If you are a woman, unless you have been living under a rock, you have most likely heard about "Fifty Shades.” This past week, I read the first book in the "Fifty Shades" series..."Fifty Shades of Grey" partially because I was curious to discover what all of the buzz was about and because it is our current Book Club selection. Since the book has received so much press, I felt I was prepared to handle whatever racy scene the author threw at me.
What I was not prepared for was BAD writing. About one hundred pages in I began to realize this book shares many similarities with another series I despise- Twilight. It was as though the author simply substituted "S&M" and lots of dominant (and weird) sex for the Vampires in "Twilight." Both are "forbidden" and yet Bella and Ana cannot resist their charms.
First of all, the female protagonists in both books have zero personality and nothing at remarkable about them. The authors go out of the way to describe exactly how plain and ordinary they are. Bella and Ana are what literary experts would label as a "Mary Sue"due to the fact they lack any qualities that takes them out of the one-dimensional mode. This is done so the readers or the author can easily insert themselves into the story and become the character (because the character could really be anybody).
In a failed attempt to give Bella and Ana some dimension, they have (gasp) divorced parents, including an absent mother and a father who is caring, but also lacks personality. Since this is never really explained or developed it does not work to add interest to either girl. Despite the "Mary Sueness" of Bella and Ana, they have a flock of male admirers, including men who could really have anybody they want (Edward and Christian).
Speaking of men, in both series the leading men are borderline stalkers. Edward shows up at Bella's window and "flies" around the world to see her. Christian creepily appears at the bar in South Carolina where Ana has gone to visit her mother. And is either of the girls worried about this behavior? No, instead they become obsessed with these stalkers and unable to make any decisions for themselves.
Another pet peeve of mine in both "Twilight" and "Fifty Shades" is the redundant conversation and word usage. Stephanie Meyer repeats (many) times that Edward "sparkles" while EL James writes in excess about Christian's eyes. Also, Ana says "Oh Crap" about twenty times throughout the novel during her many annoying monologues. The book is also full of big words where a simple word would have sufficed. I found this incredibly annoying, as though Meyer and James circles "Dead Words” and used a thesaurus to replace them-something I have my sixth-grade students do.