Fifty Shades of the Fluffernutter Sandwich

stack of the Fifty Shades books by E.L. James

Betwixt and between reading Game of Thrones, I read the Fifty Shades series.  Again.  It’s the first time I’ve read them in their published form, I previously read them in their original form as, you guessed it, Twilight Fan Fiction.  While the story is good, entertaining, and full of lemons (those steamy scenes), I was kind of surprised to see it published and getting so much attention.

So, let me back up and look at this from a couple different angles.  I don’t typically read Fan Fiction, but I got completely addicted to Twi fanfic a few years ago (don’t judge).  So, that’s where I originally read Fifty Shades (originally Master of the Universe).  And while it’s completely enjoyable, and one of the better fics I read, it wasn’t remarkable.  Now, I’m not bashing it, just saying that it wasn’t so far superior that I could have foretold it would be published and catch on like it has.  And one of the things that ended my illicit love affair with Twific was that so many authors were 1) using this as a way to “try out” their work before pulling their fic off the site with the intention of publishing it and 2) the drama-llama goings on with authors getting their panties in a twist and pulling their fics.  More than once I was left hanging when I was in the middle of reading something and it got pulled.  Fine.  I’m done.

But, now let’s look at this from another angle.  Why, once published, has it caught on the way it has?  Is it because there are hordes of Twific fans that are showing their support?  Is it because it falls in the romance/erotica category and therefore has a ready-made readership?  Is it because it allows so many women to read about something they feel is “naughty” and show how “edgy” they are by reading about some light BDSM?  Is it because everyone is reading it, so you have to too?  Or is it just because it’s a good story?

Couldn’t tell you what the answer is.  But, I can only say what I’ve observed.  At the beginning of this widespread read-along, there were a lot of facebook posts and blog posts and such where women were fanning themselves and winking conspiratorially at each other and hinting around at how glad their husbands were that they were reading Fifty.  And while I think it’s great that suddenly it became “mainstream” to be reading smut, I was a little surprised at the turn of events that occurred next.  Suddenly those same women that had been fanning themselves and congratulating their own inner goddesses were turning snarky and critical over the books.  Suddenly it’s all “no one has sex like that” or “no one has that many orgasms” or whatever other complaints.

But really, whatever happened to the term “suspension of disbelief” or have we forgotten that pretty much any romance book you pick up is not going to be a reflection of real life?  There’s not a lot of hot billionaires that look like Robert Pattinson running around wanting to get all alpha male on someone (which is a shame, really).  And do they have sex more than they talk through their issues – yes?  But who the fuck cares?  It’s a book.  It’s fun reading about their sexy times. But if you want a good laugh, check out this review (you have to click on the “read spoiler” link – because that’s really the best part).  I think it’s great we can laugh about how bad this is (Showgirls, anyone?) but there’s a difference between admitting that reading this is the equivalent of eating a fluffernutter sandwich and picking it apart because it’s not a reflection of your reality.  Neither is Lord of the Rings.

But, rumor has it that if you really want to read a good book along these same lines, this is the one to read…

Book cover for Willing Victim by Cara McKenna

I can’t comment on it, because I haven’t read it (yet).

But, here’s what I love about the Fifty Shades books: I love me some Edward and Bella (regardless of what we’re calling them), I love their email exchanges – they are, in my opinion, some of the best parts of the books, I love Elliot’s “laters, baby”, and I love the image of Fifty with his faded jeans on and the top button unbuttoned.

I’m glad I re-read them, and I’m glad that it also made me go back and read a couple other of my favorites in the fanfic world.  And it’s really good escape reading, which I appreciate.  Now back to my book about World War II.

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