The Fifty Shades Trilogy: A Sceptical Review

Published in Woroni on May 1 2012.

Master of the Universe. A Twilight fanfiction penned by Internet author Snowqueens Icedragon. An erotic, trashy tribute to Stephanie Meyer’s hit series that recasts Edward Cullen as a kinky, horny billionaire who turns his seedy attentions upon a naïve Bella Swan, introducing our chaste heroine to the erotic world of BDSM in his “red room of pain”. A laughable work inspired by one of the most over-rated, poorly written pieces of literature of our time. Surely, this must have been left to fester amidst the dying remains of Twilight’s ending run on the silver screen, right?

Right?

Wrong.

Instead – now with a new title, characters renamed for copyright reasons, and a multi-million dollar publishing deal with Random House at its backing – the Fifty Shades Trilogy stormed to the pinnacle of the New York Times Bestseller list this week, snatching the top three spots, while authors such as George R. R. Martin and Stieg Larsson only fell.

The protagonist of our erotic tale, college graduate Anastasia Steele, manages to channel the original Bella Swan’s exasperating melodrama of angst and feeble anxiety. But for those who found Bella’s penchant for first world problems and quarter life crises torturously insufferable, her new, wealthy love interest Christian Grey, aka Edward Cullen, is at least now swift in getting to the point and propelling the novel towards some laughably cringe-worthy sex scenes. Here’s my favourite excerpt from the series’ first installment, Fifty Shades of Grey:

“Does this mean you’re going to make love to me tonight, Christian?” Holy shit. Did I just say that? His mouth drops open slightly, but he recovers quickly.

“No, Anastasia, it doesn’t. Firstly, I don’t make love. I fuck… hard. Secondly, there’s a lot more paperwork to do, and thirdly, you don’t yet know what you’re in for. Come, I want to show you my playroom.”

My mouth drops open. Fuck hard! Holy shit, that sounds so… hot. But why are we looking at a playroom? I am mystified.

“You want to play on your Xbox?” I ask. He laughs, loudly.

“No, Anastasia, no Xbox, no Playstation. Come.”

The reader is also rewarded with some absolute literary gems – “My inner goddess is doing the merengue with some salsa moves” – whatever that means. But what takes the cake is an exhaustive contract written up by Mr. Grey himself, spelling out the terms and conditions of Steele’s submissive sexual relationship to him. The contract includes clause numbers and reads for pages and pages, but even a first year Law student who only even achieved a fledgling pass in Contracts could find a plethora of loopholes amidst its kinky but utterly meaningless legal jargon.

Just when we all thought that Twilight would be finally put to rest after the Hollywood release of its finale, Breaking Dawn Part Two, we are shown that Twilight itself is much more like a vampire than we originally thought; bloodthirsty, relentless and, for better or for worse, eternal. And, as Bella Swan herself found out the hard way, obsessive vampire love inevitably spawns bloodsucking offshoots like the Fifty Shades Trilogy that, infantile and poorly-developed, claw out of the womb prematurely to feast upon the unsuspecting wide world. But, with Fifty Shades opening up an entirely new market of “mommy porn”, it seems that this time its prey is not guileless teenage girls, but the undersexed housewives who bought their daughters the Twilight series in the first place.

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