Fifty Shades of Grey - E.L. James I did not begin reading Fifty Shades of Grey expecting to like it, and my assumption was correct. The reasons why I did not anticipate enjoying it, however, were completely wrong. For the past six months, it's been impossible to avoid Fifty Shades pandemonium. From what I'd heard, I knew it was a revision of formerly published Twilight fanfiction detailing a BDSM relationship between Bella and Edward, ahem, Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. I expected to object to the sexual practices and the underlying gender relations supporting them, but for the most part, I was surprisingly unaffected by these aspects. Instead, my objections concerned the painfully boring plot and characters and the poor quality of prose.My reservations about the sex and gender politics were rather limited. I felt most wary when the Dom/sub was extended outside of the bedroom. The most horrifying example of this occurred in Chapter 20 where Christian (seriously, I initially wrote Edward there) punishes Ana for turning him on at a family dinner, hanging out with a platonic male friend, and considering a vacation to visit her mother in Georgia without mentioning it to him. None of these actions deserve reproach, yet Christian flips out, blames Ana, and proceeds to have sex with her ordering her that she may not come because this time is "all for him." This possessiveness struck me very wrongly; sex, even in a Dom/sub relationship, should be a give and take so that each partner attains something desirable, but in this specific incident, Christian usurps this equality, which was unacceptable to me. Another disturbing quality of the book involves what Ana calls Christian's "stalker tendencies." Ah yes, Christian has inherited Edward Cullen's creepiness and follows Ana's every move, which, of course, does not scare her in any way. Flying back to Seattle in an upgraded first class seat courtesy of Christian, Ana remarks that the seat next to her has been strangely empty both ways. In a rare moment of clarity, Ana thinks:Christian might have purchased the adjacent seat so that I couldn’t talk to anyone. I dismiss the idea as ridiculous – no one could be that controlling, that jealous, surely.It is this possessiveness that struck me most negatively throughout the novel. Their sex was rather tame, but Christian always takes control of things that undeniably belong to Ana, whether it is her plane seat or her sexuality. Even with the existence of the BDSM contract, I believe Ana should retain control of fundamentally important items. Christian repeatedly says of Ana (and her vagina) "This is mine. All mine," which caused me to cringe. Is this arousing? Is this what James and legions of readers find to be stimulating? Because a guy telling me that I am all his is a turn off; I'm pretty sure I, and all other women, own non-transferable deeds to our vaginas, even when we consent to sex.It was most difficult to overcome the atrocious writing, though. In Ana Steele speak, "holy cow, holy shit, holy fuck" it was BAD. Like her inspiration, Stephenie Meyer, James is in desperate need of a thesaurus. The same words--control freak, inquisition, wow, and variations on "holy X" come to mind--recur incessantly. Writing the book as an inner dialogue of Ana impairs the story because Ana has the dullest thoughts ever! A legitimate Ana thought: Not really. Intense? Wow. That right there was an entire line of the text. Then there is the constant conflict between Ana's subconscious and inner goddess which is recorded in mind-numbing detail. Her subconscious and inner goddess, metaphorical figments which don't even exist become the third and fourth most important characters of the novel. Seriously. The entire 26 chapter endeavor oscillates between reading a couple's rather tame sexts and reading the eminently inane thoughts of Ana Steele. My favorite in the latter category? This gem: My inner goddess pole-vaults over the fifteen-foot bar. For an erotic novel, there is really not much sex, and even when there is, you must work to block out both the constant cartwheels and backflips done by Ana's inner goddess and the neverending anxiety of her subconscious. HOLY COW, it's hard.At the end of the day, though, what I will recall best from this book is my rumination over the whys of BDSM. I do not want to be judgmental, but I fail (along with Ana) to understand the motivation of wanting to hurt someone. I don't have the patience to read the following volumes to determine the answer to this question in the case of Christian Grey, but I think it is a question that I will ponder for a while. The book also ends on a high note when Ana finally stands up to Grey and says what she wants. Even though she's largely brainless, Ana is a stronger heroine than, oh I don't know, Bella Swan. Her resistance and struggle to comprehend this lifestyle allowed me to read this novel without objecting on moral grounds, and I appreciate the questions concerning sexual politics and sexual psychology that it has left with me.