Guess who’s moved to a new apartment and has internet again! Guess whose roommates let him name the wireless network!
Grey: Saturday, May 21, 2011
Previously, Christian Grey kidnapped a drunk Ana, took her to his hotel room, and stripped her clothing while she was passed out. I’m not even exaggerating to make this sound bad; this is literally what happens in this story that has spawned a half-billion dollar movie franchise.
I strip, pull on my PJ pants and a T-shirt, and climb in beside her. She’s comatose
I’m sure you don’t need the reminder by now, but somehow this is not a treatment for a horror movie. Or an episode of Law and Order: SVU.
She mutters something unintelligible and her tongue darts out and licks her lips. It’s arousing, very arousing.
Speaking of reminders, you might recall what happens in the next few chapters of Fifty Shades of Grey, since this is the exact same story with the tiniest of tiny changes. When Ana wakes up, Christian makes another warning about how bad he is for her, she insists on learning anyway, they schedule a date, make out in an elevator, fly in a helicopter, he shows her the playroom and discusses the BDSM contract, Ana reveals she’s actually been a virgin (this whole time!), and then they fuck.
All of that takes place in this chapter.
So brace yourself. Or, as our favorite psychopath would apparently say, “STEADY, GREY”, because we’re in for a long haul of essentially-identical content to the first book, all clumped together into one chapter, possibly because even E L James just wants to get this over and done with.
So the good news is that just because a lot of this is content we’ve literally read before (even by Grey standards), what new content there is makes for unintentionally hilarious batshit inanity:
I’ve fucked many [women], but to wake up beside an alluring young woman is a new and stimulating experience. My cock agrees.
Man, I can’t wait to reread the exact same book, but pause periodically so Christian Grey can consult his cock.
In the morning, Christian gets up early, does some work on his laptop, and lays out some orange juice (Christian makes no comment on its divinity) and aspirin on the bedside table.
I have to get out of here before I do something I’ll regret.
Because neither abducting a drunk, nonconsenting woman, taking her to your hotel room without telling anybody, stripping her of her outer clothing, nor sleeping in the same bed as her constitute “something I’ll regret”, because these books take place in a strange world where regret has some strange, unknown meaning.
Christian doesn’t know what Ana likes for breakfast, so orders as assortment of room service “in a rare moment of indulgence”, which are the words he uses to describe his behavior on the same page as when he receives the all-new change of clothes he got his personal assistant to purchase for Ana. When Ana wakes up, the book almost writes its own jokes about how absurd and terrible it is.
Keep it casual, Grey. You don’t want to be charged with kidnapping.
Ana asks how she got there. Possibly knowing how seriously awful this is, the book tries to make this scene come across as Ana worrying she did something regrettable while drunk last night, which doesn’t really make this any easy to take because we, um, just read a very not-inebriated Christian actually do way, way worse things.
“We didn’t-?” She whispers, staring at her hands.
Christ, what kind of animal does she think I am?
The lack of self-awareness in this book is stupefying.
“Anastasia, you were comatose. Necrophilia is not my thing. […] I like my women sentient and receptive.”
As it might have occurred to you, the dialogue is the same as in Fifty Shades, which it has to be. So the real draw continues to be Christian’s thoughts in these already-familiar scenes. This draw, apparently, includes victim blaming:
[I] wonder if this has happened to her before, that she’s passed out and woken up in a stranger’s bed and found out that he’s fucked her without her consent. Maybe that’s the photographer’s modus operandi.
And that he thinks of the female body as his own personal property:
She really has great legs. She shouldn’t hide them in pants.
And, again, a completely hypocritical lack of self-awareness:
“You didn’t have to track me down with whatever James Bond gadgetry you’re developing for the highest bidder.”
Whoa! Now she’s pissed. Why?
Christian pretty explicitly states that “if you were mine”, he would physically punish her for what she did last night. We also get some brand new BDSM-esque batshit that E L James briefly googled since writing her last book.
An image of her shackled to my bench, peeled gingerroot inserted in her ass so she can’t clench her buttocks, comes to mind
Honestly, it doesn’t even matter if this is a real BDSM thing or not, because it’s so obvious by this point what a distorted portrayal of BDSM this book has to offer that anything new James throws at us just sounds poisonous. We all know that someone, somewhere, is gonna ask to have gingerroot shoved up their ass for not one reason other than that it was mentioned in this book.
Also I’m writing this post in a coffeeshop, so, uh, I’m not gonna google it, if you don’t mind.
Elliot texts Christian that, “Kate wants to know if Ana is still alive”, to which Christian responds with “alive and kicking”, with a winky face, just in case it didn’t sound murdery enough quite yet. He also briefly reflects on how at least now Ana’s “so-called friend” is thinking about her, because Christian is now responsible for all the people in Ana’s life, and this is a real recurring theme we’re going to have to deal with.
“Thank you for the clothes,” she adds. […]
“That color suits you.”
She stares down at her fingers.
“You know, you really should learn how to take a compliment.
“I mean, I forcibly abducted you and stripped you and didn’t tell anyone who knows you where you were going. Would it kill you to say ‘thank you’, bitch?”
Much like in Fifty Shades, this all continues to be a real turn-on for Anastasia Steele for some godforsaken reason. Also, Christian gives us a penis update.
“Enlighten me, then.”
Her words travel straight to my cock.
They agree to meet up for dinner and to talk that evening. E L James completely stops trying to make Christian seem like a likeable character.
“We’ll go by helicopter to Seattle?” She whispers. […] “Why?”
“Because I can.” I grin. Sometimes it’s just fucking great to be me.
On the way out, Christian texts an employee of his company to send him a nondisclosure agreement via email, because that seems like a great way to keep your deep personal life secrets a secret. They also have their infamous “Fuck the paperwork!” elevator makeout, which gains nothing from Christian’s point of view. Get ready to read the last half of that sentence a lot in the next few weeks.
Christian drives Ana back to the apartment she shares with Kate, and E L James continues to fail to make him sound like a decent person, even in subtle ways, because she has never learned how to be a better writer.
we fall into an easy conversation about my taste in music.
Just his. God forbid Christian express any actual interest in the woman he’s supposed to be fucking crazy about. And much like in the last chapter, where E L James doubted someone could possibly sleep through a band best known for a song consisting mainly of violins, it’s kind of unclear she’s hearing the same music the rest of us are.
We both listen, now lost in the raw sound of the Kings of Leon.
In much the same way that celery is served raw, I imagine.
Christian and E L James continue to confuse “love” with “desire to control every part of a person’s life”, as Christian outright ignores Ana’s preference to not be called “Anastasia”.
“Ana” is too everyday and ordinary for her. And too familiar. Those three letters have the power to wound…
…also how exactly does the word “Ana” have the power to wound? What the even fuck does this mean?
Christian and Ana get to Kate’s apartment, where Christian/James continue to have a worrying lack of understanding the significance of kidnapping an inebriated woman.
Kavanagh jumps up and gives me a critical once-over as she hugs Ana.
What did she think I was going to do to the girl?
The infamous “laters, baby” scene happens again, with no change from the original, aside from being in Christian’s head, where he muses about how “I don’t do romance, sweetheart”, and then does the opposite and copies his brother’s romantic (?) exchange anyway, which he then strangely does not reflect on. Because even when all James has to do is add Christian’s thoughts about a scene that’s already mostly written, writing new material is hard.
My thumb strays to her soft bottom lip, which I’d like to kiss again. But I can’t. Not until I have her consent.
Just so we’re totally sure we’re all on the same page here, here is a list of things Christian Grey thinks are fine to do without consent:
- Track someone’s location via their cell phone
- Take someone to an unknown hotel room, while drunk
- Remove their clothing
- Sleep in the same bed as them
In comparison to where he draws the line:
If you’re already nauseous (or reading this at work and having an increasingly difficult time hiding how angry you are for no particular reason), you might want to take a break before reading on, because Christian harps on how important consent is to him (so long as it’s not the aforementioned removal of clothing and sharing a bed, of goddamned course) a friggin’ crapton for the rest of the chapter.
We skip ahead to Christian’s afternoon, where he’s decided to perform a background check on José.
José Luis Rodriguez’s background check reveals a ticket for possession of marijuana. There is nothing in his police records for sexual harassment. Maybe last night would have been a first if I hadn’t intervened. And the little prick smokes weed? I hope he doesn’t smoke around Ana – and I hope she doesn’t smoke, period.
Wow wow wow wow wow. I don’t know where to start with this. Maybe with the careless racism (José is the only non-white character thus far, and, of course, has a shady history with illegal drugs! Happy microaggression!), the baseless smugness of Christian Grey (“Good thing I took the law into my own hands and prevented something that I had no way of knowing could maybe have happened before I decided to do so!”), or the “I hope she doesn’t smoke, period” part. I mean, if you’re romantically pursuing someone you’re interested in, it’s totally fine to have concerns about aspects of their life that you might not personally agree with but you have no way of finding out for a little while yet, such as drug use. But it’s another thing entirely to do it in this “I AM THE ARBITER OF MORAL DECORUM” way that Christian does everything.
Christian goes for a hike with Elliot, because obviously this chapter was missing something.
Later that evening, Christian picks Ana up for their date.
She’s dressed in black jeans… Jeans again.
Christian takes Ana in his helicopter, so once again it’s the exact same scene we’ve experienced once before from Ana’s point of view, but now with deep new insights from what’s going on in Christian’s mind.
“How do you know you’re going the right way?” Ana asks. “Here.” I point to the panel. I don’t want to bore her talking about instrument flight rules, but the fact is it’s all the equipment in front of me that guides us to our destination
OH MY GOD, THIS COULDN’T BE MORE BORING.
Even when something slightly more actually-relevant-to-a-goddamn-thing happens in Christian’s head, it’s an insanely tenuous connection to the very notion of “relevant”.
“I’m awed, Christian,” she whispers.
“Awed?” My smile is spontaneous. And I remember Grace, my mother, stroking my hair as I read out loud from The Once and Future King.
“Christian, that was wonderful. I’m awed, darling boy.”
…well, I guess it’s time for:
- “You’re a wizard, Harry,” Hagrid whispered.
“A wizard?” Harry’s smile was spontaneous. And he remembered a movie he saw this one time a few years again, in which someone said the word “Wizard” once.
“Look at all these great Halloween costumes! A vampire! A wizard! Doctor Who! Take some candy!”
- “But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun,” Romeo whispered.
“Sun?” Juliet’s smile was spontaneous. And she remembered a time she saw the sun in the sky once.
“See that bright thing, baby Juliet? It’s the sun. And that’s a tree.”
- “So it goes,” the Tralfamadorian whispered.
“Goes?” Billy’s smile was spontaneous. And he remembered a time a stranger asked him for directions.
“Excuse me, do you know if this road goes to the post office?”
They get to Christian’s apartment, and – yet again – we have a lengthy scene that we have already seen verbatim in a previous book. Which means that the only thing breaking up the tedium is… more tedium.
A sauvignon blanc would be a good icebreaker.
When Christian isn’t being a nightmare-inducing predator, of course.
I pour two glasses and walk to where she stands in the middle of my living room, looking every bit the sacrificial lamb.
But for the most part, it’s dialogue unchanged from what we’ve read before. And in the 4 years since Fifty Shades of Grey first found infamy, no, it does not hold up.
“I could hold you to some impossibly high ideal like Angel Clare or debase you completely like Alec d’Urberville.” […]
“If there are only two choices, I’ll take the debasement,” she whispers.
And then Christian makes it even worse.
There she is: disarming once more, surprising me at every turn. My cock concurs.
So once again, Ana signs the NDA without reading it, asks Christian if “you’re going to make love to me tonight”, and – seriously, I’m so sorry you have to keep reading me saying this – Christian’s perspective adds as much weight as a grain of rice.
Oh, Grey, let’s disabuse her of this straightaway.
“No, Anastasia, it doesn’t. First, I don’t make love. I fuck, hard.”
She gasps. That’s made her think.
Grey alternates being the exact same, boring dialogue and being Christian constantly thinking “OMG this is it! She could say yes! Or she could say no! THIS IS IT! I don’t know what will happen, but it’s going to happen so soon!” It’s basically all summed up with a single line of dialogue:
“Just open the damn door, Christian,”
PRO WRITER TIP: If even your characters are frustrated with how slow the narrative is progressing, maybe consider whether your readers will particularly appreciate it as well.
Christian shows Ana the playroom, which is somehow the most sterile, lifeless scene in this chapter so far, even by the standards of “all the equipment in the helicopter helps me fly the helicopter”. Even Christian’s reactions aren’t worth noting here. Just take a look:
“It’s about gaining your trust and your respect, so you’ll let me exert my will over you.” I need your permission, baby. “I will gain a great deal of pleasure, joy even, in your submission. The more you submit, the greater my joy— it’s a very simple equation.”
“Okay, and what do I get out of this?”
“Me.” I shrug. That’s it, baby. Just me. All of me. And you’ll find pleasure, too…
The only thing E L James can do to make this scene seem interesting from Christian’s perspective (and worth buying another new book for…) is to interject Christian repeating what the dialogue is already saying.
“Is it easy to find women who want to do this?”
Oh, if you only knew. “You’d be amazed.” My tone is wry.
Didn’t we learn two chapters ago that Christian is incapable of finding these women himself?
Eventually, we get to the part where Ana admits she’s never had sex before. I bet seeing this from Christian’s perspective will shed an entirely new light on the story!
“Well, I’ve not had sex before, so I don’t know,” she whispers.
The earth stops spinning.
I don’t fucking believe it.
“Never?” I’m incredulous.
Oh, haha, silly me. It absolutely does not. Because we could infer what he was thinking from the sentences we’ve already read because he’s been speaking his mind out loud the whole time.
To a fault, as we know.
“And a nice young man hasn’t swept you off your feet? I just don’t understand. You’re twenty-one, nearly twenty-two. You’re beautiful.” Why hasn’t some guy taken her to bed?
Interesting. Now we know that when Christian asked why Ana hasn’t been with a man before, he was really wondering why Ana hasn’t been with a man before. Fascinating.
Also, let it be noted (again) how the line “Why hasn’t some guy taken her to bed” demonstrates that Christian literally does not think of a woman’s consent or interest in a man as a relevant factor in having sex.
To be fair (and I haven’t had to say this a lot yet, which is almost more worrying), one part of this scene does actually manage to reveal a bit more of Christian’s psyche.
“How have you avoided sex? Tell me, please.” Because I don’t get it. She’s in college— and from what I remember of college all the kids were fucking like rabbits.
All of them. Except me.
Although like most of E L James’ writing, it’s simultaneously offensive and – and I’m struggling for the right word for this but I think I got it – doofy.
Nevertheless, Christian is smitten with the the fairly characterless Ana in a way that words fail to describe. Literally.
She’s so… different. And I want to fuck her
Nooooooo. I had no idea.
E L James’s frankly embarrassing writing fails to capture people that could remotely seem real, much less even interested in the story they’re in.
“We’re going to rectify the situation right now.”
“What do you mean? What situation?”
“Your situation. Ana, I’m going to make love to you, now.”
Although I guess if I were in Ana’s shoes and someone tried to initiate sex with “we’re going to rectify the situation”, I’d have a hard time summoning up more interest than could be conveyed with “Oh” either. Does this make this romance novel better? This is apparently what E L James thought.
Because this chapter won’t just end already, we have to cram in not one, but two sex scenes. And rereading these sex scenes – which were only Christian talking the entire time even from Ana’s point of view – somehow aren’t further fleshed out now from Christian’s point of view.
She’s probably never had an orgasm— though I find this hard to believe. Whoa.
Some of Christian’s inner dialogue is even lifted from Ana’s inner dialogue, which is just embarrassing.
I’m going to make you come like a freight train, baby.
And, lo, we relieve this nightmare all over again. Like the time Ana had her first-ever orgasm from Christian merely fondling her nipples.
“Let go, baby,” I murmur, and pull her nipple with my teeth. She cries out as she climaxes.
And Christian’s insanely cringe-worthy “you expand too”, which has managed to find a new way to be weird (oddly, inept?) from Christian’s perspective
Anastasia watches me with— what? Trepidation? She’s probably never seen an erect penis before.
“Don’t worry. You expand, too,” I mutter.
And, last but not least, E L James’s resounding inability to find creative ways to describe sex, which would seemingly be rather important for a professional erotica author.
One thrust and I’m inside her.
F. U. C. K.
And even when she does bother to find a metaphor, it’s the same. Metaphor. We have seen. In every. Single Sex Scene.
It’s another fucking explosion, you guys.
I explode in her
They have sex, which at one point E L James describes as so:
In. Out. In. Out.
Which, amazingly enough, is not the first time E L James has used this to describe sex. She has sold a gazillion books.
And – and this is the last thing, I swear – the chapter finally ends with the return of an old, old friend.
on command she shudders around me as her orgasm rips through her and she screams my name into the mattress.