Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey - E.L. James

After a long long wait in the library queue, I finally borrowed a copy of this most recent literary phenomenon.  I felt like I had to read it under the same theory I read The Da Vinci Code - because everyone else was, and I needed to see if it was worth all the hype.  After reading it, I can honestly say that I just don't really get it.  But at the same time, I did find that there was quite a bit that it made me think about - so maybe James really is doing something more than just peddling smut.  The basic story is recent college grad/virgin/ingenue meets rich and powerful mogul.  They sense an undeniable attraction for each other.  She is looking for a boyfriend.  He is looking for a submissive to partake in his S&M fantasies - and his relationships come complete with signed contract.  He opens up this whole new world for her - which she's not sure she wants to participate in.  And, of course, there is just "something" about her that makes him break all his rules and maybe, just maybe, fall a little bit in love.  Along the way, the dialogue is more horrendous than Twilight and countless questions are raised about the automony of women and the element of choice in inherently debasing activities.  On the one hand, I thought this book was absolute trash.  Plot-wise, nothing really happens and there is no understanding for why these characters find the other attractive.  On the other hand, I thought this would be a fantastic book to read in one of my college feminist studies classes - to better examine the nature of male/female and dominant/submissive relationships.  And to discuss what it is about this relationship that so many readers are drawn to - is it simply that Christian Grey is a wealthy handsome man?  Is it that women really do want to be treated like objects with no thoughts or opinions of their own?  Is it just another case of a woman believing that she can change a bad boy's behavior? Or is it just the intensely graphic sex scenes (which, if they really are empowering women in some way to demand more spice in their own relationships, I say - more power to them).  So, I definitely don't think this was a very well-written book.  And I didn't even find it that entertaining.  I did, however, think it raised a lot of important questions - including whether it's just a good thing to have people reading actual books (or ebooks), no matter what the subject matter.  And, I'm not sure I know the answer to that question.  I may just have to read the rest of this trilogy to figure it out.

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