The Elephant in the Room

Just because I have written Romance, why would you think I have an opinion on Fifty Shades of Grey?

I know the phenomenon that has hit the big screens this weekend. I remember it when it hit the book shelves a couple of years ago. I can’t give you an opinion on it. Why? Because I have neither read it nor seen it, and I have no plans to change that status any time soon. Usually when a book hit phenomenon stage I will pick it up. I figure that’s my job as a writer. I need to be familiar with the phenomena. That’s why I first picked up Harry Potter (back when there were only two books out there). I became a huge fan. Yes, sometimes the run-ons bothered me, but the book was so much more than that. I became one of those people who lined up at midnight to get the next volume. (Thank God I had children so I could use them as an excuse. I even made them dress up for one.) That’s why I read TheDaVinci Code (loved the concept, hated the execution). I read The Hunger Games for the same reason. And Twilight.  And then came Fifty Shades.

My Harry Potter Shelf--books in German and English
My Harry Potter Shelf–books in German and English

I didn’t read it, and I won’t. And here are the three reasons I won’t:

First, it’s just not my thing. Yes, I read and write romance, but BDSM is not my thing (I have a friend who calls herself the queen of vanilla sex. If she’s the queen, then I’m the empress.). Neither is erotica. I won’t read it. Sorry. I know I’ve excluded a lot of books from my reading list with that pronouncement, but I don’t enjoy it, so why should I subject myself to it? I will fight for your right to read and write anything you want, but in the same way, you shouldn’t force me to read something I don’t want.

Second, I’ve heard, and, mind you, this is not my opinion because I can’t give one, never having have read it, that the writing is terrible. Not just bad. Worse. This from reliable sources, friends, people I respect. My nerves become tied up in knots when I read bad writing, so I don’t want to put myself through that.

Third, I know it started as fan fiction for Twilight, and I’ve read (and seen–talk to me about the things I will do for my youngest daughter) that book. I am a fan of plot. I reached page 295 (or so) of the novel and yelled out, “Finally, something happens.” I know there are people who loved Twilight, but I wasn’t one of them. I like action, movement, not self-reflection or self-awareness. I read far too many books where the characters have so much angst and carry so much baggage I don’t believe in the happy ending. I don’t enjoy books that have so much introspection that I need therapy afterward. Thus if Fifty is basically Twilight with a twist, I don’t need to read it.

And there you have it. I truly don’t like to give an opinion on something I haven’t judged for myself. I know what you’re thinking: For not having an opinion, I sure can write a lot of words about it. I truly can’t say Fifty Shades is terrible or trite or wrong or abusive or mommy porn or whatever the heck else has been said about it, but I can say I won’t be finding out first hand.


Books I’m reading now:

Just about to start How Few Remain by Harry Turtledove. Still have a few more chapters to go in my last RITA book.

4 thoughts on “The Elephant in the Room

  1. kathrynbarrett

    I haven’t read it either, for all the reasons you mention, but I really hate that the book has evoked so much scorn from those who haven’t read it, and who haven’t read a romance or erotic romance ever. They seem to assume that it represents every erotic novel ever written, and I don’t think it does. Plus, I am convinced there is something in that story–the story itself–that really appeals to people–millions of people, if the sales are any proof. In that I think it’s similar to Harry Potter. It wasn’t my cup of tea either, but there was something about the story of an extraordinary boy being raised by ordinary parents that made people want to know his story. Maybe it’s that the story reminds them of a Disney cartoon, Beauty and the Beast maybe, and that’s its appeal. I would love to know. And, to be honest, I’d love to have a book that millions have read and loved like 50 Shades.

    • Gabi Stevens

      No kidding. And people denigrate all kinds of things without actually experiencing it for themselves. I’ve met many many readers who say they hate science fiction without actually having read science fiction. I’ve read analyses of Twilight and Fifty Shades that it’s the fantasy of being the extreme focus of someone much more powerful than you. That idea creeps me out and doesn’t appeal to me personally, but I try not to judge those who like such things.

  2. laurencassinia

    I read the first one and gave up. I would honestly say you’ve done the right thing with this one. The writing IS terrible and the storyline is so implausible. Glad you’re not going to, you’d be wasting your time! The only positive thing that came out of it (in my opinion) is that a lot of girls I knew never read books, suddenly picked this one up and read it. A few continued reading other books after, which is nice!

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