Thanks everyone for your nice comments on my depression post. I always feel weird writing about stuff like that, like it’s going to seem like I’m fishing for compliments or something, but to have so many people share their stories really reinforced how important it is for people with depression to be open and honest and talk about this stuff.
Before we dive right in to
your ass the recap, I’ve got links! Oh, how I have links!
First of all, some jackass decided he should replace the the bibles in his hotel with copies of 50 Shades. Now, I’m not one of those ultra-religious people who think that every hotel room needs a bible or else some sinning might go down there, but seriously? This guy sounds like a douche canoe. I mean, he had first planned to replace the bibles with Atlas Shrugged. Sounds like someone just has a problem not showing off how irreverent he can be. Oh, you. But seriously, this article makes me furious. Not because he swapped out the bibles, but because the press keeps referring to this as an “erotic” novel with “graphic” sex scenes. How graphic is “down there,” really?
Then, from Pastor Douglas Wilson, comes this op-ed piece, 50 Shades of Prey, at HuffPo. Now, I almost didn’t link this, because I’m so fucking angry at HuffPo for giving those StalkTheGoodReadsUsersWhoseOpinionsIDon’tAgreeWith nutjobs a platform, but this is a guy who called out Twilight for training women to be in bad relationships, and now he’s talking about 50 Shades, so I thought it was worth posting.
Okay, onto the recap. We last left Ana curled up in her bed, hugging a deflated mylar balloon and dreaming of her abusive boyfriend. It is now the next day:
The good thing about being carless is that on the bus on my way to work, I can plug my headphones into my iPad while it’s in my purse and listen to all the wonderful tunes Christian has given me.
But Mo-Om, Taylor the bodyguard gets to listen to his iPod while driving!
Ana goes into work, where her boss has the audacity to compliment her:
“Good morning, Ana. You look… radiant.” His remark flusters me. How inappropriate.
Why, because he’s not a billionaire? I’m not going to lie, I have a real issue with guys who give creepy compliments. But Christian Grey gives them all the time. “I’m in awe of you,” is much, much more disturbing than, “You look… radiant.” The difference is, Jack is probably old, like in his thirties or forties (remember, in the first book Ana believes thirty to be impossibly old), and he doesn’t fly a helicopter. So, he’s totally inappropriate.
Jack finishes sexually harassing her and gives her four manuscripts to look over by lunchtime. She’s supposed to read the first chapters and give him a report. I bet every “report” is going to compare the book in question to classic literature. But first, she has to email back and forth with Christian, about nothing at all that furthers the plot. In fact, one email is an almost direct rehash of one she sent him in the last chapter. Then we find out she eats a pastrami sandwich at lunch while listening to more of the music Christian put on the iPad, and then it’s right back to the emails. In one of his replies, Christian writes:
Your e-mails at SIP are monitored.
Well, her emails at home are probably also monitored, stalker.
Ana is astounded by this news:
Oh shit. I had no idea. How the hell does he know?
Because that’s pretty much par for the course at any job, Ana. Now, I’m not saying that it’s right, but lots and lots of companies monitor the content of their employees’ email accounts. This shouldn’t be news, and if you’re going to send email to your boyfriend, why not use your personal email account? How on Earth did Ana get through four years of college and, hell, just being a teenager in America, without learning stuff about the internet and how it works?
At the end of the work day, Jack stops by Ana’s desk to invite her out for drinks with him and the rest of the staff. Seems Ana might have been feeling a little full of herself, hmmm? She thought the boss wanted to get into her pants, and he was just inviting her out on the weekly staff outing. They’re going to a bar called “Fifty’s.” Dollars to donuts, Christian owns it. Ana emails Christian the details and tells him:
The rich seam of humor that I could mine from this is endless.
Not really. So please don’t. I rolled my eyes hard enough the first time the name of the bar was mentioned, I had to spank myself.
Ana invites Christian to come to drinks with her work colleagues, because she’s never had a job before and doesn’t realize how fucking awkward that is.
I check myself in the mirror. What a difference a day can make. I have more color in my cheeks, and my eyes are shining. It’s the Christian Grey effect.
Huh. I would have thought the Christian Grey effect would involve having color in entirely different cheeks.
I turn expectantly, and an ashen young woman approaches me cautiously. She looks like a ghost – so pale and strangely blank.
This woman knows Ana’s full name, and just stares at her until Ana says the polite version of “What the fuck do you want and why are you staring at me and also are you that girl from The Ring?” which translates into nice people speak as, “‘Can I help you?’”
“No… I just wanted to look at you.” Her voice is eerily soft. Like me, she has dark hair that starkly contrasts with her fair skin. Her eyes are brown, like bourbon, but flat. There’s no life in them at all. Her beautiful face is pale, and etched with sorrow.
The ghost from The Ring is wearing designer clothes that are too big, and she’s got a dirty bandage around her wrist. The ghost from The Ring asks Ana:
“What do you have that I don’t?”
What was that about?
Gosh, I wonder, Ana. What was that about? Some strange woman who looks just like you in expensive clothes and a suicide attempt wanders up and is all, “What do you have that I don’t?” and you can’t connect even one teeny tiny little dot here?
Confused, I cross the street to the bar, trying to assimilate what has just happened, while my subconscious rears her ugly head and hisses at me – She has something to do with Christian.
No. You don’t say.
Ana uses her coworkers as a distraction to forget that she’s going to die in seven days. She actually does have a conversation with the receptionist who has been the pinpoint focus of her white guilt every time she’s mentioned, and then Ana remembers that Kate exists:
Absently, I wonder how Kate is… and Elliot.
I like how in the first chapter Ana couldn’t live without Kate and missed her soooooo much, then she gets back together with Christian and it’s like, “Oh, yeah… Kate. And that other guy. What’s his name?” In literally the same paragraph, her thoughts go straight to Christian:
Oh, and Ethan, Kate’s brother, will be back next Tuesday, and he’ll be staying in our apartment. I can’t imagine Christian is going to be happy about that.
It’s Kate’s apartment. It doesn’t matter how Christian feels about it. It’s something he can’t control, so nanananabooboo and neenerneenerneener and all that.
When Elizabeth and Courtney leave, Jack joins Claire and me. Where is Christian?
Probably watching you from a corner somewhere.
Claire starts talking to someone else, and we find out that Jack is a close talker:
“Ana, think you made the right decision coming here?” Jack’s voice is soft, and he’s standing a bit too close. But I’ve noticed that he has a tendency to do this with everyone, even at the office.
I hate people who do that. They always make me really self-conscious about my breath, even if I’ve just brushed my teeth.
Jack tells Ana that she’s a bright girl, makes some chit-chat about where she lives and if she has any weekend plans. He leans on the bar and Ana feels trapped, and then our knight in shining armor shows up at just the right time:
I feel him before I see him. It’s as if my whole body is highly attuned to his presence. It relaxes and ignites me at the same time – a weird, internal duality – and I sense that strange pulsing electricity.
That’s how connected they are, guys. She can sense his presence. Shit, my eyes are rolling again. Time for another spanking, I guess. But what do you want to bet he was there the whole time, watching, like he was doing in Georgia when she was at the bar with her mom.
Christian drapes his arm around my shoulder in a seemingly casual display of affection – but I know differently. He is staking a claim, and on this occasion, it’s very welcome. Softly he kisses my hair.
Ever notice, reader, how Christian only displays affection toward Ana in public when he’s trying to impress a point on someone else? Ana finds it flattering, but doesn’t it just reinforce that he isn’t capable of feeling for her as a person, that he only views her as an object or a contest? Just throwing that out there, I don’t mean to destroy the “romance” of Christian Grey.
I feel relieved, safe, and excited with his arm around me.
This is a really sneaky thing that Christian does with all the men Ana comes into contact with. He acts possessive, which in turn tells Ana that there is something to fear from all men – except him. He does it with Jose, he did it with Paul at the hardware store, and now he’s doing it with Jack. If you’ve read the entire series, then you know that Jack really isn’t a nice guy, but Christian doesn’t know that at this point. What he’s doing is setting up a false sense of safety and reliance, so Ana believes she needs his protection from all the men of the world. It’s pretty gross.
Ana introduces the two:
“I’m the boyfriend,” Christian says with a small, cool smile that doesn’t reach his eyes as he shakes Jack’s hand. I glance up at Jack who is mentally assessing the fine specimen of manhood in front of him.
I rarely actually LOL, but I LOLed heartily at that line. Seriously, I’m pretty sure that Jack isn’t thinking of Christian as a “fine specimen of manhood.” In fact, I’m pretty convinced that Ana sees Christian like this:
And everyone else sees him like this:
I glance at Claire, who is, of course staring, openmouthed and with frankly carnal appreciation, at Christian.
Someone fix those fucking commas, I beg of you.
They leave and Ana points out that she knows the whole “meeting my boss” thing was a pissing contest, and they get into the Audi, where Taylor is behind the wheel.
My cheeks turn pink, knowing that Taylor can hear us, grateful that he can’t see the scorching, panty-combusting look that Christian is giving me.
I’m sure Taylor is grateful that his panties aren’t going to combust, too. That would be awkward. And look, I know that “My cheeks turn pink” was probably swapped for “I flush” by a copy editor who later committed Seppuku with a letter opener, but seriously, Ana, you can’t see your cheeks turn pink, and you just skewed your POV.
There is a lot of uninteresting and juvenile hinting about how they’re going to have sex later, and they decide to go to Ana’s apartment, for a change. Then Christian is all:
“Your boss, Jack Hyde, is he good at his job?”
Ana can’t fathom why he would ask, since she’s not interested in Jack beyond a professional capacity, and I’m already getting a real, real bad feeling about where this is going…
“That’s the point… he wants what’s mine. I need to know if he’s good at his job.”
Ana tells him that she thinks Jack is pretty good at his job, and then Christian says:
“Well, he’d better leave you alone, or he’ll find himself on his ass on the sidewalk.”
“You don’t have that kind of power.” Honestly! And before I roll my eyes at him, the realization hits me with the force of a speeding freight truck. “Do you, Christian?”
Christian gives me his enigmatic smile.
“You’re buying the company,” I whisper in horror.
E.L. James has a crazy idea of how business works, and here’s why. Christian is supposedly this uber-successful entrepreneur… who makes business decisions based entirely around controlling his girlfriend? Doesn’t this company have a board of directors, or stock holders, or anyone who might say, “Um… what the fuck are you doing?”
So, why did he buy the company?
“Because I can, Anastasia. I need you safe.”
Well, that’s a good reason, right? Until he realizes that she’s apocalyptically furious with him and asks him, “‘I mean, what kind of responsible business executive makes decisions based on who he is currently fucking?’” At that point, his tune changes to:
“First, I haven’t fucked you for a while – a long while, it feels – and second, I wanted to get into publishing. Of the four companies in Seattle, SIP is the most profitable, but it’s on the cusp and it’s going to stagnate – it needs to branch out.”
Let’s examine the absolutely infuriating facts here:
- Christian wanted Ana to come work for him.
- She refused.
- She then got a job at SIP
- And broke up with Christian.
- So, Christian bought the company she works for.
- Now, they’re back together AND she’s working for Christian.
- Christian has everything he wants
So, pardon the fuck out of me if I don’t believe that he really wanted to get into publishing.
Ana’s anger is, predictably, short lived, because Christian makes her laugh, and he smiles at her:
And he smiles, a dazzling, full-toothed, all-American-boy smiles, and I can’t help it. I am grinning and laughing, too How could I not be affected by the joy I see in his smile?
If you had a brain, or self-respect. Just those two, off the top of my head.
“Just because I have a stupid damn grin on my face doesn’t mean I’m not mad as hell at you,” I mutter breathlessly, trying to suppress my high-school-cheerleader giggling. Though I was never cheerleader – the bitter thought crosses my mind.
Seriously, Ana? Are you fucking serious? A man has just used his wealth and power as a weapon and blasted his way into your career against your express wishes, and you’re bitter because you were never a cheerleader?!
Go back up and look at the baby monkey picture. I’ll wait, and you probably need it.
Of course, they go inside together, and Ana has some inner thoughts about how shitty it is that Christian bought the company, but there isn’t anything she can do about it. Because breaking up clearly doesn’t stick. Then they start talking about how they’re totally going to do it, tee hee, but Christian needs to make sure she eats because clearly, she hasn’t been able to feed herself for the twenty-one years before she met this asshole. He tells her she’s going to have to tell him everywhere on her body she wants to be touched, and they talk about mapping out areas on his body that she’s allowed to touch. Then, it’s birth control times:
“Have you been taking your pill?”
No, of course she hasn’t. If you remember, Christian, she was only taking those pills because she was dating you, and then you broke up. And in the first book she makes it really clear that it’s either you or a house full of cats, and none of them are going to get her pregnant, unless this turns into a real weird fucking book.
“You need to eat and so do I,” he murmurs, burning eyes gazing down at me. “Besides… anticipation is the key to seduction, and right now, I’m really into delayed gratification.”
Says the guy who impulsively bought his girlfriend’s job.
He tells her she’s too skinny, because a chapter can’t go by without that happening YOU GUYS ANA IS SKINNY DO YOU GET IT YET SHE IS SUPERMODEL SKINNY YOU GUYS DANGEROUSLY SKINNY SHE IS SO SKINNY DO YOU GET IT THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT and he tells her that she’ll be less mad over that whole, “I bought your job” thing when she’s had something to eat. Because Ana is a cranky toddler. But Ana is so incredibly skinny that she has no food in the house, so they have to go grocery shopping.
“Does Mrs. Jones do all the shopping?”
“I think Taylor helps her. I’m not sure.”
I bet Taylor and Mrs. Jones are boning. I feel a fanfic coming on.
While they shop, Ana asks Christian how long Taylor and Mrs. Jones have worked for him:
“Taylor, four years, I think. Mrs. Jones, about the same. Why didn’t you have any food in the apartment?”
Because she has an eating disorder.
The wine in the supermarket isn’t FANCY enough to satisfying Christian Grey, classist dick, and then Ana sees some women looking at him and mentally remarks on it “despondently” and then they leave the grocery store trip where literally nothing happened to move the plot along.
They go back to the apartment, and Christian asks if he can help with dinner, but then says he can’t cook. So I don’t know how he thinks he’s going to help. There is a lot of “Oh, it’s so sexy that he’s carrying groceries and chopping vegetables like a real person and not the God of Lust that he is,” stuff, and this:
I wash my hands and hunt for the wok, the oil, and the other ingredients I need, repeatedly brushing against him – my hip, my arm, my back, my hands. Small, seemingly innocent touches.
So, Ana is a geisha now, I guess, with all these little touches. She keeps goading Christian into having sex with her while they cook dinner, and I can’t help but get the feeling that she’s doing it to avoid eating. Either the whole “Ana/Mia” thing is a coincidence that is messing with my head, or this chick really does have an eating disorder. They don’t wind up actually eating the stir fry they make, because Christian is so overcome with his desire for her that he must have her at once!
He smiles and hooks his index finger into my open shirt, pulling me toward him.
“Good girl,” he murmurs, and without taking his blazing eyes off mine, slowly starts to unbutton my shirt.
How can he unbutton her shirt if it’s already open? Theres is some more foreplay, and then:
“Kiss me,” I whisper
“You know where.”
Oh, he’s taking no prisoners. Embarrassed, I quickly point at the apex of my thighs, and he grins wickedly.
This is the reason that every time someone says, “the sex scenes are so hot,” I want to be able to just pull out a random samurai sword and chop the damn book in half. How is it hot that the heroine can’t say what she wants in bed? Why is this an ideal we’re striving toward? So. Much. Bullshit.
Here’s more of this sex scene bullshit:
He stands and gazes down at me, and his lips glisten with the evidence of my arousal.
It’s so hot…
Well, thanks for telling us. Seriously, I don’t mind reading, “He did this and it was hot,” once or twice in a book, but it’s thoroughly annoying how often Ana has to inform the reader that what is happening is supposed to be sexy. It happens constantly throughout all the books. And it’s not needed. The first sentence in that excerpt gets across that it’s sexual and exciting. It’s totally superflous to add, “It’s so hot.”
I peek up at him through my lashes,
Try that. Try it right now. Try to look up at something and still see your eyelashes.
They have sex, and all the usual culprits are there, like “he really starts to move,” and him telling her to “come on” to get her to have an orgasm on command, and then the chapter ends and I realize that I have referenced Japanese culture three times in this recap and I can’t figure out why, because it’s not a particular interest of mine, but I did watch Memoirs of A Geisha the other day.