50 Shades Freed: Why I’m So Happy to be Done Reading the Christian Grey Trilogy

Welcome to the First Edition of The Redhots!

Two Redheads.  Two Different Opinions.

It’s Marcia Richards and I serving up spice with our opinion on all things HOT and buzzworthy in the world.  We’re kicking off our monthly series with the book that’s been flying off the shelves, sneakily read on airplanes and during office lunch hours, the book you won’t tell your mom you’re reading (unless you’re Marcia), the S & M sensation:

Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy by E.L. James


I started reading this series back in May.  I was in the middle of the second one while flying home from the DFW Writers Conference, and I kid you not, the woman sitting next to me on the plane ride over was reading the first book.  And on the flight back, the woman sitting next to me was reading the third one.   Go figure!

I noticed, that both these women were very discreet trying to read the book on the plane.  They had folded the cover over, and leaned into the window.  When the flight attendant came around, the woman reading the third book asked for a glass of water, which she proceeded to down!  She immediately asked for a second glass.

Now, I’m normally the quintessential poster girl for “Wisconsin Nice,” but I couldn’t help myself.  The following is a paraphrase of the conversation we had.  J is for me obviously, and P is for Passenger.

J:  Are you getting steamy over there?

P:  *busted laughing* I know, I tried to be so secret about it, but you caught me!

J:  Well, you can have as much water as you want, but if I see that chair of yours tip back, I’m asking the flight attendant for a new seat!

P:  *further laughing* 

Now, let me give you some background on the very opposing forces in which I was raised.  A part of me, will always be shocked that people actually talk about such things out loud.  Nine years in Catholic school will do that to a person.  Our religious books had titles like Heavy Petting is a No No.  Once, after an honest conversation with my father wherein he admitted to having tried cigarettes, I tried the approach with my mother, asking her if she’d had sex before marriage.  We were in the car, and I’ve never seen such a horrified look cross anyone’s face, “Jessica!  How dare you ask me that question!”  She didn’t need to answer for me to know the truth there.

Around mid high school, I became introduced to the French-Cuban writer, Anais Nin.  Nin was known for her collection of diaries that spanned 60 some years over the course of the French Bohemian movement.  She also penned erotica; started writing it for a dollar a page.  Not bad!  At the height of her literary career, posters announcing Nin’s readings had to use symbols rather than her name as code so the police wouldn’t turn up.  I now have one of these symbols as a tattoo.

Anais Nin (Flickr Photo courtesy Mrs. Inman – Popping In & Out)


If someone would’ve told me that in 2012 the book of the year would be an S & M, sexy pain/toy book, I probably would’ve said Awesome!

Having now read the whole series, I’d rather spend my money in the following two ways:  A donation to the local women’s shelter and a new vibrator for me.

Let’s get this over with shall we! 

I was fully aware that the series began as a form of Twilight fan-fiction.  As you read along, you can practically cut and paste the characters from one to the other.  Edward/Christian is a domineering man who is apparently so hot women cannot function through their days without staring at him.  Bella/Ana is a naive, socially-awkward girl whose only true talents are falling down and twirling her hair.  Jacob/Jose is the only ethnic character and in true form, vanishes from the story all together towards the end.

Let’s see then we have Alice/Mia, the quirky sister who tries to run everyone’s lives.  Emmett/Elliot, oooh no subtlety there.  The bossy, valedictorian friend Jessica/Kate who will, just like in the movies, be your friend, not be your friend, be your friend – but only after she starts dating your boyfriend’s brother.

Ok, we’re on to the male lead’s parents:  financially well off, intrinsically good at everything, and yet still kind Carlisle and Esme/Carrick and Grace.  And yes, the female lead’s parents are divorced, with mom remarried and Bella/Ana lives with dear old dad Renee and Charlie/Carla and Ray.  What’d the author do, just flip-flop those around? Ruh-nay…Ray!

What is supposed to keep us readers entertained is the eminent danger that Christian and Ana find themselves in when they are haunted by both Christian’s psycho Mrs. Robinson-like ex and Ana’s sleezy boss.  However, if I were to choose the real danger in the book, I’d say Christian Grey.

Here’s my rant, readers.  I get that is a work of fiction, fan-fiction!  By its very definition it is taking elements, or complete storylines, and having fun with them because you enjoyed those characters so much you don’t want them to leave your side!  Except that in this case, Christian Grey isn’t a slightly overbearing vampire who only ever shows caring towards his girlfriend in a puppy love-albeit blood-drinking way.  In this case, Christian Grey is an abusive man.

At the end of the first book, if Ana was my friend, I would be telling her to RUN and RUN like hell from this guy!  And my biggest fear is that women are reading this book and thinking, yah, this is ok, this is sexy!  Are they fooling themselves into thinking they can change a guy who is QUOTE:  “fifty shades of f*cked up”?

But Jess girl, give the readers some credit!  They know it’s just a story!

Are the sex scenes steamy?  Yes.  Did the book turn me on?  At times.  But mostly, I wanted to pack a bag for Ana and stay up late watching Girl, Interrupted.  I wanted to lend her my copy of The Vagina Monologues.  No, what I really wanted to do was to help Ana grow a freaking spine!  The subplot of “Ana wants to be an editor” is weak at best.  And nothing she accomplishes at work (the only other world we see her in besides the one with Christian) is in merit with what she’s practiced and proved.  She’s given everything because her boyfriend owns the company.

And why does he love her?  Mr. Fifty Pages of the same adjectives grey eyes with the hot body and million dollar company?  Yah, who wouldn’t be obsessed with a mousy-haired, anxious mess that falls through your office door and asks if you’re gay?  I know I’m aroused just thinking about it…

And let’s talk plausibility for a moment.  If my previous arguments didn’t pull you to my dark side, maybe this plot fail point out will.  Several scenes of conflict include multiple break-ins of Christian’s apartment by both a psychologically disturbed ex and Ana’s creepster boss.  AND YET, it’s mentioned throughout the WHOLE series that Christian is paying extensive money for one on one security of his whole family!  What, did you hire a whole slew of Elmer Fudd’s to protect you?  “You wascally-wabbit!  You ewuded me again!”  Why not invest in ADT?  It’s probably more money efficient and they have proven results!

The entire time I was reading this book, I kept wondering when Christian Grey was going to turn into a vampire!  At least then I could better separate reality from fiction!  But no, he’s just a blood-sucking ass of a guy metaphorically.  

Can we please talk about the ending for just a minute?  It’s cool, I’ll follow suit with the author and wrap it up in three paragraphs or less because I’m bored a great writer!

If you’re worried about spoilers, don’t!  Once again, if you’ve seen Twilight, you already know where this is going.  Only, it’s like the author didn’t have the decency to really show us how the characters changed, so she just stuffed it all in a diaper bag/epilogue.

I’m so happy to be done reading this series, and I couldn’t wait to tell you not to!  You may not believe me after the reaping I just put E.L. through, but I am proud of her for finding a market that made her more popular than Harry Potter!  I say kudos for getting the erotic genre more fame in mass media.  I hope she keeps writing.  But I also hope she doesn’t expect me to read it.

Don’t take my word for it!  Read between the lines with Marcia Richards!  The woman who told me that Christian Grey was “following her around the house for days!” 

I told you he was a stalker!

Catch more of the Redhots next month when we review the film Hope Springs.

42 responses

  1. I haven’t been tempted to read it yet. I like the plane conversation *fans self* 🙂

    1. Don’t get any ideas Victoria! I’ve got water right here, and I’ll splash you if necessary! 😉

  2. I see the problem, Jess! You shouldn’t have read Twilight! Then you’d have loved 50 Shades! For those of you who wish to read a steamier, more positive review come on over to my place! http://marciaarichards.com/the-redhots

    1. Don’t let your mothers catch you reading Marcia’s post! If you thought I was bad…

      X-rated Review Alert!

  3. HAHAHA! I love Marcia’s response that you shouldn’t have read Twilight. Too cute.
    While I respect your opinion and see the validity in your arguments, I veer more towards Marcia’s feelings about the book. I was able to read it and completely lose myself to the story and characters. Perhaps because you knew it was based on fan fiction maybe you “read too much” into it or thought about the comparisons too much while reading?
    For me, I put it out of my head entirely and just read the book for the story and characters themselves…and so I enjoyed it.
    But to each their own. I know it received a lot of criticism, as did Twilight, but I loved both so?!?!? LOL!!!
    In the end…we aren’t all meant to enjoy everything, right?!
    But GREAT review Jess. Although I liked the books, I gotta say, your review was well expressed and thought out.
    LOVE this new feature with you and Marcia – LOVIN’ the REDHOTS! Can’t wait for next month’s feature…squeeee!!!

    1. Thanks for the awesome comment, Natalie! I’ll admit PARTS of the story caught me, but overall, she lost me. But I am loving the Redhots too! This good cop, bad cop thing is working for me. LOL. Bring it on, Marcia!

      1. I agree, Jess! I’ve been calling us a Redheaded Siskel and Ebert team. Eventually we’ll find something we both like. In the meantime, this is hot fun!

  4. As always, an interesting and well written piece, Jess! As we briefly discussed last week, you know well I was very hesitant, actually opposed, to reading this series. I found it hard to believe all these young (and not so young) women were flocking to the bookstores (and e-sources) to actually spend money on this. Why, I thought, would these women subject themselves to this…. then I started reading. Actually, I almost bailed out on around page 150 of the first book but, having been encouraged by my very academic friend, continued. I think it’s interesting that you seem to percieve Grey (as I would guess many women do as well) as the abuser and darker (my word) character. I see him as the lost soul he is – someone who was subjected to the most horrible things imaginable during his most formative years, then had his adolescence STOLEN from him by some over-powering female vamp who used a young boy abominably, and who convinced him that her sick, perverted behaviours “saved him”. Good God. Actually, I thought Grey went out of his way with all his subs to make sure any of the behaviours he wished to engage in were within their limits of tolerablilty (thus the contracts). EVERY woman he “abused” was a willing participant and, I think, all were adults. I have only just started the 3rd book. Thus far, overall I find Grey to be someone who has overcome incredible odds; who has made every attempt to get help (he talks about his many doctors/therapists over the years) because he understands and acknowledges he is 50 shades of F’d up; who has used his time and talents to create business ventures that will help thousands of people – many who are vulnerable, and a man who deeply does love Ana who, herself, seems a bit “quirky” and very immature in that she gives him mixed messages at every turn. Actually, once I got past the discomfort of the almost non-stop sex, I find myself reading this series with an emphasis much less on sex (I mean really – how boring) and much more on the development of a man who has every excuse to be 50 shades of F’d up and who is trying desperately to better himself as an individual. Your thoughts?

    1. Yah, you and Marcia have similar views. But I’m still in the mindset that it’s a nice IDEA that he can be saved, and maybe he can! But, it just doesn’t seem plausible that THIS girl is the one that does it and everything ends so happily ever after. I just argue that is playing on many women’s fantasies that they can SAVE those broken men. Ana may have improved him, but I don’t see them as equals in the relationship. He is still very controlling.

      And the only part I’m ok with is my fantasy: a closet full of clothes that are tailored to fit my body perfectly! Now that’s a nice fantasy!

  5. I too saw Christian as the sympathetic character as Dorie describes. I read this series on my nook, avoiding that whole book cover issue. (LOL) I always look around at what other people are reading and this summer at a pool in Tuscany (yeah, I know, poor me) I was again scanning covers . . . Under the Tuscan Sun (aw, cute), The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo, Fifty Shades (hey, that’s what I’m reading.) I had to strike up a conversation and had a good laugh with the lovely British mom reading this. She was traveling with her husband and teenage son who rolled their eyes at her choice of book just like my teenage daughter and son were doing. A funny bonding experience over mommy porn. One thing we agreed on was that the descriptions in the writing had a annoying redundancy. It didn’t bother me enough to quit reading though.

    1. What did you and the British mom talk about? Christian’s gray eyes? Or his dark gray eyes? His hand running through his copper-colored hair? Or his dark gray eyes with the deep dark stare?

      You know what dark gray eyes make me think of? The way my face looks after a 15 hour day working in retail!

      1. Valerie Johnson | Reply

        We mostly laughed about how popular this book was and that it surprised us how mainstream an erotic book had become. Another conversation I had recently about these books was with a friend of mine who explained that reading them came up in her bible study. Basically, the group was split 50/50 on whether it was okay to read them or whether it was contrary to their Christian (no pun intended) beliefs to do so. A slightly older woman in the bible study explained that she had read them all but that she had to keep looking up what things were when she got to the S&M stuff. That definitely made me laugh! I was picturing her googling certain words and getting the surprise of her life with what popped up on her screen. Now that’s an education!

        1. Ok that conversation is much saucier than I imagined! LOL

  6. I totally agree with you that while I don’t see Grey as an abuser, I do think he is very, very controlling (hmmm, let’s see… can it be that after 7 years as that vamp’s sub he has been exposed to more than a little control…). Perhaps that’s one reason he is so successful in business (an interesting phenomenon to consider!). As unbelievable as it seems, I know more than a couple of men who have been ‘saved’ by a woman, and I also know a few women who have been ‘saved’ by a man…

  7. By the way, the clothes would be AWESOME!!!

  8. StoriesAndSweetPotatoes | Reply

    Fantastic post Jess. I never tire of hearing people’s opinions about Fifty Shades because I don’t think I’ve heard the same one twice. I definitely agree that I would’ve walked out on Christian pretty quickly and Ana could have benefited from some more self-esteem building life experience before getting into any relationship, BUT somehow I totally enjoyed the books. And not for the sexy parts because they did not do it for me at all. They were my least favorite parts of the books. It might have been that I read them at a time where I just needed to mentally check out. Hilariously, I did the same thing with Twilight reading all 4 books over my 3 week winter break during grad school. I think people who will read the books and idealize their relationship are probably already fifty shades of fucked up.

    1. Sara, I think you said it all! But then Marcia’s post would have been better than mine so I had to elaborate.

  9. Glad to know that what I suspected was true. Thanks for your review.

    1. Was it entertaining? Sure, but I still think it could have been done better. Read Marcia’s review, she could change your view even if she didn’t change mine.

    2. Jane, come read my review for another viewpoint! Trust me, it really was a good story. It wasn’t the eroticism that made it good, it was the character development.

  10. Okay, Jess, I read your review and then went to see what Marcia had to say before I commented. Well done, you two.
    I loved both your reviews for their honesty. I was definitely somewhere in between in my reaction to the trilogy. If I had just happened upon the story by accident without all the hype floating around about it, I wouldn’t have gotten past page 10. Curiosity kept me going and there were moments when I was VERY glad I kept with it and others when I questioned why I was bothering. I mean, there are SO many other great books out there waiting to be read.
    Anyhoo, I understand FSOG has done wonders for a multitude of relationships and that’s a good thing. E.L.James hit on a highly marketable topic. Gotta give her props for that!
    I tell you what I do love though … The REDHOTS ! Great stuff, ladies!

    1. If we ever need a guest host, Patricia, you are so on top of the list!

  11. Hello, who are you and what have you done with Jess Witkins? A donation to the local women’s shelter and a what????!!! LOL. I had to check the name at the top of this blog twice before I was convinced this was Jess’s blog 🙂 Seriously, the whole RedHots thing is a great idea, being able to riff off each other will be cool, I’m sure.

    I haven’t been motivated to pick up a copy of these books. The title is great and the covers look slick but that kind of puts me off more than the theme. Yeah, I judging the book by it’s cover but life’s only so long.


    PS You know we’re all going to want to see that tattoo at the next conference!

    1. LOL! I thought Marcia’s post was more tart than mine!

      But glad I kept your interest. 😉

      How goes the Fast Drafting?

  12. Jess!!! This is such a good post. You know I agree 100%. Listen, kudos for getting through all three books so you can discuss it fairly and intelligently. I had to stop 25% though book 2. The “inner goddess” talk was making me CRAZY.

    Love that you guys will review movies too!

    1. OMG! The “inner goddess” talk! I didn’t even get to that! Yes, that annoyed me too!

  13. […] Other news, The Redhots kicked off this past friday to a huge success!  Did you miss out?  I won’t hold it against you, just go rectify the situation right now!  It’s not too late to get the cutest redheaded version of Siskel and Ebert tear down and pump back up again the sexy series that’s sweeping the nation:  Fifty Shades of Grey.  So visit Marcia and I and tell us what you think:  50 Shades of Hot?  or 50 Shades of Not? […]

  14. Oh yeah, I absolutely an horrified by the popularity of these books–not because they are erotica and not because they contain BDSM. I’ve read other books that feature both and were not freaked out by them. But I am severely disturbed by the widespread popularity of both this and Twilight because of the psychological ramifications. I actually wrote a post about it: http://kaitnolan.com/2012/04/30/if-twilight-and-fifty-shades-are-wish-fulfillment/

    A lot of people are like “oh come on, readers know it’s fiction.” Yeah, a lot of them do. But there will be a lot of impressionable people who still take away from these books “oh, abuse is okay, that’s not abuse/obsession, it’s love.” And that freaks me the hell out.

    1. Me too! My thoughts EXACTLY. Glad you could weigh in Kate! I read your other posts about it and knew you’d be on my side! I hope readers are being smart about their interpretation and knowing it is fiction, but I worry greatly for those who don’t.

    2. Bravo, ladies!! I can’t stand the message this book is giving to women and I can’t believe they’re lapping it up. They start out with this heroine literally falling at Christian Grey’s feet for crying out loud.

      And the storyline: Love of a good woman will change him. If I put up with his B.S. he’ll MARRY me! *cue violins*

      Really, American women? This is the kind of relationship you want? All the people I asked said they loved it because “he was so good to her and he took care of her.” *sticks finger in throat* Oh, and the sex scenes. I did browse the first book and have to admit they were hot.

      But I simply couldn’t drag myself through that whole book. I handed it back to the gal I borrowed it from and thanked her. I have to confess though, Twilight started irritating me in the 2nd book when Bella wouldn’t shut up about Edward changing her. Keeping that in mind, I probably wasn’t destined to be a fan of these books.

      OK, the rant’s over….

  15. […] article on the 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy is […]

  16. I have not read the books. I just couldn’t do it after my brother told me that she used the word “murmur” a million times. He said some other stuff, too. I couldn’t even read any of it to check out the sex. You have now confirmed my suspicions that I’m not missing anything. 🙂

    1. Well, you could just flip to the sex scenes I suppose, but even they get a little redundant. Murmur, murmur, crap, oh my, crap, murmurrrrrr!

      1. LOL. Now I don’t need to! Oh, my, crap, I can’t stop laughing!

        1. They have a place for people like you. It’s called Minnesota! 😉

  17. I agree with so many of your points, but have to admit I enjoyed these books. As fluffy books go, 50 Shades kept me entertained.

    1. Perhaps you’ll side more with Marcia then. She loved Christian. I’d love to leave Christian…*shudder*

  18. ROFL. I’ve been holding back on reading it b/c the whole fan-fiction/possibly cover up stuff was just too unsavory. I don’t want to put money in the pocket of an author that seems dishonest. At the same time, I’m incredibly nosy. So…I’ll probably check them out of the library. Not worried about weird looks because I’m used to them. They probably won’t bat an eye after all of the weird subjects I’ve checked out en mass.

    1. LOL. You answered my question right away! I thought, Sonia!…from the library?! *Gasp* Hahaha

  19. […] Shades of Grey – I won’t repeat the abysmal hatred I gave this book in my review, 50 Shades Freed: Why I’m So Happy to Be Done Reading the Christian Grey Trilogy.  Don’t forget, Marcia loved it!  Instead, I’ll just share with you some of the more […]

  20. […] Oh and I’m a full-fledged member of Team Christian Gray needs a restraining order. […]

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