50 Shades of Grey – A Virtual Luge Ride (& More)

At the very end of Part Three of E.L. James’s 50 Shades of Grey trilogy, there’s bonus material, including a couple key scenes from the very beginning of 50 Shades of Grey (aka Part One), retold in the hero’s point of view. My reaction reading these bonus scenes? She gets it.

E.L. James has explained that the 50 Shades of Grey books arose from two things. Her passion for Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books, and a question: What if you fell in love with a man only to discover that he’s into BDSM? The parallel is immediately obvious, as Twilight could be summed up with the same sort of question: What if you fell in love with a man only to discover he’s a vampire.

I love the 50 Shades books. No surprise, I guess, given that I’ve written a novella that’s also the story of a young woman who falls for a man she learns is a sexual dominant. But it wasn’t just the sex that thrilled me. It was the virtual luge run of falling in love so hard and fast that you’re gravity’s plaything before you even catch your breath. It’s exhilarating—in real life and in the books. The way your throat catches when you think of him, the rush of anticipation when you see an email from him or his name on your caller ID, the heart-pumping zing of being with him, touching him, smelling him, seeing him.

And just like in real life, you can’t get enough. There is no enough, and certainly no “too much,” at least at first. That’s where real life and reading diverge. In real life, you still have to pay your bills, do the laundry, promote your career, and resolve your differences. In fiction, the barriers to true love are smaller. You have to forgive the author her little quirks and foibles, and even her flaws and mistakes. You have to like the characters enough to stick with them for thousands and thousands of words. And you have to believe these two people would do what the author is telling you they do.

So in the war over 50 Shades of Grey, I’m a Grey Coat. I saw the same pickable nits that others did but I ignored them because the story was so good. Great characterization (quick example: Ana, the heroine, actually grows up a little by the end—but not so much that it was absurd for a woman in her twenties), wonderful pacing, and a lot of surprises along the way.

And, at the end, there was MORE. A lengthy epilogue, a couple new passages, and the scenes retold from Christian’s point of view. Because E.L. James is a reader and a fan, so she gets it: if you love a book, you want more.


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