Notably given an infamous title of “mommy porn”, 50 Shades of Grey is a book that originally came to be as a piece of Twilight fan fiction. Depending on who you ask, the 50 Shades franchise is either literary gold or a literary fail.
Avid writers and readers alike have taken to the internet to review, rip apart, and hold up the 50 Shades books as they continue to gain popularity the world over.
Originally available online as a free piece of Twilight fan fiction, of which there are thousands and thousands of reading options. When the Twilight Saga went viral, fans everywhere created alternate versions for fellow Edward-and-Bella lovers to enjoy. Most notably, there was a lot of explicit fan fiction to make up for the lack of sexual content in the original Twilight series.
When 50 Shades entered the scene online, it gained notoriety for its explicit nature almost instantly. Initially titled Master of the Universe, it was posted on multiple fan fiction sites. After hearing many complaints about its explicit nature, as well as seeing the following it built from those who were happy to see that exact characteristic, E.L. James removed it from the fan fiction sites and posted it on her own website, Fiftyshades.com. At that point, she also changed the names from Bella Swan and Edward Cullen to Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey.
The love affair detailed in 50 Shades of Grey takes place in Washington. Only, instead of Twilight’s gloomy Forks setting, it is located in Seattle. The relationship detailed between Christian and Anastasia is one that has the innocent, naïve college student Anastasia falling head-over-heels for the older, charming, and most notably BDSM-obsessed, Christian.
Anastasia is a 21 year old college student at Washington State University. She first comes into contact with the dashing Christian Grey when she helps her ailing best friend by completing an interview for the school paper for her. Anastasia meets Christian and finds herself instantly attracted. She bumbles through what she feels is a horrible interview and exits assuming she will never see the attractive Christian again.
That is until he waltzes into her work, a hardware store, to buy strange items like masking tape, rope and cable ties. There, they make plans to have his picture taken for the paper’s article.
After they meet to take the photos with Ana’s friends, Christian asks her out to coffee. They meet and discuss Ana’s family life, her currently non-existent love life, and Christian’s single status as a guy who isn’t into the “hearts and flowers” of romance.
Later, Ana receives a copy of Tess of the d’Urbervilles in the mail from Christian. It surprises her, but she goes out with her friends to celebrate the completion of exams without contacting him. By the end of the night, she is drunk and dials Christian on a whim. He informs her that he is on his way to get her because she is too drunk.
Ana later wakes in Christian’s hotel room. He scolds her for not watching out for herself – but then reveals that he would like to sleep with her. He also insinuates that she will need to complete some paperwork to do so. That never happens as he makes out with her in the elevator and fails to follow up with the request.
Though he does mention later that there will be multiple contracts, especially after revealing the BDSM gear room at his apartment, he doesn’t make her sign it after learning that she is a virgin. They two have sex before any further discussion of paperwork or contracts.
After the first encounter, Ana receives multiple packages. She also receives a laptop so that she can conduct research on BDSM. They discuss the contract again – and Christian’s wish to keep the relationship of a sexual nature only. Ana grows overwhelmed and runs away. She doesn’t speak with him until she sees him at her graduation – and it is there that she decides to sign the contract.
Ana and Christian meet again to discuss the limitations of their contract. Ana grows consistently more confused by their relationship as Christian showers her with gifts and introduces her to the people in his life – but expects a sex only commitment. Once she gains employment at a publishing agency, she struggles even more with their relationship.
The awkward tension comes to a head when Ana asks to experience the most extreme aspects of BDSM so that she can determine if she can live with it. Christian complies and beats her with a belt. Ana leaves realizing that she and Christian are incompatible. Though devastated, she walks away from the relationship.