I just got back home after studying abroad for a year, which meant, among other more important things, that I couldn’t borrow my friend’s copy of Fifty Shades of Grey anymore. This meant that I had to actually go buy a copy of this book. This meant that one of the first things I had to do when getting back to the States after a year in England was go to a bookstore and buy some erotica. Ariel gets to keep our friend’s copy of this book; she doesn’t even know what it’s like.
On a similar note, I was at lunch with my mother and my sister, talking about how I was going to have to get a copy of this book after lunch. I mentioned my hatred for the book, and my mother responds by saying that she really only wants to read the sex scenes. Much to the amusement of a woman at the table next to us, who kept smirking even after I made eye contact with her, and much to the chagrin of the family with young children at the other table next to us.
At the end of the last chapter, Christian Grey’s mom suddenly shows up in his apartment while he and Ana are getting some bondage on, so, naturally, they stop having sex to go meet her.
Holy shit. Christian’s mother. This is so much more than I bargained for.
Whereas the surprise BDSM and nondisclosure agreement were more or less what she expected, I guess.
“Mother, this is Anastasia Steele. Anastasia, this is Grace Trevelyan-Grey.”
Dr. Trevelyan-Grey holds her hand out to me. T … for Trevelyan? His initial.
Thus giving the boring mystery a boring conclusion. Sorry, guys! No Sherlock Holmes shit in this novel!
Ana’s meeting with Christian Grey’s mother is suddenly interrupted by a phone call from Jose! Apparently Jose’s attempted sexual assault just didn’t make him unlikeable enough, because now he’s also super whiny and amazingly even more annoying than Ana, so she hangs up on him so we can put off having to listen to him, so, yay good job Ana! But then almost immediately afterwards, Ana’s narration reaches a new low.
Taylor appears from… where?
Ana is so confused about Christian Grey’s assistant being in his home (for some reason), that she can’t narrate any better than trailing off from her original thought and just vaguely wondering about what she was supposed to tell us. This is actually impressively bad narration. Imagine if other novels just gave up in the middle of explaining a confusing concept like this.
- It was the best of times, it was the worst of… when?
- As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic… what?
- Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in… how?
- What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the… where?
- He loved… who?
Don’t worry, because things soon get even more baffling when Ana has maybe never used the internet before!
“[…] May I suggest you do some research, so you know what’s involved.” […]
“You’ll be amazed what you can find on the Internet,” he murmers.
Yes, Ana’s reaction to someone suggesting that she research things is “research?”, and then when they suggest she use the internet, her reaction is “internet!”. That’s not even hyperbole; she actually suddenly reverts to the question and answer skills of a four year old.
“I don’t have a computer.”
Does E L James honestly think this is possible? Ana’s supposed to be an English major on the verge of graduation, and somehow she doesn’t own a computer. Admittedly, she says that she just uses the school computers or borrows her roommate’s laptop, but this whole exchange also demonstrates that Ana doesn’t fully understand the concepts of research, the internet, and researching on the internet. How the hell is she graduating? How old is E L James? Why is she writing this novel???
Anyway, Ana and Christian leave to go get lunch and Ana wonders what Taylor the butler/assistant/person thinks of her.
No doubt he thinks I’ve succumbed to Mr. Grey’s dubious sexual habits. Not yet, just his exceptional sexual habits.
Anastasia Steele: not very good at adjectives.
The elevator arrives. We walk in, and Christian presses the button marked “G”.
I’d like to pretend that Ana gives this detail like this because she actually doesn’t know what the G stands for.
So they drive to a restaurant, Christian has a really creepy comment about when he gets Ana’s submission then her defying him will stop, and then they get to the restaurant and I actually got a real chuckle out of what I think was supposed to be a real joke!
“Two glasses of the Pinot Grigio,” Christian says with a voice of authority. I purse my lips, exasperated.
“What?” he snaps.
“I wanted a Diet Coke,” I whisper.
Then there’s this conversation about how Christian’s mom thinks he’s gay and I really, really hope this isn’t a major plot point. After that, we learn that Christian Grey’s all into BDSM because a friend of his mom seduced him when he was fifteen and he was her submissive for six years, which he sums up with “I didn’t really have a run-of-the-mill introduction to sex”, which, yeah, I would agree with. Oh and also Ana is stupid.
“What’s vanilla sex?”
It’s a fucking word, Ana! You should know what the word “vanilla” means by the time you graduate from goddamned college. But moving on, after a rather weird lunch date conversation, Ana has a rather weird conversation with her roommate about sex.
“I’m glad you lost it to someone who knows his ass from his elbow.”
Which is kind of a weird saying, but whatever! They reach a lot of conclusions that I take issue with and I could go into why but I could also just ignore that I ever read them and I’m going to do that.
“[…] Men,” she says in mock disgust. “They’re animals.” We both laugh.
After that Ana talks to Jose on the phone again and we get what might actually be the most unnatural dialogue in the book thus far:
“Can I see you? I’m sorry about Friday night. I was drunk… and you… well. Ana – please forgive me.”
“Of course. I forgive you Jose. Just don’t do it again. You know I don’t feel like that about you.”
There’s a lot that’s wrong with this, and it gets way weirder as the conversation goes on, but the main thing I want to point out is that Ana (and E L James?) is taking attempted sexual assault way too lightly. On a less horrible note, there’s still plenty of stuff in this book that’s so bad it’s hilarious, like most of Ana’s euphemism’s for sex.
I am weary from all the carnal exertions of the last day
But even more interestingly, the crap scale gets a huge workout during this chapter!
- His mother! Holy crap.
- Grabbing my jacket, I dash into the bathroom and stare at my too-bright eyes, my flushed face – and my hair! Holy crap…
- “Anastasia interviewed me for the student paper at WSU because I’m conferring the degrees there this week.”
Double crap. I’d forgotten that.
- “Dios mio! Ana!” Holy crap, it’s Jose.
- “So the photographer called?”
- His quiet, chilling tone is a warning, and with one long, cold look at me, he heads back to the bedroom. Holy crap.
- “Did he make you come?”
Holy crap. She’s so blunt.
I have no idea how to fix the crap scale now. We’ve got holy craps attributed to Christian Grey’s mother, Ana’s appearance, her best friend calling her after attempted sexual assault, Christian Grey reacting to said phone call like a normal concerned person, and Ana’s roommate asking her if she had any orgasms recently. These are all more in line with the numerical, quantitative crap scale than the theorized qualitative crap scale, and, most importantly, not a single holy crap concerned food. Guys, I just have no idea what to do with the crap scale at this point. I need some time to figure out how to fix this mess…
So you know howFifty Shades of Grey is supposed to be a steamy erotic novel? Well, what’s sexier than an entire chapter of reading legal documents!
But no, seriously, this chapter starts with ten pages of legalese (or something like it) outlining the submissive-dominant relationship between Ana and Christian and it is about as exciting as you would expect reading ten pages of a legal document to be, albeit a legal document that briefly discusses genital clamps.
oh, man, this is so much to handle. As Jose would say, a real mind-fuck.
When? When has Jose ever said anything even remotely like this? But then in addition to sub-par attempts at legalese, we get sub-par attempts at techno-jargon when Christian has a MacBook Pro sent to Ana with “full wireless N” and “Me account details”. Also, apparently for the first time in her life, Ana has an email address, because E L James may or may not have any idea what decade it is. So we get gems such as:
- Ana says “I do not want or need a computer indefinitely.”
- Ana, an English major close to graduation, asks “What would you suggest I put into a search engine?”
- Christian, in response, “Always start with Wikipedia.”
The chapter ends with Ana typing “submissive” into Wikipedia, and, for fun, I decided to do this too. Unsurprisingly, there is no Wikipedia article for “submissive”, and searching for this in Wikipedia redirects you not to a BDSM article, but redirects to the considerably less sexy article for “deference”.
It’s not enough that this book is so bad it makes English majors everywhere want to die, but the main character is an incompetent English major. And there are still over three hundred pages to go…