Tuesday, January 21, 2014

50 Shades Shadier: Chapter 3 part 2

Christian picks up Ana at the bar near her workplace and then they go to her condo and then they buy groceries.

As you will understand, thanks to the lateness of this post. I'm not sure that I can manage this twice a week schedule. I like the idea of covering a chapter a week, if only because that gets us to the end faster, but if I'm to maintain this level of rigor, I might have to slow down. The chapters in Shadier are longer than those of 50 Shades and also, you haven't really been talking up this blog with your friends in publishing, and as a result, I still have some day jobs that I must attend. Hence the lack of a Friday post last week. (Editor's note: also the Tuesday post was completed with more haste than we usually prefer, too.) 

Nothing to do but struggle on, though! Well, that or quit, which would be sensible. But we have never been accused of being sensible! So, we carry on. We will have, I expect, one post again this week, but may find ourselves able to return to a faster schedule as time goes on. I should mention, though, that the presence or absence of Friday posts does little to affect my overall tally of clicks for the week. In case you are wondering, my average is something like fifty, though I do have exceptional days which can vary widely in either direction. Also, I should definitely mention that mostly what I get are "false positives" from spam robots. If anyone is smarter than I am and knows how to remove these spam robots from my blogger statistics, I would appreciate the advice. I hate logging in, seeing that I got a bunch of new reads, and then seeing that they were, in fact, all spam robots. Boo.

Our story thus far:

Ana is a naive college student who dated a billionaire for a couple weeks but broke things off with him because he spanked her too hard.
  1. Ana starts her new job at a publishing company and agrees to let Christian give her a ride to José’s art show. It turns out they both miss each other or whatever.
  2. Ana and Christian eat steaks at a restaurant. They rekindle their “romance” and Christian says that they won’t have to have rules anymore and he won’t punish Ana. They drive back to Seattle and Christian gives Ana back the expensive gifts that she'd returned to him when they broke up, along with a new iPad.
  3. Ana goes to work. She is confronted by one of Christian's ex lovers on her way out for drinks with her coworkers.
Let's see how Ana is doing at the bar, shall we?

Jack is at the bar with Elizabeth, Courtney the other commissioning editor, two guys from finance, and Claire from reception. She is wearing her trademark silver hooped earrings.

Pretty sure that "Courtney the other commissioning editor" doesn't work as a list in this series, but whatever. Courtney is not anybody we've ever heard of before. Hope we don't have to learn too much about her! I hate learning about other characters. I just wanna see Ana and Christian exchange emails! #JustKidding. Also, Claire is wearing her "trademark silver hooped earrings" because I guess EL thinks that this will remind us that Claire is black? Also I just realized that when I think of the name "Claire" on particular "Claire" comes to mind, and I'm just going to assume that EL is super lazy and also doesn't know any black people and was like, "Wait, so what are black women named? Oh, right! Claire!"

Really, EL? Really?
We noted last week that Ana is immediately handed a Bud and that this is ridiculous. There is no excuse for this. None! The only thing that would maybe kind of sort of maybe make a little bit of sense would be if say, the crew all had a pitcher going, right? You join a group, and they've got a pitcher, and there's more beer in it, and they pour you one. That works! But they don't. And we don't see Jack ordering Ana a beer. He just sort of had one in reserve for her, because somehow that makes sense to EL, I guess.

I am bringing this up again because it seriously might be the least-believable thing in the entire novel. I can kind of justify the weird ways in which EL misunderstands America because she's like, you know, not American? But c'mon. Is this a thing that is happening in England? No, of course not. England is a civilized country or whatever.

And c'mon. It's a bar! Get a pint, right? Since that tastes better? Drinking bottles of beer at a bar is just weird, except for if you're at one of those weird bars that don't have taps, and I'm pretty sure that is against the law in Seattle.

Also, Ana says that all these people are "at the bar." Do you think that means that they're like, sitting in a long, weird line, all side by side at the actual "bar"? Like in stools or whatever? Maybe! Silly.

In no time Ana is thinking about CG and how jelly he's going to be about the fact that Kate's brother Ethan is going to be staying in her apartment with her.

But then, Jack Hyde starts being weird so Ana has to concentrate on how weird he's being.

"Ana, think you made the right decision coming here?" Jack's voice is soft, and he's standing a bit too close. But I've noticed that he has a tendency to do this with everyone, even at the office. My subconscious narrows her eyes. You're reading too much into this, she admonishes me.

"I've enjoyed myself this week, thank you, Jack. Yes, I think I made the right decision."

"You're a very bright girl, Ana. You'll go far."

I blush. "Thank you," I mutter, because I don't know what else to say.

"Do you live far?"

"The Pike Market district."

"Not far from me." Smiling, he moves even closer and leans against the bar, effectively trapping me. "Do you have any plans this weekend?"

There are a few fun things going on here, if you'll allow me to misuse the word "fun." 

So what's the deal with Ana's subconscious? Now her subconscious is hassling Ana for being worried about Jack? Subconscious is the only one who ever expresses anything close to the appropriate level of concern about CG, so why's she getting things all wrong now?

Now we know that they are, indeed, sitting at the bar. Not just hanging out at a couple tables like regular people in a largish group would tend to. And I get that Jack is being weird and close and creepy, because he is. He's being weird and close and creepy. But last book? When CG literally kidnapped Ana? She was like, "Oh, I feel so safe!" or whatever. "He's my knight in shining armor or whatever!" And now, this dude stands too close to her, and Ana is all, "OMG trapped!" So I'm not saying that Ana is reacting inappropriately to Jack. I think she's being quite reasonable here, despite the bad advice from subconscious. What I don't get is this: where were these good instincts during the first book? Would've saved Ana a lot of trouble!

Lucky for Ana, CG shows up! That's weird, right? The idea that Ana could somehow feel safer with this guy around? Oh well! She does! Happy to see him, too: 

I feel him before I see him. It's as if my whole body is highly attuned to his presence.

It relaxes and ignites at the same time - a weird, internal duality - and I sense that strange pulsing electricity.

Any idea what Ana is feeling here? Me neither. At least she's not doing that usual thing where she talks about her intestines unfurling or whatever. I forget what she usually says when she's horny, but it suggests that she feels sexual arousal exclusively in her digestive tract. 

I can't help but feel relieved, safe, and excited with his arm around me. He draws me to his side, and I glance up at him while he stares at Jack, his expression impassive. Turning his attention to me, he gives me a brief crooked smile followed by a swift kiss. He's wearing his navy pinstriped jacket over jeans and an open white shirt. He looks edible.

Edible? Oh, man. I guess Ana is a vampire now too? Sure. Why not? Mostly I just quote this part because Ana kind of can't make up her mind as to what she thinks about CG. She worries about small little things--like a visit from Kate's brother--but then when CG actually she's up she's like, "Phew! Close one!"

I really should be keeping track of how often Ana notices that some other lady is drooling about CG. My interns should come up with a list for me.  "I glance at Claire, who is, of course staring, open-mouthed and with frankly carnal appreciation at Christian." Because whaddaya know! There we go again. Of course Claire is staring! That's what all ladies do in this book all the time. I'm maintaining my theory from the last book: Ana doesn't mind if Claire stares at CG because Claire is black and Ana is only worried about white ladies for reasons which have to do with this book's 

They make a bit of a show so as to insure that Jack feels jealous or whatever and then pair head out to CG's waiting car. There's a bunch of dialogue and it's all pretty inane and I keep isolating bits of it and saying, "Oh! They should really see this!" But then I look again, and decide that it's bad but not so bad as to be worth anyone's time. That might be the story of Shadier. Better than the first book, but not better enough to be worthwhile. Pretty rough. 

Here's one of those bits that gets kind of good but then ends up bad again:

"Hi," I breathe, my mouth dry.

"What would you like to do this evening?"

"I thought you said we had plans."

"Oh, I know what I'd like to do, Anastasia. I'm asking you what you want to do."

I beam at him.

"I see," he says with a wickedly salacious grin. "So... begging it is, then. Do you want to beg at my place or yours?" He tilts his head to one side and smiles his oh-so-sexy smile at me.

See? I kind of like CG's second line: "Oh, I know what I'd like to do." That's kind of fun, right? Kind of sexy, I guess? It's one of the very, very few bits of innuendo that are subtle enough to be at all effective. But then that begging part at the end? I'm pretty off-board when we get there because c'mon. I really don't want to be stuck reading a sex scene with a bunch of begging. 

CG changes the subject back to Jack Hyde: "Your boss, Jack Hyde, is he good at his job?" He expresses concern for Ana, but it is quickly clear than there is more afoot than considerate concern for Ana's right to work in a harassment-free work environment:

"He makes one move, you tell me. It's called gross moral turpitude - or sexual harass-ment."

"It was just a drink after work."

"I mean it. One move and he's out."

"You don't have that kind of power." Honestly! And before I roll my eyes at him, the realization hits me with the force of a speeding freight truck. "Do you, Christian?"

Christian gives me his enigmatic smile.

"You're buying the company," I whisper in horror.

His smile slips in response to the panic in my voice. "Not exactly," he says.

"You've bought it. SIP. Already."

He blinks at me, warily. "Possibly."

"You have or you haven't?"


Well, that's creepy, right? Means that now, really, CG is Ana's boss. Also, he doesn't seem to realize how creepy this is. I guess that shouldn't be a surprise. He's a creep all the time, so how should he know when he's being particularly creepy? Right? Sure. 

But how has none of this come up with like, the people who actually work at SIP? Do they not know? I guess they could just be waiting for a big announcement maybe? More likely, this is just another one of those moments where EL hasn't thought through logistics. It's kind of a big deal when a business changes hands, at least to the people who work at said business. I predict that Ana won't hear anything about this at her actual workplace, tho. It'll just remain a little background fact until it becomes relevant later on, is my guess. Let's see if I'm right!

CG's justification is typically thing: "Because I can, Anastasia. I need you safe." There is the inconvenient fact that Ana simply does not feel safe when she's with CG, of course. Also, are we to believe that CG concluded this deal within a single day? We have no reason to presume that SIP was looking for a buyer, which suggests that the only way CG could've bought it was to show up with a literal bucket of money, because that is what it costs to buy things that aren't actually for sale. This turn of events feels unlikely, to say the least. He claims that he won't interfere with Ana's career, but that's impossible. Won't be long before everyone at SIP knows that Ana's boyf is the new boss, and of course that is going to effect her at work. Of course it is!

"Are you mad at me?"

"Yes. Of course I'm mad at you." I seethe. "I mean, what kind of responsible business executive makes decisions based on who they are currently fucking?" I blanch and glance nervously once more at Taylor who is stoically ignoring us.

Shit. What a time to have a brain-to-mouth filter malfunction. Anastasia! My subconscious glares at me.

Speaking of feeling safe! I don't think that Ana is at all out of line here, but it seems implicit that she fears CG's wrath, right? I feel like that's the only explanation for her aggressive back-pedaling.

They make up quite quickly. I won't share it with you because this chapter feels thick with dialogue, but the dialogue is quite light in terms of relevance. You kind of have to read all of it or none of it, so I'm going to let you read none of it because I'm nice like that and I care about you. 

CG says some nonsense about how he'd been wanting to get into publishing and soon they're ready to go into Ana's apartment and have sex or whatever. They haven't had sex in literally several chapters and I can't wait to skim through another one of their boring sex scenes once again.

Inside Ana's apartment, she is feeling the same mish-mash of emotions that she's felt since she met Christian, and if you're sick of them, take a moment and imagine how I feel because I'm actually reading this book instead of reading about reading it like you are. 

It's odd having Christian Grey in the apartment. The place feels too small for him.
I am still mad at him - his stalking knows no bounds, and it dawns on me that this is how he knew about the e-mail being monitored at SIP. He probably knows more about SIP than I do. The thought is unsavory.

What can I do? Why does he have this need to keep me safe? I am a grown-up -  sort of - for heaven's sake. What can I do to reassure him?

I gaze at his beautiful face as he paces the room like a caged predator, and my anger subsides. Seeing him here in my space when I thought we were over is heartwarming.

I do expect that, yes, CG knows a fair bit about SIP now that he owns it! And Ana doesn't know anything about anything so yeah it feels safe to assume that CG knows more about the business that he now owns than does Ana. 

There's such a weird disconnect between Ana straight-up referring to CG's practices as "stalking" and then turning around and saying, "Why does he have this need to keep me safe?" He doesn't feel a need to keep you safe! He feels a need to own you! Ana can move from "getting it" to "not getting it" with dizzying speed. 

And finally, that last paragraph: her anger subsides as she watches CG pace "like a caged predator." Like a caged predator! Words have meaning! "Aww! Christian looks like an animal who might like to claw and bite me to death! Heartwarming!"


He glances around, assessing his surroundings.

"Nice place," he says.

"Kate's parents bought it for her."


I mean, it still doesn't really make sense. Ok so Kate is smart, we are led to believe, since she was the valedictorian. And also she's rich. Smart rich kids go to Stanford or something, right? Mostly? And rich un-smart kids go to Brown or whatever. So it's nonsense that Kate went to Washington State Vancouver. 

But, it was more nonsensical that somehow Ana and Kate were renting this apartment in downtown Seattle that would've certainly cost thousands of dollars per month. So I guess, on balance, the fact that they have this rich-kid apartment is best explained by the revelation that Kate's parents bought it. Doesn't really fit what we know about her, but it fits the apartment, so you win this one, EL!

I'm not joking about that Brown thing. Example: years after graduating, I crashed a party thrown at a house that, the story goes, Tim Robbins bought his son. A whole house! Bought for a teenager! Not like, "Oh, let's get Tim Robbins, Jr. a nice little place off campus" or whatever. No, an actual house that was probably a weird historic landmark built in 1750 or something because it was surrounded on all sides by the university. That place had to have been crazy expensive! But that's the kind of weird thing rich people do so nicely done, EL James. You made it work! Kate has crazy rich parents, ergo, they bought her a crazy condo.

And so it makes perfect sense that Kate's brother is going to move in. His parents bought the place! So of course Kate doesn't feel like she has to ask Ana for permission to let Ethan move in. It's Kate's house! She's the boss!

Hey wait though. So is Ana just there as Kate's guest, or what? Is Ana paying rent? This part just is getting more complicated and less likely. Also, how much of a moocher is Ana? She wears pretty much only Kate's clothes, and is living in Kate's house, and is maybe not even paying rent? The person who really needs to get dumped is Ana, and the person who really needs to dump her is Kate.

Moving on. Time for sex.

"What would you like to do, Anastasia?" he asks softly as he walks toward me, all feral and hot. "I know what I want to do," he adds in a low voice.

Ugh. Once again, EL ruins a nice move by repeating it again immediately. I kind of liked it before when CG said "Oh, I know what I'd like to do." But here he is, repeating himself, and whenever this sort of thing happens--a line doubled up--I feel like it somehow sends me back in time and stops me from liking the line in the first place and now I hate it in both instances. 

Also look at the way EL doubles the speaker tags unnecessarily. Make a note of that so that you can make sure to never ever do that ever. I know you wouldn't. You're too good for that kind of thing. But please. You can never be too careful. 

Also? All feral and hot? Do me a favor and let me know if you can think of anything that strikes you as both "hot" and "feral." I guess I did just read a few days ago about this writer who's getting rich writing bigfoot porn (Editor's note: yes. Bigfoot porn.) so I guess there's a market for everything. But I am not in that market. Let's see what kind of hijinx these crazy kids get up to next!

I back up until I bump against the concrete kitchen island.

"I'm still mad at you."

"I know." He smiles a lopsided apologetic smile and I melt... Well, maybe not so mad.

"Would you like something to eat?" I ask.

He nods slowly. "Yes. You," he murmurs. Everything south of my waistline clenches.

Wait, so is she running away from him, or seduced by him? I guess in a better writer's hand, this would be a nice ambiguity. But here I'm kind of actually having a hard time making sense of it. Is she trying to run away, but then gets dissuaded by this silly non-apology? "I know." Maybe! And then, what's the deal with "Would you like something to eat?" I mean, it is dinner time. But is she trying to distract him? Change the subject? Can't tell what's going on.

And then everything south of her waistline clenches. I mean, obviously I read tons of erotic fiction. Mainly about bigfoots. Bigfeet? Anyway. I read tons and nowhere else am I forced to read about these confusing clenchings and I'm glad because I don't want to read about anything clenching. It's not helping at all. Does not seem sexy. But also like, she's got a lot of things below her waist, right? This sounds kind of like a seizure. Is that what's happening? A sexy seizure? Sexy!

It's been clear for a good while that sex is next on the menu but we have to put up with all these obnoxious digressions. For instance, CG has to shame Ana for a while about not eating. She ate a sandwich for lunch, guy! And not it's dinner time! You could just go eat dinner like regular people!

This scene really zigzags all over the place. Next CG repeats his declaration that he's not going to do any sex to Ana until she begs him to and is specific about what she'd enjoy. Then they talk about food. Then they revisit a bunch of old topics: Ana's forgetfulness re: her birth control pills. CG's refusal to be touched by Ana. Ana says she'd rather make out or whatever, but CG says, "right now, I'm really into delayed gratification." and I think this is very funny because he pretty much says it the way I would say, "Right now, I'm really into buying New Orleans funk records from the seventies on ebay." (Editor's note: this ebay thing is true, but Alden is going to have to quit until you guys help him get a book deal.)

And then they scrap all that and decide to go grocery shopping. OMG SO INTERESTING. Is this really going to happen? Are we really going to have to read about them buying groceries? Yes. Of course we are. 

"You have no food here?" His expression hardens.

I shake my head. Crap, he looks quite angry.

Hey I'm no billionaire. I mean, no big deal. I do ok. I'm pulling in like, you know. Low five figures. NBD. So I'm no Christian Grey. But cmon, man! Buy your girlfriend dinner! Just be like, "Hey, you had a long week. You had three beers already at the bar, so it's probably like almost eight or something, so let's find a restaurant since we live in a major urban center and it probably has a bunch of restaurants.

But no! Groceries. 

"Let's go shopping, then," he says sternly as he turns on his heel and heads for the door, opening it wide for me.

"When was the last time you were in a supermarket?"

Christian looks out of place, but he follows me dutifully, holding a shopping basket.

"I can't remember."

"Does Mrs. Jones do all the shopping?"

"I think Taylor helps her. I'm not sure."

"Are you happy with a stir-fry? It's quick."

At least in the bootleg version I'm reading, there isn't any kind of useful space break anywhere in here, so it gives the impression that they just sort of teleport to the grocery store. Also I like that CG admits to not knowing how groceries happen at his place. Hey! At least he's honest!

Do you guys say "a" stir-fry? Or do you just say "stir-fry"? Whatever. Ana wants a fast meal because she wants to get down to business right away. That's not that fast, right? Don't you have to cut up a bunch of stuff? Whatever.  

But you know what? That's just where we're going to leave things. CLIFFHANGER! Will Ana and CG ever get out of the grocery store? Will they make it back to Ana's apartment? I don't know! (Editor's note: he does actually know.) 

It's kind of wild, isn't it? How little is going on? We did get a couple of bits of plot in this chapter so far: 1) CG's ex lover is kinda maybe stalking his current lover. 2) CG bought the publishing company Ana works for, and Ana's boss has a weird thing for her, so something kind of has to come of that, right? Maybe? But there's just so much air in this chapter. So much silly empty space. So much running around, so much talking about not anything at all. I expect it is clear that I am losing enthusiasm for this undertaking. Can you blame me? 

No comments: