50 Shades of Grey

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Nov 23, 2002
Anyone here read 50 Shades of Grey? If so, what was your perception of it?

Simply that it seems to have become one of the most talked about novels in recent years - and yet when I go to the Amazon page the reviews completely slam it:

With 800+ 5 star reviews, and 500+ 1 star reviews, it seems there's a lot of contention about it.

The criticisms given suggest that it is neither a good novel, nor a good piece of erotic fiction.

In which case, the question begs, why is it so popular at the moment?
The same reason as the Da Vinci Code did so well, I imagine. Everybody else seems to be talking about it, so people feel left out and then have to read it to see what the fuss is about.

I expect a slew of copycat books now, until The New Big Thing comes along (which will hopefully be me :D)
I haven't read it, but I didn't need to - http://50shadesofsuck.tumblr.com/ is all you need on the subject. It's dreadful. I think the reason behind its popularity is due to a combination of hype and the fact that most people who read this (ie women over the age of 30) are unaware that erotica/porn/whatever you want to call it exists, for free and in large quantities, on the Internet as fanfiction (which is what 50 Shades started as. I once saw a page by page comparison of the novel and the original fanfiction - Master of the Universe - and it's scary how little she changed it for publication).

At this point I think people are buying it to see what the initial fuss was about, and are all finding it is a pile of drivel.
No, Ursa. I shall be the embodiment of my story (wandering, pointless, with an unsatisfying ending)
I flicked through in my local tescos, found it so hilarious that I nearly choked with laughter. Got some funny looks. It is, imho, dire and gives hope to all us aspiring writers everywhere. (The sexy bits were, of the few I glanced at, not worth the fuss.) I was a bit worried at someone reading it beside me in the spa, though, and I think that's what the fuss is - it's porn that anyone can read and not be seen as being a little bit sad.
Going by the sample, the prose isn't bad -- nothing exciting, but it isn't bad.

But going by the reviews, the plot and characters seem to leave a lot to be desired.
The most interesting thing about this book is the fact that sales of downloads have far outnumbered actual physical book sales. I believe it's done over 1 million digital sales in a single week.
I have no intention to read it but know a few people who have.

One of them said it's not the best book they have ever read, but they are enjoying it.

And if that's the case, I guess it's doing its job.
I read romance novels - mill and boon types because it's like literary fast food

I don't have even a mild interest in BDSM and I really don't have an interest in 3 books to get to the "and they lived happily ever after". (I have no idea if they did or if they didn't btw)

So it just seems amusing that women have discovered erotic fiction. I wonder if this was what it was like when Lady Chatterly's Lover first came out (although I'm not comparing the books)
I attempted to read the book, just because of all the buzz. It is billed as erotic fiction with a BDSM slant. I made it through a couple of chapters before I had to give up in disgust.

Admittedly this book IS romantic fiction, and as such it was not written to appeal to men. Like most good romantic fiction it is gushing with, well, romance. Hopelessly in love beyond anything you have ever experienced in your life romance. In this sense the book hits its target.

Unfortunately, the writing is completely amateur. This is the kind of prose one would expect from a vanity house publisher bad.

It is getting a lot of press because of the supposed BDSM slant. Which is why all the notoriety that is pushing sales. But there the book fails as well. This is incredibly tame bondage and discipline.

The book succeeds because it is well written for the romance market, with the added notoriety of the bondage angle. If that is your kind of thing, you will probably enjoy this trilogy.

But if you want good BDSM, go with Anne Rice's Beauty trilogy.
Don't get me started on this. I see it all over Facebook and I'm getting really irritated by it! It just seems that people can't think for themselves anymore. Monkey see, monkey do. I swear if one of them ate dog food and said it tasted like Ambrosia, they'd all be bloody eating it.

I had an argument (well, a minor disagreement) with someone about it. A friend posted that she was thinking of reading it. I said 'apparently it's badly written trash so don't bother.' And somebody (who I don't know) wrote back and said 'well for badly written trash it's pretty popular!' I then tried to explain that just because something's popular doesn't mean it's well written, but they just kept repeating the same argument so I gave up.

I mean, just because lots of people have it doesn't mean it's a Good Thing. Lots of people have chlamydia.

Apparently they're making it into a film. Wouldn't that just be a porno?

Anyway, who wants to read about straight sex? Yuck. ;)
Haven't read it, don't intend to. I don't mind so much that it's bad (The Da Vinci Code wasn't exactly classic literature), but it's peddling exactly the same "abusive stalker as romantic ideal" crap that Twilight did - which is hardly surprising as it started out as Twilight fanfic. It just replaces the vampire schtick with the trappings of BDSM...

I feel sorry for the authors of good erotica, of which there's plenty (even some SFF stuff, if you don't want to stray outside your genre!) :)
Our shop has 300 copies on order, after having sold over 100 in 2 weeks flat. 300 copies. of a book. in Barnsley, fergodsblimminsake. yes, I've flicked through it, as have my colleagues, who have decided that "my inner princess gushed" is this year's catchphrase. i've seen tabloid articles better written than that. it really is dire.

me, i ain't got no inner princess. i do however reckon i've been writing in the wrong genre.

next project: 50 Shades of Dragons.
... it's peddling exactly the same "abusive stalker as romantic ideal" crap that Twilight did...

Exactly. This is what's getting me so worked up. I'm reading all my friends comments on FB about how fantastic this man is. My godfathers, if they want a scumbag they're all welcome to my ex. :rolleyes:

And and it's like a huge backwards step for female characters. As if we don't get enough crappy ones as it is.
The thing is, chopper, it's not selling because of the content, it's selling purely on PR and, as Mouse says, "monkey see, monkey do". Everyone wants to know what all the fuss is about. Sadly a lot of them are discovering that it's not just poorly written, it's plain awful, like a 14-year-old's naive fantasy of what "kinky" adult relationships are like.
i realise that much, Anne - i don't think i got the sarcasm correct there at the end. i'm definitely not looking forward to the raft of imitations that are almost certainly being readied. and both you and Mouse are right about the tone and expectation it sets for adult relationships.

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