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? 

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. 
  8. Ana is extremely jealous of the architect hired to remodel the new home she will share with Christian. Ana cuts Christian's hair.
  9. Ana discovers that Christian keeps an unlicensed gun in his office. While Christian is away on business, Ana has a few drinks with Kate. When Ana returns home, Jack Hyde has been apprehended during an apparent home invasion. 
  10. Christian spends a whole chapter pouting because Ana went out with Kate without telling him. 
  11. Christian pouts some more and reveals that he and Jack Hyde both used to live in Detroit. 
  12. I don't remember. So probably nothing I guess.
  13. Oh I guess in twelve everyone left for Aspen. And then in thirteen, Elliot asks Kate to marry him. 
  14. Kate says yes and someone touches Ana's butt and she slaps him and then CG hits him.
Right so as teased above, we start with Ana waking up and taking stock of her position in the universe. 

I conduct a quick mental inventory of how I’m feeling. Stomach? Fine. Head? Surprisingly, fine, but fuzzy. My palm is still red from last night. Sheesh. Idly I think about Christian’s palms when he’s spanked me.  
She legit drank a lot the previous day so I'm kinda impressed. I guess I haven't spanked or slapped anyone so I'm not sure what to make of the end of this bit. But like, really? Hey suggestion: if your husband spanks you so hard that his hand hurts the next day, even if like it's a think that you're both way into? Maybe don't? Or I don't know. Get some kind of spanking-aid. Or wear gloves. I don't know. I'm no expert.

CG wakes up and our heroes spend the next page or so recapping the previous chapter and I'm just like, "I know! We were there, too!"

With little provocation, we end up here: “I’d fight you any day, Mrs. Grey. In fact, subduing you in bed is a fantasy of mine.”

There are many things that bother me about this. I mean, it's a little gross, obvs. But everything in this book is at least a little gross. So that's almost not worth mentioning. The stranger thing, to me, is that this kinda flies in the face of everything we've seen about CG so far. From the very beginning, he's basically been like, "Hey girl. Let's do it sloth-style." 

'Sup girl?

Any time Ana moves or whatever he's just like, "Ew geez hold still!" It's like he's trying to cut the hair of a squirmy child. But now he's like, "You moving around is a huge turn-on." Uh, ok. 

What’s this about? Brawling? Fantasy? Will he hurt me? My inner goddess shakes her head—Never. She’s got her karate suit on, and she’s limbering up. Claude would be pleased. 
Ah, yes. Her karate suit. We haven't talked about this in a while, but I should remind you that Ana has weird hallucinations. Oh and if you want to enjoy this book way more? Imagine that Ana's inner goddess is Cathy, from Cathy. 

Sorry. Couldn't find her in a "karate suit."
I don't remember who Claude is. I mean I know he's CG's fight-trainer or something. But I don't know whether he was even in this book or perhaps the previous one. And I don't really think Clod would be all like, "C'este magnifique! Cathy, she is using ze fight-training for ze love-making." I decided Claude was French but he's probably Belgian. I don't remember. But I'm sure he has some kind of accent because when EL was naming him she was probably like, "Huh what's a good name for a guy who does fighting? Can I just call him Jean-Claude van Damme? No? Ok then Jean-Claude. Too similar? Ok just Claude then."

They start messing around or whatever and Ana's hand still hurts so she probably broke it, right? That's kinda cray. Anyway.

OK BUT HERE'S THE SUPER GROSS PART. Ana drinks a glass of water and you won't believe what happens next!

Taking a leaf from his impressive repertoire, I lean forward and kiss him, pouring clear cool water into his mouth. 
He drinks. “Very tasty, Mrs. Grey,” he murmurs, sporting a boyish and playful grin. 
Oh puke. The actual water part, I'm like whatever. That is, to me, v dumb and not necessarily pukeworthy on its own. BUT HERE'S THE REAL PUKE!

Have you already put this together? Ana went to bed all drunked up and she's still in bed and hasn't brushed her teeth or whatever so she's got to be an absolute mutterflushing disaster. Like, her mouth right now should probably be a super fund site. Not that CG is likely any better but this weird baby bird kiss has got to be just so, so filthy. I mean am I wrong? No. I'm not wrong. This has got to be absolutely toxic. 

Anyway. Now they're sex-fighting. 

“Savage,” he whispers, his voice laced with salacious delight. 
In response to this one whispered word, my libido explodes, and I stop acting. 
Hey do you guys remember Salacious Delight? What ever happened to him? I used to love his old records, but I'll admit that I lost track of him after college so I don't even know if he did anything past the nineties.

It's kinda weird how Ana's libido explodes and she never mentions it again. Doesn't even let it interrupt her sex-having. Most people--when they get libiditis--that'll lay you up for a few days if not weeks. And any doctor will tell you that it's better to surgically remove the libido first before it explodes. Much safer in the long term. But anyway. I guess Ana's case is kind of a mild one maybe.

Anyway. This sex scene isn't terrible really. Or at least, I wouldn't think of it as that terrible if not for the fact that 1) These characters are filth-monsters who haven't brushed their teeth and 2) Every line carries in it an echo from a past scene and I feel like I've seen every bit of it already.

I don't think there's much value in me sharing any more of it with you. It's kind of too little, too late. This literally might be the best sex in the entire series, which really isn't saying much but there ya go. The scene is nicely paced, and all the people involved are like, into it and stuff. It doesn't go on for too long, either. Ends when it ought, and so on. So I guess like, good jorb, EL. Too bad you didn't do this like two books ago before I became so jaded. At this point, I think it would literally be impossible for me to enjoy reading about a bedroom encounter between the two heroes of this book.

Like, even if EL brought in some ghostwriter who'd won all the sex-writing awards, which is a thing that there probably is maybe. Even if that happened, but like, the scene was still these two people together? Recognizable versions of these two people? I just don't think there's any way I could be interested. Even if I tried. Which I wouldn't. And I don't.

As per yuzh [Editor's note: Dunno how to spell this one. It's "as per usual" only it's cut off to "as per yuzh" and yeah no idea how to represent that correctly but v sorry.] EL insists on a little tag scene after the scene where they talk or whatever and Ana brings up CG's ex and it's like, cmon! It's just the most mutterflushing obvious thing ever: you're all nekkid, in bed, and you just did one sex to each other so the things to not bring up are 1) anybody's ex or exes 2) anybody's parent or parents 3) I dunno probably some other stuff too but those first ones are biggies so like, be cool Ana, ok?

Anyway CG deals with it admirably so that's good. And anyway he allows as how maybe it wasn't so good to be his ex's #teen sex object when he was in high school and whatever. Which Ana regards as some magnificent breakthrough or something but I don't because I don't care.

Next is another little pointless scene where Ana sees CG swinging a bamboo cane that was supporting a plant or something out in the yard and obviously that's going to be some kind of sex weapon and this makes Ana think things and feel feelings. Nothing else happens in this scene. It is short and pointless. It's weird of me to say nothing "else" happens in this scene as that implies that one thing happens in this scene. But that's not really true. It's much more like zero things.

The next scene starts with Ana waking up on an airplane. Holy shit another scene is starting with Ana waking up! There is not a character in all of literature whose sleep patterns have been documented as carefully as Ana's and that is a lot of fun and v worthwhile and really helps us get interested in her and stuff. Nothing happens in this scene either, other than we learn that it seems like Mia and Ethan aren't doing it yet, in accordance with EL's theory of the novel, which is that everyone must be doing it with someone by the end of the book.

ANOTHER new scene starts and now they're driving back home from the airport and Taylor is there driving. And this dude? How does he get around the way he gets around? I don't get it. He got to Aspen ahead of our heroes and now he got to Seattle ahead of our heroes and I guess that he's flying commercial? But somehow getting in faster? WTF is the point of having a private jet if your manservant can fly commercial and get in ahead of you? I don't know. Maybe Taylor is some kind of magical being who isn't constrained by space and time in the same fashion. That's cool too I guess. Wouldn't it be great if right at the very end EL dropped in a bunch of fantasy elements as though it were no big deal? Like right now just revealed that there are an infinite number of Taylors and they can all be summoned from the aether by CG using a magic bamboo sex weapon? Yes. You are right. That would be great.

ANOTHER new scene starts and now our heroes are getting ready for bed. Oh FTB. This is so awful. When I did chapter 13 I was like, "Oh hey this is fun! I got this!" But then here I am, a week later or whatever, and this is just such a mutterflushing snooze. Absolutely nothing of consequence is happening. We had that one sex scene and it was fine but I'm too sick of this book to care, and then this endless series of pointless pointless pointless pointlessness.

Here's some pointless stuff for you to read, too!

It’s been a revelation to see him out of his normal environment, outside this apartment, relaxed and happy with his family. I wonder vaguely if it’s because we’re here in this apartment with all its memories and associations that he gets wound up. Maybe we should move. 
I snort. We are moving—we’re having a huge house refurbished on the coast. Gia’s plans are complete and approved, and Elliot’s team starts building next week. I chuckle as I recall Gia’s shocked expression when I told her that I’d seen her in Aspen. Turns out it was nothing but co-incidence. She’d camped out at her holiday place to work solely on our plans. For one awful moment I’d thought she’d had a hand in choosing the ring, but apparently not. But I still don’t trust Gia. I want to hear the same story from Elliot. At least she kept her distance from Christian this time. 

Ok couple things. So EL retconned that whole Gia thing into pointlessness. Fine. Whatever. It was always pointless but now EL is just admitting to it which I guess is chill of her. Great. But here's the real reason that I'm quoting this passage: the snort and the chuckle. For reals? I mean, I kinda get it. EL wants to dump this information on us without putting it in scene, or even giving us a little scene of conversation in which Ana could mention this stuff to someone else. And she sees that it's a totally passive, empty scene so she tries to activate it a little by building in these responses from Ana but they legit make her seem borderline unhinged because who does that? Whose mind works like that? Nobody's. Ok cool. Moving on.

Wait moving back. Here's the first part of the scene: "Tomorrow we go back to reality—back to work, the paparazzi, and to Jack in custody but with the possibility that he has an accomplice." Haha yeah. Watch out for those Seattle paps because they are totally a thing! Whatever. There's some truth to the idea of Seattle CEOs being treated like legit celebrities because no legit celebrities hang out in Seattle so instead people talk in hushed voices about Bill Gates or whatever, like he's a star. But nobody camps outside his mansion to find out what he's gonna wear to lunch or whatever. Then on the next page, Ana:

“I’m not looking forward to going back to reality,” I murmur.
It's a small thing but cmon EL. This phrasing--back to reality--it just jumps out that second time. Points out that nobody is editing this thing. Plus the repetition just reminds us that the author is wasting our time. I get it, Ana. You don't wanna go back to school yet. I get it. That is a WOT. Waste o' time. 

Just keeps getting worse because they then again have a conversation where Ana is all, "Hey don't you wish all the kinky sex that you used to have?" For like the bazillionth time like she's trying to break him by asking the same thing over and over and over and over and over and etc. And then he says this thing that I hate so mutterflushing much but I just kind of can't properly put into words why I hate it so much but here it is:

“Well . . . we’ll see. Right now, I’d like some good old-fashioned vanilla.” 
Yeah? Let me see if I can figure it out. I'm not sure that I can but I'll try to list some of the annoyances but I think that somehow, my complaints about this line add up to more than their constituent elements. In this context, "vanilla" is kind of an insult, right? It means boring and square, so when CG says it, he's saying, "Let's be boring and square." Plus, the phrasing is meant to make us hold both the sex and ice cream versions of vanilla in our heads at the same time and that's no good because it makes me think of that scene where they ate ice cream off each other and it was a bummer. Plus, I'm just mutterflushing sick of this sex / ice cream thing because it long sense became one of EL's personal cliches and that's no good. And then maybe lastly--whenever Ana and CG use the word "vanilla" they kind of smirk like they're using their own personal, clever, secret code but the thing is we all get the code so it's not their private thing and also it's not clever. It's not funny.

I should not be stirred to such feelings by little sentences like this one but hey. I am. Ah well.

Soon it's the next morning and of course our zeroes are exchanging emails. Hey that's a new thing I'm going to do--refer to our heroes as zeroes. You know how people are always going from zero to hero in movies and stuff? I won't explain further. Right so our zeroes are exchanging emails and it's the absolute worst.

They're flirting with each other about some boring-ass dinner that Ana has to go to and then we get this mini-scene:

All the muscles in my belly clench. Hmm . . . I wonder what he’ll dream up. Hannah knocks on the door, interrupting my reverie. 
“Ready to go through your schedule for this week, Ana?” 
“Sure. Sit.” I smile, recovering my equilibrium, and minimize my e-mail program. “I’ve had to move a couple of appointments. Mr. Fox next week and Dr.—” 
My phone rings, interrupting her. It’s Roach. He asks me up to his office. 
“Can we pick this up in twenty minutes?” 
“Of course.” 

What the actual fuck. What the shit was the point of this scene? It's like, EL thought she needed some way to get out of these interminable emails, so she sticks this scene in but then goes right back to emails again so what was even the point? Goddammit. And then she interrupts this thing with Hannah, whoever she is, with Roach, whoever he is, like Roach is going to bring up something that fucking matters but then that's not anything either. Goddammit. This is legit like a series of boring dreams nested inside each other and it's making me goddamn furious. The fuck is the point of any of this?

Because next we're skipping ahead to MORE MUTTERFLUSHING EMAILS and they're emailing these little once-sentence nothings about whatever sex they had the night before and on the one hand I'm like, "Ugh thanks for not telling me about the sex you had at that boring-ass dinner the night before" but I'm also like, what the shit? What is the point of fucking any of this?

AND THEN ONCE A-FUCKING-GAIN Hanna comes into the office to interrupt emails only to move BACK to more fucking emails!

How many mutterflushing emails would you guess are in this shitshow of a chapter? Guess. Hold a number in your brain.

Got it? FIFTEEN. Holy shit. Fifteen mutterflushing emails. Goddammit I can't even stand it. This chapter is making me so angry. It's just a garbage chapter where nothing happens and oh, there you go: fifteen fucking emails. Ridonkulous. Just absolutely ridonk. The emails are little flirts plus they're talking about Jake Hyde a little and how he's a menace that we should still be worrying about even though the book has pretty much back-burnered him.

Oh and then Hanna comes into the office and ZOMG LEILA IS THERE! Christ. That's the only thing that happens in this chapter that matters: Leila is back in town.

In a better book, Leila would be a v interesting villain. EL toyed with the idea, early on, of making Leila a sort of nightmare-universe version of Ana. Similar looks, etc. But it looked like Leila was going to be the "weak" one who wasn't able to coax CG into a more romantic / less kinky relationship. Leila could've been Icarus, flying too close to the sun.

This could've been great! If Leila were around more, and then Ana and Leila are kind of representative of two sides of CG's desires and Leila is the one who's like, dangerous-sexy and Ana is the one who's romantic and sweet but less willing to indulge in his sexventures. And they're kind of pitted against each other but also Ana sees tons of stuff in Leila that she recognizes in herself and it's kind of a 'there but for the grace of God go I' kinda thing and then yeah we've really got something!

But we don't get that at all. Leila is dangerously unstable and also? Her doctors all report back to CG as though that were an ok thing for doctors to do and of course no, no, it isn't at all. Not in the slightest.

Anyway, there's Leila, showing up at Ana's work, but don't worry because nothing is going to happen to Ana obvs, and one of the security goons is there so we'll learn more next time I guess. Wether we want to or not!

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