Real fast before we get into the bad book bashing we get into here on Bad Books Good Times, you should totally take a look at the BuzzFeed bashing I got into at NPR. Because my first article for NPR went up last Friday, which is pretty cool. I didn’t think it would be about bashing BuzzFeed, especially since I wrote another article before this one that hasn’t gone up yet, but I’m also just sort of aware that this is how my life works. Writing biting criticism on the internet. Who saw it coming.
Last week, we finally finished E L James’s Fifty Shades trilogy. As thrilled as we are to never have to read about the saga of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey again, we’re mildly terrified to see an incarnation of Bad Books Good Times without erotica, because it’s so much fun to riff on terrible smut.
So we’re returning to Fifty Shades of Grey‘s hotter, crazier cousin who kind of scares you a little bit: Sylvia Day’s Crossfire series. Bared To You was a better written but more offensive Fifty Shades ripoff, so how will the sequel, Reflected In You, compare? Will it be an improvement over Bared To You or the Fifty Shades sequels? God, I hope not. Unnecessary sequels to godawful ripoffs of godawful books should be a gold mine for the dick jokes we all know and love. Or, uh, a dick joke mine.
You know what? Let’s just go with “mine”.
At the end of Bared To You, Eva and Gideon resolved their problems. So, uh, now we have a sequel to explore… something. Not that this is a problem! Not every story that gets a sequel needs to leave substantial loose threads and cliffhangers to justify a sequel. Think about the original Star Wars, which ended with a significant Rebellion victory against the Empire that resolved the characters’ main issues (Luke needs to prove himself, Han needs to care about someone other than himself, Leia got a new hairstyle) in the process, and then the sequel built on that to explore greater issues (the fate of the war now that the Rebellion and Empire were more evenly matched, Leia wearing clothing that wasn’t a gold bikini), and that totally works! Think about Friends, which ended with people having grown up and moving on in their lives, and then the spinoff Joey built on that to… okay, let’s not talk about Joey.
Except that isn’t how Bared To You ended, because Eva and her best friend Cary are fighting and Cary’s busy destroying his relationship with affairs and the rest of his life with crazy orgies. So there’s an unresolved plot point that means we have to have a sequel. Pretend the original Star Wars concluded instead with a significant Rebel victory against the Empire, Luke proving himself, and Han throwing a crazy orgy that pissed off Chewbacca. Now you need a sequel so Han and Chewbacca can resolve their differences, even though everything else that was more important was resolved. Pretend Friends ended with five of the friends growing up and moving on in their lives, and one friend not actually doing anything different. Now you need a spinoff so Joey… okay, let’s not talk about Joey.
Worse, an unresolved plot point like this basically carries the burden of being the basis for the entire sequel, because it’s the reason why we have one, although I’m guessing this is going to take the Fifty Shades Darker-route and immediately discard it for something completely different.
Anyway, I’m now 600 words into this post, so let’s actually open the book!
I loved New York with the kind of mad passion I reserved for only one other thing in my life.
I actually kind of like this first sentence. It’s like a not-at-all subtle reminder for people who hadn’t read the first book in a while to remember, “Oh, right, this book is about sex!”
The pulsing energy of the city fueled international business bloodlines and drew people from all over the world.
And the embodiment of all that vibrancy, driving ambition, and world-renowned power had just screwed me to two two-curlingly awesome orgasms.
Sylvia Day: wasting nobody’s goddamn time.
I had an hour and a half before I had to be at work, which was cutting it a little close for comfort. […] I heard Gideon’s voice the moment I stepped into the hallway. A tiny shiver moved through me when I realized he was angry, his voice low and clipped. He didn’t rile easily
Do you remember the first book, like, at all? The whole thing is Gideon riling easily. Remember the time Gideon got mad at Eva because he wouldn’t let her buy him a cell phone after they had been boyfriend and girlfriend for ten minutes? Remember the time Eva got mad at Gideon because she found out he didn’t tell her he was previously engaged, and he got mad at her for being mad at him? This isn’t just a misleading statement, this is a flat-out lie about the entire first book.
He stood with his back to the door and a Bluetooth receiver in his ear. His arms were crossed and he was staring out the windows of his Fifth Avenue penthouse apartment, giving the impression of a very solitary man, an individual who was separate from the world around him, yet entirely capable of ruling it.
Just spell it out for us poor stupid readers, Sylvia Day. It’s not like people can figure out meaning based on symbolism alone.
The first chapter continues to remind us what a magnificent specimen of man Gideon Gross is, as if the entire book won’t be filled with these same, recurring details.
The soft rasp in his smooth, cultured voice was nearly capable of making me orgasm just listening to it.
Oh my god, is this the secret of the voice-activated orgasm we mocked so very frequently in Bared To You and Fifty Shades?! Attention male readers: try telling women to orgasm in a smooth, cultured voice! This totally happens according to Sylvia Day and E L James – we must uncover the secret of the voice-activated orgasm!
“No time for that, ace.” I backed into the hallway […]
I found myself pinned to the hallway wall by six feet, two inches of hard, hot male.
“You know what happens when you run, angel.”
WOW THIS IS ALREADY PROBLEMATIC. ON PAGE FOUR.
Okay! Well, then. I’m already sick of the Eva and Gideon story. Unfortunately, we only get teased with the Eva and Cary story (Gideon has to go away for the weekend and wants Eva to come with him, Eva wants to stay behind to work things out with Cary, Gideon immediately gets riled up like this book tried to claim five pages ago that he doesn’t). This means that Cary gets pushed to Chapter Two, which means Chapter One gets to sneak in an implication for the real plot of this sequel, and – a la Fifty Shades and Leila – it’s a mentally unstable person from someone’s past!
I realized what his real objection to being apart from me was – Nathan. My former stepbrother was a living nightmare from my past that Gideon seemed to fear might reappear in my present. It frightened me to concede that he wasn’t totally wrong. The shield of anonymity that had protected me for years had been shattered by our highly public relationship.
Ariel took issue with this detail yesterday, but I have to disagree and say that this makes enough sense to me. Eva has more public exposure now, so it’s going to be harder to stay hidden from a dangerous person. Especially in books like Sylvia Day’s and E L James’s where the entire world is composed of the same dozen people who keep running into each other.
Gideon agrees to let Eva catch up with her best friend so long as she stays in a building he owns with his security team at all times because there may be a man who sexually assaulted her in the past trying to hurt her, which is the exact plot of a chapter from the third Fifty Shades novel.
Only eighteen more chapters to go!