Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1)

Fifty Shades of Grey - E.L. James (This is clearly a joke, no offence intended to anyone mentioned. My thanks to Tumblr for all the gifs. If you know nothing about British politics, this may make this a bit difficult.)ORDER! ORDER! 50 Shades of Grey review by the leader of the opposition. Mr Ed Miliband! "Ed Miliband Reviews 50 Shades of Grey (whilst Ceilidh hopes this doesn't result in her party membership being revoked!)"Mr Speaker, thank you for allowing us to have this emergency meeting in the House of Commons to discuss this incredibly important manner in a polite, democratic fashion. As many of you may know, the publishing house Vintage recently purchased the erotic romance series 50 Shades of Grey, written by E.L. James, for a seven figure sum, thus allowing her to benefit from the Chancellor's recent top rate tax cut. I'm sure he'll be delighted to take responsibility for that.This book, originally published online as Twilight fan-fiction, has angered many in the literary community, especially those who feel that the author exploited fandom and copyrighted material for her own personal gain. The people are angry, Mr Speaker, and since this complacent government won't take it upon themselves to listen to the will of the people, not the corporations, I decided to read the book myself to see what all the fuss was about. It was... enlightening.First of all, it's heinously written. It makes the NHS bill look like a Booker prize winner. I can't help but wonder if the author was being paid by the ellipses. The British author just cannot write authentic American dialogue to save herself. It doesn't matter how many times the heroine gets called 'baby', that won't hide the frequent British anachronisms that any half-decent editor could have fixed. I won't even get started on the cringe-worthy nature of the dialogue itself. These characters read like teenagers, or at least how a middle aged woman imagines teenagers speak, which is worrying given they're all supposed to be in their twenties, but not surprising given that this is Twilight fan-fiction. A brief side note for the less internet savvy Members of Parliament present today. Fan-fiction are stories written by fans of an original work. Sometimes they're based on movies, songs, or in this instances books. And sometimes they're based on real people, known as RPF. During my research I uncovered a significant amount of RPF relating to me and various people of political interest. What can I say? What has been seen cannot be unseen:Returning back to the matter in hand, the juvenile nature of the prose only serves to highlight just how ridiculous the content of the novel is. The characters are clearly Edward and Bella (don't ask me how I know this, I'm a Desperate Housewives fan so my taste in popular culture is suspect at best) with no editing or creative spin put on them to differentiate them from fan-fiction state to original fiction state. They're bland, predictable and entirely stupid. Mr Speaker, the so-called hero of this piece, Christian Grey, is nothing short of an abusive spouse, masquerading as a sexual dominant. He pushes Ana into a situation she has no real understanding of and never provides her with any real information on what she's been forced into. Once again, we're left with a nasty little man considered charming and desirable based solely on his looks, although I imagine his extreme wealth also has something to do with that. He's condescending, mean, classless, he stalks her and puts her in situations she clearly says she's uncomfortable with. How is it romantic or sexy to intimidate your girlfriend and have her constantly worry about upsetting you for fear of your twitchy palm? That's shocking, Mr Speaker! Shocking!The hastily developed romance is not romance and it's more embarrassingly hilarious than sexy. This author has absolutely no understanding of what a dominant/submissive relationship entails. Christian's abhorrent behaviour is excused as a normal part of BDSM and D/S relations, which stem from his childhood trauma. Because, of course, only messed up people would ever want to mix pain with pleasure. This cheap, lazy mis-characterisation of an issue the author clearly knows less about than her readers only does a disservice to romance readers, real D/S relationships, and women full stop. It's bad enough that our society is sex obsessed without ever really discussing it, but surely women deserve better porn than this? I know my shadow Chancellor agrees with me. It's not even that kinky! It's a sad sign of just how sexually conservative this world is when a little spanking is considered hardcore BDSM. Then again, the spanking in this book is rage inducing in how badly it gets D/S relations wrong. Threatening the heroine is not how it works! At one point in the novel, Christian says, and I quote, "I could threaten you." Mr Speaker, how is this acceptable? The author doesn't know what she's doing! The only time this could legitimately enters the realm of kink is when Christian yanks out Ana's tampon and proceeds to have sex with her while she's menstruating. Not my cup of tea, I must admit. However, the scene is so badly written, so immature in its 1st person narration of the scene from Ana's point of view, that the only natural reaction is to laugh, cry or enter a perpetual state of panda-faced bemusement: Now, I won't go into further details on that area here in the interests of parliamentary politeness, but rest assured that many more qualified people than I have discussed this matter at length. Maybe the Chancellor can help us out there again, yes? Lashed to the mast, yes, Mr Chancellor? Mr Speaker, nothing in this book rings true. It's lacking in tension, in strong characterisation, in decent prose, in readable dialogue, in consistency and in pacing. It's evident that this work is fan-fiction because it reads like fan-fiction, not only in content but in style. It reads like it was supposed to be read on a chapter-by-chapter basis the way fan-fiction is designed. There's no finesse to the text. I highly doubt its publishers, The Writer's Coffee Shop, bothered to properly edit it before churning out overpriced copies to be sold online. A simple search-and-replace on names seems to have been the maximum work done to the text, as evidenced by Dear Author's comparison between the book and the original fan-fiction, available on their site. Mr Speaker, I can't help but feel exasperated by this self satisfied smug complacency by James and TWCS.It's not hard to see why readers are angry. Not only because of the more than suspect background to the story's origins and subsequent publication as well as the author's own behaviour. Not only because of the 7 figure publishing deal, the placement on the New York Times Bestseller list, and the rumours of a movie adaptation, something that could rival The Room in terms of midnight showing hilarity. Not only because of the mainstream media's complete lack of understanding on issues of fandom, romance novels, erotica and women's sexuality. Not only all of that, Mr Speaker. Readers have the right to be angry because this book is just plain bad. There is so much wrong with this book that just one Miliband cannot express it:Mr Speaker, action must be taken, and I doubt it will come from this complacent Prime Minister. We need strong, informed and occasionally sarcastic action against this surge of pull-to-publish fan-fiction that threatens to fill the market. If not, we will find that we have dug ourselves into a hole that will be impossible to escape, as demonstrated by my shadow Chancellor:A hole where creative copyright is diluted time and time again for profit, bypassing the copyright laws the way the cabinet evades the tax laws, never technically illegal but still morally suspect. Mr Speaker, where will it end? 50 Shades of Grey fan-fiction already exists - surely the Inception of fan-fiction - and what's to stop someone from taking that, changing the names and submitting it to TWCS or Omnific for publication? The media's lack of understanding of fandom can only hinder the discussions we truly need on this matter, so let us demand them and let us demand action!But the question is, will anything ever truly be done? Mr Speaker, I am sad to say that I doubt it will. Profit before creativity, money before ideas. The same old story from the same old Tories... I mean industry. Same difference. We await further developments of this case eagerly. Now, this is the first book in a trilogy, one that ends on a highly predictable cliffhanger, and I've been asked if I will read the other two. My answer is a short one:Mr Speaker I yield the floor. I'm going to go look for that fan-fiction where I'm a vampire and I get to feed on bankers!