A Week of Awful Books: Day 7 The Worst of the Worst

A few years ago, before its current explosion, I stumbled across the ‘new adult’ genre. New Adult? What’s that? Research brain kicked in and a frantic search of the internet began. From everything I could find, this was a fledgling genre aimed at that college/recent college grad age. Getting started in the world on your own. Struggling to figure out who you are now that there are no parents or teachers to point the way. The friends and experiences you gain with this new found freedom. The most formative period in a person’s life.
Excitement ensued. This is the age I want to write for, but I tend to skew younger because of the market. Sparks of inspiration went off and I began composing a book that would fall within this genre. No story has ever come to me this easily. I finished up the first draft and put it aside for a little while to have some simmer time. This is normal for me in the writing process and is often a few months. I need a good chunk of time away before an edit. Distance makes the heart grow critical. And before I was ready to start farming out submissions, this week’s final awful book appeared on the market and in three little paperbacks destroyed an entire genre. Turning what could have been a great new collection of books into a cesspool of weak women, domineering men, and their sexual exploits.

Of course, I’m talking about

Fifty Shades of Grey/Darker/Freed by E.L James
I finally caved and read these books about a year ago. I’ll be completely honest, I didn’t hate the first book. The writing is awful – I mean really awful- but I found it stupidly enjoyable. It was escapist lady porn for the mom set and if not for the excess, unpalatable plot, it could fit nicely into the erotica shelves(which are a great place to shop). I couldn’t stop reading this damn book. I got through the first one in a day. But that doesn’t mean I ever forgave the writing. It read exactly like what it started as – Twilight fan fiction. And it got worse and worse and worse as the series continues.
How many times can a girl say holy cow, oh jeez, holy hell, or oh wow during a fairly vanilla bondage moment. For an English major, her vocabulary is sorely lacking, except for when she’s pulling out ridiculous multi-syllabic words that no one uses in normal speech. Ana is the worst example of an English major and her go to novels… come on. Sure, those are the novels of someone who loves reading, and they might even be the favourite of a certain section of English majors, but what a cliché. It’s just one hint at the root of the problems in this novel – James’ misunderstanding of the worlds she’s exploring.

People harp on the Christian Grey character as either a hero or a horror, but he’s neither. He’s wishy washy because he’s poorly written. Do I have issues with Christian and his domineering (not dominant) personality? Sure. He’s over the top and the books seem to want to drive home that anyone involved in the BDSM community simply needs to be fixed, which could not be further from the truth. It’s not something I know boatloads about, but I’ve done enough research to know that James essentially knows nothing about BDSM. Emily May does a great review of why Christian and Ana’s sexual relationship is baloney. I don’t need to rehash what’s already well written.

Grey’s unilateral decision making about what is best for Ana – that’s what really infuriates me. Ana is
my biggest problems with the books. Who is this girl? How has she been this sheltered her entire life? She has zero life experience. She knows nothing about anything. And she don’t have a computer? And she’s an English major? She’s an English Major that DOESN’T OWN A COMPUTER! Bullshit. Complete and utter bullshit.
She would own a computer for no other purpose than completing her assignments. Research is a major part of an English degree. Writing papers is an even bigger portion There’s no way an English major and a Journalism student could share a computer with no conflict for four years. It just wouldn’t happen.
And then there’s Ana’s constant ‘Oh no, I’ve made him angry. I’ll apologize even though I know I haven’t done anything wrong, but his delicate, delicate psyche can’t handle it, so it must be me’. This happens over and over again in books 2 and 3. Ana makes me crazy. Like actually on the verge of insanity. And when she allowed him to directly impact her career and throw women’s progression in the workplace back a hundred years…. That’s when I stopped reading. James, you’ve insulted powerful, balanced, career women everywhere, and for that I cannot forgive you.

Happy International Women’s Day! Be strong in the office, the bedroom, the gym, the family, and everywhere.


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