Christian starts flipping out about Ana keeping the last name "Steele" in her professional life.
This is just several pages of me being angry about how bad this book is. I know it's always just that, but I get angrier than usual. Like, I literally take a break in the middle, leave, come back, and then I'm angrier than ever.
I've threatened, at various points, to abridge my own edit of one or more of these books and I still think it's kind of a good idea because I bet I could get it down to like, 100 pages per book and then if people really wanted to know what the deal was they could just read those. And the main reason that I think this would be plausible is just how repetitive everything is, all the time. Every chapter just circles through these repeated bits where CG and Ana say the same goddamn things to each other and my eyes kind of glaze over because I'm like, "Oh this again" and I start scanning more and more rapidly and then pretty soon I'm at the end of the chapter and I realize that I've gotten all the way through to the end and nothing at all has happened. Not anything.
So anyway take this chapter, for example. Where nothing happens. Oh! But you might want me to catch you up on the previous nothing that already happened. Or didn't happen. Since what did happen was nothing. Right? Cool.
So where were we?
Ana Steele is married to billionaire / kink-enthusiast / child-abuse survivor Christian Grey. He is domineering and they are usually upset with each other except for when they're having sex.
- Ana takes her top off on a beach while reminiscing about the wedding and Christian gets mad.
- They ride a jet-ski back to their honeymoon yacht and riding jet-skis cheers up Christian a bit. Then they have sex.
- Ana discovers that Christian gave her a bunch of hickies and she is angry. But then she gets over it and they look at art together and CG learns that there was a fire in his server room.
- Ana buys a camera.
- Ana and Christian return to Seattle. After visiting Christian's parents, they become embroiled in a medium-speed chase on the interstate. After eluding their pursuers, they have sex in a parking lot.
- Ana figures out that Jack Hyde was the arsonist.
Hey remember how Jack Hyde tried to rape Ana in the previous book? Or, to put things only slightly more generously--tried to demand sexual favors from Ana? Here's what CG says to Ana when Ana recognizes Hyde's face in some security camera footage which links him to an arson attack at CG's HQ:
“You seem to have studied your ex-boss in some detail, Mrs. Grey,” he murmurs, sounding none too pleased.Cool story bro. Yeah so CG is basically taking some early, stumbling steps down the path toward blaming Ana for the sexual assault she very nearly experienced. Huh so you noticed what he looked like, huh? Must've liked what he looked like. Must've been into him. Must've been leading him on. It's a slippery slope, CG! Be careful lest you fall down and injure yourself. Because that would be a tragedy. A tragedy!
Takes a couple of pages for CG and his internet security guy to deal with this information that the rest of us all knew a long time ago so the first couple pages of this chapter are a real snooze. Here's a fun bit tho:
“Well, Mrs. Grey, it seems that you are not only decorative, but useful, too.” Christian’s eyes light up with wicked amusement. I know he’s teasing.Haha! It's kind of like CG thinks of his wife as nothing more than a sex object! I don't know how anyone could get that idea. Maybe because when they met, his immediate inclination was to make her the object of his every sex fantasy, but then eventually he was like, "Nah I'll just boss you around in a way that fits in more or less with like, standard patriarchy or whatever."
These people just have no charisma, is the thing. So at least Ana can say that she enjoys CG for sex and money. CG can only say sex. Because what else is there with them? They're both decoration. W/e.
I mean here's them being "cute" or whatever:
He narrows his eyes. “Are you being cute, Mrs. Grey?”
“Always, Mr. Grey . . . Sir.”
He smiles a sphinxlike smile. “I can still put you over my knee,” he murmurs seductively.
“I know.” I grin. Placing my hands on the arms of his office chair, I lean down and kiss him. “That’s one of the things I love about you. But stow your twitching palm—you’re hungry.”
He smiles his shy smile and my heart clenches. “Oh, Mrs. Grey, what am I going to do with you?”Right? Ugh. Just so bullshitty all the time. Put you over my knee. Fack. And how many times do I have to read "twitching palm" in this shitshow? Way too many. And "what am I going to do with you?" is a thing that CG says to Ana in basically every conversation they ever have with each other.
Watch tho. I'll ctrl-F and try to find out the exact number of times that phrase is used and chances are it'll only be like, twice. It's just so annoying that it burns into my brain. There have probably been lots of times where I've read some bit of garbage prose for the very first time and said, "Ugh! Why won't EL ever quit mutterflushing saying that?" And it may well have been the very first time. Oh well!
Also how the hell could anyone say "I can still put you over my knee" seductively? That shit is legit impossible. I literally don't think anyone could say that and sound sexy. I couldn't say it without laughing. Oh, I could. I could say it with a straight face but only if I weren't looking at anybody when I said it. And only if nobody else was in the room. Oh and also if I didn't say it out loud. But otherwise? No way. That's not even a sexy line. That's like a thing for your dad to say, only it's probably even a joke for him, too. Ugh. What a terrible book.
Ana goes into the kitchen and Mrs. Jones is cooking legit food but Ana is like, oh no! But I wanted to make some food because that's lady work or whatever and I'm Christian's lady!
“Um—so what does Christian like in a, um . . . sub?” I frown, struck by what I’ve just said. Does Mrs. Jones understand the inference?
“Mrs. Grey, you could put just about anything in a sandwich, and as long as it’s on French bread, he’ll eat it.” We grin at each other.You guys got anything for this? Because I'm pretty much all out. I pretty much got nothing left I think. Pretty much on empty. I mean, there's stuff here I could talk about. Probably for a long time. Probably could spend all day talking about these two paragraphs.
But here just the one: does it seem at all fitting that CG doesn't give a shit what's in his sandwiches? Is this the style of a man who exercises great control in all things or whatever? Didn't think so.
Here but just read this shit with me because goddamn.
As I am adding a touch of salt and lemon to the mashed avocado, Christian emerges from his study with the plans for the new house in his hands. He puts them on the breakfast bar, saunters toward me, and wraps his arms around me, kissing my neck.
“Barefoot and in the kitchen,” he murmurs.
“Shouldn’t that be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen?” I smirk.
He stills, his whole body tensing against me. “Not yet,” he declares, apprehension clear in his voice.
“No! Not yet!”
He relaxes. “On that we can agree, Mrs. Grey.”
“You do want kids though, don’t you?”
“Sure, yes. Eventually. But I’m not ready to share you yet.” He kisses my neck again.
Oh . . . share?
“What are you making? Looks good.” He kisses me behind my ear, and I know it’s to distract me. A delicious tingle travels down my spine.
“Subs.” I smirk, recovering my sense of humor.
He smiles against my neck and nips my earlobe. “My favorite.”
I poke him with my elbow.
“Mrs. Grey, you wound me.” He clutches his side as if in pain.
“Wimp,” I mutter disapprovingly.
“Wimp?” he utters in disbelief. He slaps my behind, making me yelp. “Hurry up with my food, wench. And later I’ll show you how wimpy I can be.” He slaps me playfully once more and goes to the fridge.
“Would you like a glass of wine?” he asks.
What the fuck is this even? This just has no business in a novel. This is a full-on fanfic sequence. This is the kind of "characters dicking around" moment that is pretty much all fanfic is. This is basically just EL saying, "Hey I never saw those Twilight vampires eat a sandwich together. Wonder what that would be like! Let's find out!" It's not going anywhere. It's not enhancing our understanding of the characters or expanding on any of the book's themes, other than the theme of being the worst. It's just gristle. It's an elaborate styrofoam package that's protecting nothing at all. Just can't stand it. Why did I have to read this? Why?
Next is an equally garbage scene in which they look at diagrams done by their architect. It's every bit as empty as the thing with the sandwiches in the kitchen so hey! At least EL is v. consistent. What a waste.
When we finish, it’s nine thirty in the evening.I only include this because I want to make a note about the timeline. Ok so they had brunch, and then a car chase, and then they had sex a few times, and then they ate avocado sandwiches, and now it's nighttime. During the sandwich scene, Mrs. Jones the housekeeper was cooking bolognese sauce and like, prepping a legit dinner since it was dinner time and everything and Ana was like, "Nah let me just make some sandwiches because of my womanly desire to care for my man." I would've eaten the spaghetti, myself! Would've absolutely no question eaten the spaghetti but I am a practical person who loves spaghetti.
After dinner Ana wants to make out while they watch tv because this is an activity for which she holds some nostalgia.
Now, you may have read that and asked yourself the same question that I asked myself: "Wait but wasn't CG Ana's first kiss and everything?"
That's what I thought too. Let's consult the text!
Henry, set the wayback machine for two weeks ago or whenever it was that these crazy kids first met!
Here's the relevant line:
And for the first time in twenty-one years, I want to be kissed. I want to feel his mouth on me.That does not seem like there's much room for interpretation there, right? That's at the end of Chapter 3, first book.
Guys. I have to stop right here. I literally can't go on with this shit right now. I need to go somewhere and drink a beer and just not think about this at all. I came here to this cafe to write some fiction and I just couldn't get it started and now I'm just reading this goddamned thing and I can't even handle it. I just can't even handle it. Mutterflushing book can't even keep its goddamn story straight. What is this shit? Srsly what is this shit?
Anyway. So they're gonna make out on the couch, I guess? With the tv on? CG is, btw, one of those insufferables who rejects all tv. Remember a few years ago when people thought they were so cool when they told us how they didn't have a tv? And then slowly they'd reveal that they just watch everything on Hulu or whatever and aren't really too good for tv? Just too good for commercials? We're all too good for commercials!Anyway tv is cool again, thank goodness. So now those same people have moved on to bragging about how they aren't on Facebook because Facebook is terrible. Yeah! It is terrible! We all know it! We all hate it! Yet there we are, on Facebook, posting photos of our lattes, because that's what you do if you live in a society. You give up certain freedoms for the right to not live in the woods or whatever. So what I'm saying is: tv is great and Christian Grey sucks and should shut up about hating tv.
Turns out Ana made out with a dude named Bradley when she lived in Vegas. Remember how Ana has lived everywhere and that is never explained? Oh well. Vegas was one of the places she lived. And she made out with a boy named Bradley. Weird story: Bradley was only in Vegas for this whole bachelor party thing that went way out of hand and there was a tiger and stuff so it's weird that he even met up with Ana in the first place but we don't need to go into that. We should just be glad that we have some extra details about Ana! I feel like I truly understand her now. Wonderful. Wonderful.
Anyway they start making out while CG hassles Ana about this retconned high school romance. And then they have sex because they haven't done that in a couple hours or something.
Then, once again, we get one of those miserable post-sex scenes where they won't shut up about how crazy they are about each other or whatever and it's just never compelling reading. They also stew about how their honeymoon is finally over and Ana will be going back to work. Very interesting!
Hey you were still wondering who was driving that car in the car chase from before, right? Still really interested in that right? Well wonder no more!
“Okay,” I mutter, placating him. I don’t want to fight. “Did Ryan catch up with the woman in the Dodge?”
“No. And I’m not convinced it was a woman.”
“Oh?” I look up again.
“Sawyer saw someone with their hair tied back, but it was a brief look. He assumed it was a woman. Now, given that you’ve identified that fucker, maybe it was him. He wore his hair like that.” The disgust in Christian’s voice is palpable.Ew gross! Jack Hyde has girl hair! He looks like a girl! Maybe he's secretly a girl! Ew! Gross! Probably has cooties!
I do wonder how this came about. Was that this an intentional red herring? Or--and I think this is more likely--did EL have a more complicated idea about say, Hyde teaming up with Leila, but decide to abandon it because it seemed like too much work? Probably! Oh well. Another non-mystery solved!
The most obnoxious thing about all this, tho, is how these dumb little things about Jack Hyde have basically sidelines the actual conflict of this series: Ana vs. Christian. I guess they're fine now? Sure why not. What is this book even about? If it's a romance, it should've been leading up to their wedding. If it's a thriller, it should've started with Ana's first interview for her job with Jack Hyde.
If it's both then the two things should've been framed together. The Jack Hyde story should've been pushed earlier so that we'd get some much-needed breaks from Ana / Christian. Might've even helped us like Christian a little better, if he'd been introduced at the same time as Jack. But instead, by the time Jack starts being all shitty, I'd long ago started hating CG so he never had a chance. Oh well!
Anyway after that they go have more sex but EL blesses us with a scene break so we'll never know just what that's like. Probably it's like absolutely all the other sex that they have in every other chapter.
Scene break. Then CG is dropping Ana off at work. Yay.
A bit of pointless chitchat with Claire, basically the only person of color in the series. Then we meet Ana's assistant.
Hannah is my assistant. She is tall, slim, and ruthlessly efficient to the point that sometimes I find her a little intimidating. But she’s sweet to me, in spite of the fact that she’s a couple of years older. She has my latte waiting—the only coffee I let her get for me.
Couple things. Any recollection of Hannah from the previous book? No? Me neither. I guess in part I'm just a bit confused by the timeline. The beginning of this awful book showed the Grey's awful wedding in flashback so I don't know how much time actually passed. According to some fan's obsessively-maintained timeline, there are about two months in between Jack's dismissal and Ana's honeymoon. So how long were Ana and Hannah (Editor's note: ugh.) working together before Ana's honeymoon? Can't have been long, right? Why am I even paying any attention to this stuff at Ana's publishing job at all? Oh probably just because I wish I had a publishing job. That's probably it. Oh well!
Oh also? Never leave a latte waiting for anybody. I mean it's a nice gesture but those get cold super fast so enjoy your room-temperature latte Ana!
A couple paragraphs of Elizabeth saying hi to Ana. I think she's the HR manager. This is so pointless.
Oh and then an email from CG because they haven't fought since a few pages ago so they better fight again.
Here you go, pals!
Wife I sent the e-mail below and it bounced. And it’s because you haven’t changed your name. Something you want to tell me?
But let's get into what's really going on here: Does EL James think that your email address changes automatically when you get married? Is that what's happening here? Because goddammit. The fuck? All the computer shit in this book is just like computer shit from like, 1992, when people just wrote any weird computer shit into movies and were like, "Hey is this how hacking works? Oh who cares. Nobody watching this has ever even seen a computer so NBD."
But this story is set in 2011. Pretty sure everyone understood email by 2011. In fact, by 2011? We were all sick of email. By 2011, email was like the post office. We understood it so well that we were bored by it. That we wished it would just go away. It was not some novel thing that we were still trying to wrap our heads around.
How can someone who wrote this book for an internet forum cram in so much computer nonsense? There's no way that this makes sense to EL, right? I'm going to to give her the benefit of the doubt here kind of, and assume that she knows that your mutterflushing email address doesn't change automagically. So why the shit is she trying to pass this shit off on us? Her readers, who are also reading this online, and will also have email addresses and know that it's a real hassle to change them.
Oh and also this shit should all be SMS like regular people do. Goddammit. Pretty sure people knew about texting in 2011 too.
Oh I just thought of something! What if Ana becomes "Anastasia Grey-Steele?" That's what she'll be in my AU Fifty Shades fanfic where she's a dwarf instead of a human and CG is a the youngest-ever dwarven king to become a mithril billionaire.
You know what? I scanned ahead and the whole rest of this bullshit chapter is about CG being a fucking baby about how Ana wants to be known as Ana Steele in her professional life, which is utterly goddamned reasonable in 2011. I don't have the patience for any more of this because, honestly? This is the dumbest shit I've encountered in a while. CG is not just a baby. That's insulting to babies. He's just such a whiny prick.
George: Why does everything have to be 'us'? Is there no 'me' left? Why can't there be some things just for me? Is that so selfish?
Jerry: Actually, that's the definition of selfish.Except the CG version is, "Why can't literally everything be just for me all the time? Is that so selfish?"
I seriously, seriously hate this guy. He'd seem like a heap of garbage if this were Mad Men and it was the 60s and literally all men are just presumed to be misogynists. Even Don Draper would be like, "Whoa there guy. Might want to tone it down a little bit."
So next week, if you want to, you can read about CG throwing a shit fit and being a totally shidiot about Ana wanting to keep her name at work. Or, you know what? Skip next week. I'll go to work but you should feel free to take next week off because it's just going to be that bullshit for a whole half-chapter.
Why am I doing this again?
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