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Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James- Opinions/Reviews
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xina



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mirole wrote:
.

. Yet, when you read the comments on recent posts on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and Dear Author, you'd think that the author is the Satan reincarnate and the books should be banned because she is a plagiarizer (plagiarized herself, evidently) and the writing is soooooo bad. Oh, and Stephanie Meyer is a fool not to sue E.L. James's pants off because nothing was original. And we all should love BDSM books by "good authors" and not the trashy author like E.L.James who does not know anything about BDSM and is viciously misrepresenting the lifestyle.







.




Yep..this was my conclusion too. I get not liking the book, the writing, but the reaction over there is pretty extreme. It's like some are personally violated. Strange, but not surprising.

Well, I am just starting the 3rd book. I enjoyed the first 2, and still....don't get the connection to Twilight. Love the inner goddess and the e-mails. I'm not adding my full thoughts until I've finished. I'm in the midst of reading Game Of Thrones for a book club I've joined and they meet tonight, so back to that book. But I will return.....
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Yulie



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

desiderata wrote:
Honestly, the fact that the 26 year old hero was terribly abused for the first several years of his life and suffered significant mental and emotional damage but then went on to become a well established self made bazillionaire by his mid-twenties is so completely detached from reality that the critique that in reality such a hero would ditch Ana and replace her with a nice sub pales in comparison.

I can believe it if it's someone who did something innovative and computer-related; that's a field people can and have been successful in at a young age and regardless of personal background. If it's money from being successful in other industries, maybe not so much.

I don't want to interfere with anyone's enjoyment of these or any other books. However, suggesting that negative reactions to 50 Shades are based on jealousy or various petty concerns is no different than suggesting that you can't enjoy the trilogy unless you are an unsophisticated reader: in both cases, someone's judging opinions and reactions without knowing much about the people expressing them. And attributing negative reactions to jealousy is about the oldest trick in the book. Sometimes people just feel strongly about books - remember the endless thread about Brockmann's DoN a few years ago? Did everyone on that thread read DoN? I think not.

As for similarities or lack thereof to Twilight - it's AU fanfic with the names changed. Of course it won't be identical. Mirole referred to the DA post about MotU vs. 50 Shades, and I think it illustrates pretty clearly what the story looked like originally and what changes were made. Comment #46 on that post includes many similarities between 50 Shades and Twilight. I haven't yet read the Jami Gold post that was alluded to.

If someone is of the opinion that there is no problem with publishing (lightly) rewritten fanfic, there are arguments that can be made in support of that. But you cannot argue that there are no links to Twilight.
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PWNN



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mirole wrote:
Well, in the book Christian had found not one but 15 such submissives (in succession) in the past but then just happened to fall for Ana.


That's why it's pretty much just a very long Harlequin Presents. Hardly unique. That relationship dynamic certainly taps into a huge desire and market in romance because those books have sold very well for a long long time. Billionaire (yes improbably young and gorgeous) who's been through dozens of women but can't be satisfied with any one but the milquetoast secretary/waitress/Sunday School teacher virgin is a romance staple.

The spin here is the BDSM where in the end he's giving up what is a core component of his sexual life because it's "wrong" and his heroine doesn't like it. Throwing in the BDSM without any true understanding for the supposed added kink value (no matter how BDSM-lite it is) and to show how tortured and dark and needy the hero is and how the heroine is the only one who can fix him is part of what irks. Sexual sadists and doms have control issues - cue News at 11! It can all be cured by true love. Cue the Sci-Fi channel!

As for the backlash, that's not surprising at all. Anything with a huge fervor and fan following is going to have backlash just because it's placed in front of everyone for an opinion - whether they're interested or not.

On Amazon I've seen multiple repeat over heated posts on these books for the last few months that run into the hundreds and thousands of replies. It inevitably starts with OMG! Have you read the BEST BOOK EVER?!! READ IT! You will all LOOOOOVE IT! What do you mean you don't want to you will LOVE IT! and invariably ends with I wouldn't read this book now if you set my hair on fire. That's not jealousy just extreme annoyance.

With websites it would of course spark debate and not to discuss it, it's fan fic origins and it's BDSM aspects when it's become a publishing phenomenon in part because of those aspects would be remiss. In the end though, positive or negative it's all more publicity for the book. I bet Dr. Drew on TV who doesn't seem to have even read the book discussing how bad it is for women to read (rolls eyes) sold more books than it's most fervent fans extolling it's virtues.
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Linda in sw va



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PWNN wrote:
mirole wrote:
Well, in the book Christian had found not one but 15 such submissives (in succession) in the past but then just happened to fall for Ana.


That's why it's pretty much just a very long Harlequin Presents. Hardly unique. That relationship dynamic certainly taps into a huge desire and market in romance because those books have sold very well for a long long time. Billionaire (yes improbably young and gorgeous) who's been through dozens of women but can't be satisfied with any one but the milquetoast secretary/waitress/Sunday School teacher virgin is a romance staple.

The spin here is the BDSM where in the end he's giving up what is a core component of his sexual life because it's "wrong" and his heroine doesn't like it. Throwing in the BDSM without any true understanding for the supposed added kink value (no matter how BDSM-lite it is) and to show how tortured and dark and needy the hero is and how the heroine is the only one who can fix him is part of what irks. Sexual sadists and doms have control issues - cue Channel 11 News! It can all be cured by true love. Cue the Sci-Fi channel!

As for the backlash, that's not surprising at all. Anything with a huge fervor and fan following is going to have backlash just because it's placed in front of everyone for an opinion - whether they're interested or not.

On Amazon I've seen multiple repeat over heated posts on these books for the last few months that run into the hundreds and thousands of replies. It inevitably starts with OMG! Have you read the BEST BOOK EVER?!! READ IT! You will all LOOOOOVE IT! What do you mean you don't want to you will LOVE IT! and invariably ends with I wouldn't read this book now if you set my hair on fire. That's not jealousy just extreme annoyance.

With websites it would of course spark debate and not to discuss it, it's fan fic origins and it's BDSM aspects when it's become a publishing phenomenon in part because of those aspects would be remiss. In the end though, positive or negative it's all more publicity for the book. I bet Dr. Drew on TV who doesn't seem to have even read the book discussing how bad it is for women to read (rolls eyes) sold more books than it's most fervent fans extolling it's virtues.



I'm on my iPhone so it's hard to cut in, Christian doesn't give up his BDSM lifestyle because it's 'wrong', he gives it up because he finds he doesn't NEED it anymore. Ana becomes much more to him than a sexual lifestyle and they compromise to the extent that he can still have his 'kink' but in a way that is pleasurable to them BOTH. He was using the BDSM lifestyle as a way to keep women at a distance, his previous subs were sexual partners but they were not real relationships. A real relationship means vulnerability and Christian wanted control as a form of protection. And even continuing on he makes many of his own compromises, neither one is out to change the other to find true love. Ana knows his need for control and is willing to let him have it to a certain extent. They are two imperfect people that fall in love and work their way into making it work, despite their original differences.

It sure isn't like any Harlequin Presents I've read and I've read quite a few of them while on the hunt for alpha heroes. On the surface sure there are many similarities to books in the romance genre but the execution sets it apart from the pack and the author's talent for creating such a compelling couple. I hadn't been this engrossed in years so I totally get the raving about it.

Linda
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xina



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="Yulie"][



As for similarities or lack thereof to Twilight - it's AU fanfic with the names changed. Of course it won't be identical. Mirole referred to the DA post about MotU vs. 50 Shades, and I think it illustrates pretty clearly what the story looked like originally and what changes were made. Comment #46 on that post includes many similarities between 50 Shades and Twilight. I haven't yet read the Jami Gold post that was alluded to.

quote]


I'm sorry, but why do you always refer us to DA and Smart Bitches? They aren't the experts on *everything about the romance genre* and they certainly don't represent me as a reader in this area.
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LikesBadBoys



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The fact of the matter is that if you enjoy a book (or not) and someone tries to tell you that your enjoyment or lack thereof is entirely attributed to some defect, you are opening a can of worms. You are opening them intentionally and you are trying to offend. I don't see the point in doing it.
What happened to the good old-fashioned argument that you didn't like the book because it just did nothing for you? Or, you liked the book because you were thoroughly entertained? All of the other stuff about fan fics, real BDSM, bitter/deluded fans and critics, bad/exceptional writing, and sophisticated palates seems to confuse the matter.

Things are also bound to get ugly when we discuss things like copyright infringement and hint at plagiarism. Those are things that go to the integrity of the author, not just the quality of the writing. Integrity is personal, in my book.

We're also talking over each other at certain points. For instance, regarding the links to Twilight. It cannot be disputed that this was a fan fic with the character names formerly Bella and Edward, there's a tie to Twilight. What can and should be disputed is whether or not the Grey trilogy is a carbon copy of the Twilight series; that's an opinion that's subject to debate.

All of the WTFery about the attention the book is receiving is inevitable. Frankly, I feel the same way when someone like Oprah plucks a book off the shelf and millions of people buy for that fact alone. But that's just the nature of the beast and the industry. That kind of attention has brought me enough books that I truly enjoyed (ie. Harry Potter), for me to forgive it when it's pimping something I feel isn't worthy of the media machinations.

I feel like 50 is getting attention for the wrong reasons; it's not a force for the corruption of the female mind (a la Dr. Drew) nor is it some aberration of romantic/erotic fiction that totally disrespects real BDSM relationship. I'd be here all day if I listed all of the gross overstatements of its vices and virtues. I thought it was fantastic, it's one of my favorite romances for the time being, but it's not the best thing I've ever read in my entire life. But hey, maybe it feels that way to some readers who haven't read anything like it before. Everything is the best thing ever until the next best thing ever.
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Linda in sw va



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mirole wrote:


I just cannot imagine going and express such condescending negative opinions about a book that I have not read or of which I have read only a sample chapter. Yet a lot of posts there start with "I have not read the book and am not going to...".
I agree that you can judge the writing style based on a sample and if you don't like the style or find it poor, that's fine. Still, the sample or just reading others' reviews is not enough to judge the book as a whole. E.g., b]


I've noticed that the most vocal critics haven't actually read the book or only a small sample. They've formed an opinion on what they've heard others say happens in the book. Honestly if I had read some of the negative reviews of this book ahead of time I might never had picked it up and would have completely missed out. I agree that Dr. Drew probably drew more women to Fifty Shades of Gray than away form it.

Linda
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Yulie



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

@ LikesBadBoys
I think sometimes there are issues beyond what works for one in a book (or not). For instance, there has been some great commentary about the media's unfortunate emphasis on the "mommy porn" angle. Should this not be addressed? Why are ethical concerns related to the fanfic origins of this story irrelevant? Why should concerns about whether the portrayal of BDSM is accurate be dismissed? I don't think these issues can or should interest everyone, but I would hate to see book reviews and discussions limited to "it just did nothing for you"/"you liked the book because you were thoroughly entertained". To me, the peripheral discussions inspired by the success of 50 Shades are more interesting than the more straightforward reviews.

xina wrote:
I'm sorry, but why do you always refer us to DA and Smart Bitches? They aren't the experts on *everything about the romance genre* and they certainly don't represent me as a reader in this area.

Yes, as you have made abundantly clear over the years. I often link to DA, SBTB (also my personal favorite, RRR) because they are frequently updated and have relevant (and often thoughtful) posts on a variety of subjects - including, in this case, 50 Shades. I read several other blogs, but they haven't run anything relevant to this thread. And really, if you have any external content that you think is more interesting and important, nobody's stopping you from using the hyperlink function.

You've frequently expressed your disdain for blogs - not a specific blog or writer, but blogs in general. Sticking with a single website might work for you, but limiting myself to AAR doesn't speak to me as a reader, and clearly I'm not alone in this. As I stated in my post, I was referring to a post that Mirole brought up earlier. Mirole and I certainly do not see eye to eye on this, but I respect her for seeking views that diverge from hers and engaging with people she disagrees with - on this website and elsewhere.
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Linda in sw va



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

xina wrote:
[Yep..this was my conclusion too. I get not liking the book, the writing, but the reaction over there is pretty extreme. It's like some are personally violated. Strange, but not surprising.

Well, I am just starting the 3rd book. I enjoyed the first 2, and still....don't get the connection to Twilight. Love the inner goddess and the e-mails. I'm not adding my full thoughts until I've finished. I'm in the midst of reading Game Of Thrones for a book club I've joined and they meet tonight, so back to that book. But I will return.....


Xina, glad you have enjoyed the first two, I was wondering! I hope you like the 3rd moe so than I did, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Linda
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LikesBadBoys



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I think sometimes there are issues beyond what works for one in a book (or not). For instance, there has been some great commentary about the media's unfortunate emphasis on the "mommy porn" angle. Should this not be addressed? Why are ethical concerns related to the fanfic origins of this story irrelevant? Why should concerns about whether the portrayal of BDSM is accurate be dismissed? I don't think these issues can or should interest everyone, but I would hate to see book reviews and discussions limited to "it just did nothing for you"/"you liked the book because you were thoroughly entertained". To me, the peripheral discussions inspired by the success of 50 Shades are more interesting than the more straightforward reviews.


I'm not saying that those discussions are off limits, what I don't find value in are personal attacks disguised as intellectual discourse. When you are claiming to have a more sophisticated palate than someone else, where does that discussion take you? If there's such a thing as "authentic" BDSM, who exactly gets to decide what it is? Why is there suddenly so much policing about content for a novel that, in context, is not even very hardcore? There's absolutely something worthwhile in disussing the cultural discourse around romance and female desire, which is what Sarah at SMB has done when she discusses "mommy porn" and the media coverage related to 50. But, I do not believe all of the comments we've been exchanging engage those issues, nor do I believe everyone is concerned about them.

There's a general tone of disdain in some of the remarks here; at that point, I would rather someone just say I don't like the book, rather than claiming there are larger intellectual reasons that prevent enjoyment. If that's true, okay, if not, don't be disingenuous about it.

I also think there are ways of talking about why a book engaged you or not that extend beyond just saying stating that fact. For 50, we have yet to really talk about the book, since so much has been said about the media attention. For my part, I'm far more interested in why Christian creeped actual readers out, or why readers love him, than I am in what a non-reader of romance like Dr. Drew thinks.

[/quote]


Last edited by LikesBadBoys on Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:15 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Yulie



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

LikesBadBoys wrote:
I'm not saying that those discussions are off limits, what I don't find value in are personal attacks disguised as intellectual discourse. When you are claiming to have a more sophisticated palate than someone else, where does that discussion take you? If there's such a thing as "authentic" BDSM, who exactly gets to decide what it is? Why is there suddenly so much policing about content for a novel that, in context, is not even very hardcore? There's absolutely something worthwhile in disussing the cultural discourse around romance and female desire, which is what Sarah at SMB has done when she discusses "mommy porn" and the media coverage related to 50. But, I do not believe all of the comments we've been exchanging engage those issues, nor do I believe everyone is concerned about them.

There's a general tone of disdain in some of the remarks here; at that point, I would rather someone just say I don't like the book, rather than claiming there are larger intellectual reasons that prevent enjoyment. If that's true, okay, if not, don't be disingenuous about it.

Fair enough - though I don't think the discussions of the ethical questions and representation of BDSM are necessarily meant to explain why some readers did not enjoy the book. It seems to me like the success of the trilogy simply raises a lot of interesting questions. I agree with you that this thread may not be the ideal place to discuss them, however.
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LikesBadBoys



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Fair enough - though I don't think the discussions of the ethical questions and representation of BDSM are necessarily meant to explain why some readers did not enjoy the book. It seems to me like the success of the trilogy simply raises a lot of interesting questions. I agree with you that this thread may not be the ideal place to discuss them, however.


I mentioned BDSM because this book has been called BDSM-lite and a misrepresentation of the BDSM lifestyle/relationship. Some readers really didn't enjoy it because they thought Christian Grey went vanilla and wasn't a great representation of a good Dom; that affected their enjoyment of the h/h relationship. That's their right to feel that way, I just have an issue when someone steps in to claim something is inauthentic, which suggests there is only one way to do something.

I'd like to think there's space at the table for all---that you can engage the social issues that rise to the fore because of the Fifty reviews, and you can squee because of how much you really loved the book. Sometimes I want to critique and other times I want to sigh and gush; I'm not sure we're always creating a respectful space to do both in this case. Haven't seen this much emotion since Suzanne Brcokmann published Dark of Night!
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mirole



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

LikesBadBoys wrote in response to Yulie:
Quote:
Quote:
Fair enough - though I don't think the discussions of the ethical questions and representation of BDSM are necessarily meant to explain why some readers did not enjoy the book. It seems to me like the success of the trilogy simply raises a lot of interesting questions. I agree with you that this thread may not be the ideal place to discuss them, however.


I mentioned BDSM because this book has been called BDSM-lite and a misrepresentation of the BDSM lifestyle/relationship. Some readers really didn't enjoy it because they thought Christian Grey went vanilla and wasn't a great representation of a good Dom; that affected their enjoyment of the h/h relationship. That's their right to feel that way, I just have an issue when someone steps in to claim something is inauthentic, which suggests there is only one way to do something.


LikesBadBoys, I was going to address this too but you expressed my feelings on this issue much better than I ever could. I share your opinions expressed on this thread on the whole.

I just went to the end of the post at Dear Author about MOTU/50SoG comparison and look what I found:

http://dearauthor.com/features/industry-news/master-of-the-universe-versus-fifty-shades-by-e-l-james-comparison#comments

posts 176-181

Someone who did not agree that 50SoG was "Twilight minus vampires, replaced with sex" was suspected in being a rabid EL James fan, or a Bunker Babe as they are apparently called.

Yulie, going back to "author jealosy", I did not say that just for the sake of it or to spite people (readers and non-readers of the book) who express negative opinons but because that was a feeling I got from reading many or some posts (I cannot say which percentage but it sure felt like a lot). Of course, I did not feel like that about ALL people with negative opinons. I just think that the whole discussion even negatively-biased could be more objective and level-headed, then there would be more credence to people's opinion.
As an example of very unbiased and balanced opinion, Jessica's review on RRR was the best for me. I pointed out all the weak points but at the same time she brought up all the strong points.

About the ethical issue of publishing what used to be free fanfic. I, for one, am eternally grateful to EL James that she went that rout. Otherwise, I would have not had the pleasure of reading the book (and would not be guaranteed of many happy rereads in the future) because I never read any fanfic and it does not interest me in the least.

And I think the author won her right to be rewarded for writing a brilliant book (in terms of fanfic).
A lot of posters on DA say something along the lines, Oh, I should dig up the fanfic I wrote 2/5/10, etc. years ago and try my luck with the publishers. Well, why not? If their books will be equally as good or 10 times as good (from the tones of those posters it was evident that their works were far more superior), then they will succeed too and we will have more reading diversity and choice.
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Linda in sw va



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mirole wrote:


About the ethical issue of publishing what used to be free fanfic. I, for one, am eternally grateful to EL James that she went that rout. Otherwise, I would have not had the pleasure of reading the book (and would not be guaranteed of many happy rereads in the future) because I never read any fanfic and it does not interest me in the least.

And I think the author won her right to be rewarded for writing a brilliant book (in terms of fanfic).
A lot of posters on DA say something along the lines, Oh, I should dig up the fanfic I wrote 2/5/10, etc. years ago and try my luck with the publishers. Well, why not? If their books will be equally as good or 10 times as good (from the tones of those posters it was evident that their works were far more superior), then they will succeed too and we will have more reading diversity and choice.



I totally agree with this! I never had an interest in fan fiction before but if FSoG is an example on what I'm missing out on than I would be willing to give it a chance.

At the risk of looking foolish, how does the word bunker in 'bunker babe' apply?

Linda
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xina



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yulie wrote:



You've frequently expressed your disdain for blogs - not a specific blog or writer, but blogs in general. Sticking with a single website might work for you, but limiting myself to AAR doesn't speak to me as a reader, and clearly I'm not alone in this. As I stated in my post, I was referring to a post that Mirole brought up earlier. Mirole and I certainly do not see eye to eye on this, but I respect her for seeking views that diverge from hers and engaging with people she disagrees with - on this website and elsewhere.



Nope...not blogs in general. There, you are very wrong. I am just not a fangirl of those particular blogs. I visit some very interesting blogs, every day in fact.
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