Wednesday, May 6, 2015

50 Shad3s: Chapter 8 part 1

Ana is extremely rude to the architect she and Christian hire to remodel their new home. 

So here's the thing:

Just moved. Not even really done moving. Lotsa bags and boxes still. Lotsa hey-where-did-that-go? still. Been taking up most of my non-work time. So that's why we're two full weeks out without an update. I know you all count on me. Me and this important service that I'm doing out of the goodness of my own heart and whatever. I'm sorry for letting you down.

I can't promise it won't happen again because this book is terrible. I barely finished my post on the last chapter. And even once I finished it? I'm pretty sure I never edited it and there are probably some weird parts that sneaked in accidentally. I mean weirder than usual. Ah well.

The discouraging thing is that I'm barely into this book. But the encouraging thing is that, since this is a trilogy, just being anywhere in the third book means that I'm oozing toward the finish line, so good job, me!

We can do this. I know we can. I know we can. I think I can, anyway. And if there's anything I learned from children's literature, it's that if you think you can do something, you can totally do it. (Editor's note: Alden just read an illustrated version of The Secret and I'm worried that it's affecting his judgement.)

So yeah. They had a fight last chapter. Ana got bullied into changing her name because Christian is a whiny baby who cannot handle his wife enjoying symbolic independence. Cool! So it's still the same dumb evening and in comes their architect.

But let's catch up more thoroughly shall we?

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. 


  1. Ana takes her top off on a beach while reminiscing about the wedding and Christian gets mad.
  2. They ride a jet-ski back to their honeymoon yacht and riding jet-skis cheers up Christian a bit. Then they have sex. 
  3. 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. 
  4. Ana buys a camera.
  5. 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. 
  6. Ana figures out that Jack Hyde was the arsonist.
  7. Christian bullies Ana until she agrees to go by "Ana Grey" in her professional life. 

Right so Ana is insanely jealous of Gia, the architect who's helping them remodel their country estate or whatever. I think it's in Ballard? I dunno. Who cares. 

I suppose it's worth pointing out that while CG is jealous and controlling, Ana is jealous but not controlling. She has no authority in their relationship, of course, because she's the girl, but she has all of the ridiculous impulses that CG has. All of them. She just thinks so, so many bonkers things and reacts in bonkers ways all the time. All the all the time. I'm still sympathetic to her in general, and I still place fundamental blame with Christian. But I think we have to talk about how truly, truly immature these people are. If any real people were ever in a relationship that involved this much fighting and jealousy, it was probably in high school. High school is a good place for this kind of relationship because you can be like, "Well we obviously don't like each other that much but our lockers are next to each other so we might as well keep it going, right?" Probably a little unfair to high school students to assert that they're at Ana and Christian's maturity level but you get what I'm saying. These characters have the emotional sophistication of toddlers. Toddlers!

And this architect is of so little importance to Ana and CG's life that Ana could've easily gotten her fired. It's a fairly easy job that they're having done--just some remodeling. So Ana could've just been like, "Eh yeah I don't really like her style or whatever," and they could've found someone else because there must be lotsa people who can draw up some remodel plans, I'm pretty sure! Yes very sure. 

But no. They stick with this lady who inspires comical jealousy in Ana. Also she's left "plans" with them, and then comes over to their house to discuss them after dinner one night. Really? This book takes place in an alternate universe where absolutely everyone is available for house calls absolutely all the time always. Even at night! So I guess that's the only legit evidence that Ana ought to be jealous--maybe Gia invited herself out at night in hopes that Ana wouldn't be there and that she and CG were gonna totally do it. But I doubt that. I think we're just supposed to believe that things happen on CG's schedule. Whatever. And it seems like they'd wan to meet at the house so they could visualize the changes together, at the building being renovated. But no, not that either. Whatever! 

Here's how our dumb chapter starts:

Gia Matteo is a good-looking woman—a tall, good-looking woman. 
Oh for shit's sake EL James. What are we doing here and why? Considering how jealous Ana is of Gia, we get that Gia is a hottie or whatever. Obviously. Obbbbbviously. Oh but now we know she's tall so our mental image is complete! Hurray!

Check this out tho:

She is well groomed—one of those women who grew up with money and breeding, though her breeding seems to be lacking this evening; her pale blue blouse is undone too far. Like mine. 
The hell is this shit? "Breeding"? Yo safety tip: you better only talk about "breeding" if you're referring to livestock, or you're into eugenics. Because otherwise, wha? Seriously. Wha? Like I'm too confused even to get the whole question out so it's just wha? Can you imagine a small-town American, twenty-two years old, talking about somebody's motherflushing breeding? Because I cannot. Like I have a real good imagination, but I can't imagine it. The only context in which I can imagine a young American questioning somebody's breeding would be like if they were a villain from the rich summer camp on the other side of the lake and were in need of a lesson from the nerd camp or whatever.

But yeah. This chapter is mainly about Ana slutshaming Gia and it just feels so goddamned false and dumb. EL brings in this extra character that we don't need, and then sets her up as "competition" for Ana and it's just faaaaaaaake. Nobody is invested in this conflict. Nobody sees this book ending with CG dumping Ana for the sexy architect, right? Could you imagine if that were the book? Like we slog through 1200 pages of these two together and then CG is just like, "Wow check out how much this architect's pale blue blouse is undone! Taylor? Could you be a dear and fetch me the divorce papers? Thank youuuuuuu!"

Actually that would be great simply because it would be so weird. What actually happens is simultaneously weird & boring. Not sure how EL manages to shock me and bore me all at once all the time. But she does!

Here. Now you read:

“Would you like something to drink?” I ask. “A glass of wine?” 
“That would be lovely,” Gia says. “Dry white if you have it.” 
Shit! Sauvignon blanc—that’s a dry white, isn’t it? Reluctantly leaving my husband’s side, I head over to the kitchen. I hear the iPod hiss as Christian switches off the music. 
“Would you like some more wine, Christian?” I call. 
“Please, baby,” he croons, grinning at me. Wow, he can be so swoonworthy at times yet so aggravating at others. 
Reaching up to open the cupboard, I’m aware his eyes are on me, and I’m gripped by the uncanny feeling that Christian and I are putting on a show, playing a game together—but this time we’re on the same side pitted against Ms. Matteo. Does he know that she’s attracted to him and is being too obvious about it? It gives me a small rush of pleasure when I realize maybe he’s trying to reassure me. Or maybe he’s just sending a message loud and clear to this woman that he’s taken. 
Mine. Yeah, bitch—mine. My inner goddess is wearing her gladiatrix outfit, and she’s taking no prisoners. 
 EL has this way of pretending to raise the stakes without actually raising the stakes. Ana is worried that this stranger will realize that she doesn't really know anything about wine and who gives a shit? I sure don't!

Also I can't let this go: "I hear the iPod hiss as Christian switches off the music." Hey has your iPod ever hissed? Mine hasn't. I've gone through several. And I know that Neil Young or whoever thinks that the iPod is an inferior music source, but I'm pretty sure that's not because they go around hissing at people. Because they don't. The phrasing almost makes it sound like a defensive maneuver. It's hissing as CG turns it off, as if to say, "No, no! Don't turn me off! I have sixty-three more gigs of music to share with you! Please! Please! Don't forget about me now that you have an iPhone!"

"Christian shuts off the music" would've been a superior sentence, if still a pointless one.

That last paragraph is the really important one. They're "pitted against Ms. Matteo." Well, she works for you! Terminate your business with her if you feel like she's a source of conflict. What the hell. Isn't CG's brother an architect anyway or something? Have him do it. There's probably some reason he isn't doing it. And probably some reason I can't remember what his bro's name is. I don't care to look it up. But rather than spend so much time worrying about her, they should just avoid her because that's an option they have and a very easy one.

Oh and I love the idea that Ana thinks that Gia is into CG but maybe CG doesn't notice. Ana of one-relationship-ever fame. If there's anybody in this house likely to have no idea what the hell is going on, ever, that person is definitely Ana and not Christian.

God. And yet another sequence in which every lady wants to bang Christian. This is such a mutterflushing cartoon. Just a true cartoon. This is Pepe LePew is basically what this thing is.

Hey side note: can we talk about the thought process behind Pepe LePew? "Ok so there's this super horny skunk." "Great! Kids will find him very relatable."

But the end tho. It's so pointlessly hostile! Gia hasn't done mutterflushing anything to anyone! Omigod. FTB. FTB. Oh and lastly: gladiators can't take prisoners because where the hell is a gladiator going to keep a prisoner? Also what would the point even be? A gladiator is basically a prisoner already. Didn't EL have anybody read this before it got published? No? Ok then.

I can't even pretend to give a shit about Ana and CG talking to their contractor. I mean goddamn. Who puts this in a book?

What's worse is that Ana deduces that CG feels uncomfortable around Gia, too, so it's extra weird that they insist on keeping her around.

I frequently can't even really tell what's going on in this section. Can't tell what Ana is responding to, or expecting, or celebrating. Like look at this:

I watch as her pupils dilate and her glossed lips part. Her tongue darts quickly over her top lip before she takes a sip of her wine. When I turn to Christian, he’s still looking at me—not at her at all. Yes! My inner goddess fist pumps the air. I am going to have words with Ms. Matteo. 
Wait, what? So is Ana all excited because, wait why? Because even though Gia just said a thing, CG isn't looking at her? I mean you're paying this lady to do work for you. You invited her to your house. She's talking. You're both going to end up looking at her. Probably quite a bit.

I can't even stand this book. Srsly. The movie had the good sense to know what the hell it was about. It's about this one relationship with these two unlikable people. Oh and also? The movie went ahead and made one of the two main characters likable which is a huge improvement.

But what is this book about? What's the story? What's with all these mutterflushing side-quests? Because that's what this is, really. This is video game logic. This is where some other character comes in and tells you to go someplace you've already been a bunch of times because a troll is going to be there and the troll has a key to a thing and you need that key for some reason so trudge back to that place where the troll is, even though you've already been there. You don't want to go there, but you get experience points and your mage will have more magic skills or whatever if you go deal with that troll.

That's what this is. This is just garbage to fill pages. It has nothing to do with anything. It's just a pointless little side-quest inside our story that we don't need or want but here it is! Yay.

Then Taylor shows up and pulls CG away for something because EL wanted an excuse to get him out of the room so that Ana can tell off Gia, which is the thing that she does next.

“You’re right to be nervous, Gia, because right now your work on this project hangs in the balance. But I’m sure we’ll be fine as long as you keep your hands off my husband.” 
She gasps. 
“Otherwise, you’re fired. Understand?” I enunciate each word clearly.
The weird part is that Gia doesn't just quit. That's what the hell I would do. Ana is threatening Gia for looking at CG. Oh and also I guess Gia put her hand on his arm at one point? Whatever.

“The master suite?” she prompts anxiously, her voice a breathless whisper. Now that I have the upper hand, I feel myself relax for the first time since my meeting with Christian this afternoon. I can do this. My inner goddess is celebrating her inner bitch. 
Ugh. I'd like to say that this novel is cleverly pointing out how our patriarchal society creates these empty, false conflicts between women but you know what? I think EL wants us to pump our fists at the end of this little section and say, "You go, Ana! I hated Gia too!" But I don't hate Gia. I don't care about Gia in the slightest because she's not a real character. She's a prop, designed to make me appreciate Ana more. But I don't. I keep appreciating her less and less. Gross.

Anyway CG comes back and Gia leaves. CG reveals that our v. scary arch-villain Jack Hyde hasn't been staying at his apartment which I guess is supposed to be relevant or whatever but I don't care at all obvs.

Ana reveals to CG that she told off Gia and he is appropriately bothered because that was real loopy of Ana.

“Ana, she’s a sexual predator. Not my type at all. How can you be jealous of her? Of anyone? Nothing about her interests me.” When I glance up, he’s gaping at me as if I’ve grown an additional limb. He runs a hand through his hair. “It’s only you, Ana,” he says quietly. “It will only ever be you.” 

I guess it's good of him to try to reassure her. But um. "Sexual predator"? You already got a summary of Gia's transgressions so everybody calm down. She touched Christian on the arm and, allegedly, gave him sexy-eyes. I dare say there's one character in this novel who's in no position to be calling people sexual predators. And that one character is the one who just called somebody a sexual predator. If you follow my little hint. Did you follow me? Here's another hint: I'm talking about Christian, and how he totally stalked Ana and, I think, did actually kidnap her in the strictest legal sense and also had sex with her one time basically non-consensually. But yeah Gia was kinda flirty maybe so who's the real predator here? Gia obvs. What a menace to society!

Oh and then they spend two more pages recapitulating all the themes of the novel. Again! Again again again. This novel is written so that anyone can start reading it at any time and be completely up to speed within a few paragraphs. So, so boring. They even repeat the whole thing from the previous chapter about how CG didn't like the idea of Ana not going by "Ana Grey" at work because maybe somebody wouldn't realize that he owned her already.

“I thought you’d already agreed to this.” 
“Yes I have, but now we’ve discussed it further, I’m happier with my decision.”
Ha! Can't help but read this as EL justifying to the reader why she's retreading this same path. Again. And again. And again.

Next: CG asks Ana to cut his hair. This is a cool flirt-move if you're in college, maybe, but this just seems like a big-ol' waste of time. Ana reveals that she used to cut her step-dad's hair but there's no evidence that CG knows this so it feels like a real out of left field kinda move. And, I don't really buy it. CG demands such control over every aspect of his life that it just is hard for me to imagine him being cool with an amateur haircut. I mean what if she screws it up?

Anyway they kiss or whatever at the beginning and CG is like, "Oh noes! If you kiss me or whatever my hair will never get cut!" And then there's like a hundred pages or so about Ana washing CG's hair and then they're like, Oh nvm let's do sex instead."

And that is where we're going to stop. I don't even remember where we started but I guess we'll talk about them having sex next time. You know. Just to mix things up a little and be different. Yay.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you thank you thank you for the part about socializing women to compete with each other!