Sunday, 6 January 2013


Happy 2013. Sorry things got quiet here at the end of last year,it's because my real life was far from it! 

Now, let's move on to 2013...There are going to be some big changes and exciting additions. So what better way to kick things off than with a cracking review from one of those additions, new writer Richard Hind. Ever wondered what a bloke makes of 2012's biggest selling book aimed at woman? Well, you're about to find out!..

'...drowning your Sim-Wife in the pool, I mean you’d never do it in real life, but in the game...'

Heading into the store, I throw the collar up on my coat and glance furtively around to see if I have been seen going into this establishment and thankfully I haven't. Quickly paying for what I want and concealing it underneath my coat in a brown paper bag I head back to my car.  Sitting in the carpark I stare at the ominous paper bag and, as I ponder about what it contains, I realise I should have said it was for my girlfriend! They'd have bought that! Although the quick glance into the rear-view mirror rears my subconscious to not pull at that thread.

I open the bag and thumb through my purchase, which seeing as it's only you and I am still in the car at this point I can tell you it's the multi-million selling novel 50 Shades of Grey. This sort of novel has always fascinated me as a man; they are inhaled in their millions by my opposite gender and form a collective understanding that most men are not privy too. Are these works really worthy of the fame and notoriety that they gain over their lives? Are the authors worthy of the financial gain and the trends that they no doubt spawn from the creation? When buying my copy of 50SOG I noted that it was surrounded by numerous books with the same cookie cutter covers, bringing back memories of the vampire explosion caused by Twilight.

Even though up front I will say that this is one of the worst novels I have read in my twenty-six years of life, the amount of things that it brought up and made me think about is astounding. I don't mean in a 'this book made me change my philosophy on life' sense, I mean in an 'is this what's considered literature?' and 'do women really wish to be treated in this manner? Emotionally and Physically?' sense. Alongside bringing up many questions amongst my group of friends on the subject of quality vs quantity and the copious amount of spin off novels that make you wonder, will these spin-offs be of better quality because they are written by professional ghost writers?
As a male figure of interest, Christian assimilates so much of what's considered the polar opposites of what I would say being a boyfriend is about. On one end of the scale he has some attributes that are fantastic yet some that I would imagine most men getting a restraining order slapped on to their forehead for. It all becomes a bit of a joke that Christian can just track Ana’s phone to her location and turn up to 'Save the Day'. Reading through these sections I was baffled at these actions and how the he just laughs them off, almost as if he just cares for her and not that he is invading her privacy at all. I think if I attempted even the tamest of the Christian privacy invasions I would be made the pariah of all the men and would be collecting restraining orders as if it was the mid 2000s and they were Pokemon cards.

Ana, however, seems to mimic that of my memories of the Twilight protagonist in that she is this very indistinctive, almost ready-made for any female reader to implant themselves in her position. She is given these stereotypical emotional traits and reactions which really make her this unwritten page that can be printed with anyone’s own traits so that it essentially becomes you. I my opinion,  characters should be their own person and you as the reader  relate to them. It should not be the case that character's are simply for readers to live through.  You don’t live through Holden Caulfield or Elizabeth Bennett, you relate to them.

Possession is pushed as one of the overarching themes within this novel and is played through two different levels within the book, through the sub/dom sections and through the books horrendously tacked on product placement that exudes from almost every page. It's pathetic and it's as if the author cannot get across value without a brand, or that she doesn't value her audience’s intelligence enough to understand the value in an item. And it's not just the value in the sentiment. It appears to be all about cost. A perfect example about this is the laptop he purchases for her, as she doesn't have one of her own (although a student in the late 2000s not having a laptop is a laughable plot-hole in itself) Christian sends a Macbook Pro even one that isn't even on the market yet (another plot-hole...) with 64GB of Ram etc etc etc just so he can email her. All this part of the book said to me was “I WILL JUST SPUNK MONEY AT YOU, BECAUSE YOU ARE AS MUCH A POSSESSION AS THE SHINY THINGS I BUY YOU - DID I MENTION I AM RICH”.  Really? Do women really want to have this happen to them? Do they want a man to just spend copious amounts of money on you in a transaction toward your love? Maybe it is the pathetic romantic within myself that this kind of thing is a pure substitute for attempting to win a heart, and is purely a cop out and is buying it instead.  I truly believe you cannot buy a heart, and if you think you have, it is never yours, it’s owned by Cartier.

Lastly, this is such a repetitive novel, as I realised a third into the book that Ana always looks up through her lashes, always looks down at her hands when she is feeling awkward.  The worst of these moments is the lip biting.  Every time she does it (which, I must say is practically once per page) Christian has to bring it up and regurgitate the same diatribe of ‘You know what that does to me’.  Yes.  We know what it does to you.  We ALL know now what it does to you.  There’s an undiscovered tribe in the depths of the Amazon that know what it does to you.  GET SOME MORE FUCKING WORDS.

My only real conclusion at the end of the first of this series is that maybe, this is a way for women to feel what it is like to be treated in this way, without having to be treated in this way,  Almost like playing the Sims and drowning your Sim-Wife in the pool, I mean you’d never do it in real life, but in the game...
I read this with quite a heavy heart toward the end, partly because as I read it I was sat working out the intricacies of my own novel and realised that I will never have it read with such ferocity of a crowd as this and I couldn’t tell if I was annoyed or relieved. 

I don’t wish EL James any ill will it’s just a horrendous book, and if she has managed to make her millions out of it I raise my mug of slightly cold tea to her, even if she will be forever remembered over the literary greats that line the shelves at the back of Waterstones whilst she sits front table on the 3 for 2.
Oh My.

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