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?
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. Ana cuts Christian's hair.
- 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.
- Christian spends a whole chapter pouting because Ana went out with Kate without telling him.
- Christian pouts some more and reveals that he and Jack Hyde both used to live in Detroit.
- I don't remember. So probably nothing I guess.
- Oh I guess in twelve everyone left for Aspen. And then in thirteen, Elliot asks Kate to marry him.
- Kate says yes and someone touches Ana's butt and she slaps him and then CG hits him.
- They go home and nothing happens but Leila shows up at the end.
- That Leila thing is NBD but at the end Ana learns that her dad has been injured in a car wreck.
- Ana goes to Portland to be closer to Ray while he recovers.
Chapter 18 starts with maybe the worst-ever "previously on 50 Shades" intro:
I stir, opening my eyes to a bright September morning. Warm and comfortable between clean, crisp sheets, I take a moment to orientate myself and am overwhelmed by a sense of déja vu. Of course, I’m at the Heathman.
“Shit! Daddy!” I gasp out loud, recalling with a gut-wrenching surge of apprehension that twists my heart and starts it pounding why I’m in Portland.Right? Like, how could this be worse? Srsly. Ana is like a clunky old computer. As she powers on, her central processor at first only has access to the basic in-out system, which is like her brainstem, kinda? And then slowly her memories come back to her, but not all at once. Right? I mean yeah, every once in a while anybody will kind of wake up during a dream or at a weird moment and feel a little disoriented. But goddamn if Ana doesn't do it literally every time. I think she has some kind of sleep disorder, right? That's another thing we can probably add to our list of problems she probably has that are going untreated, right?
It's also another subtle way in which EL reinforces her weakness and CG's strength. He scarcely needs sleep at all, and at a minimum tends to wake up earlier than she does. I guess that's not totally accurate--he was having night terrors for a while. But at this juncture, it really feels like lady-needs-her-beauty-sleep / big strong man to comfort her.
Anyway. CG says he called the hospital and Ray is doing ok, or at least no worse. Oh and I guess it's Ana's birthday and CG gives her a charm bracelet and let me assure you: it is not interesting to read about all the different charms and their significance. And am I wrong or is Ana like, a good thirty years past the sell-by date on charm bracelets? Is that a thing for anyone? Or at a minimum, a thing for anyone her age? Anyhoo.
Check out EL's masterful use of subtext:
I sniff in a rather unladylike way. “I’m sorry. I’m just so happy and sad and anxious at the same time. It’s bittersweet.”Subtle! Congrats on that delicate work, EL. I think you nailed it tho! Really managed to capture Ana's complex series of emotions by having her list emotions. Nicely done.
Oh and also these jackasses are saying that things are "yar" and I don't remember why this is but I do remember that I hate it. And it's somehow not a pirate thing, I don't think. Whatever.
Goddamn this is awful. Everything is just an excuse for EL to remind us of shit from the first book. Christ. Why not just stick in that whole chapter again, right? Put in a shimmering harp sound effect and just paste in that whole mutterflushing chapter, right? I'm reading fanfiction of fanfiction.
They even go into an elevator and Ana says, "Fuck the paperwork" and it's awful.
Oh and outside CG has purchased Ana a new car. Is this a thing that resonates with anyone anymore, really? Owning all these goddamn cars? Is that a thing that a modern reader is excited about? Aspires to? I mean I guess there are rich people who own lots of cars. But how about you, dear reader? Do you want a sports car? Or is that just a thing that you enjoyed thinking about when you were a ten year old boy? Literally or metaphorically? I dunno. Maybe I just hate cars too much to be able to relate to this. But I really can't relate to it on any level. They've got like six cars or some shit now and I'm just like, really? For realsies?
Here's CG talking on the phone about the drunk driver who ran into Ray:
“How far above the limit? . . . I see . . . All charges, everything. Ana’s father is in the ICU—I want you to throw the fucking book at him, Dad . . . Good. Keep me informed.” He hangs up.
“The other driver?”
He nods. “Some drunken trailer trash from Southeast Portland.” He sneers, and I’m shocked by his terminology and his derisory tone.Ok so this happened in Oregon. Let's pretend that CG's dad is a lawyer because it seems likely, etc, based on this conversation and we can't be bothered to remember or look this up. Um. Ok so accepting that CG's dad--who probably has some nonsense name like Hortimer or Mockturtleneck or something--is a lawyer. . . need we also accept that Hortimer lives in Bellevue, WA, but is a prosecuting attorney in Oregon? This strikes me as unlikely. Even more unlikely than the way CG's mom just works at whatever hospital suits her. EL is always finding strange ways to connect new events to existing characters, as though there were only twenty people combined in the entire Pacific northwest.
I'm not terribly comfortable with CG's nasty and unhidden class hatred here but I guess I'm not surprised either. And the way he throws in "Southeast" makes it sound like maybe that's the "bad" part of Portland. You know--that part that's where all the alcoholics live. But of course EL doesn't know anything about Portland so it's just some little detail that's thrown in as a failed attempt at authenticity.
They wait around the hospital while Ray undergoes a CT scan. Ana gets all mad at her mom for not calling on her birthday but it's like, what? Maybe 10AM? Maybe later? Your birthday is all day, Ana. Give your mom a goddamn break. You don't want her calling too early anyway, do you? Just another one of those reminders from EL that men are all great and women are all awful. I think that that's the main message of this book: boys rule, girls drool.
God. EL is seriously just fucking around at this point. I think she's lost track completely and is just doing fan service:
“Oh, I love megalomaniac Christian, too, and control-freak Christian, sexpertise Christian, kinky Christian, romantic Christian, shy Christian . . . the list is endless.”
“That’s a whole lot of Christians.”
“I’d say at least fifty.”
He laughs. “Fifty Shades,” he murmurs into my hair.
“My Fifty Shades.”
He shifts, tipping my head back, and kisses me. “Well, Mrs. Shades, let’s see how your dad is doing.”
Like are you serious right now EL? Are you seriously serious? This is what you're doing now? Having the characters joke again about the name of the book that they're in? Fucking hell. This is so awful it feels like I must've made it up to mess with you but I didn't! I swear. FTB.
We learn that Ray's brain seems to be doing ok and then they drive around for a while because what could be more fun than driving? And then they eat lunch and of course they do it at a place we've seen already--this time it's the restaurant they went to in the beginning of the second book when they went to José's art show. That's what the fans want! To be reminded of the things they already know!
They hang out at Ray's hospital room for a while. Check out this terrible bit of writing:
I kiss Ray on his cheek, feeling his unfamiliar stubble beneath my lips. I don’t like it. Keep getting better, Daddy. I love you.
“I thought we’d dine downstairs. In a private room,” Christian says, a gleam in his eye as he opens the door to our suite.
First: adults using the word "daddy" is gross, right? Adult women saying "daddy" in any context doubly so, right? Ok good. Glad we're on the same page.
But more to the point: doesn't it sound like CG is talking about eating dinner in a hospital room? If any moment in this book could use a space break for clarity, it's this part right here. Right? But no. But no.
Anyway they go down to the dining room--in the hotel, not the hospital--and every character from the series who's not a villain is there to wish Ana happy birthday and I hope Ana feels like a terrible monster for being all pissy about her mom not calling her since her mom is now in Portland.
I'm skipping through this pretty quickly because there's just. . . . nothing . . . happening. Ana's friends and fam are all there for dinner, they eat dinner, and then it's the next day and Ana and her mom go to the hospital where things are pretty hospitally and then everyone is leaving again and we've skipped like ten pages but it's just all this water-treading and I don't see why you should waste your time on it. I mean, I wasted mine. That's enough, right? Just the one of us needs to deal with that.
They go back to the hospital again and Ana reads the sports page to Ray and he wakes up and that's the end of the chapter.
So um. Why? We had that cliffhanger, and then it's already neatly resolved two chapters later. Why? Why did we even bother? Why did we have to go through this? Was this seriously EL's plan to just to make Ana and Christian go to Portland so that they could revisit shit from earlier in the series? Because they couldn't have just decided that that would be nice, right? They had to have a reason. God. That's it, isn't it? "Hm why would our heroes go to Portland? Surely it would have to be the result of some catastrophe, yes? Ok I guess I'll put someone in a coma for a while."
This book is really bad you guys.
It's even worse that EL is burning off this perfectly good soap trope with nothing to show for it. I mean, if you're going to put someone in a coma, at least do something dramatic right? Like reveal that it wasn't really Ray in the coma after all, but his twin? And then have the evil twin take over for a while? I mean do something right?
I dunno guys. I dunno.
In other news, only one of my friends sent me a link about how the new movie is being filmed in Seattle this week and it's going to slow down traffic while they film that pointless car chase scene from the second book. Usually I can count on at least five friends independently sending me 50 Shades news so I guess y'all are sick of this too. I do not blame you. I do not blame you.