Tuesday, May 24, 2011 – Christian Grey and the Not Getting it at All

You know what’s not funny?

This book.

I’m just saying.

Once again, we get to watch as Christian pretends to work. He does business things with business reports and computers while he waits around for Ana to email him. He considers the merits of building his new business factory in Detroit. It’ll have tax incentives!

At 2 minutes after 12 Ana finally emails and Christian is peeved that Ana is still awake. Despite the fact that he was up specifically waiting for her to email.  She is 22 FFS, but he doesn’t feel it is appropriate for her to be up this late.

Ana sends him an itemised list of all the issues she takes with his sexy sex contract. And there are lots of them! Christian is pleasantly surprised to see that Ana has actually read the thing seeing as how she signed the NDA without having read even one word.

Christian pulls up his copy of the contract so he can cross reference Ana’s comments to the actual paragraphs and sections. The actual contract is long and boring, but the main thing to take away here is that there is not one clause in this contract that Ana responds to by saying, “Yes, please! More of that.” She is either grudgingly willing to accept them for the sake of getting with Christian or she is opposed to them entirely.

And Christian is like, Hmmmm…okay. I can work with this.

No. No you can’t. There is nothing about this contract that she wants a part of. You should both just walk away. But of course they don’t because the whole point of this book is that Ana shows him exactly what’s wrong with his deviant dysfunctional lifestyle and heals his inner hurts. Because only a broken weirdo could actually like any of these things.

Ana asks him to clarify where they are meeting and when. Christian is just relieved that Ana has not called off the negotiation meeting. But really what is there to talk about? She doesn’t want to DO any of the things.

She doesn’t want to get tested for drugs or STDs. In fact, she seems to think that Christian should just take her word for it. She refuses the 3 month trial period; she refuses to commit to every weekend. She doesn’t want to be disciplined in any way or for any reason. She won’t agree not to touch him, she won’t agree to eat or sleep on his schedule, and she won’t wear clothes that he buys her except when they are together. She refuses to follow any of the capital ‘R’ Rules set out in Appendix 1. She isn’t interested in any of the props or toys, and doesn’t even know what some of the terms mean, despite having just said she looked everything up on the internet.

Christian says,

Her response is a relief.

There’s hope for our relationship

Is there? Is there?!

NO

Christian orders Ana to bed, because somehow he thinks that’s OK, and then he continues emailing her to try and catch her out in case she hasn’t listened. He then has a second look over her ‘issues’ and then emails her the dictionary definition of ‘submissive.’ Clearly she isn’t getting it.

Well, duh-doy.

She’s dumb. But Christian is supposed to be smart. And yet he acts impressed that Ana has problems with the terms. He even remarks that no one has ever bothered to negotiate with him about the contract. It’s kinda hawt. But really, why would they? That’s the arrangement they were looking for. It’s entirely possible that they were up for all the things in the contract. Enthusiastic for them even.

As they should be.

It’s kinda gross. The book, I mean, not the enthusiasm. Christian wants a sub, but he is willing to use romancy flowery sex to get it. Ana wants romance, and is willing to trade bdsm to get it. Why don’t they just pursue people who are into the same things?! I know it sounds crazy.

Christian finally goes to bed. He dreams about beating up Elliot as a young child. Somehow, Christian is still the victim in this scenario.

The next morning (or later that same morning really)  we follow Christian through a business meeting about “the prototype.” They study the schematics and praise each other for the amount of good this latest gewgaw will do in the developing world. Then we narrowly escape a meeting with the president of WSU. Thank God.

Christian’s mom calls and asks pointedly about Ana. Then Elliot calls and also asks pointedly about Ana. Christian blows them both off. He actually hangs up on Elliot. Gripping, unpputdownable shit!

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Ana finally replies to Christian’s email re: the definition of submissive. She sends him the dictionary definition of ‘compromise’. See? I really don’t think these two get it. They are talking past each other. Ana wants no part of being a submissive, and Christian wants her to want, well…the opposite of that. And yet they both act like this whole thing is still ON.

Then they argue over whether Ana will drive herself to the meeting or Christian will have her picked up. It’s boring. Be Glad you didn’t read it. After a grueling exchange of emails, Ana signs off with a kiss.

Christian is over the moon! Cynical, romance-hating Christian is over the moon! His heart has already grown at least a half a size.

Ana sent him a kiss!

Chapter 9: Anastasia Steele and the Surprising Lack of Plot Development

Well I made it through chapter 9 of Fifty Shades Freed. And it was hard. Sooo hard.

SoHard

There were several points where I stopped paying attention and had to go back and re-read it. It was that gripping.

We ended chapter 8 with a sexy fade-out: chapter 9 starts the next morning because no one is reading this book for the sex. Christian and Ana wake up all snuggly like static-y socks in a dryer. Ana thinks about how clingy Christian is. “He is so needy on some level,” she thinks. That level is the one we call “the surface.

Crazy

They untangle themselves and make innuendoes while Christian strips for a shower. Eventually the innuendo is too much and Christian grabs Ana by the feet, hauls her bodily to the end of the bed and they Sex. It. Up. Except we skip that part.

NoSex

So really they could be doing anything. Maybe Christian is going to give Ana a pedicure and then play a game of naked Scrabble while talking in muppet voices. There’s really no way to know.

Then it’s breakfast! Ana can’t look Mrs. Jones or Taylor in the face as she is still unsettled from last chapter’s revelation that they are also people with lives. Christian and Ana argue over breakfast – Christian orders her to eat, as she didn’t eat the day before. Ana says she only refused to eat because Christian was being an “arse.” Lingo that all twenty-something American girls use. It’s healthy and sweet how Ana uses the threat of starving herself as a weapon against Christian.

No wait, not healthy. I meant pathological.

CrazyPpl

The only information of interest here is:

(1) Christian’s announcement that he is going to New York later in the week and wants Ana to come with. She refuses, as she has to work. Christian assures her he can convince the boss to give her the time off (he is the boss, in case you’d forgotten). Ana refuses. She’s already grown tired of traveling around with him everywhere.

(2) Ana’s announcement that she found Christian’s gun. Christian tells her it belongs to Leila and he is just holding it for her. It becomes clear that Christian knows nothing about guns, and Ana insists that she teach Christian how to shoot with it. Christian adamantly refuses.

So. A gun has been introduced and made much of. Somebody had damn well better get shot after all that fuss.

They argue about the gun again on the way to work. Christian assures Ana it is OK because Leila is on the other side of the continent. So there’s no one to use the gun. No one. Does he think only Leila can fire it? Is it some kind of futuristic Ray gun with a DNA lock so only Leila can use it? Whatever.

Then there are SEVEN pages of emails. 7. They are apart for 2 hours, maybe less and they need to send seven pages of email back and forth. The gist of the emails is “I love you; I miss you: you hang up; no, you hang up!” I was very tempted to skip over them. Very tempted.

Boring

But it is good that I didn’t, because somewhere in the middle of them we suddenly time skip to Thursday and Christian is on the plane to the Big Apple.

Ana “fires up” her computer to email Christian. How much “firing up” does a top of the line computer need to do in 2012? Wouldn’t she just open the lid? Maybe it’s her work computer? It isn’t clear. But even then, who turns off work computers?

Ana is excited that Christian is gone so she can go out and have a drink with Kate. She hasn’t seen Kate since she got married. Her best friend. Christian is angry when he finds out they are going for drinks, and orders Ana to stay home. He swears it is only until Jack is apprehended. That’s what he said about Leila too, but somehow there is always another lunatic waiting in the wings to force Ana to never ever go anywhere.

HmmmmCat

Funny huh? It’s almost as if Christian were paying someone to create bogus reasons for Ana to be a prisoner in his house. We’ve already established that he is rich enough and crazy enough.

Ana replies that it’s only one drink. Then the phone rings. It is Christian ordering her to stay in. Ana solemnly promises to stay in. Then they play an actual game of “You hang up.” Then just to top it off Christian emails *again* to reiterate that he is totally serious – Ana is not going out.

But then Kate shows up. She insists that Ana is coming with her out for one drink and off Ana goes…like the spineless jellyfish that she is. The security team grumbles because Christian has told them that Ana is forbidden to go out. Ana tells them off, and goes out with Kate. We are supposed to be impressed with Ana’s new found assertiveness – Ana tells us so. But really Ana just does whatever the people around her tell her to do. That’s not assertive at all. It’s the other thing.

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So off to the club they go for their one drink. Which turns into five because Ana has no willpower and does whatever Kate tells her.

Once they are drunk Kate tells her how the additional security is driving Christian’s family batty. Ana had no idea that the whole family was under tightened security but she tries to play along. She fails. We find out that the very next day after identifying Jack, the whole Grey family had tripled their security. And this has something to do with whatever Jack had stored on his work computer. The one they confiscated back when they fired him.

Of course Ana is livid that she didn’t know these things. But really she has been to busy playing house with Christian.

Nuthouse

Ana changes the subject to something she does know about – hating Gia. It turns out that Kate also hates Gia and for even more tenuous reasons than Ana. Gia once dated Elliot (Kate’s bf and Christian’s brother) before Elliot met Kate. That whore! Dating a man who Kate will later date as well! She’s like some kind of timey wimey retroactive home wrecker! Kate and Ana clink glasses and congratulate each other on being such catty bitches.

The conversation moves to the topic of guns, and how weirdly anti-gun Christian and his brother are. Then Kate announces that Ana and Christian got married so fast that “everyone” thought Ana was pregnant. Does that happen anymore? The story isn’t set in 1950? Is it? Did I miss that? I guess so.

Then all of a sudden it is ten-fifteen and Ana tells us she is drunk off her fourth strawberry mojito. She’s had four drinks since she finished work at 5? That was 5 hours ago. Like as in not even one drink an hour. And she’s loaded?

Kiddingme

Kate tells Ana it’s been great getting loaded and that Ana looks great. “Marriage obviously agrees with you,” she says. It’s funny. And by funny I mean highly irritating that Ana looks so wonderful now that she is properly married and not living in sin like a filthy whore. Because before the marriage, when she and Christian were just dating, Kate made sure to point out how thin and haggard and terrible Ana looked EVERY TIME THEY MET.

Yeah. 1950 is on the phone. It wants its morality back.

The two girls get all drunk-ass and weepy on each other. They looooove each other maaaannnn. Sooooo much.

LoveYouMan

Ana drunkenly insults the security team and tells Kate that Christian will be mad that they went out when he said not to. Kate asks, “Why are you grinning like a loon, Ana? You like making Christian mad?”

Ana says no. She says no. NO. Yeah. She loves making him mad. Loves it. She does it on purpose. And she lies about it. Great lady. I love ‘er.

They drop Kate off, and they drunkenly hug. As Kate leaves Ana realises that Kate is fun and Christian is boring. She dreads being stuck at boring charity function after boring charity function with Christian. She checks her phone and sees that Christian has been calling her all night and she hasn’t been answering. She frantically tries to call but now he isn’t picking up. Because he has the maturity of a 2 year old.

She checks her email – Christian has written to tell her just how angry he is. And not to bother calling because Taylor has already ratted her out. Ana says her “heart sinks.” Yeah. No it doesn’t. He’s mad and that’s the way she likes it.

Ana and the Keystone cops pull up at the penthouse and they ride the elevator in awkward silence. In case you’ve been as bored as I was by these non-happenings you are about to be shocked! Shocked I say! Well, not shocked but mildly piqued. Or vaguely interested. Maybe.

Waldo

The elevator doors open upon a huge staggering plot twist. Staggering! One which justifies Ana’s “disobeying” Christian’s orders. Justifying! The foyer is trashed. Sawyer goes running and leaves Ana behind in the elevator. After some swearing and struggling they call Ana out. The security guys are all roughed up and at their feet?! It’s Jack – the Half Assed Avenger.

KoalaSurprise

The end. Next time: chapter 10. Laters baby.

Gross.

I just gave myself the willies.

Chapter 9 of 50 Shades Darker: Surprises on the High Seas


We ended Chapter 8 on a high note: Ana had just revealed to Christian that Christian loves Ana. He didn’t say it. She said it for him.

Ana starts Chapter 9 by claiming that she cannot contain her ‘jubilation’. And by ‘not contain’ she means that she smiles extra wide. This must be a particularly British type of jubilation. One wouldn’t want one’s jubilation to be toooo terribly, well…jubilant. Stiff upper lip and all that.

The crazy comes on hard and fast in Chapter 9, a non-stop orgasm of emo feels.

An emogasm.

There’s talk of liberation from millstones, manna from heaven, confessions and absolution, and then this: “This beautiful, fucked-up man, whom I once thought of as my romantic hero – strong, solitary, mysterious – possesses all these traits, but he’s also fragile and alienated and full of self-loathing.”

Oh GOOD! He’s all the best things, all rolled into one.

Ana’s heart grows three sizes that day, while they’re still in the shower. It’s a grower…in the shower.

Wait. Nevermind. Ana hopes her heart is big enough for both of them. Whatever that might mean. Seriously, you can’t make this shit up! Well, you can. Obviously somebody did…

Then Ana has an idea. An awful idea. The Ana has a horrible, awful idea. Wait. I think that’s a different story. The idea is: let’s have sex! Great idea Ana, I could not have foreseen this. They towel each other off. Sexfully.

Christian wraps a towel around Ana’s hair, and they stare at themselves in the mirror for a disconcerting amount of time. Ana decides the towel on her head makes her look like a biblical heroine in a Baroque painting. Like…some kind of Middle Eastern towel-head? WOW. Not one of the good people at Vintage thought that was even a little off colour? Not even a teensy tiny bit?

Apparently not, because it’s in there.

The toweling continues unabated, as Christian’s eyes get ‘darker’ and ‘more deadly.’ Ummmm…and that’s…okaaaayyyy…with everyone? I’m not even sure if he’s meant to be legitimately aggro or if it’s just a poorly chosen metaphor for desire. That’s not a good place to be as a reader. On a scale of 1 to Even, I just don’t.

Then we fade to black for the sex! Because why would there be sex in a sexy book like this here sexy book? Why indeed.

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The violins come out in full force, and we learn more about Christian’s tragic upbringing with his lame plot device of a mother. Young Christian spends days beside his dead, crack whore mother, until he is unceremoniously rescued by her pimp, and dumped into the hands of Richie Rich Senior and His wife.

When we’ve all had quite enough of this crap, Christian suggests some fresh air and a surprise! Ana likes surprises, so all is suddenly light and good again. They get dressed, “each watchful and acutely aware of the other…” Ana likens it to two people who know each other well. No Ana, that’s not how that works. Two people who are super close and comfortable aren’t hyper vigilant all the time. That’s how someone in an abusive relationship acts.

Just sayin’.

Christian gets dressed, lookin’ all like he stepped out of a Sears catalogue, and playfully threatens to beat Ana. Ana is no longer filled with dread by the prospect, because Christian loves her! And that makes it A OK! Awesome, the violence is becoming normalised. Healthy.

They head off to the surprise, and Ana gets upset because Christian tips the valet a little too well. Really? Christian is obscenely rich. He can afford a ridiculous tip. And how is it Ana’s business in the first place? It isn’t. Why can’t Ana get mad about something that is actually a problem for once? She comes off as a petty bitch.

They stop off to buy a car, and to eat lunch before the surprise. Since Ana was upset that she had the same car as all Christian’s subs, Christian agrees to buy her a different car. Ana is upset about that too. She says, “I resign myself to my fate.” Her terrible, awful, no good fate. Of being given a luxury car. For free. She does wheedle him into getting a convertible, and all is good again.

Ana flashes back to their chapter-straddling shower of emo delights. “This man,” she thinks, “God’s gift to women – loves me.” O. M. G. It’s like every cliché ever has come out to play today. Ana wonders briefly, and inexplicably if Christian will pay for the car with his own credit card, or with the butler’s credit card. Why. Would he. Do that?!The sense! It makes none.

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Lunch is boring and uneventful. We’re told that Christian outlines his corporate and philanthropic plans, but we aren’t SHOWN any of that conversation. We are just assured that it happened and that it was totally gripping. Character building at its finest.

Finally, the surprise. It’s a boat! Richie Rich Junior has a boat. Ana is astonished. She just keeps forgetting how loaded this guy is. Rich guy has a boat. Fucking unprecedented! And it’s named after Christian’s adopted mother. Ana is shocked to find that Christian loves his adoptive mother. Seriously. She had no idea. I’m concerned that Ana is always, ALWAYS surprised that other people have feelings that don’t directly involve her. It’s worrying.

Out on the boat, they make some vague entendres, and the whole afternoon is, basically, a long, poorly plotted set-up for sex on the high seas. Ana sails the boat without needing any instruction, and they hurriedly push Christian’s hired man into a dinghy to do whatever while they get it on.

Ana strips at Christian’s command. Christian’s desire is ‘evident on his face…and elsewhere.’ Really? Like where? His arm? His sternum? His spleen? We’ll never know because they just can’t say…it’s tooo naughty. Tee hee.

Ana is surprised that she is no longer embarrassed to be naked around Christian. Now that he loves her for real and for truey, she no longer feels cheap and ashamed. They are making love now! She’s no longer a sinful whore! Love really does fix everything.

The Chapter-ending sexy times commence in earnest and, as always, are perfectly choreographed. No awkward sounds or positions. Nothing to make it seem real or believable. No one has to say, “No, more like this,” or “Move your arm, you’re pulling my hair.” But I guess that’s just part of the magic that is Chapter 9. The stupid, ass-backwards, poorly thought-out magic.

 

I Read Ch. 9 of Fifty Shades of holycrapmakeitstopfortheloveofGod…

I’m back after a much-needed hiatus from this wonderful book.

So. Chapter 9. It sure was Chapter-y. And Nine-y. Yup.

Plot-wise, Ana (or as I like to call her Herp Derpson) wakes up and heads for the bathroom. She looks in the mirror, and then has a Gollum style self-berating conversation with her ‘subconscious.’ “He doessssn’t lovesss you precioussss…only wantssss to make you his birthday present. What has it got in its nasty little penthouses? Gollum. Gollum.”

The conversation abruptly ends when Ana is distracted by seeing her hair in the mirror. Shiny! She then goes out and gets her phone to let her roommate, Kate, know she isn’t dead. She gets the machine. I guess her roommate wasn’t that worried about her. She leaves a message saying that she hasn’t “succumbed to Bluebeard.” Wut? Is that what the kids are calling it these days? Cuz if it is, she’s lying. I briefly wondered if this was a codename or an in-joke that I’d skimmed over, but then I realized I didn’t care.

The next bit here actually offended me. Ana finds elastics in her purse and puts her hair in pigtails because looking like a little girl will make her safe from Christian’s sexual advances. So to all you victims of sexual assault out there – it really is your fault. You must not have looked sufficiently girly. :/ You know what else would make you safe from his advances, Ana? Leaving. But she’s dumb and she doesn’t. I tried to be charitable and attribute this opinion to Ana’s character, but Christian later tells her outright that the pigtails are no protection.

Ana then decides the best way to pass the time in the home of a raging control freak is to rummage around in his kitchen and make him breakfast. She’s briefly stymied by the cupboards, which don’t have handles. But she perseveres and figures them out. She deserves a Scooby snack! I hope Scooby snacks are somehow involved in later chapters, this book would be much better.

Again, they drink Twinings English Breakfast Tea. Did she get a kickback from Twinings for this? Because it’s hardly a luxury brand. I think I’ve established myself firmly as a nitpicker, but would it have killed her to research rich-people teas? The interwebs make this sort of thing soooo easy. Also, I’m a Darjeeling girl myself, so nyah!

Kate then calls and demands details of Ana and Christian’s sordid night. Ana is suitably mortified and hangs up on her. Ana thinks to herself, this is going to be a difficult square to circle. The whole book just screeched to a halt right here. C’est what? Isn’t it the other way around? Is circling the square a thing? Isn’t it squaring the circle?

And then the sex. Chapter 9 of Fifty Shades of Grey is very nearly as sexful as Chapter 8; you can tell that it was written with much more love than the introduction and set-up chapters. They have a sexy, sexy bath in what the author assures us is a very designer tub, although she can’t be bothered to describe it. Christian then stimulates Ana manually with a washcloth slathered in body wash. Holy yeast infections Batman! Burning rashes are sexy!

Ana then performs oral sex on Christian and is masterful at it. Of course she is. Sigh. What kind of erotica would it be if she made some mistakes the first time, or had to be shown what to do? I’ll tell you what kind – the kind that wouldn’t exasperate me.

They then move to the bed for more filthy, kinky sex. And by that I mean oral sex and then the missionary position. Adventurous! The sex is very, almost, soooo-not-quite good. E. L. James is actually pretty close to getting it right. But it keeps getting ruined by odd bits. Ana again refers to her genitalia as her belly, and later as her down there. And she thinks the phrase, oh my, so often that I’m ready to  consider it an obsessive thought –  Ana puts the ‘Oh’ in OCD.

Another case in point: when Ana has an orgasm she says, “Argh!” You know, like a pirate. Seriously, argh. Argh is what orcs say when you slay them. Not what women say when they have orgasms. To be fair I don’t imagine E. L. James has spent much time listening to herself orgasm. She was likely busy arguing with her inner goddess.

Ana also talks about her “subconscious” and her “inner goddess” as if they are separate people from her. They judge her and do autonomous things that have little or no relation to what is happening in the story. They glare, they judge, they dance various world dances. All while Ana is supposed to be having sex. It’s like that diet commercial where the couple is having sex and the woman is busy thinking about what she can eat on her diet plan. Not sexy.

The chapter ends on an odd and disturbing note. As Ana and Christian are in a post-coital embrace, they hear hostile voices in the hallway. It’s Christian’s mother demanding to be let in to see them. I guess we know where his dickish bossiness comes from. Christian says, “Shit! It’s my mother.” WTF?! He’s not living in her basement. What does he care? And why couldn’t the security staff keep her out? I’m sure they are paid handsomely to do just that. Also couldn’t someone have warned our crappy couple when Mumsy was still on the first floor?.

I just don’t know what to make of that. Christian Grey is the richest 20-something in fiction, and he’s still afraid of his mother barging in on him? Is this supposed to be endearing? See? He’s not just a heartless pervert – he’s a stunted man-child trapped in a heartless pervert’s body. I’m not sure how this is better.

I’m sure we find out in Chapter 10, though. Whether we want to or not.