Hey did you guys read Hunger Games? Remember how it makes less sense as it goes, and then when you get to the end, you're kind of like "Meh"?
This trilogy is kind of like that, except for that the worst part of Hunger Games is way better than the best part of Fifty Shades. Hunger Games starts out fun and then you kinda get sick of it but Fifty Shades starts out real terrible and then you get sick of it and you're like, "Uh oh I'm only on the second chapter of the first book and it's getting more awful with every passing sentence. I can only imagine how bad it'll be at the end!"
Pretty bad it turns out. So, so bad.
It probably seems even worse on account of how slowly I'm reading it. This is the sort of thing that's designed to be taken in at a much faster clip. If you zip through a few chapters in a sitting (Editor's note: not actually recommended.) you might notice less the extent to which major plot elements go undiscussed for long periods of time. So because of my slow pace, it feels like months since we talked about Jack Hyde. I mean he's around somewhere I guess. Doing whatever. Scheming. And Ana had a big confrontation with CG's ex at the end of book 2 but I don't think that lady has even gotten a real mention during the first third of this book. Or maybe I just forget.
But still: mostly what we're getting are just bits where CG is outrageously jealous and controlling, and then Ana does some brain contortions in order to convince herself that this is all just about his love or whatever. I imagine that people who have to endure actual, non-fictional emotional abuse from a partner often think thoughts similar to Ana's. It's almost like this is a terrible romance novel that could be tweaked a little to be an extremely effective cautionary tale.
But I took another week off from this terrible thing so I really can't justify dragging this out any longer. Here goes: sex.
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.
- Christian bullies Ana until she agrees to go by "Ana Grey" in her professional life.
- Ana is extremely jealous of the architect hired to remodel the new home she will share with Christian.
Yeah so Ana chases off Gia, and then CG is like, hey remember how we talked about doing it? Like I wanted to do it in your office at work because I own that place and I can literally do anything I want because I'm pretty much king of the world? And you were like, let's do it later instead? Hey guess what time it is! Later! It's later now!
Yes. It's later now. So that's unavoidable.
But anyway. As we were discussing previously: CG asks Ana to cut his hair for some reason. It feels quite out of character to me because he's so uptight about his appearance. Just doesn't seem to me like a dude who's going to ask his wife to hack away with a pair of scissors and see how it goes. But his explanation does pretty much check out:
“Why?” I whisper.Yeah, that works. I guess this haircut is an Oedipus thing, basically. So that's cool. Wait did I say cool? I probably meant something else. I haven't written in a couple weeks so I'm having a hard time with my words. Wonder what I meant. Probably not "cool." Probably some different word. But what? Maybe it'll come to me later.
He stares at me for a beat, and his eyes grow wider. “Because it’ll make me feel cherished.”
Anyway we get a lot of Ana washing CG's hair in the sink and I can't even pretend to be interested in it. It's a scene that could work probably. Yes, there's something intimate about somebody washing your hair for you. But because these people are never more than 20 pages or so away from the nearest sexual encounter, it just feels like a slog. Like a thing I have to get through before the actual sex, which will also annoy me. All the sequences that are supposed to be seductive end up having the opposite effect on me.
I'm sure we discussed this phrasing before but it's so bad that I don't think I can handle not talking about it again.
“Enough of this primping. I want to fuck you seven shades of Sunday, and we can do it in here or in the bedroom. You decide.”Seven shades of Sunday. What the hell? No, of course this isn't anything anyone has ever said ever. When Ana said it back at her office, and CG repeated it back to her, it was almost like he was mocking her for saying such a nonsense thing. Almost. But this time around I can't tell. Now it seems more like I'm just supposed to interpret this as a regular thing that a regular people might say in a regular day. But of course, it's complete silliness. Nobody has ever said this ever. I think it's extra strange because it sounds kinda down-home and folksy but of course neither Ana nor CG are down home or folksy.
But most important: what the hell does it mean? I mean, I guess it means "a lot" but um.
When he raises his head he’s grinning salaciously at me, and I am Miss Wet Blouse 2011. My top is soaked and totally see-through. I’m wet . . . everywhere.Hey do you guys think that in England they say "wet blouse contest" instead of "wet t-shirt contest"? And it's all a very formal affair and the spectators wear monocles? And a dude in a tuxedo is like, "I say, this is good sport! Have a gander at the blouse on that lass on the far side, why don't you? Indeed! If I'd half an opportunity, I'd give her the old college try! Seven shades to Sunday, I would!"
Wow the more I think about this the more entertaining it seems. But goddammit. Ana is the human embodiment of the mid-Atlantic accent. She's from nowhere and makes sense nowhere.
I will give EL a little credit for this sequence: Ana is a more active participant than usual. She's playing along with CG, and gives every indication that she's enjoying herself and enjoying her role in his little games. I like that she says "Make me" here, when he tells her to hold still. That's fun! We're about two books too late and at this point I don't care anymore. But hey. Maybe if EL were to write a few more books she'd eventually get some of this stuff figured out. Here's hoping! Jk I hope she never writes anything again ever.
This scene uses the word "blouse" and the phrase "seven shades of Sunday" way too much for my enjoyment / comfort. Each one gets weirder to me every time I have to read it. And the first time was weird enough.
Ana has one of her famous nipple-only orgasms.
Ana goes down on CG for a while. I wish they would talk less in these sex scenes. It's gross. They talk a lot or more accurately, CG talks a lot. And it's always weird. Just weird weird weird. I just saw A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night and it's fantastic. One of my favorite things about it is that it's a movie where people actually shut up. Like, pretty often. People could really stand to shut up in movies. And in this book. Even more so in this book because cmon.
The weirdest, silliest part of this is where CG growls "Enough!" mid-beej. It's imperious and weird. It's like he's canceling a meeting. Enough!
Then they have sex. Here's a fun part:
And I realize it’s me that wants to fuck him seven shades of Sunday. I want him badly.Oho! Surprise twist ending! This is the ninth, and, lucky us, final time this bullshit phrase will be used in this bullshit book.
Anyway they finish this chore. Ana cries because she loves CG so much or, alternate theory: she's miserable and can't admit it but can't completely cover it up either. Oh well! Guess we'll never know.
I hold out my hands and twirl for him. “God, I’m a lucky son of a bitch,” he says admiringly.
Anyway. They go back to talking about haircuts. Ana runs to find scissors. And on her little errand we get not one but rather two! massive revelations! Srsly buckle your ass in because shit is going to get bonkers.
Are you strapped in? Got your helmet on?
Taylor is running his fingers down her face and smiling sweetly at her. Then he leans down and kisses her.
Holy shit! Taylor and Mrs. Jones? I gape in astonishment—I mean, I thought . . . well, I kind of suspected. But obviously they are together! I flush, feeling like a voyeur, and manage to get my feet to move. I scamper across the great room and into Christian’s study. Switching on the light, I walk to his desk. Taylor and Mrs. Jones . . . Wow! I’m reeling. I always thought Mrs. Jones was older than Taylor. Oh, I have to get my head around this. I open the top drawer and am immediately distracted when I find a gun. Christian has a gun!Huh well. There you go. Maybe the helmet wasn't necessary.
As we've discussed before, one of the main things that happens in fanfic is that people insist on having literally all characters be involved in romantic escapades, no matter how insignificant those characters might be. EL is just indulging in typical fanfic shenanigans here. She's going to have paired up every single character by the end of this mess. No question. The weirdest is going to be when Kate has Ethan both as her literal brother and as her brother-in-law. Weird, right? Is that even legal? I mean maybe it is but it's just not a good idea. I don't think.
Oh and CG has a gun. I can't be bothered to give a shit about this despite my general gun feelings, which are negative. The dude did have a gun brandished at him like, what, a couple weeks ago? And he has a full-time security guy doing security shit. It's maybe a little weird that the gun is unlocked in a desk drawer. That doesn't really seem right. But I am just not surprised in the slightest about CG's gun.
Also? I mean I don't want him to have a gun but I bet he's the kind of gun owner who really gets off on being safer than everybody and better trained and more knowledgable and all that so here's what I will say about CG and his gun: if that gun ever shoots anybody, it's going to be somebody who CG wants dead. It's not going to be an accident. I still think that CG might be a secret serial killer, but even if he is a secret serial killer, I bet he's also a responsible gun owner.
Anyway Ana returns to CG and has to talk a bout Taylor and Mrs. Jones. Hey do you think that Taylor ever changes the words around to the song "Mr. Jones" and sings them to Mrs. Jones? I totally would if I were dating a Mrs. Jones. Oh man. That would be so, so annoying. Just so, so annoying. Like if we were shopping together, and she was like, hey what color sweater should I get? I'd be like, All of the beautiful colors are very, very meaningful. And she'd be like, don't start. And then I'd be like, gray is my favorite color. I felt so symbolic yesterday. If I knew Picasso, I'd buy myself a gray guitar and play. Which is weird because I can't think of a gray guitar that Picasso ever painted. I mean probably he did. He painted a lot. But a gray guitar? Haven't seen that one I guess.
Wait where were we?
Oh. Ana mentions twice--once to herself, once to CG--that she thought Mrs. Jones was older than Taylor and it's very silly. Because either Mrs. Jones is obviously older than Taylor and it's pointless to bring up because it's obvious. Or it's not obvious that Mrs. Jones is older than Taylor, in which case who gives a shit?
Anyway. Haircut happens. Whatever. Who cares. Ana does a great job. Yawn.
Oh and then it's time to clean up and this exchange happens:
“Okay, I’ll get the broom,” he says wryly. “I don’t want you embarrassing the staff with your lack of appropriate attire.”
“Do you know where the broom is?” I ask innocently. This stops Christian in his tracks. “Um . . . no.”
I laugh. “I’ll go.”CG doesn't know where to look for a broom in his own home that he's lived in for, I dunno. Some number of years. Ana knows where the broom is in this home that she's lived in for a couple weeks. Ick. Thanks for keeping girls and boys in their places, EL! I mean, somebody has to keep our binaries binary!
Oh nice! I just looked, and we're almost through this! Almost!
You know what? We are done. Nothing of any importance happens in the last three pages. Just that thing where Ana restates her core insecurities and we're like, "Yeah you should probably get out of there," and she's like, "Yeah I guess everything is great!"
One weird thing is that the ebook version that I'm reading has, at the end of this chapter, a little endnote for earlier when Ana quoted Shakespeare. It's a very strange thing to see. A citation, in a novel? And of Shakespeare? I'm pretty sure that EL just did this to make sure we understood how smart she is, with all her Shakespeare references and whatever. Wow good work EL! She should probably cite all her Oedipus allusions too, while she's at it.
I guess there's another chapter after this? Too bad. Too bad.
Wet blouse joke is perfect
Thank you so much for reading and commenting! You have very nearly given me the enthusiasm to trudge through a bit more of this thing!
This is a super great one. Embodiment of the M-Atlantic accent, har.
Really appreciate it! Ok. I can do this. I'll finish the book. One more little pep talk for myself and I can totally do it.
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