Author: E.L. James
Value Rating: 3/10
Entertainment Rating: 1/10
Read If: You are desperately bored and have a neophyte curiosity in bondage and power exchange sexuality.
Do Not Read If: You have an active sex life or enjoy well-written prose, a good plot, or character development.
As a writer, I had to see what all the fuss was about. My tipping point was when I was sitting on a plane and EVERY FEMALE in an adjacent row to mine was reading this book while rubbing their legs together like a grasshopper in song (or the mythical figure from Joe Rogan’s “Hey therd, Delilah” bit). Right from the start, the book was a disappointment. The voice of the main female character was as flat and puerile as a Spanish soap star character, only worse. I suffered through the initial pages of ‘storyline’, with patience seldom employed by those engaging in porn. Which is really what this is. My instinct trained by years on the internet was just to fast forward, but I needed to see what this whole epidemic was about. When they finally got to the sex the book was tolerable, and written with a good understanding of the power exchange dynamic. But dialogue from the female lead was so poorly written that it pulled you right out of the fantasy. In the midst of some heavy, graphic sex she would exclaim “Oh Jeez!” – Oh jeez? Really? Nothing like “Oh Jeez” to send the blood cells hastily retreating from the genitals.
I finally couldn’t stand it with about 50 pages left and had to abort mission, but I feel that I paid my penance enough to write this review. The epidemic itself, however, is something that I find very fascinating. It seems that the dominant/submissive relationship is playing on a very deep and pervasive fantasy in our culture, with roots that surely must stretch to an instinctual foundation. This perhaps, is the topic of another blog. But if your girl is reading this book, and you are a missionary kind of guy, you may want to step your game up and give it a read to see what she is thinking about when she puts her fingers to work.
On a side note, I have also read some of the works of Marquis de Sade, after whom the term ‘sadism’ is coined. His books, like Confessions in the Boudoir, will push you well past the point of comfort, sending you confusing messages of arousal, horror and shame. So I can’t really recommend his book either on a pragmatic level, however, as a literary artist he is a master and E.L. James is a toddler.