by Nicole Branigan on July 3, 2012 · 8 comments



I’d like to preface this by saying I’m in no position to critique anything anyone has written. Every style of written word has something to offer every walk of life. Stories bring us together, remind us that we’re human, and connect us on a global and spiritual scale unlike anything else (except maybe the Avengers. I mean, c’mon, did you SEE that movie?!)

For those of you with moral standards who may not have heard of the latest addition to the literary canon, 50 Shades of Grey is the latest erotic romance phenom written by E L James. Once again, my Googles tell me James is a fan-girl of the Twilight series, and wrote the book as homage to what she believes the protagonists of the popular series would be doing in their…err…spare time.

From a non-book-critique writer, I bring you my biggest grievances with 50 Shades of Grey:

1. The book is written in first-person, from the voice of protagonist Anastasia Steele. I’m going to let that simmer for you: Anastasia. Steele.

2. Anastasia can’t stop talking about her “inner goddess.” Apparently her inner goddess does things like “sit in a lotus position” and also “jumps up and down with cheerleader pom poms.” Apparently, Miss Steele’s inner goddess is very multi-faceted.

3. I’m halfway through the novel, and she’s used “medulla oblongata” three times. Writer’s note: I used to think the medulla oblongata was the hangy-ball in the back of one’s throat, which in the context of this book is REALLY funny. Alas, the main character continues to talk about the lower half of her brainstem. Why? Perhaps because this part of the brain in central to respitory function, and the author is alluding to the notion that without her male counterpart, much like her medulla oblongata, she cannot breathe. Perhaps she is just full of shit.

4. The book takes place in 2011, and Anastasia Steele calls going to the movies going to the “cinema.” If I was in college and asked someone to go to the cinema, I probably wouldn’t have an art collecting billionaire chasing after me. I’d probably be the weird girl who smells funny in the back of the Comp-100 class practicing lanyard weaving for summer camp.

To really drive the silliness of the language home, here are two of my favorite lines of the book (so far):



In all fairness, I’m not a wildly successful novelist. Obviously something about this book is connecting with audiences, and E L James’ success is something to behold. Does this book encourage women to embrace their sexuality? Maybe. Does it allow couples to talk about sex in a non-threatening atmosphere? I wouldn’t know. Is it grossly unimaginative? I’ll let you decide. For me, it’s 50 Shades of ridiculous inner dialogue amidst a silly plot. It’s also a damn fun read.

Agree with my thoughts? Share yours in the comment section below.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve July 3, 2012 at 7:16 pm

That’s it! I’ve heard so many women talking about this book, gotta to read it now. I was talking to a 65 year old lady this weekend, she said “50 shades of grey” was a “hot novel”. She probably still owns an original copy of “Lady Chatterly’s Lover”. Hope that doesn’t ruin it for me…


Nicole July 4, 2012 at 2:17 pm

HAHA Steve – you remind me so much of my dad it’s not even funny. Or maybe it is…a little.


RPK July 4, 2012 at 9:53 pm

So, I’ve read all three and I’d have to agree that the writing is terrible and ridiculous. It took me 7 days to get to page 40 of the first book, my husband was laughing at me. BUT once the porno started the bad writing didn’t bother me so much. What I’m more concerned about is that there are millions of adult women who haven’t read a book in ages, or EVER, and they think these books are creme de la creme. Yikes!


Nicole Branigan July 4, 2012 at 11:46 pm

I don’t want to hate on anyone’s tastes – if this is great fiction to some, then by all means READ READ READ. For me, it’s just so silly and grocery store checkout line material. I’ve always wondered what those books are like. The ones with the dashing man holding the woman in his arms as her back is arched and her hair is flowing and the sun is setting in the background. Usually these books are set centuries ago. Now we know what they’d be like if they were written in 2011. 🙂


Jen July 5, 2012 at 2:33 am

Hey there…I respect your opinion on any written word….I hear about this book every day! on the radio, at work, at the bar, a wedding I recently attended and I’m told it’s wonderful! From the comments I hear I would have to say it seems to be a way for women (and couples) to “get in touch” with their sexuality…and go places they’ve never gone before. For me…I haven’t read it, I’m comfortable with my sexuality, it doesn’t even tempt me….except I’d like to see what everyone is raving about… So I’m still undecided about picking up the book 🙂


Allison August 11, 2012 at 7:02 pm

While I don’t read nearly as much as I’d like, therefore retain no basis to judge people’s reading habits… I have to admit: I totally judge everyone who reads and likes this book.


Sky September 3, 2012 at 6:40 pm

I am on the 2nd book. I’m reading it out of curiousity, as ALL of my co-workers (female) have read it and went on and on about it. The first complaint is that this “writer” repeats words over and over and over! Crap, Holy crap, Holy shit, ghost of a smile, delicious, he blanched, I flushed. Those are all repeated again and again until I got so focused on them I was too irritated to feel the scene. For God’s sake, get a thesaurus or something! Anastasia flushes more than a public toilet! She is, JUST LIKE BELLA, massively self absorbed and not very likeable at all. We can assume she’s beautiful despite her low self image and complete cluelessness. She acts like a high school level girl. She is graduating college yet has never been drunk or had sex? Christian speaks like someone from a previous century. He actually says “shall” as in “Come, Miss Steele, I shall take you there now.” Hello? I mean Edward talked that way because he WAS from another century! What’s this guy’s excuse? I believe this is actually unhealthy for younger women. Ana is weak, naive and lets herself be dominated (under feeble protest). The characters are a complete rip off of Twilight. I would’ve sued her if I were the Twilight author (who also cannot write her way out of a paperbag, but at least had a good plotline). Also, by book 2 the shock of the sex has worn off and becomes redundant and BORING. 🙂


Nicole September 4, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Thanks for the thorough [scathing] recap of the books! I’ve only read the first one with no intention of reading the sequel(s).


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