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2 Stars

I finally read these, loooong after everyone else did, apparently. I was pretty sure they wouldn’t be the kind of thing I like, but at least four different random people  told me I MUST read them. Then, a few rather serious bloggers picked them apart, at which point I really started to feel left out. Love ’em or hate ’em, there’s no question that Fifty Shades became a cultural phenomenon, and it IS fun to see what the fuss is about.

Fifty Shades of GreyEven though I really didn’t care for these overall, I did manage to read all three books (well, I pretty much skimmed through the second one), which is more than I can say for the average romance novel. I suppose I did want to find out what happened, even if I could guess it pretty well in advance.

Anastasia Steele (like any real person has a name like that) is a shy, awkward college senior who is thrust by fate into the path of 27-year-old billionaire Christian Grey. Of course he’s gorgeous, and she’s in awe. He’s very damaged, due to a bad childhood, and never has normal relationships. He’s been with a lot of women, but they always have to sign non-disclosure agreements, so no, not at all normal.

He falls for Ana rather improbably quickly and duly presents her with a NDA, which she never signs. There is a LOT of sex. So much in fact, that I found it hard to believe that Christian could continue to run his empire, or that Ana could perform her new job with any sort of competence. And for all the talk about how weird and kinky he is, the sex is pretty much vanilla.

Of course, Christian showers Ana with goodies, and goes so far as to buy the company she works for, so he knows what’s going on with her. He’s super-controlling, way beyond the point of creepy. He wants to dictate what she eats, what she wears and how she spends her days. I just couldn’t see how any of that was very appealing.

The part that’s like crack for women is that over time, Ana finally gets through to Christian, so he can really open up and they can have a normal (or in this case, perfect) relationship.

I know that women love this stuff, and it’s why romance novels are so popular. Creepiness aside (don’t let your daughters date this guy!), Christian Grey is a brooding prince charming who chooses shy, mousy Ana over all of the incredible women he has access to. What girl in her right mind doesn’t love that?

Unfortunately, these books aren’t very well-written. Cliches abound, the internal and external dialogue is incredibly repetitive (I gladly would have strangled Ana for thinking “holy cow!” after the thousandth time.) and Ana comes across as pretty stupid, and a doormat.

When the whole scenario seems so implausible, it’s hard to really enjoy. Maybe I wasn’t reading it in the correct frame of mind. I’m probably too critical.