Thursday, December 13, 2012

50 Shades Darker- Chapter 1

Trigger Warnings: Sexual harassment, sexual harassment in the workplace, appropriation, domestic violence, borderline stalking, Grey being, well, Grey.

Alright. I've had a month to rest and recover, it is time to sit down and start reading this tripe again. I don't know what my innocent liver has done to deserve it, but apparently something horrible. I want to point out that in the foreword, we get this:

E L James is currently working on the sequel to Fifty Shades Darker and a new romantic thriller with a supernatural twist.


That's right boys and girls. We're being told before we even start "Hey, uh, just so you know, there's AT LEAST one more of these things". Well, thank you for trying to warn me off, book. I appreciate your efforts. Although I do have one question. Why does the book keep calling it's self a "romantic thriller with a supernatural twist"? What about these books is supernatural? Is Grey really a warlock? WAS I RIGHT?! Is BDSM supposed to be witchcraft or something now? So many questions, so few answers...

Also, I had heard that EL James wouldn't allow her work to be edited, but there is a note in the foreword thanking her editor, telling her she rocks. I WILL BE THE JUDGE OF THAT, JAMES!

We left off at the end of part 1 (which was identified as such) with Ana doing the smartest thing she's ever done and RUNNING THE FUCK AWAY from the sociopath that is Grey. She immediately began to angst over it and lament her HORRIBLE CHOICE and wondered why she couldn't just compromise all of her wants and needs to be with him. 50 Shades Deeper Darker starts off with a charming scene of some of the most generic domestic abuse ever. The scene is meant to be from Grey's view, but seriously, so very generic and bland.

He hits Mommy with a belt. Get up! Get up! You are one fucked-up bitch. You are one fucked-up bitch. You are one fucked-up bitch. You are one fucked-up bitch. You are one fucked-up bitch. You are one fucked-up bitch.
Mommy makes a sobbing noise. Stop. Please stop. Mommy doesn’t scream. Mommy curls up small.


And then the faceless villain goes and calls Grey a little shit and we're left to believe that he gets the shit kicked out of him too, but he wakes up from his flash back dream first.  Now, domestic violence is not okay and not something to be taken lightly, and that is half the reason I take issue with the way EL James uses it in her writing. It only exists as angst for our sexy hero. Grey was "rescued" by getting adopted by his wealthy family, I doubt we'll ever find out what his Mother went through, and she's simply been described as a "crack whore" to us. Her abuse has not earned her the right to be humanized, apparently. See? Actual issues here. However since I am a terrible human being, what is really bothering me about this passage is how badly it is written.

We get the kinda creepy first person narrative of a little kid riddled with lots of "Mommy". Our faceless villain wears boots, smokes, and smells like alcohol and just repeats "you are one fucked-up bitch." over and over again. I'm just saying, I think she could do better. This isn't horrific to me. This just looks like something meant for an after school special. The abuser is cartoonish, boots, belt, smokes, and drinks*. There are no other descriptions besides that. The mother doesn't get a face or voice, either. The child watching hardly even gets a voice. I feel there would be a lot more internal terror, or screaming, or more description going into the sobbing maybe? Give me something to work with here.

We then jump to chapter one. Which takes place THREE WHOLE DAYS after Ana and Grey had split. EL James really hates time jumps. Ana tells us about how things have been a haze and she's started hew new job and a special mention to Mr. Jack Hyde, her new boss. Jack Hyde. Why not just name him Jekyll and get it over with? He's described in fairly warm terms, sparkling eyes and such, and we're treated to a super short bit of dialog between the two of them.

“Excellent work, Ana. I think we’re going to make a great team.”
Somehow, I manage to curl my lips upward in a semblance of a smile.
“I’ll be off, if that’s okay with you,” I murmur.
“Of course, it’s five thirty. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Goodnight, Jack.”
“Goodnight, Ana.”


That's it. He creeps on her a little bit, leaning on her desk, and Ana gives wooden and hollow responses. However he's still into it because... she has nice tits? I guess? I am a big fan of "show, don't tell" and "try not to write too much filler" but character establishing isn't filler, it's important. So is setting a scene. I can only gleam as much as I can about Jack because he was painfully obviously named as our next antagonist, and because EVERY MAN in this book wants into Ana's pants. Glad to see getting her first book published didn't go to EL James head and she remained as ham-fisted as ever!

We then get treated to Ana being an angst-zombie, barely human over HOW AWFUL LIFE WITHOUT GREY IS! I just- YOU DATED FOR LESS THAN TWO MONTHS AND LEFT BECAUSE YOU REALIZED IT COULDN'T WORK! Yes, you get to be sad and watch bad movies and eat ice cream and cry, but angst zombie? Really?

Grey, being super respectful of the fact that leaving was obviously painful for Ana, sends her flowers with the following note:

Congratulations on your first day at work.
I hope it went well.
And thank you for the glider. That was very thoughtful.
It has pride of place on my desk.
Christian


The glider, for those of you coming in new, was something Ana had bought for him after their last Big Romantic Date because he brought her gliding, and she booby trapped his apartment by leaving it on his bed after they broke up.  So Ana reads this note, feels like shit, but tells herself he had nothing to do with it, it was all his assistant. What? Why the fuck would his assistant be sending flowers to his ex-girlfriend without getting pretty specific instructions to do so? He OBVIOUSLY had something to do with it. Ana, being the paragon of good judgement, dutifully plops the flowers into a vase where they can sit there and remind her of WHAT SHE HAS LOST OF WOE IS HER!

And so a pattern develops: wake, work, cry, sleep. Well, try to sleep. I can’t even escape him in my dreams. Gray burning eyes, his lost look, his hair burnished and bright all haunt me. And the music . . . so much music—I cannot bear to hear any music. I am careful to avoid it at all costs. Even the jingles in commercials make me shudder.
I have spoken to no one, not even my mother or Ray. I don’t have the capacity for idle talk now. No, I want none of it. I have become my own island state. A ravaged, war-torn land where nothing grows and the horizons are bleak. Yes, that’s me. I can interact impersonally at work, but that’s it. If I talk to Mom, I know I will break even further—and I have nothing left to break.


I think the real reason Ana is avoiding everyone isn't because she can't stand the thought of opening up- but because she knows they will tell her she's being a melodramatic git. Yes, break ups suck, yes, you can be sad, but Ana isn't eating, she isn't sleeping, she is engaging in dangerous and destructive behaviors because she split with a dude she had been seeing for about two months because it wasn't working out. They left on civil and friendly terms! She should be more worried that he keeps contacting her even though she asked him not to. She knows he has stalker tenancies! Augh.

From here we get to jump back to Ana at work, being annoyed at her boss hovering and asking personal questions. I would usually assume these are "trying to get to know you" type questions but we don't see any of them, and I'm sure he's going to turn into a big sexually harassing monster in the near future, so they probably ARE awkward and personal, but EL James doesn't tell us what they are, just tells us that he asks them. THE WRITING IS SO BAD IT BURNS!

Ana then gets an e-mail from Grey offering her a ride To Dartmouth. From Seattle. Four hours (if memory serves). To her friend's art show that she had invited him to when they were still together. Her friend who he refuses to even acknowledge by name he hates his guts so much. THIS SEEMS PERFECTLY REASONABLE! Ana then has a moment to realize that her phone was sent to forward all of her calls and messages to the Blackberry Grey had given her.

...

Why were you paying for two phones rather then changing the number of the blackberry?

Ana cries in the bathroom and the narrative gets kind of confusing, talking about crying herself to sleep and reminding herself that she's at work. She laments over if she can see Grey,  and if she can stand it. Apparently there are no other options for getting between Seattle and Portland? Like maybe a bus, or a train. Because university towns never have those sorts of things to the nearest big city. Naturally she'll accept Grey's offer, but that's because Ana is a big stupid head.

So the book goes on with Ana dwelling on Grey and his Dark Tragic Past TM and her boss being SUPER creepy until finally we're in the car. I'm actually going to pause her to talk about her boss.

Jack keeps saying things like "You're doing such a good job!" and hovering and opening doors and suggesting they should get drinks to "celebrate her awesome first week" how the hell could she be having an awesome first week when she is apparently living on lattes and angst? Any reactions that get described to us are wooden and forced on her part. So, he is being super duper attentive to his new assistant. His young, pretty, new assistant. Maybe he sees shes sort of... down, and just wants to cheer her up, but I'm not going to bite. Consider this the "sexual harassment" part of my rant because seriously, fuck you EL James. I will be SHOCKED if his behavior is treated as anything more than a minor annoyance, and that will confirm to me that EL James has been lucky enough to never been sexually harassed in the workplace herself.

I don't think people should stay away from writing about things they've never experienced first hand. I've yet to torturer a person to death, or have an arm ripped from its socket, but I'll write about those things. I do think, however, when you start getting into things like domestic abuse and sexual harassment in the workplace, you need to consider how you handle it. They're real issues.  Issues many women (and men) have had to deal with. Have been helpless against it because you still need to work and so what if the owner sometimes suggests you should straddle a broom handle and cram it on in there for his amusement**? It pays better than your other options. You normalize it, too, if you're helpless to do anything about it. "It isn't so bad" "they're just kidding around" I'm sure you're all at least on paper familiar with the things a person would tell themselves. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe EL James isn't appropriating real, traumatic issues simply because she wants to make her plot a little more edgy and they'll be treated as real issues, but I will be very, very surprised if she does. Hell, I'll mail the woman a card and a cookie if she handles sexual harassment in the work place like a real issue and not some fantasy land sort of thing that is all magiced away by Grey. [/end tangent]

Ana for reasons I still don't understand gets in the car. Grey is all sexy and good smelling and he immediately starts reaming her on not eating because it looks like she lost 5 pounds, and Ana commented that her dress is looser than before, too. ... IT HAS BEEN 5 DAYS! If she has been eating as little as she says she is, she would have passed out and been hospitalized by now. Assuming she is eating more than that, is 5 pounds in 5 days even possible? Or enough time to have a such a drastic change that your clothes would fit differently and people would be able to tell by looking at you? He then goes on to get growly that her boss waves at her because how DARE she know other men!

“Well? Your last meal?”
“Christian, that really is none of your concern,” I murmur, feeling extraordinarily brave.
“Whatever you do concerns me. Tell me.”
No, it doesn’t. I groan in frustration, rolling my eyes heavenward, and Christian narrows his eyes. And for the first time in a long time, I want to laugh.


Anything she does is a concern to him. Switch shampoos? He wants to know. Paint her toenails blue? How DARE she not send him a text! I get that this is supposed to be part of his appeal. He's super into anything she thinks/does/wants to do. I get the appeal of the fantasy of someone who is interested in anything you might have to say. Sometimes I start talking about writing and The Boy's eyes just sort of glaze over- but despite the fact that sometimes it's frustrating, usually I'm pretty grateful that there are parts of my life that are just mine. He cares because they affect me, but he's pretty content to let me handle it myself unless asked to help. I LIKE having that separate space from him, otherwise it would get boring. He has his shit, I have mine, it keeps us both our own people and breathing room instead of turning into some sort of horrible blob monster. Is the idea of a guy who wants to know EVERYTHING YOU DO INCLUDING WHAT YOU ATE really that appealing to other women?

Now, to touch on the other problematic part here. The eye rolling. In the last book Ana got her first spanking, an experience that read as really rape-ish and uncomfortable to me, over eye rolling. It turned into an ongoing issue, she wasn't allowed to be exasperated ever. Or at least she wasn't allowed to show she was exasperated ever. That is why it is driving them both to giggles because IT'S SO FUNNY THAT HE HIT HER OVER ROLLING HER EYES!

“Ana, please. We need to talk.”
I’m going to cry. No. “Christian, I . . . please . . . I’ve cried so much,” I whisper, trying to keep my emotions in check
“Oh, baby, no.” He tugs my hand, and before I know it I’m on his lap. He has his arms around me, and his nose is in my hair. “I’ve missed you so much, Anastasia,” he breathes.
I want to struggle out of his hold, to maintain some distance, but his arms are wrapped around me. He’s pressing me to his chest. I melt. Oh, this is where I want to be.


BOUNDARIES MAN! BOUNDARIES! This is not an okay way to handle your ex. He doesn't hug her, he doesn't go for an arm around the shoulders or something more... subdued. He pulls her into his lap. And holds her there with enough force that she doesn't think it's worth it to even try and escape. He knows he just has to wait and his black magic glamor*** will kick in and she'll be a puddle in his crotch.

...

That sounded way better in my head.

And, uh, they seem to be back together now? He's holding her hand like it ain't no thang as they go up to the helicopter because duh. In the elevator to said helicopter, the boners start.

He glances down at me, gray eyes alive, and it’s there in the air between us, that electricity. It’s palpable. I can almost taste it, pulsing between us, drawing us together.
“Oh my,” I gasp as I bask briefly in the intensity of this visceral, primal attraction.
“I feel it, too,” he says, his eyes clouded and


 What. If I was just standing in an elevator with some chick I wanted to bone and she let out a twitterpated "Oh my!" out of fucking nowhere my response, even if I was full on lady-bonering right back at her, wouldn't be "Hellz yeah I feel this too" it would be "What the hell did you just see? Is there a monster in the elevator? Damn it. I thought I had that skink infestation taken care of!". What I'm trying to say if I'm bad at being sexy. So they get out of the elevator and Grey is still being super snuggly with Ana and she isn't stopping him. As they get into the helicopter and start to head out, he gleefully points things out. Such as the Space Needle.

“I’ll take you—we can eat there.”
What? “Christian, we broke up.”
“I know. I can still take you there and feed you.” He glares at me.


Three lines, and so much to unpack. Grey is clearly not processing that they split, or sees it as a temporary thing even though Ana was pretty clear when she left. He still sends her flowers, e-mails her, takes her for helicopter rides, and at no point stop and thinks what she might want. He thinks that Ana didn't mean it and still wants him. He, unfortunately, isn't wrong, but it shows a very blatant disrespect for her choices, boundaries, and wants. Ana has been so stunned and so swept up in this that she hasn't been able to remind him that they are not together until he starts to blatantly pretend their not. When she tried to reassert her boundaries, what's his response? To be snippy, ignore them, and glare. SO DREAMY YOU GUYS!

“What’s your boss like?”
“Oh, he’s okay.” How can I tell Christian that Jack makes me uncomfortable? Christian turns and gazes at me.


Okay, so bets on the whole "Ana's boss is going to be sexually harassing her" thing being resolved in a way that involves Grey financially ruining him?


“Good thing for you this is only three floors, in those heels,” he mutters to me in disapproval.
No kidding.
“Don’t you like the boots?”
“I like them very much, Anastasia.” His gaze darkens and I think he might say something else, but he stops. “Come. We’ll take it slow. I don’t want you falling and breaking your neck.”


Because Ana can't take seven steps without falling over. Actually, that isn't true. Ana is based on Bella Swan, from the Twilight series, who actually can't take seven steps without risking horrible injury. It's meant to make her cute and give lots of strong beefy men an excuse to heave her around. Ana has in text managed to hurt herself... I think once? There's a lot of talk about how she's sooo clumsy but it's really starting to feel like an informed trait here. Which makes it all the more annoying that she apparently can't be trusted to walk down a few flights of stairs in a pair of heels. I am a klutz. The fact that I work in kitchens and haven't died is miraculous. I am constantly covered in cuts and bruises, and I can still walk in heels just fine. Is expecting characters to be consistent and realistic enough that I can suspend my disbelief really so much to ask?


So Ana and Grey are in the car and there is some awkward "I MISS YOU AND WANT YOU BACK BUT WE DON'T HAVE TIME TO TALK ABOUT THIS NOW SO WE'LL TALK ABOUT IT ON THE WAY BACK OH AND EAT SOMETHING YOU RAKE." from Grey.

“Good evening and welcome to José Rodriguez’s show.” A young woman dressed in black with very short brown hair, bright red lipstick, and large hooped earrings greets us. She glances briefly at me, then much longer than is strictly necessary at Christian, then turns back to me, blinking as she blushes.
My brow creases. He’s mine—or was. I try hard not to scowl at her. As her eyes regain their focus, she blinks again.


"HE'S MINE I TELL YOU! MINE! EXCEPT THAT I'M TRYING TO GET RID OF HIM SO MAYBE YOU COULD DO ME A SOLID AND MAKE OUT TO CONFIRM THAT THIS IS A BAD MOVE ON MY PART?"


The woman in question somehow knows Ana by name- I'll assume there's a portrait of her up at the gallery somewhere, and Grey is shuffled off so Ana and Jose can have a scene where he's in a suit and Ana gets teary because HE'S HER ONLY FRIEND YOU GUYS! Well, while Kate is gone. Her only friend who she's made no effort to contact for over a week at least. He gives her a bear hug and we get this.

“Hey are you okay? You look, well, odd. Dios mio, have you lost weight?”

 Honestly, is he wearing a sombrero, too? Has Ana over FIVE DAYS really managed to loose that much weight? I get that she was skeletal before but seriously how is this even possible?

“Christian brought me,” I say, suddenly apprehensive.
“Oh.” José’s face falls and he releases me. “Where is he?” His expression darkens.
“Over there, fetching drinks.” I nod in Christian’s direction and see he’s exchanging pleasantries with someone waiting in line. Christian glances up when I look his way and our eyes lock. And in that brief moment, I’m paralyzed, staring at the impossibly handsome man who gazes at me with some unfathomable emotion. His gaze hot, burning into me, and we’re lost for a moment staring at each other.


Well aren't they just SO DESTINED to be together? Just gawking at each other like a pair of turkeys. Ana then has a moment of "OH MY GOSH HE WANTS ME! THIS PERFECT MAN WANTS ME! STILL!" and I think I just face palmed so hard I gave myself a black eye. Jose tries to give Ana a warning about something (the inevitable portrait) but is dragged off for an interview or something of the sort. Ana at this point starts to actually look at the photographs around her. Mostly landscapes, which is his thing and was mentioned before. They're apparently pretty good?

So the random photographer spots the SUPER FAMOUS AND ENIGMATIC Grey and asks for a picture. Grey agrees and drags Ana into it- this is a big deal because he has now twice been photographed with her for some press thing, and when Ana internet stalked him before there were no pictures of him with women. We then- ugh. I'm just going to throw it up here, it hurts too much to try and paraphrase.

"...No, I don’t do dates, Anastasia—only with you. But you know that.” His eyes burn with sincerity.
“So you never took your”—I glance around nervously to check no one can overhear us—“subs out?”
“Sometimes. Not on dates. Shopping, you know.” He shrugs, his eyes not leaving mine.
Oh, so just in the playroom—his Red Room of Pain and his apartment. I don’t know what to feel about that.
“Just you, Anastasia,” he whispers.



BECAUSE ANASTASIA ROSE STEELE IS THE MOST SPECIAL AND UNIQUE SNOWFLAKE TO EVER GET STUCK UP SOMEONES NOSE! GRLEHIAH. Again, I get the fantasy here, powerful, sexy man who gives a shit about what you had for breakfast is treating you special and differently because he thinks you're special and different. Not like those Other Women who will fawn over him at every opportunity, no, you're a real person. My issue comes with the hamfisting presentation of it. Show, don't tell. Isn't that the first rule of writing?

So Ana finds the portraits of herself.

We turn the corner, and I can see why I’ve been getting strange looks. Hanging on the far wall are seven huge portraits—of me.
I stare blankly at them, stupefied, the blood draining from my face. Me: pouting, laughing, scowling, serious, amused. All in super close up, all in black and white.
Holy crap! I remember José messing with the camera on a couple of occasions when he was visiting and when I’d been out with him as driver and photographer’s assistant. He took snapshots, or so I thought. Not these invasive candids.


So, I get that he was about to warn her about this before getting dragged off but shouldn't he have asked if it was okay to use pictures of her first? I can't imagine Ana would have agreed to it. She didn't even realize he was taking the pictures. I'm not sure if this is supposed to be an "ART!" sort of thing or "invasive, creepy, and way too personal" sort of thing. Discuss in the comments. Grey naturally starts to get mad that another man has noticed his perfect special snowflake (though really, Jose was on the scene first and had noticed her before Grey came into the picture, so it's more that he wasn't the first to notice his super duper special unicorn of a girlfriend).

“Did you just buy one of these?”
“One of these?” he snorts, not taking his eyes off them.
“You bought more than one?”
He rolls his eyes. “I bought them all, Anastasia. I don’t want some stranger ogling you in the privacy of their home.”



I didn't think I need to bust the pineapple out this soon. I hope she throws her wine on the portraits, sets them on fire, and skips out merrily to go bone Jose for hours on end. I don't even like Jose as a character, he basically tries to date-rape Ana in the first book, but it would piss off Grey and therefore I support it. And then the banter starts. The "OH WE'RE SO CUTE AND WITTY LOLOLOL" banter that has plagued the last book. Heavy with "I want you to slickle my peeny with your smart mouth"**** subtext. JUST STICK IT IN HER BUTT ALREADY!

“You look very relaxed in these photographs, Anastasia. I don’t see you like that very often.”
What? Whoa! Change of subject—talk about non sequitur—from playful to serious.
I flush and glance down at my fingers. He tilts my head back, and I inhale sharply at the contact with his long fingers.
“I want you that relaxed with me,” he whispers. All trace of humor has gone.
Deep inside me that joy stirs again. But how can this be? We have issues.
“You have to stop intimidating me if you want that,” I snap.
“You have to learn to communicate and tell me how you feel,” he snaps back, eyes blazing.


YES IT IS HER FAULT FOR NOT COMMUNICATING NOT YOU DELIBERATELY INTIMIDATING HER AND POLICING HER THOUGHTS MOODS AND ACTIONS!

Ana's magical appearing and disappearing backbone decides it's time to make an appearance at this point.

“Christian, you wanted me as a submissive. That’s where the problem lies. It’s in the definition of a submissive—you e-mailed it to me once.” I pause, trying to recall the wording. “I think the synonyms were, and I quote, ‘compliant, pliant, amenable, passive, tractable, resigned, patient, docile, tame, subdued.’ I wasn’t supposed to look at you. Not talk to you unless you gave me permission to do so. What do you expect?” I hiss at him.
He blinks, and his frown deepens as I continue.
“It’s very confusing being with you. You don’t want me to defy you, but then you like my ‘smart mouth.’ You want obedience, except when you don’t, so you can punish me. I just don’t know which way is up when I’m with you.”


If this was how Ana usually acted, I would adore her character. Here she's articulate, concise, and stands up for herself all while telling Grey off for being a d-bag, and she does so without resorting to screaming of]r name calling. Can I get a fuck and yes? I think this is how EL James sees Ana, but this is not the Ana we see normally. Only when the plot demands it. It's sort of like her Ultimate Form. Grey agrees that she made a good point and then, since he has lost control of the conversation, gets awful again.

“Come, let’s go eat.”
“We’ve only been here for half an hour.”
“You’ve seen the photos; you’ve spoken to the boy.”
“His name is José.”
“You’ve spoken to José—the man who, the last time I met him, was trying to push his tongue into your reluctant mouth while you were drunk and ill,” he snarls.
“He’s never hit me,” I spit at him.
Christian scowls at me, fury emanating from every pore. “That’s a low blow, Anastasia,” he whispers menacingly.


AND POINTING OUT HOW ONE OF HER BEST FRIENDS TRIED TO MAKE OUT WITH HER ISN'T?! A half hour for one of her best friends openings. Grey had been invited by Ana initially, and it asked to bring her all on his own. Now he's dictating it's time to leave because she stood up for herself and he wants to assert his power. He brought her there, he gets to decide when they leave. Now, I do think he has a point in his reasoning for disliking Jose, however it's Ana's choice, and he should respect that she and Jose talked about it and worked it out. He's allowed to still dislike him, and frankly should, I still do, but he should learn to reign that shit in. If I believed for a second the reason he disliked Jose was because of the fact that he practically tried to molest Ana, I'd be more on side, but I think it's that Jose has feelings for Ana, and that is Unacceptable to Grey.

Ana has flown hours to go and see her friend and his opening, and wanted to be there badly enough to accept the ride from her ex she was still torn up over. This means nothing to him, and she tries again.

“Please, can we stay longer?”
“No. Go. Now. Say good-bye.”


What a dream boat, amIrite ladies?

So Ana goes over to say bye to Jose, who notices that she seems PISSED and she tries to downplay it. He accepts this and is all affectionate bear hugs and spinning. Grey is having NONE OF THAT and stalks over to stake his claim on Ana as HIS even though they're not together.

He looks quickly up and down the street then heads left and suddenly sweeps me into a side alley, abruptly pushing me up against a wall. He grabs my face between his hands, forcing me to look up into his ardent determined eyes.
I gasp, and his mouth swoops down. He’s kissing me, violently. Briefly our teeth clash, then his tongue is in my mouth.


Alright, so, I'm not the only one who thinks this is TERRIFYING right? He just dragged her into a dark alleyway and is violently ramming his tongue in her mouth. Ana isn't given a chance to consent, or to protest. Now, naturally, she wants it because Grey is a fucking warlock and that's part of his magic, but this is an insipid thing to sell as part of a fantasy. A man so jealous that he's moved to violence is supposed to be a good thing? And lets be honest, this is violence. He's grabs Ana, unaware, and pulls her into a dark alleyway so he can have his way with her despite the fact that she's been vocal about being upset with him and confused and not dating him. It's one thing for your boyfriend to decide it is spontaneous sketchy alleyway sex time, it is another for your ex to.

So they make out, naturally, and it's a super intense emotional make out that leaves them both winded. Kay, show of hands, who has ever actually been left panting just from making out?

“You. Are. Mine,” he snarls, emphasizing each word. He pushes away from me and bends, hands on his knees as if he’s run a marathon. “For the love of God, Ana.”

You. Don't. Own. People. And she's your ex. She has decided that is actually not the truth at all! See? Terrifying stalker.

His tactics have worked, though, and Ana, blinded by her lady-boner, apologizes. See what I mean about the vanishing back bone?

“I’m sorry,” I whisper once my breath has returned.
“You should be. I know what you were doing. Do you want the photographer, Anastasia? He obviously has feelings for you.”


So not only is it not enough that he has made Ana apologize for having a dude friend who hugs her, he now has to guilt her over it. How dare Ana not anticipate the needs and feelings of every other man and just lead him on like that! How dare she! It isn't like she has explicitly told Jose that she only sees him as a friend or anything! Clearly any touching means you want his dick!


This is all wrapped up with a charming declaration from Grey that he's usually so STOIC AND IN CONTROL and with Ana he just fucking looses it! It is her fault that he's being such a wanker! Shouldn't that be a reason to stay the fuck away? Just saying, if someone made me loose my head, and broke up with me, I'd take that as a sign to get my shit back under control and move on, not pursue them harder. Then they're off to eat.

And that's the end of chapter 1! I'm torn on how I feel about this one. On one hand, I was expecting the first few chapters to be slow and draggy since Ana would just be sitting in a corner in a catatonic state. Maybe there could have been a time jump, I sort of expected that, too. Instead we get dropped right back where we left off, treated to an over dose of angst followed up with Grey being absolutely terrifying. I just- what the fuck? WHY is this popular? Why do women looove him? He's terrifying!

Well, that's all from me until next week. I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions in the comments, as comments encourage me to keep reading this God awful book!

*Not that there is anything wrong with wearing boots, smoking, or drinking.
**True story, happened to me. Not the worst thing he did. His brother-in-law was worse than he was on top of that.
***For new readers, this isn't in text explicitly, but it's the only way I can make any fucking sense of people's reactions to him.
**** Over eager high-fives to anyone who gets that reference. 

13 comments:

  1. D:

    There is so much wrong with this book! SO MUCH!

    I'm not sure the damned books aren't somehow magic. I just don't know how anyone can read them and be all "It's soooo romantic." and not "EUAGH!"

    I mean, I get that different things turn different people on - and that's fine. But it really seems like the people who like the books are reading something completely different.

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  2. "Angst-zombie" is my new favorite phrase. Sure, people feel crappy after a breakup, but this totally reeks of "Remember, girl-children, your sense of purpose and identity must always be attached to a penis-carrier."
    And I thought of your blog when I had to copyedit this brainless girl's review article on FSOG for our college's student-run news website. If FSOG makes me lose faith in humanity, seeing an actual person's raptures over it is ten times worse. Then again, I find myself in continual astonishment at how much of a dumbass she is, and FSOG can't take credit for all of that.

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  3. CN: eating and weight issues

    Assuming she is eating more than that, is 5 pounds in 5 days even possible?

    Yes. Happened to me a couple months ago when I had one of those lingering stomach bugs and could hardly eat anything.

    Or enough time to have a such a drastic change that your clothes would fit differently and people would be able to tell by looking at you?

    After ten pounds (and eleven days)*, the pair of pants that had a loose waist when I bought them and had since grown into were loose again. (The others fit the same.) I don't think I looked obviously different.

    *I decided if I lost 10% of my pre-illness weight I'd call the doctor, but it never quite got that bad. (It was still pretty worrying.)

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  4. Oh, Christian Grey, how our collective livers have missed you. And by "missed you", we mean "are now crying out in massed voice about the alcohol we will need to get through this book". It's certainly nice to know that the intervening time hadn't changed Christian at all, and that Ana is still unable to manifest anything resembling getting protection from her stalker with gigantic boundary issues.

    Also, is it me, or have all the men up to this point been singularly awful about boundaries, respect, permission, and all the things that actually make a good relationship? Grey is a stalker, Hyde (Worst. Foreshadowing. Ever.) is a lech and the boss, and Jose is profiting off of pictures of indeterminate intimacy of Ana by exhibiting and selling them. After he tried to date-rape her in the first book. Eliot isn't looking out for anyone, and Ray is remarkably clueless about everything, or approves of Grey (because black magic). If this is supposed to be a het fantasy romance...there isn't anyone here that qualifies as either a fantasy or a romance. Aigh!

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  5. I love your way of reading the book! Please don't stop :)

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  6. Am I the only one who thinks it's a tad contrived that Ana manages to recall every single synonym verbatim? Also, for all the ladies on my Facebook who say how much they LURVE GREY... I seriously want to hurt them. No, for realz. And then I want them to explain to me why they didn't LUUUUUURVE every minute of it. Psychology aside (cuz I could go on for hours about trust issues, evolution of sex, etc), Grey. Is. Not. Sexy. He's not that "dick to everyone except his lover," cuz he's a fucking dick to her too! And these women who are all Oh Em Gee about him taking such a radically violent interest in what/when she eats and who she talks to-- these same women bitch that their husband DARED to ask if they ate the last of the popcorn. I remain steadfastedly confident that if their significant others did anything close to some of Grey's shenanigans that the police would be called for domestic dispute.
    Can someone who adores Grey please give me a sincere breakdown of WHY. Just WHY. I'm into BDSM. I understand how guilty fantasies work. I'm curious why this god-awful abusive literary character is experiencing such a following while the videos online are still called sick twisted misogynistic porn.

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    1. The closest thing I got to an answer to why someone would like Grey was "I don't. He's an ass, I would never be in a relationship with him- but I'd date him for fun. He's rich, articulate about what he wants in bed, apparently the prettiest man ever, and super fucking ripped. He can fuck you any way you want to be fucked and then take you out shopping and to some fancy restaurant and the opera." So, they like what he offers, even though they themselves think he's an ass. That said, the woman who said that to me doesn't have the same stance as many who gush over him.

      I have to fight the urge to just link to my own blog now anytime someone on Facebook gushes about how woooonderful Grey is. The BDSM community gets a terrible rap, and it really frustrates me that a book that's trying to celebrate it is still treating it like it's dirty and gross.

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  7. Gah...I've kind of read most of your posts on the first book AND NOW I CAN'T STOP...Darn you...funny blogger! ahhahaah! Checked out "La Blue" yet? ;) Thanks for this. I find myself laughing so hard at the unintentionally funny sex scenes and your even funnier comments. And also...you know what's sad? That the books are actually bestsellers and James is actually laughing as well...ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK. Sigh.

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  8. Doesn't she go to UW in Vancouver? Dartmouth is on the east coast right?

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  9. Oh my god girl, you crack me the fuck up!
    Once I finished reading your recaps of the first book (which, I'm sorry to have to tell you, has made me start reading it too), and then I went and read the whole "Mark Reads Twilight" series on
    buzznet (which was awesome), and now I'm back! Mark was great and all, but I missed you and your hilarious commentary! I've been super irritable lately with all the overt sexism, racism, classism, etc. that fuels these tweenie
    bopper/young adult, fanfic-esque, horribly written/edited books that I didn't even realize how much I missed cackling hysterically at your reviews!
    Thank you SO much for doing all three of these books, I have enjoyed them immensely!

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  10. I think the main reason why most women obsess over Christian Grey is because he's a fragment of their fantasies. There's no escaping it. Some women wants to be showered with love and attention, and this Grey guy is giving them just that.

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  11. I can't walk in heels, but that's because I've torn ligaments in both ankles, fully broken one ankle bone and chipped the other. That was years ago, but I've had enough injuries to make my ankles structurally unstable. I could walk in heels before that.


    I've known a ton of people who are ESL speakers, including my husband. None of them ever drop non-English words into conversation with people who don't speak the language, especially for common words and phrases like "Oh God". Jose is written to be such an insulting stereotype.

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