I did it: I made it through chapter one of Fifty Shades of Grey. For you, dear reader, only for you. And I didn’t throw it, or stab my eyes out. Sooo that’s good, right? For the purposes of full disclosure, I’ve never been a fan of romance novels. The last two books I read were Redshirts and Wonder, so that should give you an idea where I’m coming from. I was hoping for a few larfs out of this book at least, but all my hopes were in vain.
My thoughts went something like this:
Not much actually happens in chapter one. We meet the main characters, and they meet each other. Lit student Anastasia Steele is pushed into interviewing wealthy businessman, Christian Grey, by her journalist roommate, Kate, who has fallen ill with a bad case of MacGuffin. Ana bumbles through the interview with all the style and grace of Inspector Gadget, and yet at the end Grey hints at offering her an internship. Perhaps he’ll be paying her ‘some other way’?
We don’t find out much about Christian Grey except that he is loaded, and his staff are terrified of him. Also, he gasps melodramatically when asked if he is gay. He’s so obviously offended that Ana apologizes for asking. You get the feeling he might be having chest pains. Seriously. He’s supposed to be twenty-something right now. And he’s that mortified about teh gays? Dude, welcome to 2012.
And Anastasia Steele. Sigh. What should I say about her? The blurb on the back of the book calls her, “unworldly, innocent Ana…” but I think what they really mean is ditzy and scatterbrained. One paragraph in and Ana is already stupid. She’s having major hair drama – she has crazy hair because she washed it before bedtime and then slept on it. Why doesn’t she just wet it down? Why?
I’m left wondering if poor, special Ana isn’t in need of a diagnosis of some kind? She can’t keep her thoughts straight, and has trouble focusing on the interview. I’m thinking adult ADD? But then ADDers are usually smart. Consider: Ana is supposed to be finishing her exams for what I assume is a bachelor of arts in literature. But when Christian Grey asks her about her job plans, she admits it has never occurred to her to think about it. You heard me. She’ll be done university in a week or two and she has never once thought about how she might pay her bills after that. Not once. Did I say that already?
Writing-wise you can really tell that 50 Shades started life as a fanfic. It reads like any of a hundred Mary Sue’s I’ve read. Ana, for instance, describes herself as having eyes that are too big for her face. Seriously?! What a terrible affliction! And just how big? Big enough to allow her to see in ultraviolet? It would be a much better story if the answer was yes.
On the porn meter, (which is what y’all came to hear about right?) this scored a solid zero, on account of no sex at all, and only the vaguest bit of sexual tension toward the end of the chapter.
So it’s done, and at this point I’m left with characters I don’t give a pigs damn about, and no desire to read on. But read on I will. So you don’t have to.