Thursday, May 3, 2012

What I'm Reading Thursday

Ironically enough, what I've spent my time reading for the past week is my own work. I've been editing Heart of the Warrior, the release of which is fast-approaching in twenty-one days. I finally finished that yesterday, only to receive back from Silver Publishing a manuscript I sent them back in November, which they accepted in January. It seems that The Arms of Winter is nearing publication, as well. So, I've also been editing that manuscript.

However, I have been trying to work in a little pleasure reading. I am ever-faithfully attempting to work through the Fifty Shades trilogy and my pleasure-reading is currently Fifty Shades Darker.

I'm not far into the book, but my first reaction of disappointment occurred on page 5 of the story. You see, I love angst and conflict. I love seeing characters struggling to find their way back to one another. I prefer seeing them trying to overcome forces that keep them apart.

I was thrilled at the end of Fifty Shades of Grey to see the characters separated, even if I wasn't thrilled with how Fifty Shades of Grey ended (it didn't so much as end as just...trail off). So, I went in to Fifty Shades Darker thinking, "Woo-hoo! All right! These characters are gonna have to fight to be back together. Rock on!" Boy was I disappointed. We're barely into the story, and already Ana is throwing herself into Christian's arms again.


What a waste of a good story. Oh, the fun I could have had writing these two apart until they were practically bursting to be back inside each other's arms again. As it is, I'm frowning at Christian and asking, "Dude, you do know you two broke up, don't you?" He's almost acting like one of those guys who a woman breaks up with, yet he selectively doesn't hear it and continues to act and behave as if they're still together. It's a little unnerving. He came off as a sex addict in book one, and in book two, he's already coming off like a psycho stalker who hears only what he wants to hear. In the real world, I would be raising my eyebrows at his behavior, saying "ooookaaaaaayyy," and wondering what kind of mental case I had on my hands. But, no, Ana takes it all in stride, as if it's perfectly normally to receive extravagant gifts from your ex and be bossed around by him. And she blindly accepts the behavior that caused her to break up with him in the first place. Grrrrr! Grow some balls, Ana! I keep waiting for her to yell at him, "This is why I broke up with you in the first place, Christian! Because you do shit like this! Until you stop, I'm not getting back together with you." Instead, she lets him boss her around and play possessive boyfriend when they're not even dating, anymore. And she just goes along with it like a weakling. Whatever.

The good news is that I'm sixty-one pages into the book and there's been no sex, yet, although I think that's about to change. I feel the first sex scene coming on. Sigh again. All sighing aside, I think I understand why there's so much sex in the books. In fan fiction and role play circles, sex is what drives each scene. I know. I used to role play on Facebook, and if a scene didn't have some sexual tension, it didn't get "likes." And you want to see likes on your scenes.

However, this is now a book. It is not fan fiction or role play. I don't blame the author for the shortcomings in the story or the book's production. The story and premise are actually quite good. But the publisher rushed the books into publication. In my opinion, the publisher failed to make this book series more than just a passing phase. They literally picked up the rights to publish the books, and then published them a month or so later. They did not edit. They didn't take the time to produce quality covers (mine are peeling on the edges like they are only cheaply laminated). They didn't put the story through the paces to ensure its mechanics and content were correct. The publisher should have taken their time to properly process this manuscript to make sure the print books were better than the ebooks and worth the hefty price tag they placed on it. I've paid a LOT less for better books, both in story and physical quality. I mean, this is the first book I've bought where the lamination on the cover actually began to peel off. Hell, it might be the first book I've bought with a laminated, almost poster-like, cover.

My point? And this is just my opinion, but I feel like the publisher simply used the author and her story to make a quick buck. Instead of putting a quality product into the hands of the public, they rushed it out. This book series had the potential to be iconic, and I fear it will simply be a blip and a passing phase that will eventually become the punchline to a million bad jokes, where people who are reading the book will do so with embarrassment.

And, seriously, where's all the big-time BDSM this series was touted for? I thought the premise of these books was that he was a dom and she became his submissive, but I've seen very little of that, and it looks like as book two progresses, there won't be much of it because, well, Ana can't take it. There are other BDSM stories out there that dwell in this world better than this book does. A lot better. But Fifty Shades was supposed to be all about BDSM. This is a catch an editor should have fixed if they'd taken the time to treat this manuscript the way a print book manuscript should be treated.

Again, please don't misinterpret what I'm saying here. I'm not saying that the Fifty Shades stories are bad. They aren't. The story is actually quite good, and I like the idea of seeing these characters grow and discover , almost therapeutically, who they are. The sex is creative, even though there is far too much of it at the sacrifice of juicy story. And the characters, at least up to this point, seem realistic and are represented well throughout. But I think the publisher short-changed E.L. James. I don't think they did right by her. And I think that will come back to haunt both her and them in the long run. People don't like greed, after all, and it certainly appears that greed motivated the publisher to put out such a poor quality product for too high a price.


  1. Donya,

    And this is why I put the book down half-way through. I don't think I can pick it up again. Just I also was disappointed that the BDSM that's talked about everywhere with regards to this story isn't really seen at all. I've read BDSM stories and have researched it enough to feel that, aside from maybe being 'erotic' sex, it's not BDSM. I don't know. Maybe she does become his submissive at some point. After all, she doesn't have much of a backbone or personality. That's just my opinion though! I love weak heroines and heroes, but at some point, like you pointed out, I want to see her jump up and say "Enough is enough!" Oh well.

    1. I agree. And, regarding submissives: It's usually powerful control freaks who get the most out of being submissive. Submissives have the most control in dom/sub relationships, after all. At least, based on my research (because, yes, I have a dom and a sub character and I need to represent them as accurately as I can). I'll probably finish the books, but I will likely start skipping over all the sex so I can get the story.

    2. And another thing, I forgot to mention that the price is WAY too high. My god, I agree totally. I've paid a lot less for far better books. And boy did I hate the Twilight-ish scenes. There were so many moments where I also felt like I was seeing Edward and Bella--not characters I want to see. When I didn't have those other two popping up in my mind, the characters were far better. I bid you luck with finishing the series!

    3. Thank you. :) I'll probably skip most of the sex scenes just so I can find out what happens.

  2. Well, umm... fifty was actually written as a fan-fiction after Twilight. The characters were Bella and disco-ball-Edward, not Ana and Christian. There are a sh*tload of fans out there who were offended that this fiction was picked up and published, with the names and a few things and actions changed.
    What i believe, is that the publisher focused more on making the book NOT Twilight, and overlooked the tooooo many sex scenes. And i can't believe i'm saying this, but there were times when i actually skipped them. Too much sex is boring when you don't have a story, something to go on, to keep reading the book.
    You just began reading Fifty Darker, and yeah, i was struck dumb when they got back together so fast and Chris was acting like nothing ever happened. Yeah, they loved each other, yeah, he's an obnoxious control freak sometimes, yeah, i get the depression and empty feeling and i also get the makeup-sex. But where's the angst, where's the fight *and i'm not talking about them fighting, cuz well, they end up in bed anyway*. In the book, it's explained that that's way Christian "operates", that's the only thing he knows and understands: control. You'll get to the part where Ana has a one-on-one with his brit-shrink and again, he explains his mentality and childhood traumas, but honestly, i don't see Christian trying to change. He's setting his goal, and overrides completely what Ana says, or wants. That's not making Ana his sub, that's ignoring her as a human and treating her like an object. Yes, they do have common goals: a happy life together, but seriously, the author could have picked another route. He's only changing when he fears Ana might leave him again. That's blackmail if you ask me.
    In the 3rd book, again, i was annoyed at the scene when Chris found out that Ana was pregnant *i had to smile when you used "and I fear it will simply be a blip", you'll understand later what i'm talking about* :)
    I was annoyed at Christian, his reaction, about Ana's actions afterward, the way they dealt with the whole situation. It was childish! We're talking about a baby here, not a wardrobe! This story could have been freakin' epic, but i feel i'm still reading a fanfiction sometimes.
    The only thing i agree and like about Ana, are her thoughts about the annoying-bitch-Elena, and i was really glad when finally christian saw her through Ana's eyes.
    I'm really sorry, it's a damn long comment, but what you pointed out, it's like you read my mind. I love the books, seriously, but it could have been much much better, that i'm pretty sure.

    1. Wow, we are really sharing the same brain. I knew this was fanfic originally, and there are times I can actually see Edward and Bella peaking through Christian and Ana. I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees Christian treating Ana like she's an object, which is very un-dom-like, from what I've researched. I guess I'll see how this series turns out in time, but yes, it could have been written sooo much better. This story is great. But the hero and heroine are coming off a bit unlikeable and dysfunctional at this point. And if a reader doesn't like a character, it's a tough sell.

      I'm concerned with that idea right now, myself, because I have a couple of characters that readers might not like at first. They're not supposed to. But they are characters who are flawed and who are still finding themselves, so my challenge is to make them likable as their story is revealed. So, yes, I'm very aware of the character likability factor right now.

    2. Well, it's one thing to help the character develop emotionally, slowly introducing their half, them, growing together, dealing with hardships and stuff, and at the end of the book, you have a completely new character, one who sees the world with different eyes. You don't like their past, you *maybe* don't like their present attitude, but that's the point: the author is building the character, you get to discover the facets of their soul, so to speak, their inner struggle. But it's a whole another thing to MAKE someone stay with you, to make them feel sorry for you, to make them not leave you. That's not love, that's compassion *blackmail* snorts.
      Those were my first thoughts on Ana's behavior. She feels sorry for Christian, for what he went through as a child. He may have the childish behavior of a teenager sometimes, but he's also a powerful business man, and a dom. From what i read, a dom fulfills the needs of a sub, and Christian fulfills his needs. What he thinks, what he wants, the goals he's setting etc. That's what i don't like about him. Christian is changing, but only in book 3 you see the difference. Some readers just drop the damn book midway, or just start hating on forums, which is not good for an author.

      "I'm concerned with that idea right now, myself, because I have a couple of characters that readers might not like at first." ---and again you're teasing your fans with little sneak-peaks. :))

    3. LOL. Well, you'll see those characters in Heart of the Warrior, so you don't have to be teased much longer. :) I did tell my beta readers that I was very concerned with reader reaction to these two, though, because they are important charis in books three and four. It's a gamble, but I'm taking it. LOL Throw caution to the wind and pray readers will have faith and continue reading so the charis can be redeemed. *and the angels sing* LOL.

      Regarding Christian: You know, you hit the nail on the head in a couple of regards. He comes off as mentally and emotionally abusive. Isn't that funny since he's a dom and his "job" as such is to provide physical pain? Hmm. And, as far as what it means to be a dom, you're right. A dom is supposed to fill the needs of a sub, not his own needs. His relationship with Ana (at least what I've read thus far) has been to fulfill his own needs and not hers. Again, this is why the BDSM community is hating on the author right now. And it's another reason why the publisher should have taken more time to research, edit, and ensure accuracy before rushing these books to print.

      I just love these conversations and interactions with you guys! *big smile*