Wednesday, April 2, 2014

50 Shades Shadier: Chapter 8 part 1

Leila breaks into Christian's apartment so Christian and Ana leave for a hotel. 

So if the previous book was about the immediate problems caused by a Ana's relationship with Christian, this sequel introduces the reader to additional, unsurprising reasons that Ana ought to run away. Because, you see, the trouble is not just with Christian. It makes perfect sense that someone as unstable as Christian has a series of even less stable skeletons in his closet.

But wait! We get a strange alchemy. The young lovers face a number of problems, all of which were caused by Christian alone. Now logically, this should push our heroes apart. But instead, so far, it's bringing them closer, despite all the evidence that Ana will become just the latest link in a long, disturbed chain if she doesn't get away. Ana largely absolves Christian for the role he's played in causing all this trouble. He is, after all, the common denominator across all of Ana's problems, but Ana is quick to regard him as the victim rather than the instigator. She continues to follow him, knowing that he's treating her basically the same as he's treated the women who now threaten her. 

And what're we to do? Stick around for the ride, I guess! We do see a gun drawn in this chapter. Now, the rules of drama demand that it get fired, but this is fan-fiction, not drama, so I don't know if the gun is ever going to fire or not. I do know that I hope this just dissolves into a series of dumb action sequences. I don't think anything could improve this book, but I would like to move from one version of inanity to another for a while. Y'know. Just so I have a break. 

But hey where were we?

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. Christian picks up Ana from the bar, and then they venture to a grocery store so that they can cook dinner at Ana's house. But then they get too horny to cook so they have sex.
  4. Ana and Christian eat dinner and then have ice cream sex and then in the middle of the night Ana has a dream about Christian's ex lover Leila, which worries Christian. Later, Ana and Christian fight about money, eat breakfast, and then go to a hair salon where the woman who introduced Christian to BDSM works.
  5. Ana is upset by the sight of Christian's ex-lover, Elena, and storms out of the salon. Christian insists that Ana come to his house because his other ex-lover Leila may be armed. Christian picks up Ana bodily when she disagrees with him. Ana and Christian retire to Christian's house and Christian allows Ana to draw on him with lipstick so that she knows which parts of his body he is comfortable having touched and which parts are off limits. 
  6. Ana and Christian have sex and get ready for a fancy charity auction at Christian's parents' house. Then they go to the fancy charity auction, and Ana bids $24,000 on a weekend getaway at Christian's Aspen condo. 
  7. Ana gets auctioned off to Christian for the first dance of the evening, but before the dance, the couple retreat to Christian's childhood room for sex. Christian's ex, Elena, threatens to hurt Ana if she mistreats Christian. After the party, Ana and Christian drive home, where they are informed by Christian's security staff that someone, most likely Leila, has vandalized Ana's car and may have broken into the apartment. 

So when we left off, our action hero Christian Grey was making his way into his apartment even though his presumably unstable ex-lover Leila was quite possibly inside somewhere, being all dangerous or whatever. And Ana was waiting outside, worrying. You know--standing still, feeling emotions, while the men do the men stuff. That's the basic position of women in this series: they're either dangerous and need to be apprehended by men, or in danger, in which case they should wait around near some men so they can be safe. Yawn.

The geography of this sequence is confusing. So our heroes pull up outside the Escala building, where CG lives. So far so good. But then, before they reach the apartment, while they're in "the foyer," security goons warn CG and Ana that Ana's car's been all messed around and that there may be an intruder in the apartment.

Right? But this can't be the main lobby, right? They've already been on an elevator. Does this building have a bunch of sub-foyers, or what? Or are just reading "foyer" when we should be reading "hallway?" Whatever. The important-ish thing is that CG is in the apartment being manly while Ana is cowering outside. And since she's narrating this mess, we get to cower with her.

Some amount of time passes. The apartment door opens and the security goon whips out his gun! And that seems pretty bonkers, right? He's just chilling, but then they hear the doorknob and he's ready to go all Annie Oakley on somebody's ass. The sequence strikes me as being a weird mix of bored understatement and intense overreaction.

The tension evaporates, though, because of course it's CG returning to find Ana, and not anyone dangerous. Haha. I mean, just CG, who is only the regular amount of dangerous that he always is. No new dangers quite yet. Just the old ones. He's declared it safe to go inside. No sign of Leila.

They step into the apartment. CG treats Ana like an infant, just as we've come to expect from him: "Come on, you're tired. Bed."Right? I mean, that's the sort of thing a parent tells a toddler. But see, adults are capable of deciding these things on their own, except for if they happen to be ladies who are dating Christian Grey. Maybe he thinks it's sexy to tell ladies that they are sleepy.

Here's a funny joke!

"Honestly, your exes are proving to be very challenging, Mr. Grey," I mutter wryly.
Funny, right? Also pretty wry, now that I think about it. Because earlier in the evening, CG's first ex-girlfriend threatened to, let's say, murder Ana if she hurt CG again. Again, like the time that Ana dumped CG for a few days because he spanked her too hard. Remember that time? When Ana hurt CG? Ugh why you gotta be so mean to Christian, Ana? Geez. And now this other ex-girlfriend vandalized Ana's car and has CG so scared that he's sending dudes with guns to track her down. And now Ana is all, "Haha exes LOL." Not only is every joke that EL tries to make terrible, she's also always making them at perfectly absurd moments. (Editor's note: we will forgive you if you don't even believe that the line we quoted above is a joke. By the standards of this book, it is indeed a joke.)

CG orders Ana to go to bed a few more times. Also he says he doesn't want to call the cops because something something his ex-girlfriend needs help something something. Yawn. Sorry. Kinda fell asleep like Ana. Ugh I wish Christian were here to tell me when I'm tired so I could finally figure out when I'm tired! As it is I just pass out and sleep on my keyboard.

So Ana goes to bed, and CG ducks out somewhere, probably to do more boy stuff.

We then get one of the absolute dumbest parts of the book. Yay! I'm going to paste in a rather large chunk because I fear that's the only way you can really get a sense of how bonkers-stupid this is.

I lie, staring at the ceiling, waiting for him to return. So much has happened today, so much to process. Where to start?
I wake with a jolt—disorientated. Have I been asleep? Blinking in the dim glow the hallway casts through the slightly open bedroom door, I notice that Christian is not with me. Where is he? I glance up. Standing at the end of the bed is a shadow. A woman, maybe? Dressed in black? It’s difficult to tell.
In my befuddled state, I reach across and switch on the bedside light, then turn back to look but there’s no one there. I shake my head. Did I imagine it? Dream it?
I sit up and look around the room, a vague, insidious unease gripping me—but I am quite alone. 
Ok so. This book is suffering from an identity crisis. The first novel is all about this dumb relationship that should never have lasted more than a first date. And now this novel, once our lovers patch up their little quarrel, runs out of gas and so EL is like, "Ok let's do some action movie shit! Some like, Fatal Attraction shit or something. I dunno! I'm out of ideas!"

Right? But look at this scene. Yeah, obvs that's Leila, chilling in the dark, and then vanishing. I'm so sick of this predictability. Ana is literally wrong every single time she predicts or assumes anything. So as soon as she wonders if she imagined something, the reader knows that she didn't. The reader knows that Leila is around somewhere, but we have to plod through a few pages before Ana catches up to us. Reading this book is like cheering on a toddler taking her first steps. You can do it, Ana! You can do it!
Don't worry! We'll catch you!

But then, we don't catch her. She falls on her face and gets a booboo. A real nasty booboo too.

Ok I lost the thread on this joke so back to the story. Speaking of ex-girlfriends, Ana gets out of  bed and goes to CG's office or wherever, where she catches him on the phone with his other ex, Elena. This is pretty much the same conversation he had with her in just the previous chapter. Feels like EL is waiting shorter and shorter intervals before totally repeating some dumb thing over again. Yay. I guess I'm just glad that CG isn't once again up playing the piano, since that's what he's usually doing if he's awake late at night.

Anyway they do some quick "romance" or whatever but I'm mostly going to skip over it, because that's what you'd do if you were reading this book. You'd skip over the part where Ana takes CG's shirt off because who cares and you'd skip to the part where they go back to the bedroom and then the balcony door is open and Ana doesn't remember opening it.

So you remember how everybody was freaking out over how maybe there was maybe a lady in the apartment? Like two pages ago?

“When I woke . . . there was someone in here,” I whisper. “I thought it was my imagination.” 
Right so the place is on high alert, trying to find Leila, because she might be in the apartment somewhere. Ana sees Leila in the dark, and this is like, "Oh but I'm a child and I'm unable to tell the difference between real life and fantasy so I probably just imagined that I saw her and I should probably just go find my boyf and take his shirt off."

Aside on the geography here: Ana claims that she surveyed the room after waking up. It only seems logical that this was after she turned the light on. And at that point, the balcony door was closed. Now it is open. So Ana saw Leila inside the room, but now the balcony door is open, so isn't it most likely that Leila went out the balcony? Nobody really thinks of that though. Whatever. Also I feel like they're way up at the top of this building. But Leila escaped out the balcony? Is she Spiderman?

The goons show up, and they want information.

“How long ago?” Taylor demands, staring at me all businesslike. He’s still wearing his jacket. Does this man ever sleep?
“About ten minutes,” I mutter, for some reason feeling guilty. 
I see no indication that Taylor has anything like human needs or even time off. He's always available when CG wants him around. Maybe he's some kind of automaton. Whatever. Oh and Ana? The reason you're feeling guilty is because of how dumb you are. In case you were wondering, that's your reason. That guilty feeling is usually what happens when you make a big mistake, or, perhaps, a series of of huge mistakes. You should reevaluate your life.

Ana is all over the place emotionally in this chapter. After being the most worried prior to the actual home invasion, she's strangely relaxed. Here are some of the things she says after Taylor's gunmen show up:

“Aren’t we all overreacting slightly?”
“Christian, she was standing at the end of the bed. She could have shot me then, if that’s what she wanted to do.” 
“Why don’t you just call her . . . tell her you want to talk to her?” 
I'm not prepared to argue that Ana is wrong and Christian is right. Just going to say that it's another of EL's weird tonal shifts. She tried to build up the situation as super scary-dangerous when Ana was outside the apartment and we had no evidence that Leila had actually gotten inside. But now that Leila has literally sneaked into the room where Ana was sleeping, Ana's like, "What's the big deal, guys?" So, that's annoying. Is all I'm saying.

Here's another real dumb part. It's got layers. It's an onion of dumb:

“Supposing she tries to shoot Taylor?”
“Taylor knows and understands guns,” he says with distaste. “He’ll be quicker with a gun than she is.”
“Ray was in the army. He’s taught me to shoot.”
Christian raises his eyebrows and for a moment looks utterly bemused. “You, with a gun?” he says incredulously.
“Yes.” I am affronted. “I can shoot, Mr. Grey, so you’d better beware. It’s not just crazy ex-subs you need to worry about.”
“I’ll bear that in mind, Miss Steele,” he answers dryly, amused, and it feels good to know that even in this ridiculously tense situation, I can make him smile. 
Okayyyyy. So Taylor is some kind of non-sleeping superman who doesn't have to worry about getting shot because of his heightened understanding. He's sort of a security-guard buddha. Wait that's a cool idea. Remember it for me for later on, ok?

But next, we get the revelation that Ana has shot a gun. Ana can't even walk without falling down! EL has stripped Ana of all these basic human competencies, but somehow, here in the middle of the second book, EL is all, "Oh hey maybe Ana knows how to shoot guns. I mean, she's an American after all! They probably all shoot guns, based on what I see on tv! Yeah that sounds plausible."

But it doesn't. It doesn't sound plausible at all. Ana didn't have an email address until she was about to graduate college, but she's comfortable shooting a gun? Her knowledge is impossibly arbitrary.

Hey and speaking of EL's penchant for shitty jokes at shitty moments! So they're literally getting ready to flee CG's home because an armed assailant is maybe in the house, and maybe wants to assail them. And here's Ana's hilarious joke: "Watch out! Maybe I'll murder you too!" Hehe. Murder is so funny. Right guys? Is there anything more hilarious than gun violence? I can't think of anything!

Ana then goes back to worrying again. She hugs Taylor, which is great because I'm writing this fanfic in which Ana is secretly having an affair with Taylor the whole time and then they join up to steal CG's money and helicopter in the end. It's super cool and you should really look forward to reading it. It's called Fifty Blades of Grey because Taylor is also a ninja. I mean in my fun version.

So anyways the young lovers decide to hit the road and finish the night in a hotel while the goons search the apartment. I bet they have sex right when they get there because they're worried about almost having been murdered or whatever, and I bet it's super boring. Hope I'm wrong! I'm now just going to cross my fingers and hope that this just turns into an action thriller, in which all of CG's jaded ex-lovers return, one by one, and try to murder him and Ana. That'd be like a shitty Scott Pilgrim and the shittiest possible Scott Pilgrim would still be way more fun than this.

Ana asks an obvious question that you may or may not have been wondering: how did Leila know which car was Ana's, for vandalism purposes?

He glances anxiously at me and sighs. “She had an Audi A3. I buy one for all my submissives—it’s one of the safest cars in its class.”
Oh. “So, not so much a graduation present, then.”
“Anastasia, despite what I hoped, you have never been my submissive, so technically it is a graduation present.” He pulls out of the parking space and speeds to the exit.
Despite what he hoped. Oh no . . . my subconscious shakes her head sadly. This is what we come back to all the time. 

Hehe. That's gotta be super shitty, right? Every gesture that CG makes toward Ana is just part of his established playbook. Not putting any specific thought into this relationship--just doing the same she he does every time he meets a new lady. At least he expresses some awareness for how shitty this is. I do love his use of the word "technically." Anytime anyone's argument involves the word "technically" they've basically admitted defeat and you should just quit arguing with them at that point because you've won. Congratulations!

They take a circuitous route from CG's place to a hotel that's literally five blocks away. This gives them a few pages for rehashing everything that happened at the party in the previous chapter. Remember all the conversations that Ana had with various people about Christian? She now recounts each of those conversations. This gives the reader an opportunity to to hear a bunch of stuff for a second time. It's a literary technique knows as "repetition" which allows the reader to feel "boredom" and "misery." El accomplishes this very effectively! Good jorb, EL James!

At the hotel, EL does a couple of her signature moves. But you know what? I think we're going to wait for those and break things off here. We're about halfway through the chapter, and here's what's happened:

1. An intruder intruded.
2. CG and Ana drove to a hotel.

Very busy! Action-packed! Barely readable! Ick.

I'm sure you can't wait to get to the rest of the chapter! We're going to join Ana for another OB/GYN appointment? Cool, right? Very, very cool.

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