Pretty much everyone has heard of the erotic book phenomenon of Fifty Shades of Grey. And if you haven’t, well…here, check it out.
These books are flying off the shelves and burning up the internet with downloads. But along with all the positive talk, and excited giggles between girlfriends, there is also a lot of talk among writing circles about these books. But here’s the thing, that talk isn’t all positive.
Some of the things I’d heard about the Grey trilogy was that they were amateur, shallow and, well…frankly that they weren’t written very well.
But yet, they were selling. MILLIONS of copies!
I’m a writer, I obviously want my books to sell MILLIONS of copies, too. So…I did what every good writer would do. Some research and I read the Grey trilogy. (Well, I’ll be honest, I’ve only read a book and a half so far)
But even after reading only half the series, this what I know. Fifty Shades of Grey is not high literary fiction. It’s not even particularly medium level literary fiction, but it is entertaining. And no, I don’t think it’s just all the sex that makes it that entertaining (although, let’s be honest, I think that’s the initial appeal). It’s the characters. Yes, they use limited vocabulary, and have questionable motives (or sometimes, very few motives) BUT they’re compelling. In my opinion, the author does a fantastic job characterizing Christian and Ana so that the reader actually cares about them. You really do want to keep turning pages to see how things develop between them, not just to see what sexual exploits they get up to next. At the core of the book is a beautiful, albeit messed up love story.
Let’s address the fact that sex that is clearly at the heart of these books. I do believe that the fact that the Grey books address a sexual lifestyle that is often labeled deviant, and taboo, is one of the major draws. I’m no therapist, and I have no idea why this is, but I will hazard a guess that the reason stems from a deep seeded repression that women (and sure, men too) have about talking about things (particularly sexual things) that aren’t considered ‘main stream’ or ‘normal’. Like I said, that’s just a guess, there are dozens of theories.
But no matter what the reason is, I do agree that the sex is a draw to the books, at least initially. But by the middle of book two, I’m finding it distracting to the story. And after talking to a few of my friends who have read the books as well, they say the same thing. So, I don’t think that the erotic scenes are the only draw here.
Do I think the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy is going to go down in history as the greatest books ever written? Um…no. But, that doesn’t matter because they’re entertaining. And isn’t that the goal of most writers? To write an entertaining book? To write a book that appeals to the masses and sells millions of copies? To write a book that captivates readers and gets them talking?
Do these books appeal to everyone. No, definitely not. Some people will never pick them up because of the sex. Some will never read them because they deem them low level, or ‘beneath them’ (my words, not theirs). But no matter what you think of E.L. James and her Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy, she has done what she set out to do, she has provided entertainment. She has more than achieved her goal. And the millions of copies sold PLUS the movie deal she has, prove it. And no matter what anyone thinks of her writing and her books, you can’t take that away from her.