We know that so many people love taking part in book clubs or monthly book discussions, so we decided to start our very own Book Pushers monthly book club. Each month we will be reading a book that we’ve all heard a lot about, or something that is outside the normal comfort zones of one or all of us. We’ll try different genres, different lengths and them meet up here to discuss them.
This month, myself, Lou and Has have all gotten together to talk about books that we heard so much about on Twitter and Amazon: Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker, the first two books in the Fifty Shades Trilogy by E.L. James.
Lou: When a friend of ours recommended this book, we thought that it would be a good romance with some BDSM thrown in. We did NOT expect it to be an alternate version of a Harlequin Presents title but on crack. And we LOVED it. But whilst we loved it, there were big issues with the book, but it didn’t stop us from reading. And that’s why we wanted to discuss this rather than review it like we normally would. And it got us thinking, why did we enjoy it so much despite the flaws — and there were some big ones.
Has: I felt the same way because I am not usually a huge fan of Harlequin Presents and most of the books I have read I disliked, but I was totally engrossed with the story. However, I agree there were major flaws but it didn’t stop me enjoying the book and makes me wonder if the Crack factor (and the books are crackilicious) was the reason why we all liked it. I was also caught by surprised by how many people felt the same way too — although a few others didn’t feel the same way or didn’t get it. But I think that goes the same for other books that deemed crackilicious.
MinnChica: It’s no secret that I am a closet lover of all things BDSM romance! When Has sent me the details of this book I knew I wouldn’t be able to pass it up. Like the others, I was not expecting to love this book so much, especially since I can be very hard on books with such obvious flaws. But for some reason, Greg and Ana and all their faults dug deep in and swept me away.
Lou: I don’t know what it was about this book, but I literally had my phone glued to me all day reading Fifty Shades whenever I had the time. The beginning was very very slow, but I believe it has such an unusual take on a relationship — but at the same time the tropes were similar. Grey is a very dominant hero, and the heroine is a virgin who has no experience. Yet Grey was such a dark and yes, an EMO character that it was just fun reading his reactions to Ana because they were so over the top. And Ana I thought was just swept away by Grey, and some of his actions were that of an alpahole but x100. And their smexy scenes were hot, and the BDSM aspect of it was really twisted because of Grey’s past.
Has: I totally agree with you about the slow start. But like you guys, I really liked the tone of the book, and I am not a huge of emo heroes — and Grey was the epitome of one. I am also not keen on BDSM romance but somehow I got sucked and I liked that aspect on how it ties in with Grey’s past. I really felt that in a lot of ways whilst Grey was this super duper bazillionaire at the young age of 27 (although I had trouble believing that) he was pretty much the same level emotionally with Ana, although psychologically he was pretty fucked up in his own words due to his past. Ana’s innocence I think was a great catalyst to bring out his issues because she represented something he never really experienced, and I liked how he started to learn through her own experiences with him. This really worked and I think it is partially why this book has rang true for a lot of people.
MinnChica: I’m usually not a big fan of the over-the-top, crazy unbelievable, in my contemporary stories. The gazzillonair Sheik and Virgin heroine are stories I used to always roll my eyes at, but for some reason I gobbled it up here. Sure I gave a little eye roll at just how rich Grey really was, and how shy and inexperienced Ana was. But at the same time they fit together so perfectly. They were both extremely flawed characters, but the more time they spent together, the more they really evened each other out. For me, the BDSM portions of the book were a little bit of a let down. Having read a lot of BDSM romance books, Grey’s motivations for being a Dom were seriously F-ed up, and almost irresponsible. I was not a big fan of that, but at the same time when Grey announced in the 2nd book that he no longer felt the need to dole out those kinds of punishments, I understood and was appreciative of that.
Lou: Yes, I was very uncomfortable with Grey’s Pain of Room and how in essence, even though he never hurt any of his subs before, his reasoning and why he partakes in the Scene was so f-ed up that this is where over-the-top certainly comes into this story. The rules that he set out and that showed in the book were WAY too long, and the editor should have cut that out or condensed it. And there were other big flaws, such as being set in America but there were so many UK curse words and sayings that I was surprised that the author or editor did NOT catch it. Yet despite the problems, I still loved the book because it’s really like a guilty pleasure.
Has: Yes! This really felt like a guilty pleasure, and I totally agree with you about those flaws and the British terms threw me off and I couldn’t understand why she couldn’t have set it in the UK. In a lot of ways Christian came across as this reserved guy and I also felt she could have combined the first two books in the series. For me the BDSM aspect was more of a medium for Christian to form control over his past and issues, rather than being sexual in that respect. I don’t think he was really into that sexually and I suspected Elena, aka his warped Mrs Robinson, screwed him up mentally as well as emotionally in that respect. But I was glad that Ana stood her ground with him although I did get exasperated with some of her decisions and not listening to her instincts. I was also bemused that as a college student that she didn’t own a computer, and was borrowing her flat-mate’s laptop.
I also think the flirty and funny email exchanges between Ana and Christian helped to form and cement a different aspect to their relationship which I don’t think he got with other women. It also provided some a humourous element in the story which it needed because this is pretty much an angsty book.
MinnChica: The whole “Mrs. Robinson” thing threw me off as well, and I agreed with Ana every step of the way with that whole situation. But despite the flaws: the weird BDSM motivations, the creepy female pedo, the old-school Harlequin feel and the obvious editing misses — this book just kept making up for it at every step. The emotion between Ana and Grey was just so intense at every turn. I could feel everything along with them, and it was beautiful and heart breaking and so all-consuming that I laughed and cried and just couldn’t put the book down. (I went through both books one and two in one weekend!) I wanted to smack Grey at times and others I wanted to give him a big kiss of the cheek for everything he was doing to build Ana’s confidence. There were times I wanted to hug Ana, be the friend she so desperately need; and other times I wanted to sit her down and give her a verbal smack-down.
Lou: There were so many times that I wanted to smack Grey, and you know how I hate violence in my romances lol. But he was so domineering and some of his requests to Ana were just plain bonkers. Yet I really did believe in their relationship, dysfunctional as it was. The ending really is a sort of a cliff hanger, and the second book I believe tops the first in the WTF stakes *grins*. But discussion for the second book shall be left for another day.
We all agreed that a big part of this discussion focused on some of the negative, because we all enjoyed this book, even when it was f-ed up. It made us want to know what other readers think if they have read this book. So let us know, we’ve even provided a few discussion questions to get the creative juices flowing!
What were your thoughts on the flaws, what did you like or not like?
Have you read any other books that had major flaws, but became a favorite regardless?
Join us next month as we go outside of MY comfort zone with a *gasp* Young-Adult novel. We will be reading and talking about Gwen Hayes’ Falling Under. Real along and join us on Monday, November 21st for the discussion.