Friday, September 13, 2013

Book Review: "Fifty Shades of Gray" by E.L. James (SPOILERS)

I fucking hate myself.

Fuck you, too.

I fucking hate whatever masochistic impulse made me decide reading this piece of shit could ever possibly be a good idea.

I fucking hate all the assholes who pass by good books with good characters and good writing and latch on to this crap so hard that it sold squillions of copies.

I fucking hate the fact that some asshole on the Internet could take her shitty Twilight fanfic, file off the serial numbers, and make millions off it.

Seriously. Kill me now. Maybe I'll be reincarnated into a world with some actual taste in literature. In fact, the knife block is only a few feet away, let me go get one...




Okay, I'm back. Now that I'm slowly bleeding out from slit wrists*, let's talk about why it sucks. We'll go by the numbers, into the three big problems I have with it. (Note: I am spoiling the fuck out of this, because no one should ever read it. Ever.)

1. Characters

None of the characters in this book are interesting. None of them. Not remotely. Let's run down the list of "major" characters. First, there's Anastasia "Ana" Steele, our narrator and college-age cipher. If they made people in a factory from a central mold, she's what would happen if quality control fucked up and a blank mannequin got out. She's a generic English major doing generic things at a generic college, which happens to be in Washington State. I mean, I get why she's so bland (she's the Bella, the cipher that allows readers to project themselves into the book), but she really isn't a memorable character.

Could I possibly care any less about her adventures? No.

Then there's our hunky love interest, Christian Gray. He's an inexplicably, implausibly wealthy twenty-something "businessman". Where'd the money come from? *shrug* Business stuff, or whatever. How does he have time to do "business stuff" and fuck around constantly? I dunnoh, maybe he telecommutes or something. Come to think of it, he spends most of his time onscreen having sex or thinking about having sex. What business could he possibly be running that would allow him to do that and be super-involved in business decisions? Fuck if I know.

Also, he's a total asshole. He's a super dick. If you've ever doodled a penis in the margins of your textbook, that picture has as much depth as Christian Gray.

Aside from them, there's a few other characters that walk through the story. Ana's roommate Kate, who introduces the two star-crossed fuckers, is rich (and that's about all we get). Her guy-friend José is the obvious Jacob replacement, only now he's an offensive Hispanic stereotype with about twice as much rapiness. I think there's a few other people, like Christian's adoptive brother, who gets it on with Kate, and maybe Christian's butler, but that's about it.

Quite beyond the blandness of the characters, I've got a problem with how the author tries to pretend that she didn't paste these characters straight out of one of a million shitty romance novels. She tries to show how Christian is so angsty and damaged and broody, and why he's into BDSM, and it's fucking terrible. Apparently, as far as E.L. James is concerned, you can only be into kinky stuff if one of your adoptive parents' friends forced you to be their sub when you were a fucking teenager.

Without going into too much detail, I'll say that I have some kinks. The specifics are none of your goddamn business, but I do have them. And I was never abused, sexually or otherwise. So the implication that only a really fucked-up person would be interested in BDSM or other kinky stuff is offensive. Number one, it's offensive to people who like kinky stuff. But beyond that, it's insultingly offensive to actual survivors of abuse. Fuck you, E.L. James, for thinking this adds depth to your 2-dimensional character. You can multiply zero with whatever fucking number in the world. You're still getting fucking zero.

So, in summary, the characters make me feel like this, mostly:

Except when they made me feel like this:

2. Plot

The plot is probably the least-shitty part of the book, which isn't saying much. Mostly, it's your standard bullshit fantasy plot, where for some unknown reason, Very Important Person finds Nobody McGillicuddy astoundingly fascinating. If it were anywhere close to a decent book, there'd be at least a cliched reason for this. Maybe she's the Chosen One, or the lost heir to the Grand Duchy of Whogivesafuck. Maybe she's the fucking Girl Who Lived.

But all we get is the Least Interesting Person In The World getting a million rewards, with seemingly no justification whatsoever. And all throughout, it's described in the most boring way possible, because, for an English major, Ana Steele seems to know very little about how to write. So for me, it was mostly just this:

For hundreds of pages.

3. Writing

And now we get to the worst part of all: The monstrosity that is E.L. James "writing" an erotic story. This is literally the worst thing ever. A planeful of the most adorable kids in the world could crash in a grove of kitten trees, and this fucking book would still be the worst thing in all of history.

For your reading displeasure, I'd like to present some samples of this crap.

"Aargh!" I cry as I feel a weird pinching sensation deep inside me as he rips through my virginity.

But with a penis.

Hmm… he’s soft and hard at once, like steel encased in velvet, and surprisingly tasty – salty and smooth. Speaking as someone who has become intimately acquainted with a dick, over the 20+ years that said schlong has been attached to me... dicks don't feel like that.

He’s my very own Christian Grey flavor popsicle.

Saving the worst for last.

Jesus H. Fucking Christ on a fluorescent green pogo stick. How did this fucking shit get published? Who thought this shit was worthy of reading? I'd like to know, so I can punch them in the face. And give them a book that isn't written so terribly.

He's going to kiss me there! Where the fuck is "there"? Her fingers? Her toes? Her vagina? Her doorknob? Her microwave? If you want things to get hot and heavy, be fucking specific.

My inner goddess sits in the lotus position looking serene except for the sly, self-congratulatory smile on her face. This is E.L. James attempting to anthropomorphize Ana's inner monologue, only somehow, Ana's "inner goddess" is dumber than Ana. The only thing that I enjoyed about this is that occasionally Ana's "subconscious" shows up, and we both hate Ana with the passion of a million fiery suns.


I still fucking hate myself for reading this shit.

I still fucking hate E.L. James for writing this shit.

I still fucking hate all the assholes who brought this shit to my attention by spending actual money on it.

Fuck you very much, motherfuckers.
So, before I completely bleed out, I'm going to find something better to read, like, oh, maybe, anything else at all.
* I haven't actually slit my wrists. And you shouldn't either. Seriously. Don't.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Book (Excerpt) Review: "Genesis" by Ken Shufeldt

I realize that usually, when one reviews a book, one reads more than just a part of it. But I am going to tell you, right off the bat, this book is so terrible that I couldn't stand to read more than a few pages from the Prologue. And this is not some self-published slop thrown up against the wall of Amazon, oh no, dear reader, it was published by Tor Books, one of the major SF publishing houses.

Genesis can be best categorized as a shitty apocalypse book, in the vein of Left Behind. The prologue takes place during the Persian Gulf War, when a group of "rangers", by which the author presumably means these guys, and not those guys, finds an archaeological site guarded by Republican Guards. There's some military babble, and they call in a B-52 for some reason that I don't quite get.

And then it turns out that the leader of the "rangers" is a member of a secret society, and he calls home to tell them that he's found some ancient sarcophagus of some alien dude with a name that contains "Adam". They send some other guy out, and he somehow gets it back to America, where blah blah blah, oh fuck, this stupid infodump isn't fucking over and it's only been like three pages, oh fuck me this is so fucking terrible.

The point of it is, this is a terrible fucking book, and the author has no idea how to dole out information on the characters without dropping it on you like a ton of alien bricks. I'm not entirely sure how this book could be made better, (the simplest way would be to not have written it or published it in the first place) but I know for certain that this isn't how you do it.

Now, when I first heard about this, I assumed it was just another part of the vast sea of terrible self-published dreck that has flooded the eBook stores these days. Imagine my astonishment when I found out that, somehow, this book had gotten through the editing process at Tor Books, a publisher for which I generally have a lot of respect. If, say, Baen had been the publisher, I wouldn't have been as surprised. Baen, despite the gems in its firmament (like the Vorkosigan Saga), has a well-deserved reputation for publishing terrible books, like John Ringo's Ghost or the entirety of Tom Kratman's oeuvre.

So I'm left wondering how in the name of fuzzy pink kittens this book managed to get off the slush pile and onto the printing presses. I can think of two possibilities: either the book somehow became worse in the editing phase or the author had some sort of dirt on an editor at Tor. Otherwise, I would have to accept the possibility that Tor just fucked this up, and that's not a bridge I want to cross.

Having read this excerpt, I want a refund from someone, whether Tor Books or Amazon, despite the fact that I spent no money on it. If they could give me an extra few minutes of my life to cover the time I wasted on this goddamn book, I'm certain I could find something better to do with that time. Maybe I could poke myself with rusty needles from heroin junkies, or swallow bits of glass coated in smallpox, or stick a gun in my mouth and pull the trigger. Any of those activities would be infinitely preferable to reading that excerpt again.

So, in conclusion, this is a terrible book and I weep for the fact that there is a sequel that somehow got released. If you're a masochist, and you feel like seeing some of the worst writing I've ever seen, you can find it on Amazon.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Quote of the Day, September 1st, 2012

"There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that, if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea, however, has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous, their prosperity will find its way up through every class which rests upon them." -William Jennings Bryan

Thursday, July 26, 2012

This Is... Mitt Romney Is A Terrible Politician, Episode 18,000,000

The Daily Telegraph, July 26, 2012:
Mitt Romney is perhaps the only politician who could start a trip that was supposed to be a charm offensive by being utterly devoid of charm and mildly offensive.
(For context: "The personal links between the paper's editors and the leadership of the Conservative Party, along with the paper's influence over Conservative activists, has resulted in the paper commonly being referred to, especially in Private Eye, as the Torygraph." -Wikipedia, "The Daily Telegraph")

This has been... Mitt Romney Is A Terrible Politician! Tune in next time to hear Mitt say:

(Merci beaucoup, Shakesville)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Republican Party Is Filled With Idiots, Part MMMMMMMMMMMXVI

Doop-de-doop-de-doo, reading my email, doop-de-doop-de-doo...
"People now don’t die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things," Collins said.

Hi there, Mr. Collins. Speaking as someone whose mother managed to die from breast cancer about two years ago despite five years of treatment (which, might I add, was very expensive)... you are an idiot.
The Republicans must have discovered some vast deposits of stupid somewhere, to come up with so many idiots in such a short span of time.