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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Is it Ethical?

As many of you out there I kept hearing about 50 Shades of Gray, and how great it was. I knew the basics, it was based off of Twilight (fanfiction) and that it was very much a erotic novel. So I gave it a try thinking it would be a mindless but good read.


Unfortunately, the author really disappointed me with her lack of originality when it came to her plot and characters. I posted a link on my Facebook from a blog I came across that spoke about the ethical issue of turning a fanfiction into a for-profit book.

After receiving a few comments from friends, it seemed that I had to explain why I disliked the story and the book. So I wanted to share it here with you and see what your thoughts are.

I don't like the fact that the story (plot and characters) are literally stolen from another author.
The books (50 Shades of Grey) started out as fanfiction for Twilight. The names originally used were Edward/Bella and so on. When the author decided she wanted to publish a book because she got such a great following on fanfiction (20k+ comments) she took the original story off the internet and only changed the names of the characters.

It's fine if she wanted to leave it as fanfiction, and I applaud her for getting so many followers. However, when she went to publish the story, she should have changed a great deal so that those of us who have read Twilight don't make the obvious connections.

Here are a few examples:

  • Both Edward and Christian were adopted by wealthy and loving families
  • Edward/Christian have a deep dark secret that makes them dangerous towards Bella/Ana
  • Edward and Christian have stalker tendencies and are domineering
  • Edward/Christian are both very handsome with reddish hair and a great physic
  • Edward/Christian like to give extravagant and expensive gifts
  • Edward/Christian both play the piano, and it’s always sad classical music
  • Christian has two siblings Mia and Elliot who are just like Emmet and Alice. Mia is a happy and energetic fashion lover and Elliot is the frat boy always up for anything.
  • In both books the couple are initially attracted to each other, the hero tries to stay away but the heroine wants the relationship anyways. They end up breaking up because one of them believes that they are in danger. (this is the end of book 1).
  • Both stories are set in the state of Washington.
  • There is another male who is good friend with the heroine (Jose/Jacob). Ana/Bella thinks of him as a brother while he wants a relationship with Ana/Bella.
  • Ana is Bella. She talks like her, she acts like her, she says things that Bella would say, she is clumsy and uncoordinated, beautiful but doesn’t see it.
  • Bella/Ana have an eccentric mother who lives away from them with a different husband. Bella/Ana live with their father/stepfather whom they love dearly
  • Charlie/Ray (fathers) love to fish and watch sporting games. Charlie is a cop while Ray is ex-military.

I’m sure I’d find many more similarities if I went through the book with a fine toothed comb.

That being said. I don't have a problem with the book having sold a million copies and the author making money. This is not the first book or the last that will catch on with a given group and sell like wildfire.

However, the above is my honest opinion. I have a hard time not finishing books, so I finished the first one but wont be reading the second or the third.

This is by no means great literature, and I did not go into reading it thinking it would be the next Wuthering Heights. What I didn't expect was to find a copy of Twilight with a bit more adult thrown in. If it wasn't for the fact that the plot and characters are someone else's, I'd gladly read the next books and support the author.

To add on to my comment. I have an issue with the fact that the author tried to use Tess of the D’Urbervilles as the classical book that Ana loves (Bella loved Wuthering Heights) and fails miserably and making it tie into the story. She just throws it out there to make herself seem smart. Yet, it’s just something else she stole from S. Mayor and Twilight. At least Mayor was able to incorporate the classic better into the story.

Please let me know what your thoughts are on this. I will not be offended if you do not agree with me or have other thoughts.

Again, I am not annoyed that the book is an erotic novel, in fact that’s part of the reason I wanted to read it. I’m annoyed that there is no originality to the story. It’s just Bella and Edward in human form.


  1. This is really interesting! Having never read Twilight, I didn't realize how similar they were! I haven't read 50 Shades yet either...and I don't think I'm going to. While I know a lot of people loved the books, I've heard so many reviews that they're terrible as well. At first I was intrigued to see what all the fuss was about, but now that I kind of now what all the fuss is about I don't really care to actually read them...I feel like there are so many really good books out there as well as classics that I haven't read that I don't want to waste my time on something that's not worth it just because it's the hot thing.

    1. I really wanted to see what it was about and make up my own mind. I do agree thought, there are so many other good books out there, that really it's a waste of time. Granted it's pretty brainless so I finished it in a day and a half. Not a hard read with lots to think about. In fact there isn't really much to think about. :-/

  2. Great review, Zara! You found the examples that I had no interest in finding but wanted someone else to find, haha. I knew some of them from the little I had read, but not all. I'm starting to get over the popularity aspect to it, because I know it's going to come and go from the bestseller list as time goes on. I think the hype is going to last for a while considering they are making movies (still don't know why), but once those are over I'm sure everything will calm down. I think the same will happen with Twilight after the last movie is done in theaters, but time will tell. The only problem that remains now is my lack of appreciation for someone taking someone else's work and making it their own. That's fine in a fanfiction world, but not for profit. I almost feel sorry for Stephenie Meyer. Almost. :P

    1. Ha! Jenna, I know you've been waiting to hear this from me! I do feel sorry for Meyer since her story was just ripped off and someone else made a ton of money from it. If I were her, I'd start legal action against it.

      James did no work on this book. She took all the hard parts (character development and plot) from Meyer, changed the sitting slightly and BOOM made 7 figures in advances.

      I do agree that the hype of Twilight will dye down as well once the last movie is out. However, it will forever be ranked much higher in my book then 50 Shades just for the originality of the story.

  3. I kept hearing how these books were started as Twilight fan fiction, but not having read them, and never will, I didn't get it at all. Thanks for explaining it. As far as your question of whether it's ethical... I don't know. On the one hand, I agree that it's kind of shitty to take someone else's story and characters and twist them a teeny bit to make it a "new" story, but then that's how SO many movies and books, and TV shows are made. Flinstones was a twist on the Honeymooners, TONS of sitcoms are based on I Love Lucy, West Side Story is based on Romeo and Juliet. Again, having not read this series of books, I can't judge how close it is to Twilight to make any real judgement. Ethical or not, I won't be reading these books. They sound like trash, and I can't tolerate poorly written books. I had a hard enough time reading the Hunger Games series, I have no interest in this series whatsoever.

  4. I don't know if I have a prob with fanfiction, as she was inspired and is free to do with it what she likes (Especially since there aren't any original ideas out there anymore. Even twilight pulls from every other vampire story out there.) I do have a problem with the HORRIBLE writing. I have never even been tempted to read them, which has been made worse by the excerpts I have seen floating around the internet. Smut novels are written better! I would probably burn it before I got to the end.

    1. I totally agree that there is nothing that is truly original, however taking an idea and making it their own is different from stealing the characters and plot outright. I have no problem with FanFiction as the authors there give the original creator of the story credit, and state that only the plot is their own. However, James took her FanFiction and turned it into a book by only changing the names on the characters which I think is pathetic.

      Anywho, you would end up burning the book. It's pretty bad. Very much written in a form of a fanfic not an actually published book.


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