* If you have been living in a blissfully ignorant bubble for the past few months, are contemplating reading the books, or have not quite finished the trilogy yet; a word of caution. This article may contain some serious spoilers! *
In the past month or so, it has become increasingly apparent that it is more or less impossible to escape the hype surrounding The Fifty Shades trilogy by E. L. James. The first instalment of the series was first published little over a year ago, and has since become the fastest-selling paperback of all time, even outselling the Harry Potter series. The three books in the trilogy are the top three bestselling books in the world, topping book charts globally. So what is so intriguingly important about these books, and how have they become so overwhelmingly popular in such incredibly little time?
If there is one thing which seemingly sets these books a league apart from other popular fiction, it is its dark, twisted, sadomasochist nature. The novels explore the darkest side of sex through the eyes of innocent and relatable young Anastasia Steele, and her explicit adventures with dominating, control-freak business tycoon Christian Grey – who, of course, is heart-breakingly beautiful and unexplainably intrigued by simple young Ana. But aside from the occasional violence and prolific graphic sexual content (which is by no means a new concept) are there any other unique aspects about this book at all? Is exploring sex in this day and age, even that scandalous at all anymore?
The plot and story seem rather basic, with stereotypical (albeit mostly believable) characters. The inescapable fact about the series is how strikingly similar the whole thing is to the Twilight saga. E L James has openly admitted to initially writing the books as a twilight fan-fiction, but defending her works as developing to become an entirely new subject of her own creation, and ultimately completely different and unrelated to Stephanie Meyer’s immensely popular works. But anyone familiar with the Twilight saga and who has subsequently read the Fifty Shades trilogy, and cannot see the overwhelming similarities, is, dare I say, fooling themselves: