saturday, June 2, 2012


I've just finished reading the E.L. James trilogy, beginning with Fifty Shades of Grey.  I'm clearly not a reviewer or a critic, and I don't really have a leg to stand on as far as ever being published or having any kind of reputation that grants me the right to say anything at all about someone's written work.

But below, I'm planning to post my thoughts.  If you don't want to know what I think.  Stop reading.

Also, there will be spoilers, so anyone looking to avoid knowing what the stories are about, then you need to avoid reading this.

Are you still here?  Okay.

And so, my thoughts:
I find it awkward to admit that I actually did enjoy reading these novels.  And it's not awkward because of the content.  Everyone who's heard anything about them already knows that they're erotica, and so there's no cause for any awkwardness there.  I find it awkward, because I was often pulled out of the story by the writing itself.  The awkwardness comes because I didn't find the righting very good.  But I kept wanting to know where the story was going.   Clearly, eventually they would both get past at least some of their issues, or there would be no satisfactory conclusion to the story, but when, and how.  That's what I wanted to know.

The sex, while definitely graphic in moments, didn't tend to be superfluous.  I found that after each encounter I had learned something about one or both of the characters that led to some revelation or other of their personality/character.  That's a very positive point.  Because often sex in a novel is just there for the fun of it.  It doesn't actually tell us anything.  The writing, by the way, was often much better in the sex scenes than in the more mundane scenes.  Interesting.

The writing in the more mundane scenes was a bit lacking.  It seemed repetitive, using the same phrases and words over and over, and throwing in overly large words, seemingly just for the sake of using an overly long word.  And the character development in anything other than a sex scene was almost nil.  We'd seem to get somewhere with a particular development and in the next chapter, that same character would be having the same issue again.  I understand that people don't always grow the way that we want them to, but in this particular story, we seemed to be having the same conversations over and over, with no movement toward any resolution.

There were also editing issues.   In one specific example, there's one person driving the car, and then three lines later, someone else is parking it.  When did they switch?  Is it a multiple personality disorder and there was only one person all along?

I read somewhere that this series was rushed to print.  I would guess because they wanted to take advantage of a marketing situation of some kind.  They likely would have done better to spend some more time on fleshing out the story and the characters.  And editing.  Making sure that the people in the end of the scene were the same people that were in the beginning.  And that they weren't quite so repetitive.

I give the author props for managing to get published, though from the author bio, I would guess that she likely had some contacts in the industry that helped with that situation.  But I found myself longing to rewrite many of the scenes to make them flow better, to avoid the repetition and to make everything more consistent in tone and content.  This is probably a flaw on my part, but I don't often have the urge to do that to a novel, so I think it also says something about the work that I was reading.

Overall, as I said, I did enjoy reading it.  The story was quite interesting, if not entirely unique.  With a little more polish on the writing, I'd happily read something else that E.L. James had written.

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