50 Shades of “is it worth reading?”
Since a trusted (albeit very highbrow) friend described the world’s most popular book ever as “50 Shades of Shit”, I decided not to bother reading 50 Shades of Grey. Aside from not being interested in the subject matter, I’d heard it was badly written with badly drawn characters and jarring, repetitive prose.
Life’s too short, no? And, to be honest, I’d rather talk to no-one than join the vacuous hordes discussing it at the school gates.
But, you know, when everyone’s talking about a book there comes a point at which you start to think you should give it a try. Case in point? The Hunger Games, which I would never have read had everyone not been going on about it, but which I really enjoyed.
So I took 50 Shades on my Eid break. I decided to give it three days of poolside reading. If I couldn’t crack it in that time, I’d stop.
And – remember here that my expectations were very low – it was a pleasant surprise. The characters were not as two-dimensional as I expected. The plot was better than I expected. The writing was better than I expected. Before reading it, I’d failed to note that it is actually a love story – and, to me, that came across as more important than all that non-stop, eye-watering S E X.
I managed to race through the 500-odd pages in the allotted three days (with two children and no Gerlie, by the way) and, as I finished it, I realised I actually cared about the protagonist, Ana, even if her best friend Kate is the most irritating waste of space ever created by an author. She’s a plucky thing, that Ana, and I liked her principles.
But is it worth reading? Yes, if you’re at a loose end and fancy an easy and absorbing read. And, yes, if you accept that you’ll be sucked into 50 Shades Darker and 50 Shades Freed as well.
Edited to add: At one point, on loungers around the pool, four out of 25 people (all women) were reading it!