Saturday, June 2, 2012

Fifty Shades of Wasted

I frequently apologize and/or make excuses for my old-fashioned tastes, limited understanding of current trends and cluelessness as regards popular culture. I could never be mistaken for a person who knows what's new, what's hot, what's in. I'm pretty stagnant in my interests and don't usually explore "the latest" of anything. 

And I'm usually satisfied being out of the pop culture loop. I'm okay not knowing who is the latest favorite on American Idol, or what color is the new black, or the wedding plans of Brangelina.

The only niggling doubt I have is when it comes to books. Sometimes I just can't resist the urge to read the latest bestseller that everyone is talking about. I almost always regret that decision. I know what I like - why do I let myself get talked into reading something that doesn't interest me?

That's what happened this week. I finally broke down and bought Fifty Shades of Grey for my Kindle - at $9.99, the most expensive e-book I've bought - and began reading immediately.

Many of my friends have enjoyed this book, I assumed I was just being a stick-in-the-mud and missing out on a good story.

Note: What follows is purely my opinion. I am not trying to influence anyone. It's just a rant.

What a complete waste of my time! I'd give anything to be able to get back the hours I spent trudging through this juvenile, redundant, predictable excuse for a novel. I'd rather have a refund on the time than the money, and if you know how cheap I am, you know that's saying something.

The narrator and ingenue, Anastasia Steele, is only fractionally more likeable than Twilight's Bella Swann. She's a about to graduate from college with honors, is a dutiful daughter, a Brit Lit devotee', shy, gorgeous and a virgin. If she had ever 1) made one single intelligent decision during the course of the story or, 2) pulled the plug on her continuous stream-of-consciousness narration, I may have been able to find something about her to like or admire. But Ana quickly changes the very core of her character in order to be able to become sexually involved with Mr. Hottie Hot Hot Rich Gorgeous Stud. She's about as admirable a role model for women today as a certain aspiring Dallas Cowboy cheerleader named Debbie was to my generation. Completely unbelievable character development, in my opinion. 

The male love interest - I cannot call this character a hero with a straight face -  is Christian Grey, a 26-year old self-made telecommunications billionaire  who is frequently described by his physical beauty (redundantly and ad nauseum). He is also an accomplished pilot, classical pianist, has impeccable manners and speaks like he reads Lord Byron for breakfast. He's a bona fide sex god, whether indulging in his obsession with BDSM or just dabbling in "vanilla" carnality. In other words, he's off-the-chart implausible, which made it very difficult for me to give a rat's derriere what his emotional problems stem from.

I wish I'd listened to my own "inner goddess" and skipped this tripe. I'm doomed to remember this sub-par story and these annoying whiners for years, until the inevitable dementia sets in and I can hopefully forget this book. Meanwhile, I can't escape them in my head. I can't un-read the story or erase the memory of their kinky goings-on.

Let me be clear: I'm not opposed to the sexy aspects of the novel. It's just that the writing was so bad, the characterizations so infantile and the narrative so annoying that I can't see how anyone could enjoy any aspect of the story - sex, dialog, "inner goddess," what have you.  I was warned that it is poorly written, but I couldn't believe that something selling millions in hardback could be as bad as all that. I was mistaken.

Next time, if I think I don't want to read what everyone is reading, watch what everyone is watching or go where everyone is going, I hope I can remember this experience. I'm a boring, middle-aged woman, the perfect candidate for this mindless titillation, but I pray that next time a "can't-miss" opportunity comes along that truly doesn't appeal to me, I have the sense to save my limited time, money and brain space for finer, worthier things.

On the bright side, I'm feeling much more confident and ambitious about my own writing!