A lot has happened since I wrote about E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey back in April. It and its two sequels, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, have spent six months atop the New York Times Bestseller list. A British scientist spent valuable time developing a mock-up of the book’s heartthrob, Christian Grey—which, when used in MyHeritage.com’s celebrity look-alike function, has a 57-percent resemblance to Donald Trump. (Just think about that the next time you reread one of the sex scenes.) And while you wait for the official line of Fifty Shades beauty products, bedding, and home furnishing, you can scoop up countless items on Etsy, like: a creepy child’s onesie , a tasteful, understated cuff, or an ID-badge holder that proudly—and professionally—announces that you’ve read books featuring butt plugs.
So why would I—after publicly declaring I would not—decide to read the other two books? Part of it is because of James’ refreshing candor: “I’m not a great writer.” Part of it is my nagging obsession with figuring out why people are still talking about these books. But honestly, it’s the morbid enjoyment, the schadenfreude, I get from reading the horrendous writing. Darker and Freed are better than the first book (aka one of the worst books of all time), but that’s not saying much. With a combined page count of over 1,100 pages, they are filled with cloying storylines, writing that may make you want to throw your eReader across the room, and two of the least likable and worst named characters ever created.
More Awful Quotes From Fifty Shades of Grey
- “’Put the chicken in the fridge.” This is not a sentence I had ever expected to hear from Christian, and only he can make it sound hot, really hot.” Nothing is sexier than the word “fridge.”
- We’re familiar with James’ redundant usage of words and phrases—ahem, “inner goddess” and “my subconscious.” We can add the following (and, thanks to eReaders’ “find” function, count the usage): “Mr. Grey” or “Mrs. Grey” (580 times), “Charlie Tango” (43), “mercurial” (17), and “crack whore” (15).
- Speaking of “my subconscious” (99) and “inner goddess” (63): “My inner goddess is doing a triple axel dismount off the uneven bars, and abruptly my mouth is dry.” And, the almost existential, “My subconscious looks on with approval, her normally pursed mouth smiling, and I am the supreme puppet master.”
- “He’s said such loving things today … But how long will he want to do this without wanting to beat the crap out of me.” Ah, sweet love.
- If Ana were real, you’d tell her to leave the abusive Christian. He monitors what and when she eats: “Eat. You’re too slender.” He doesn’t let her visit with her friends: “Please, can we stay longer?” “No. Go. Now. Say good-bye.” She never knows when she’s going to be yelled at: “Shit! I don’t fucking believe it. How could you be so stupid?” But the moment she should have left was when he instructed her to get the birth control shot: “Dr. Green is coming to sort you out…” “Why?” “Because I hate condoms …” “It’s my body.” “It’s mine, too.”
- “I sit up and reach for the orange juice, drinking it down too quickly. It’s delicious, ice cold, and it makes my mouth a much better place.” The power of orange juice: to turn any run down, dump of a mouth into a hospitable environment.
- For characters who say things like “Holy cow!” (44) and “laters” (30), it’s a bit of a stretch for them to say “inveigle,” “avuncular,” “punctilious,” and “entente cordiale.” Perhaps James needs to step away from the thesaurus.
- “I line up the white ball and with a swift clean stroke, hit the center ball of the triangle square on with such force that a striped ball spins and plunges into the top right pocket. I’ve scattered the rest of the balls.” Balls.
- Ana is supposed to be 22; instead, she sounds like someone who can’t figure out how to program their alarm clock. “Holy shit … an iPad … Jack has one at the office, so I know how they work.” And, “Isn’t that a symptom of schizophrenia? I must Google that.”
- “Don’t you like the butt drawer?”
- James’ needs to work on her fashion choices for her characters. All that they wear are jeans (113): “favorite jeans,” “black jeans,” “tight jeans,” “ripped jeans,” “blue jeans,” “those jeans,” “cut-off jeans.”
- And my favorite, most random quote: “Argon? It rings a distant bell from chemistry class—an element, I think.”