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Book Review: Fifty Shades of Grey


Chick-lit style writing, inexhaustible S&M scenes, and pink frosting romance run rampant across the pages of E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey. The book is classified as erotic fiction with the word "erotic" used in the loosest form. If erotic passages are meant to provoke a nearly impossible mishmash of skepticism, squirming, and inadvertant hilarity then by all means, Fifty Shades of Grey is the most errotic novel ever written. Frankly, prior tp reading this book, I was unaware that it was at all possible to wince, chuckle, and grind my teeth in the same instance, but be sure that it is.

With a name plucked straight from a sugarplum dream world gone raunchy, Anastasia Steele is the 21-year-old narrator who is said to have never before experienced sex or even sexual desire-that is, until she meets wealthy and suave Christian Grey. Steele is inadvertantly swept off her feet by Grey and thrust into a world of bondage, whips, and chains. A world dominated by the underlying theme of his desperate need for power and control.

Christian Grey is a man of extreme extravagance, power and an insatiable appetite for dominating women. Grey is self-described as "fifty shades of messed up" (edited for offensive content). This is a mild description of his domineering persona that has resulted from an atrocious childhood and a long-standing, inappropriate affair.

Ana, as Anastasia most commonly refers to herself, is depicted as a naive, submissive young woman who is lacking in the area of sexual experiences. This lack of depth into the basic human condition is a telling aspect of the book. What college pubescent has never experienced sexual desire? Or, if they haven't, it's likely a pervasive aspect of their personality and sexuality, not something that could be miraculously quelled by meeting a man like Grey.

Typically, dysfunctional myths young girls are so prone to believe are abundant throughout the novel. Perhaps the most annoying is the ever present "I can change him" myth. Even worse than that is the "If I do whatever he wants, he'll surely love me" myth that makes a peek-a-boo appearance in nearly every chapter. The frequent usage of these myths is designed to draw in the female audience, as these feelings are somewhat universal today.

Perhaps the only negative aspect of the novel is that the plot mirrors that of the Twilight saga. Fifty Shades can accurately be described as Edward and Bella meet Rihanna's S&M.

Despite rumors of an offensively sexual plot, a truly gratifying story is hidden behind the whips, chains and floggers wielded by the dominant Christian Grey. The first in a series of three books, Fifty Shades of Grey tops the list as a must-read for anyone daring enough to take it on.

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