Ariel and I are diving right into Fifty Shades Darker, because Fifty Shades of Grey ended on such a cliffhanger and we had to know what happens next (PREDICTION: I bet it’s sex). So let’s get started with our second book on Bad Books, Good Times before we take too much time to think about what we’re doing and read the sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey! Get excited!
Well, check this out! It’s a prologue! Look how fancy this shit just got!
The sequel starts with a prologue flashback to Christian Grey’s abusive childhood in first-person perspective from child Christian Grey. And it’s… fine. An unknown man comes into Christian and his mom’s home, beats her, and then finds Christian where he is hiding. It’s pretty haunting and teases out more information about how bad Christian Grey’s childhood was in an uninspired, but reasonably effective way.
He’s come back. Mommy’s asleep or she’s sick again.
I hide and curl up small under the table in the kitchen. Through my fingers I can see Mommy. […] He hits Mommy with a belt.
Strangely, E L James’s simplistic and limited writing technique works better for writing a child’s perspective than it does for Ana’s perspective. Yet herein lies its biggest drawback: any pathos the scene needs to work comes entirely from the reader’s response to the minimalistic account of the horror – child Christian himself is completely devoid of emotion.
Mommy doesn’t scream. Mommy curls up small.
I have my fingers in my ears, and I close my eyes. The sound stops.
He turns and I can see his boots as he stomps into the kitchen. He still has the belt. He is trying to find me.
It’s like in trying to make it sound like it was coming from a child’s perspective, James oversimplified the horror and left out what would really make this scene haunting: Christian’s reaction. Instead of actually being moving, the scene is less like watching a horror movie and more like reading the plot summary of a horror movie on Wikipedia. It’s classic James “tell don’t show” that we’ve all gotten pretty bored with by now.
I realize none of what I’ve written is particularly funny so far, but it’s kind of impossible to criticize a scene where a man drunkenly assaults a mother and child in humorous way. But don’t worry, it’s Ana time now.
We get back to Ana, and, aw geez, it’s like we never left!
I have survived Day Three Post-Christian
And then BAM! We hit the ground motherfucking running. Ana’s new boss, Mr. Jack Hyde (lay the symbolism on just a bit thicker, James) seems nice, but also makes Ana uncomfortable and she just isn’t sure why.
he smiles down at me, his blue eyes twinkling, as he leans against my desk.
“Excellent work, Ana. I think we’re going to make a great team.”
More importantly, Ana’s busy dealing with life without Christian, which is just the worst.
I don’t have the capacity for idle talk now […] I have become my own island state. A ravaged, war-torn land where nothing grows and the horizons are bleak.
Now, dealing with a break up can be excruciating, and I’m not gonna say Ana doesn’t have the right to any pain, but she quickly starts laying it on pretty thick. And when I say “pretty thick”, I mean “sort of into the realm of impossibility”.
By Wednesday lunchtime, I manage a cup of yogurt, and it’s the first thing I’ve eaten since Friday.
Fifty Shades of Grey ended with Ana and Christian breaking up. So guess how many pages into the sequel it is before they make plans to go hang out again? Because the answer is on the fourth goddamned page, of course.
Christian emails Ana asking if she still wants a lift to Jose’s art show, Ana decides that even if it’s super painful to see him, she needs to go support her friend Jose and Christian’s the best way to get there. And that’s tricky. She’s trying to put her feelings aside and act like an adult, and, you know, I’m almost proud of her! Of course, this is still a terrible decision, and it all goes to hell predictably quickly.
But two important things first! First, remember how Ana’s new boss is a creep? It’s okay, maybe you forgot. It happened, like, three whole pages ago. Anyway, that’s still a thing.
“Do you have a date tonight?” Jack asks as he strolls past my desk on his way out. […] “Maybe tomorrow you’d like to come for a drink after work. You’ve had a stellar first week, Ana. We should celebrate.” He smiles and some unknown emotion flits across his face, making me uneasy.
Also, remember how Anastasia Steele fits into the Bella Swan model of protagonist in that anybody can relate to them because there is literally nothing unique about them? Also still a thing.
I am my usual pale self, dark circles round my too-large eyes.
Hopefully that gives you a pretty good idea of what Ana looks like, because aside from her mentioning her hair (note: we can now assume she has hair too), we’ve got basically nothing.
Aaaaaaaaaaanyway, back to Ana meeting Christian ex-boyfriend Grey and things going to hell. Christian does his whole “Eat food!” thing and Ana’s all “Bitch, please. Don’t even.” (Her actual reaction in the book? “rolling my eyes heavenward”. Someone’s got the high ground!), and then Christian takes her hand and and he hugs her and she’s on his lap and she’s touching his chest now and he takes off her dress now.
So they go to Christian’s helicopter (the only reasonable way to get to an amateur art show) and have to take the elevator and there’s so much sexual tension and they talk about how there’s so much sexual tension and it’s pretty awkward. Like nine out of ten, easy.
Also, Christian still calls Ana “baby” half the time even though they broke up. James somehow found a way to make Christian saying “baby” all the time even weirder, which is actually kind of impressive, in a way.
“Escala’s over there.” He points toward the building. “Boeing there, and you can just see the Space Needle.”
I crane my head. “I’ve never been.”
“I’ll take you – we can eat there.”
What? “Christian, we broke up.”
“I know. I can still take you there and feed you.” He glares at me.
Why did she get alone with this guy again? Why did she get alone with this guy in a helicopter again?
And they fight more but it’s the same fight they had pretty much throughout the entire first book, so it’s not worth describing. What is worth describing is how hilarious Jose’s art show is.
It’s airy and modern, and there are several people wandering across the gallery floor, sipping wine and admiring Jose’s work. […]
“Good evening and welcome to Jose Rodriguez’s show.”
Well, that all worked out very conveniently for Jose! He’s so successful now he can’t even give Ana boy advice because he has to talk to newspapers and shit!
“listen, I should warn you-”
Suddenly, Miss Very Short Hair and Red Lipstick cuts him off. “Jose, the journalist from the Portland Printz is here to see you. Come one.” She gives me a polite smile.
Man, I hope we run into Miss Very Short Hair and Red Lipstick again. She seems like a pretty cool character.
“How cool is this? The fame.” He grins
Suddenly, Ana’s getting even more random, completely out-of-the-blue attention from everybody (again!), and this time it’s because there are a bunch of candid portraits of Ana in Jose’s gallery. So Christian does the not creepy-stalker-ex-boyfriend thing and buys every single one of them. Oh, shit, I got those adjectives all wrong.
“I bought them all, Anastasia. I don’t want some stranger ogling you in the privacy of their home.”
Makes sense to me! Oh, shit, I wrote that wrong too. Man, what is with me today.
Ana and Christian have another fight and it gets irritatingly childish pretty fast. Christian wants to leave, Ana wants to stay, Ana says goodbye to Jose and starts talking to him, Christian’s all “no, come on, we have to leave”, and Ana and Jose hug goodbye and Ana kisses him on the cheek congratulating him and Christian drags her out of the building and makes out with her in an alley.
Keep it classy, Christian Grey!