Monday, May 30, 2016

50 Shad3s: Chapter 20

TLDNR: Christian is mad at Ana for being pregnant. Christian gets drunk with an ex.

Guys I'm still kinda upset about the end of the previous chapter.

I guess in a way I shouldn't be? I mean, it is terribly believable. If I were Ana, I too would be v upset about the notion of creating a human person using a mix of my DNA and the DNA of Christian Grey. I guess the cool part for her is that she won't have to do any parenting; they'll assuredly have at least one live-in nanny. Maybe a backup, too. But still! And plus being pregnant seems like it would be a rill drag in general, whether CG is involved or not.

So I get what she's feeling. It makes perfect sense. But it's pretty hard to square Ana's feelings with the notion that a) this is a romance we're reading and b) the idea that we're supposed to want these people together and c) the idea that Christian is not some kind of super-dangerous sociopath.

So what am I even supposed to think here as the reader? Am I seriously supposed to be rooting against the romantic leads having a kid together? I mean, I am doing that, sure. But EL is not what we might call "cliché-averse" and so I'm having a hard time accepting the idea that she's like, subverting a trope or whatever. Because usually you've kind of got two ratings-grabs for your tv show: 1) They get married. 2) They have a baby. All of my pop-culture training as a consumer of entertainment tells me that I'm supposed to want this. But I don't, and neither does Ana.

And why doesn't Ana want this? Oh because her husband is probably going to flip out and be all shitty, because he's a real shit. Her feelings are entirely understandable.

But we're in the context of this big trilogy, and so now I'm just like, how is this going to end? Well, I guess it ends with Jack Hyde behind bars and Christian being like, "Oh now I'm v cool with babies." So this trilogy is going to hinge on two things. 1) the capture of a villain who makes the briefest of cameos in the first book--a villain so minor that he was completely excised from the movie adaptation! And 2) one of the heroes not flipping out too much about the idea of becoming a dad. That's pretty weak, right? That's like, not the sort of story you really need to stretch into a three-book cycle.

Oh and let's bring up one other thing, though:

Just a reminder about how this series is fallowing the tropes of cis-hetero-whitebread-Dick&Jane blandness with extreme care. This is basically like, "What if, on Leave it to Beaver, Ward and June had tons of kinky sex before they started having kids?" This thing was teasing us with the notion of some transgressive stuff, but we're on a collision course with suburbia.

And that's fine I guess. You do you! But there must be plenty of readers who were drawn into this by the prospect of sexiness and so on who are more than a bit bummed out about how boring-ass the end of this is going to be. I mean, you and I totally saw this ending coming, other than the baby part, which I didn't see coming but I guess should have, considering how obsessively EL documented Ana's birth control sitch. Shoulda been a real give away.

But we did see that suburbia, metaphorically or literally, was exactly where this story was headed, and we were completely right.

Oh but where were we?

Friday, May 27, 2016

50 Shad3s: Chapter 19

Ana is pregnant. ZOMG.

Guys I just read this chapter and I don't know. I don't know. So EL is getting increasingly desperate here in the home stretch. Less and less likely things are happening. And um. Yeah. I mean you read that top part. The spoiler. I mean, to the extent that this thing can be spoiled. Like, I want to get through this. I totally totally do. But um. It's not easy. It's really just not easy. This thing is non-non-non-non-non-non-heinous.

But before we get carried away--where were we again?

Friday, May 20, 2016

50 Shad3s: Chapter 18

It's Ana's birthday and it seems like Ray is going to be ok.

This is a short and bad one. I'm honestly not sure if I just care less, or what, but I think I didn't write much about this chapter because nothing happens at all and it's hard to find much to write about when nothing much happens at all. You can totally read this whole thing during a single commercial break, even if you DVRed the show and you're watching commercials on fast mode. That's how short this is.

Wait where were we?

Monday, May 16, 2016

50 Shad3s: Chapter 17

Hospital stuff

I think I'm going to stop thinking of this trilogy as a trilogy, because it just doesn't behave like one. Ooh unless we're thinking about movie trilogies, in which case it totally does. And not like the rare trilogy that was planned as a trilogy. The sort of accidental trilogy where the producers are like, "Well, they keep buying tickets, so yeah I guess let's keep making these movies." Like, not with any plan or anything. Not one long story that needs to be told over multiple hours. Just like, "Uh I dunno. Maybe let's do this one in space?"

That's what's going on here. See, the core contradiction in this novel is never going to be resolved. The conflict in this book is either between Ana and Christian, or, thought of in a bit of a different way--each has their own personal conflict, which is that neither can just kinda relax and accept the other's love and not be a jealousy monster all the time.

But here's something annoying: EL is always offering her characters excuses to follow their worst impulses. CG is a hideous control-monster, yes, but he and Ana are being stalked by some kind of downmarket super-villain, so events basically justify his paranoid thinking. Ana is staggeringly jealous and insecure, but why shouldn't she be? Her husband's exes are always showing up and trying to get back into his life, and literally every woman who crosses his path displays a Tex Avery-style overreaction to his good looks and basically begs for a trip to his sex dungeon. That's absolutely everyone besides his lesbian personal assistant. Only the people interested in bedding zero men are not trying to bed Christian Grey. So maybe Ana should be jealous! I don't know!

But anyway--maybe at the end of this book, CG will be like, "I'm relaxed! We caught that one super villain so we no longer need to worry!" And Ana will be like, "I'm ok with the shockingly high proportion of humanity that wants to have sex with you!" But even if EL tries to force through a late-game arc like this, I just don't think I'll believe it. I expect I'll feel exactly the same about both of these characters: not mature enough to be in an adult relationship.

But hey. While we're waiting around in vain for all that, let's check in on the car collision that we're all so worried about!

So where were we? 

Monday, May 9, 2016

50 Shad3s: Chapter 16

That thing with Leila ends up fine but then I guess Ray is hurt or something. 

So Leila's return means that this book is in full-on wrap-up mode. So that's something! Makes me feel like the end is near! Cool. V important for my dwindling motivation.

Have we talked about Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans before? Probs. Let's again tho! So the thing with that movie is that it's kind of gleefully hostile to the idea of plotting. Toward the end, there's this scene where Nic Cage is back at police HQ and there's almost a literal line of minor characters just waiting to come up to him and say, "Oh hey remember our subplot from earlier in the film? It's all taken care of so don't worry about it! Thanks!"

After spending several chapters eschewing any dramatic tension, EL now ends two in a row with out-of-left-field cliffhangers involving tertiary characters that are impossible to worry about. I think it's because EL just doesn't succeed in making me feel like many of the characters are real people. More like little puppets that EL moves around as needed. Does that make sense? I mean, I know that everyone in this is a caricature character. But I feel a bit like there's a hierarchy. Some of the characters, like Ana and CG, have some kind of motivations and wants and needs and so on. But that's pretty much just Ana, CG, and Kate to a lesser extent. All the other characters are just so underdeveloped that they don't feel like people. Just devices. So that's not a great sign, obvs. But that's what we've got going on.

Meaning that when Leila--a lady who threatened Ana with a gun!--shows up, I'm quite unconcerned. I know that Ana isn't going to get murdered. And I know that Leila is probably just here to wrap up her little thing and will, in all likelihood, just be on her way in no time.

And when I read this chapter, and got to the next cliffhanger, I just kinda roll my eyes. Because it's another bit of pointlessness with a side character. Looks like EL is just trying to wring one last little bit of business out of everyone in this. Means José will be back soon enough, for instance.

But anyway! Let's catch up with Leila.

So where were we? 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

50 Shad3s: Chapter 15

Leila shows up at the very end after nothing happens.

So here's a thing I don't get, blogger: how come I type these things in Times but they end up in I don't know, probably Helvetica? [Editor's note: Arial.] That's fine. But I don't get it. I always use the "default font" and then I publish and it's something else. These are the mysteries that plague me! Like an actual plague!

Anyway. This book. I still kinda have this fantasy wherein I'd take these books and pare them each down to about a hundred pages. Wouldn't be hard--just time-consuming. Basically EL left in this whole Aspen chunk that legit never should've made it past her editor's first glance. It's all pointless, and it's just so comically padded. You know the phrase "gilding the lily"? This is like the opposite of that. Greasing the fat. EL is taking this stuff that ought to have been trimmed and just packing it with extra lard.

Seriously, throughout the series, there must be a hundred pages of Ana waking up. Nothing happening. No new information. Just Ana waking up. And she always wakes up in this weird way that, I expect, has little in common with anyone else's morning. Granted, when I'm going to sleep, I do tend to take stock of my whole life, my position in the universe, and all the terrible choices I've made throughout the day. So if she did that, I'd buy it. But something close to 10% of this book is just Ana waking up, describing how the bed feels, thinking about Christian, and kind of being surprised by everything. It's as though she didn't so much go to bed the night before, but instead just passed out somewhere and has to be like, "Ok I'm awake. Now to figure out where I am, and how I got here, and whether or not I'm in immediate danger." Just has nothing at all to do with the mental routine of any other human being ever, I'm rather sure.

And yet, it get such a prominent position in this book. I should do a Harper's index of this thing. Do a final count of just how many chapters end with Ana going to bed and how many start with Ana waking up.

This one starts with Ana waking up.

So where were we?