Okay, friends. It’s time to talk mommy porn (Mom, I’m sorry for using that phrase, but I promise I didn’t make it up). In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past month or so, allow me to explain: There’s a book called Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s written by a British woman named Erika Leonard, whose pen name is E. L. James. I don’t see the point in a pen name if you tell everyone your real name, but whatever. Least of my concerns. The book was originally fan fiction based on the characters of Bella and Edward from the popular, terribly-written Twilight series. At that point, the author’s pen name was Snowqueens Icedragon. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP. Bear with me. (Almost wrote bare with me. Should have. Tasteless puns are all this ‘book’ deserves.)
Fifty Shades of Grey is the first in a trilogy, which has sold more than 3 million copies worldwide, mostly to middle-aged moms (if the news is to be believed.) As it is an erotic novel, someone dubbed it “mommy porn,” and then people couldn’t stop saying mommy porn and suddenly everyone in the country has heard/used the phrase mommy porn. This has effectively ruined both the words “mommy” and “porn” for everyone, everywhere, forever.
I read the mommy porn. Stop judging me, I did it so that you don’t have to. You’re welcome. But now you have to deal with the fallout, which is that I have so many issues with this book that I decided to go ahead and write a review of a 0 on my binary rating scale. Meaning the snark is going to be intense, so if at any time it’s too much for you, please remember that I don’t believe in safe words. Oops, guess you’ll just have to take it.
Some of My Issues with Fifty Shades of Grey but Not All of Them because I Have Fifty Shades of Issues that Would Take Years, if Not Decades to Cover in Their Entirety:
It appears that Ms. Icedragon has never been to Washington State and never actually heard an American speak. To use her own words, Ms. Icedragon is “crap at” American English. And it is distracting enough to constantly undermine our willing suspension of disbelief. American 20-somethings are not “keen” to do much of anything, at least not since Nancy Drew was in her heyday. Also, we don’t “fetch” things. Dogs fetch things. And “collecting” things. We don’t really do that either, unless it’s baseball cards, or pretty much anything on an episode of Hoarders, if you’re the hoarder. We don’t “drop on by to collect” the car keys – we pick them up, or grab them. And nobody says “I’ll take Interstate 5.” It’s the 5. Or at least I-5. How her editor let her get away with having every character use the word “shall” is beyond me. No college student casually thinks of their lover as “mercurial”. As for “Holy Moses,” other then the 1,297 times Ana thinks it in this book, no co-ed in the past three decades ever knew it existed, let alone used it. AND, I know this is super nit picky of me, but I don’t care – you can’t take $50 out of an ATM, lady. It has to be in multiples of $20.
Why is it that in both this book and in the Twilight series, every outfit that is supposed to be “super cute” sounds like a 45-year-old’s memory of her Freshman year of high school? Matching plum-colored pumps? Half your hair up in a comb? And what’s with the phrase “sensible shoes?” Why do these girls have to wear sensible shoes all the time? It makes them seem frumpy, and haggard. Definitely not like BDSM bait. Enough already. When all else fails, put the girl in jeans and a t-shirt and stop using any further descriptive language. Trust your readers to know shes not pairing that ensemble with 5″ clear stiletto heels.
Ms. Icequeen’s idea of how college students live is inaccurate. Ana’s roommate Kate owns an apartment in Vancouver, WA that they both live in until graduation? What? Why does she own an apartment? Yes, her parents bought it, but come on. If her parents are buying her apartments, she can probably afford to go to a school that’s not a WSU satellite campus no one’s ever heard of. When the girls move to Seattle after graduation, Kate’s parents buy them an apartment above Pike Place Market, no big deal. AND, when Ana gets to Seattle she immediately interviews at two, TWO, publishing companies and lands a paid internship at the one she wants. PAID INTERNSHIP. Without any connections. Those are like…unicorns, but more rare. Also, if anything really bothered me in this book, it’s the number of times Ana drank tea out of a teacup with a saucer in her own college-student apartment. WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT. College students drink out of mugs. Free mugs. Novelty mugs. But mugs, nonetheless. They’re also great as cereal bowls.
ANA APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN RAISED BY WOLVES OR AT THE VERY LEAST IN AN AMISH COMMUNITY. She is a college student, in this decade, who does not have a cell phone, computer, or EVEN AN EMAIL ADDRESS WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT ALL COLLEGE STUDENTS HAVE MANDATORY EMAIL ADDRESSES. I’m really sorry for the all-caps there, but my brain is exploding. Christian loans her all of this technology, which she begrudgingly uses, because 22-year-olds hate having new, top of the line MacBooks and Blackberries and EMAIL ADDRESSES forced on them. I’m sorry, but can you even imagine her two interviews for those internships? “We’ll let you know, Ms. Steele.” “Thank you so much – feel free to contact me via USPS or carrier pigeon. My address is at the bottom of my handwritten resume as I have no access to a word processor or printer.”
All the men are written like women, so it’s kind of like reading a lesbian romance. Ana’s best friend, Jose, says something his dad did was “kinda cute.” Cute? Jose’s dad was being kinda cute? Totes. Jose sounds like a 14-year-old girl. The men are also suspiciously well-manicured and really into clothes. I’m not saying there aren’t men like this, but the sameness of the characters started to get a little creepy. When Ana started wearing Christian’s clothes, I thought yeah, well, that was bound to happen.
Ana is also a 22-year-old virgin. I’m also not saying those don’t exist but here are the facts: she is not religious, she has no problem having sex for the first time with someone she isn’t actually dating, and her friends are all very much sexually active. But we’re supposed to believe that she just hasn’t felt any desire to date, and then in walks Christian, the dashing older sadist, and she thinks yeah, sign me up for that. (And by ‘older,’ I mean he is a 27-year-old billionaire. And by sadist, I mean, you know.) You don’t just go from virgin to BDSM overnight. Not unless you were already there, which is a whole other story. Also, what is the deal with having a female protagonist who is unaware of her dazzling beauty? These girls don’t exist. Maybe she didn’t have access to a mirror growing up either and is truly surprised that every male character in the book is attracted to her.
All day long, Ana and Christian email each other, even though they both appear to have jobs. I understand that when you first get email, like when I was 10, you spend a lot of time on it because it’s exciting and new. I get it, Ana. But also, you should be fired from your “paid internship.”
It is impressive to me that in nearly 400 pages, NOTHING happened. If I had to explain the story to you, it would go as follows: boy meets girl. Boy invites girl over. Boy asks girl to engage in kinky sex. Girl agrees. Kinky sex happens. A lot. And some more. Girl ignores all job duties because of all the sex. Some more sex. Please buy book two for more sex. In the kinky sex they discuss hard limits, or things that are not okay to do in the bedroom (or playroom, as it’s called.) For me, no story line is kind of a hard limit.
Okay. I feel better about all of this. Just getting it off my chest is good. I would feel bad about the spoilers, but I don’t think you can technically spoil something that was rotten to begin with. If this review prevents even one person from spending $10 on this book, I’ve done my part. The bottom line is that the extreme sex is probably the most realistic part of Fifty Shades of Grey, which is in no way meant to imply that said sex is extreme or realistic or even hot. Ms. Icedragon has said it’s just all her sexual fantasies, put to paper. I bet her kids are mortified, mainly over her lack of creativity in the bedroom. And I hope someone teaches them about email.
Binary Rating: 0 – Dental work with no anesthesia is a better time.