Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Naughties

Confession: I read the Fifty Shades trilogy.

Bigger Confession: I liked it.

I actually read these at the end of last school year, beginning of summer. I was probably just finishing or had just finished them when I resurrected this blog. For the sake of decorum though, considering any of my kids or parents may look at this blog, I decided to overlook them in my reading log. Here's the thing though... Everybody has (or is) reading them! That is what surprises me most about the 50 Shades Phenomenon. Once upon a time, not very long ago, you would have to venture into seedy book stores- or verify your age with a credit card online- to read anything more risque that Harlequin romances. (This is assumptive of course, there is no "Even Bigger" confession that I have done either.)

I had seen several ladies talking about Shades of Grey on Facebook- posts such as "Church Service was good today, trying to finish reading book 2 of Fifty Shades before I give Susie a bath." (Names of the innocent changed there.) So when I went to Barnes & Noble (more commonly known as Nirvana in my world), I decided to check them out. They weren't hard to find; they were #1, 2, and 3 best-sellers. So, as soon as I flipped one over to read the jacket and saw that it was defined as "D/s erotic fiction," I was floored!

Again, I do not think I am a prude. There are times in my life when perhaps I should have been a bit more prudish in what I chose to talk about and who I chose to tell it to (Have we discussed finding out I was pregnant 2 weeks after Jason had a vasectomy yet?). I am floored by just how commonplace it has become. How did reading such literature so very quickly go from something hidden to front-shelf top-seller? The trilogy was the #1, 2, 3 downloads on Kindle this summer for 30+ women. I was among those numbers. I didn't want anyone to know I was reading it! Yet, I had a parent pull out her well-worn copy to show me and joke about people helping her gather pages when the blew all over the beach. I had a co-worker sit down her teacher bag to go to the bathroom last week and there was book 2 sitting right at top. You brought that to SCHOOL? All summer long the racks were empty at Target; even The Wal-Mart had to cash in on the dirty money (although shrink-wrapped on the shelves to maintain some semblance of Christian modesty).

All that having been said, I did enjoy the reads. The first book was my favorite. I liked that it did not have a happy ending. I do not color my world with black Crayolas but it was a realistic ending. I do not like that E.L. James made Christian Grey a psychological mess with Mommy issues. Why couldn't he just be into an alternative way of life? I think she caved to societal pressure. Typical woman trying to "fix" a messed up guy. I would not be so bold as to call it "good literature" but the character development of the novels were good. There was more to the psychological power exchange between Christian and Ana than cuffs and blindfolds. That made for an interesting read... with or without the "bonuses." I wasn't so much a fan of the third book. I wanted to see how the trilogy ended, so read I it, but it was all a bit too fairy tale and trite plot developments for me. It lacked the development the other two did and was more choppy in introducing, then pretty quickly resolving, various complications.

Post-Christian Grey, I did read two of the "If you liked 50 Shades, then try this" genre. The first was Switch by Megan Hart. If you truly liked the psychological push & pull of the dominant & submissive relationship in E. L. James trilogy, you probably will like this one. There is very little physical contact between the the two parties. It is a "catfish" story of the old-fashion type, involving leaving mysterious letters in mailboxes to influence and direct the activities of the another. It is definitely not a PG family read. The main character does have some heated trysts with her ex, but the relationship on which the novel is focused does remain on the psychological, not gratuitously physical, level. "Switch" refers to roles in a relationship- whether being dominant or submissive- and sometimes being mistaken about which one is true to your nature.

The other book, apparently also part of a trilogy is Sylvia Day's Bared to You. I don't feel moved toward reading either of the other books that follow this one, even when the author ended the first with a very trite cliff-hanger meant to hold in you suspense until you could get your hands on the next one. I am really curious about the time relationship between the release of these books and the 50 Shades trilogy. There is a great deal in common between them- far too much to be coincidence- so much as that I'm surprised not to have heard about a potential lawsuit for intellectual theft. Again we have characters that I feel are far too young and wealthy to carry the plot. It worked for Christian Grey. It does not work for Gideon Cross, nor for the heroine of the book, who is so insignificant that I can't even remember her name. It is believable to say that you liked 50 Shades beyond the heated scenes. To say that about Day's book would be likened to saying you read Playboy for the articles. There is not much of anything beyond the heated scenes. There is little interaction between the main characters at all beyond their detailed trysts. To compare this trilogy to E. L. James is to insult both the writer and the readers of 50 Shades.

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