Book Review: Fifty Shades of Grey (part 21)

I was gonna make a post telling you guys I was back from vacation, but then I remembered that I neglected to make a post telling you guys I was leaving for vacation. Well, I was gone, now I am back, have more Fifty Shades.

Chapter 1

Previous chapter

Fifty Shades of Grey: Chapter Twenty-One

Yet another chapter that begins with Ana waking up. Who let this get published?

Ana actually has some semi-interesting thoughts while lying in bed. She realizes that her relationship with Christian is a fantasy, and his idea of the relationship is completely different from hers. The best she can hope for with Christian is coming to some sort of compromise.

She’s being unusually lucid about the situation. Let’s see how long this lasts. (Here’s betting all her logical thinking evaporates the second she sees Grey.)

Ana gets up and walks to the kitchen, where she runs into an attractive middle-aged woman. Guess what her hair color is? That’s right, blonde! This is Mrs. Jones, Grey’s housekeeper. She greets Ana kindly and offers her breakfast. Ana says she’d just like some tea, and asks where Christian is. He’s in his study.

Ana wonders if maybe all Christian’s pretty blonde employees are ex-subs. That’s not very professional at all.

Christian is on the phone talking business. It’s exceedingly boring and most likely unimportant. Once he gets off the phone, they have sex on Christian’s desk. It’s also exceedingly boring, though mercifully brief.

They have an awkward and boring conversation afterwards and then Ana leaves to take a shower.

Once she’s done, they go to the kitchen to wait for breakfast to be served. Christian asks Ana if she’s bought her plane ticket yet (except he says “air ticket” — is that a Britishism?), and she says she hasn’t. He offers her the use of his private jet, but she declines.

Hang on. Isn’t this flight going to be quite expensive if she’s leaving that night and hasn’t even bought the ticket? And isn’t Ana a poor college student? Or, at least, a not-particularly-wealthy college student? Grey’s private jet offer doesn’t sound like such a bad idea if it saves her hundreds of dollars.

After breakfast, Ana reminds Christian that he never told her why he doesn’t like being touched. He tells her he’s told her more than he’s ever told anybody, and she decides not to press the subject.

Wait. Christian sees a therapist, right? Has he not told his therapist about this?

Cut to Ana’s second interview of the day. The first one went well, but she’s less interested in that internship; it’s with a large publishing house, and she would be one of many editorial assistants. (So what? I worked at a large publishing house and it went just fine. And I was an eleventh grader. Calm down, Ana.) This second interview is for an internship with a small publishing house, Seattle Independent Publishing, which mostly publishes local authors. Oh, honey, have fun finding anyone good enough to publish working from that small a pool. You are going to be publishing some shitty, shitty books, dear Ana, and it serves you right for being a character in one.

Her interviewer’s name, I shit you not, is Mr. J. Hyde. I bet this name won’t be at all meaningful. Not in the slightest.

For no reason, Ana spends about a paragraph describing the furniture in the waiting room. Literally no one cares. Description for description’s sake is only worth reading if it’s well-written, and this book wouldn’t know well-written if well-written tied it up and spanked it till it came.

The receptionist is young, black, and with a “bohemian look about her”, so Ana decides that she’s “the sort of woman [she] could be friends with”. As opposed to all of Christian’s employees, who seemed like perfectly nice people but who happened to be blonde. We can’t have dark-haired people being friends with blondes.

Another dark-haired woman comes out to call Ana in for her interview. Ana reacts more positively to her than she has to Christian’s blondes, thus confirming my theory, or at least lending it one more shred of evidence. Also, she is described as having “pre-Raphaelite hair”, whatever the hell that means. (I know the pre-Raphaelites were a group of painters, but does anyone except art majors really know off the top of their head what pre-Raphaelite hair looks like?)

Her interviewer’s first name is Jack, and he has red hair in a ponytail and “fathomless dark blue eyes”. Didn’t Twilight have at least one evil redhead? Whatever, we know he’s evil because his last name is Hyde, anyway.

The narration skims through the interview, but it seems to go well. Ana starts off nervous, but eventually relaxes. She gets a bit snobbish when it turns out that all Jack’s favorite books are American and relatively modern (past 60 years). So what? That doesn’t automatically mean he has bad taste. There’s been some good stuff written in that time period.

Jack is the slightest bit flirty with Ana, so I guess he’s probably going to try and rape her later on so that Christian can step in, save her and be a hero. That’s the sort of thing this book would do.

When Ana gets home, Kate asks about the interviews and Ana tells her that she thinks she could fit in at the smaller publishing house, but that the interviewer was “unnerving”. Really? We didn’t get any evidence of that. Ana described him as charming and clever, and said she was initially wary of him but that dissipated as the interview continued.

Don’t just tell us, author, show us.

Ana asks Kate to stop winding Christian up. She says:

“…I was trying to make him jealous – give him a little help with his commitment issues.”

I don’t see how making him jealous would help with that, Kate. If he gets jealous, it’s because he thinks Ana isn’t committing, and why would that compel him to commit to her?

Kate agrees not to wind Christian up anymore. She asks Ana if everything’s okay with her and Christian, points out that Ana’s been acting differently since she met him, and tells her to feel free to talk to her about Christian if she needs to. Ana tells Kate she thinks she’s fallen for Christian. Kate says that that’s obvious, and that Christian seems to have fallen for her too. She urges Ana to tell Christian how she’s feeling; Ana is nervous about doing so, but Kate points out that Christian may be equally nervous about confessing his feelings.

This is actually kind of a sweet scene, and the closest we’ve gotten to realistic BFF interactions between Ana and Kate. It’d help a lot if I liked Christian, of course.

Kate leaves to get takeout and Ana mopes around for a while before deciding to email Christian. During the email banter, which, again, is halfway decent at times, Ana asks Christian if Mrs. Jones is a former sub. He’s surprised (and, it seems, a bit offended) by the idea and tells her that none of his former subs are his employees.

Blah, blah, more banter. At one point Christian says:

I am glad you have limited experience. Your experience will continue to be limited – just to me.

Are you implying that Ana will never have the opportunity to date anybody else? In a long-term, committed relationship this would make some sense as a statement provided both partners firmly believed that the relationship would last for the rest of their lives, but Christian and Ana have only known each other a few weeks, and under the contract their relationship is (at least at present) limited to three months.

That’s too early to be staking claim on her entire sexuality, Grey. Fucking creepy.

Of course, Ana doesn’t protest this because her sexuality is single-target anyway.

Kate and Ana leave for their respective flights at the same time. Ana, upon checking in, discovers that Grey has upgraded her ticket to first-class. She finds this annoying. While I sympathize, I gotta say that the extra leg room in first-class might make this worth it. Especially as she’s on a red-eye.

Apparently there is no security in this airport, because Ana heads straight to the first-class lounge after getting her boarding pass.

Holy Cow! Alert: Astonishingly, this chapter contains no holy bovines.

And Now, A Word From Ana’s Subconscious Alert:

  • [Ana is feeling, as she puts it, well-used] Yes, that would be all the sex then. My subconscious purses her lips in disapproval.
  • [Ana wonders what’s up with Christian’s abrupt change of mood after having sex with her] I look to my subconscious. She’s whistling with her hands behind her back and looking anywhere but at me.
  • [Ana and Kate talk about Christian] Kate gazes at me with pursed lips and narrowed eyes, rather like my subconscious – all she needs is the half-moon specs.
  • [Ana checks both her BlackBerry and laptop for email, but is disappointed when the result is the same each time — no new messages] Same email address Ana – my subconscious rolls her eyes at me, and for the first time, I understand why Christian wants to spank me when I do that.

Does “Inner Goddess” Mean What I Think It Means? Alert:

  • [Ana thinks about whether or not she’ll sign the contract] My inner goddess glares at me in desperation. Of course you’ll sign.
  • [Ana thinks Christian Grey is too beautiful for her] No my inner goddess scowls at me, not too beautiful for me. He is sort of mine, for now.
  • [Ana’s subconscious doesn’t know why Christian is acting moody] She hasn’t got a clue, and my inner goddess is still basking in a remnant of post-coital glow.

Oh My! Alert: Only once.

Britishing Alert: Ana’s vacation is referred to as a “holiday”, she calls her carry-on bag a “rucksack”, and a man in the airport beams at her like she’s “the Christmas Fairy”.

Thoughts So Far:

You may have noticed I haven’t been doing Great Prose alerts anymore. That’s because the entire book is a Great Prose alert. I have given up. When every sentence is awful, it’s hard to pick out which ones are more awful than the others.

Really, the prose is some of the worst I’ve ever seen. This is, generally speaking, one of the worst things I have ever seen. The fact that people paid to read this saddens me greatly, as just having to read it is punishment enough without losing money over it.

Next chapter

5 Responses to “Book Review: Fifty Shades of Grey (part 21)”

  1. Regular Guy Says:

    OH LOL LOOK AT ME I’M E.L. JAMES THIS MR. HYDE GUY IS GOING TO HAVE A HIDDEN PERSONALITY
    Seriously? Just… seriously? I can’t really say anything to how BLATANTLY BUCKING OBVIOUS it is. Getting a missile to the head is more subtle. I’m just glad there was no rape-y stuff in this chapter.
    Anyways… keep pressing on, Skep. And… just a question… do you ever plan to MST some MLP:FiM badfic?

  2. I don’t like the rape vibes any more than you do, but for many people (particularly those who are into BDSM) sex in which one partner is unwilling to an extent is sexy. Since this book was originally smut fanfic, I wouldn’t be quite so harsh on the rapey elements. (Not that rape isn’t horrible, I mean.)

    • But that’s roleplay. I think I’ve pointed out several times that the stuff Ana and Christian do with each other would be perfectly fine if it was roleplay, but it’s not written as though it is. Rather, it’s just presented as “kinky” when he does stuff to her without her informed consent, which serves both to romanticize abuse and demonize BDSM by confusing the two.

      With informed consent and trust between both partners, this would be BDSM. Without it, it’s abuse.

  3. The formatting on the Oh My! Alert and the Britishing Alert broke. Just thought I’d let you know.

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