April 19, 2012

virtually grey

Blogger's Note: This post contains spoilers.

I first heard about the Fifty Shades trilogy a few weeks ago when Katie, one of my besties, told me about it. 

The buzz was good. Really good. And we liked the premise. A lot.

Neither one of us had read it, yet, so we decided we should do it together and have a virtual book club. (We are about 900 miles apart right now and online is the only way we could swing it.)

After we both finished E L James' Fifty Shades of Grey, we hopped online to chat to compare notes. In addition to discussing the first book, we also delve a little into the second, Fifty Shades Darker

Here is the transcript of our inaugural book chat:
Laura: I call this meeting of the Virtual Smut Book Club to order. All present say "aye"

Katie: Aye!

Laura: Aye! First order of business: Fifty Shades of Grey. What were your overall thoughts?

Katie: Overall, I thought it was a solid exploration of a complicated relationship. I chose to focus more on the relationship than the sex, which I think is important. It's the relationship that kept me most interested.

Laura: Me, too. And really, I think the sex is a symptom of a very complicated man who has trouble with human contact after a troubled childhood. How do you think it compares to Twilight, the series it was originally based on?

Katie: Hmm. While the overall theme is similar between the two, I feel like Fifty Shades of Grey does a much better job of actually making the relationship believable, not just because Twilight has to do with Vampires. When I read Twilight, I never fully understood what Bella and Edward liked about each other, because all they did was stare into each others' eyes and talk about how they can't live without the other. To sum it up, I like the characters in Fifty Shades of Grey more than Twilight. They're not so one-dimensional.

Laura: Right. Even the secondary characters have more depth. While there are some comparisons to Edward, overall Mr. Grey is different, because he has been his whole life. He's not bad. He's not a sexual predator. He is a complex man with stunted emotions. That alone is fascinating. And I found Ana much more likable than Bella. We understand her reservations. It's because she is less experienced and young. I never quite understood why Bella would hesitate to marry Edward when she was planning to spend eternity with him. Ana is hesitant to get too involved, because so little time has passed and the man is complicated. Your turn to pick a topic. I've been a little controlling. Don't wanna pull a Grey.

Katie: GOD GREY. I totally agree with your thoughts on Ana. That's why I loved the ending so much. It showed that even though she had given so much of herself to this man, she was still a strong woman and she stuck to her morals whereas Bella let Edward do whatever the eff he wanted.

Laura: Exactly

Katie: I would argue that THIS is the book that young girls should be reading, not the book that teaches girls to be submissive and have a demon baby.

Laura: That's a very good point. And another component of the story. Even the most confident and independent of women sometimes war with the desire to be cared for. It is tempting to have someone take care of you. However, you can be too independent, too. In a relationship, you must find middle ground.

Katie: Yes! And I totally related to her being inexperienced and being drawn to the attention this man was giving her, any insecure, innocent girl would've done the same thing she did, simply because they want the attention.

Laura: Very true. With Ana leaving Grey at the end of book one, what do you think will have to happen to bring these two characters back together? Do you think it's acceptable for her to go back to the man she left?

Katie: Actually, that is the main problem I have with the first couple chapters of the second book. He makes her apologize for not using the safe word, when HE was the one hitting her! And she's just like, you're right! Let's be in love again! And I'm like, guuuurl please.

Laura: Well.......... I can see where he was coming from a bit (but then again, I've finished the book). He told her to tell him when to stop. And she didn't until he went past her comfort level. She BEGGED him to do it. Still…. Maybe I'm making excuses for him!

Katie: It's very easy to make excuses for him, because he actually is a very likable character.

Laura: And deliciously flawed.

Katie: And you can't blame him for his flaws! I like that we're learning more about him a little bit at a time. Poor guy.

Laura: Keeps it interesting. I have to say, even though it took me the longest to read, I think I liked the second book best of the trilogy. I think.

Katie: I'm really enjoying it so far, I was sad to put it down. I noticed on Facebook you said the kinky sex goes away?

Laura: Well.... It doesn't completely go away. There's just a lot more vanilla. And it's hot as hell.


Laura: However......... I must say, I think there is something wrong with me that I prefer a man saying "I'm going to fuck you" to a man saying "I'm going to make love to you." Unless that man is the band Boys II Men, it gives me the heebie jeebies.

Katie: Hahahaha. I think it's more romantic! And not so vulgar.

Laura: I know it's more romantic. I actually wrote a whole blog post about it, but I think it just makes me uncomfortable.  And I'm not saying I want a guy to use the f-bomb to me... maybe...  It's just "lover" and "make love" makes me feel funny. Maybe I'm jealous? My sister said it well, though (and I thought this was well done by the author) that there is a big difference between making love, having sex, and effing. Sometimes, it is about the love. I just don't know if I could ever say it out loud with sincerity.

Katie: I understand. Is Sarah (your sister) going to read it?

Laura: I don't know. She's hesitant. So I've been giving her a play by play. I imagine she'll do it eventually, though. I'm good at wearing her down. Let's see what’s next. I will say that Ana's BFF annoys me a little. But that's maybe something from the whole trilogy. I just think she goes from "OMG Grey is into you, you should go out with him" to "I think he's sketchy" a little quickly and inexplicably. Like, she changes her tune before shit gets real weird.

Katie: Yeeeeah, I don't think she'll win the award for best literary BFF anytime soon, but I guess that's how girls can be sometimes. And I'm curious to see what happens with Jose. I'm not particularly a fan of his either.

Laura: Me neither. Then again, I wasn't a big fan of Jacob's either. And really... he totally tried to take advantage of her when she was drunk. Fifty Shades might've been a little creepy with the stalking, but he kind of rescued her.

Katie: True that. I'm kind of ready for him to go away. But I guess you have to have a character that plays as a threat to Grey.
And that’s it for our inaugural virtual book chat. I had a blast, and I hope Katie did, too. As you can probably tell by our talk, nothing is off limits and our conversation was fun. I hope we’ll do it again for the next two books and perhaps others in the future. If we do, we’ll be sure to share our notes.

Be sure to check out my official reviews of Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed

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