I ended up reading Fifty Shades in an attempt to understand why it was so popular. Although, there are many many faults to the book I genuinely couldn’t put it down and ended up buying the other two in the series, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed.
It’s a story that his been told before, boy meets girl, girl falls in love with boy they overcome some obstacles and then live happily ever after. Yet, Fifty Shades really is a story been told before. Derived from Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga, Fifty Shades follows the innocent and virginal
Isabe lla Swan Anastasia Steele as she happens upon the perfectly handsome and multimillionaire Edward Cullen Christian Grey. The characters are the same, Christian is just as controlling as Edward and Ana is just as lame as Bella but instead of the cutesy teenage vampire lust, Ana finds herself in a relationship with a man who likes to beat women who look like his mother with a whip for sexual gratification.
It’s not for everyone but pure and chaste Ana jumps right in at the deep end and happily goes from “vanilla” sex to full on Rocky Road with extra nuts. I read it over summer while I was away in Turkey and there wasn’t a beach or an aeroplane without several women enjoying a copy of the erotic novel. Even a Turkish waiter commented on it while I was chilling on the beach with a cocktail and said that I’d really enjoy it. Like I said, I jumped on the bandwagon to see what the fuss was about and I can easily see why Fifty Shades was such a fast-seller.
According to The Guardian article, the novel sold over 4 million copies. Many bookstores such as WHSmith and Waterstones cashed in on deals such as 3 for 2 to ensure people got the full installment of the series. Fifty Shades is a way of experiencing the taboo, a fantasy world that many women could only dream of but never pursue. We’re lost in the book, reading about how Ana’s inner goddess does the tango and we take it in because if such a “perfect” man as Christian Grey says jump we’d say how high. It’s a perfect fantasy that one woman decided to publish. Erotic novels have always existed but none would have been as marketable as Fifty Shades. As mentioned, the novel comes from a fan-fic of Twilight which was already part of a brand and targeted a specific market. All EL James had to do was go that one step further than Meyer and create a novel that existed but took the story to a new level. It was flying off the shelves.
Whether it will be a best-seller, only time will tell but it’s easy to say that Fifty Shades deserves to be nominated for a National Book Award because of its sheer appeal to such a big audience, regardless of whether you read erotic literature or not. Yes, there will be an argument that we should make way for novels that are far better written and don’t have a million and one euphemisms for an orgasm and a female lead who schizophrenically battles between her inner goddess and her conscience. Yet, there’s no doubting that we’ll be talking about Fifty Shades as a phenomena for a very long time.