This book shocked
me. After reading snippets of approximately 1,000 reviews, I was convinced I'd hate 50 Shades. The feminist in me recoiled from claims that Christian was abusive and controlling, and from comments that spineless Ana had no choice in submitting to an abusive relationship. The author in me rolled her eyes (*watches for twitchy palms*) when E.L. James introduced Ana's subconscious and inner goddess, along with her repetitive "Double crap!" and "Holy crap!"s.
But instead of hating 50 Shades, I loved
Instead of Christian being abusive, he's the abused.
Instead of Ana being spineless, she's spunky and smart.
Instead of poor writing, I found a compelling, realistic story with fantastic characterization, wonderful humor, and emotional depth.
Jumping into any romantic relationship can feel like a huge risk for anyone. But that risk intensifies for both Ana and Christian in this story. Ana has to dive into the uncertainty and discomfort of an abhorrent lifestyle in order to be with the man she loves. Christian has to face demons from the past when all he wants to do is avoid ever thinking about childhood traumas. Here Ana ponders her exquisite conflict: What if I do say yes, and in three months' time he says no, he's had enough of trying to mold me into something I'm not? How will I feel? I'll have emotionally invested three months, doing things that I'm not sure I want to do. And if he then says no...how could I cope with that rejection? Perhaps it's best to back away now with what self-esteem I have reasonably intact.
But the thought of not seeing him again is agonizing. How has he gotten under my skin so quickly?
Ana pushes Christian like no woman can, using humor to prod him to examine long-held beliefs:"I don't remember reading about nipple clamps in the Bible. Perhaps you were taught from a modern translation."
And his humor warms her up to try new things:"I want you to become well acquainted, on first name terms if you will, with my favorite and most cherished part of my body. I'm very attached to this."
My favorite part of the novel was the emails between Ana and Christian. They are brilliant and funny and revealing.Ana: Have you sought therapy for your stalker tendencies?
Christian: I pay the eminent Dr. Flynn a small fortune with regard to my stalker and other tendencies.
Ana: May I humbly suggest you seek a second opinion? I am not sure that Dr. Flynn is very effective.
(I have to agree with Ana on this one! How many years has Christian been in therapy? It doesn't seem like he's making swift progress recovering from PTSD, though I still haven't discovered the details of the horrors he sustained as a little boy. *gulps*)C: Anastasia, "Weirding" is not a verb and should not be used by anyone who wants to go into publishing.
A: Dear sir, Language evolves and moves on. It is an organic thing. It is not stuck in an ivory tower, hung with expensive works of art and overlooking most of Seattle with a helipad stuck on its roof.
I'm learning from books like Kasi Alexander's Becoming sage that there's a whole lotta discussing and talking and compromising that goes on in a power exchange, and I loved how much that discussion revealed these two characters.
Regarding the writing style, I found it very accessible and fun--it kept me turning the pages. I found myself less annoyed with the whole inner goddess bit by going back to Freud. To me, Ana's subconscious was her "superego" (overseer of morals) and her inner goddess was her "id" (impulsive and hedonistic).
The ending made me bawl and I will DEFINITELY be reading book two, Fifty Shades Darker
And now, I'm off to read 1,000 more reviews!