January 14, 2013

Things to Hate

I felt I had a pretty good run with laziness, then this happened.

Twilight is God's punishment for a sinful world (even if you've never read the book you have to deal with the people who either a) LOVE IT!!!!! or b) object to people loving it). Presumably, 50 Shades of Grey is the devil just fucking with us. Like Job, but crueler. And after reading the synopsis for the latter novel, I've found out you can hate a book you've never read.

Synopsis: a brief or condensed statement giving a general view of some subject. Regarding novels, equal parts sales pitch and summary. It has to make you want the book, by providing enough information to be useful, yet still intrigue the reader. A few examples: 

Harry Potter: Wizard kid fights magic Hitler.

Watership Down: dire prophecy drives rabbits to find a new warren, where they fight Rabbit Hitler.

The Lord of the Rings: Unusual heroes quest to destroy Satan-Hitler's source of power. 

With that in mind, let's review 50 Shades's solely by its synopsis.

"Romantic, liberating and totally addictive, Fifty Shades of Grey is a novel that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you for ever."

Ballsy claims, but hey, go big or go home.

"When literature student Anastasia Steele interviews successful entrepreneur Christian Grey, she finds him very attractive and deeply intimidating" 

Aaand I'm already angry. Aside from the retardedly vague "successful entrepreneur" bit, the second part of the sentence breaks the one rule you shouldn't - show, don't tell. It's strange that this line made it past the editors and into the synopsis, because it makes the novel sound like shitty fanfic- oh. Anyway, it wouldn't surprise me if the first lines of the book were "Christian Grey sat across from Anastasia, and she felt a deep attraction to him, yet also intimidated." Because fuck description, right?

"Convinced that their meeting went badly, she tries to put him out of her mind – until he turns up at the store where she works part-time, and invites her out.

Unworldly and innocent, Ana is shocked to find she wants this man. And, when he warns her to keep her distance, it only makes her want him more."

Plot problems. Plot problems in the goddam synopsis. Grey looks her up, asks her out, then tells her to fuck off? What? Has stupid bullshit gone airborne? And while all romance novels cater to a select audience, the fanfic vibe is even stronger here. Steele (I can't say her first name again, it kills me), inexplicably interviewing a businessman while being an English major, is convinced the plot's not going to happen. Grey shows up to make it goddam happen, saving our heroine from making a decision. Then he says no, thanks, but coherent storytelling isn't a high priority.  And we're back to the beginning of the book.

"But Grey is tormented by inner demons, and consumed by the need to control. As they embark on a passionate love affair, Ana discovers more about her own desires, as well as the dark secrets Grey keeps hidden away from public view …"

If there is a god, he's not on our side.

Telling rather than showing in that first sentence. Other than that, this would actually work as a synopsis if it stood alone. Unfortunately, it reverses the decisions of the last paragraph, and provides no context for the change. As we already know Grey pushed Steele away, the "passionate love affair" sounds like so much wish-fulfillment, and has as much credibility as a thirteen-year-old hiding a crusty sock. And fuck you, guy, for pulling "Ana" out. No. If her name is going to be as terrible as "Anastasia" you fucking well call her that. Shortening it is for pussies who committed to a retarded name before they thought it through.

And with this handy review, we now conclude that 50 Shades  must be a terrible book, because Jesus, lookit it. If they couldn't keep their shit together for three paragraphs specifically designed to make the book look good, what chance does it have?


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