Readthroughs and Random Thoughts

Writing about what I'm reading…

50 Shades of Grey, E. L. James; Chapter Five

So, Ana wakes up in Grey’s hotel room. Grey has thoughtfully left her some Advil by the bed, but she’s sans pants. And apparently impervious to hangovers. Some annoying, poorly-developed Mary-Sue protagonists have mystical names, more superpowers than everyone else, naturally weird-coloured eyes or more sex appeal than a room full of whatever-takes-yer-fancy, but Ana? Doesn’t get hangovers.

I’ll admit it, that’s a pretty fucking awesome super power to have and I think it’s the only one which I’ve been jealous of a Mary Sue protagonist having.

Grey rocks up, after having worked out. Apparently Grey’s morning schedule goes like this: put passed-out girl to bed, remove her pants, go to sleep, get up, leave drunk girl Advil, work out, return to dazzle girl with late-nineties Coca Cola commercial manliness as demonstrated by sporting copious amounts of sweat.

Cue the obligatory Apocalypse Now joke about how Ana loves the smell of gym sweat in the morning.

While I’m snarking, I’m going to add this to my list of annoyances about Ana: her inner monologue (not her inner goddess, whom we haven’t met yet) is fucking irritating. “Holy hell” and “Oh crap” seem to punctuate every thought the girl (I’m not calling her a woman yet because I still don’t know how old she is, and she seems so young) has about Grey. (And I know I’m not one to talk: my inner monologue largely consists of the tool-for-all-jobs “f-bomb” but it doesn’t just turn up when I see someone I want to fuck or I’ve made some incredibly huge fuckup. Then again, beyond thinking about how much fail she’s made of and how much she wants to do Christian Grey, Ana barely has any thoughts, so maybe I am just being cranky and unfair here.)

Another thing I’m finding alarming is the detail that goes into describing Grey’s outfits: Ana sounds like she’s channelling Patrick Bateman from American Psycho when she does that, and it is really fucking unnerving. I can only hope E. L. James hasn’t read that and been inspired by it believing that’s what kinky sex looks like, because if it is… we’re all in for a world of trouble.

Holy hell, he’s been working out. He’s in grey sweat pants that hang, in that way, off his hips and a grey sleeveless t-shirt which is dark with sweat, like his hair.

Bret Easton Ellis (by the way, speak of the devil, he’s talked about wanting to make this into a movie) did description a lot better than that, though. Again, editor, where were you when this happened?

Christian Grey’s sweat; the notion does odd things to me.

What? Um, fucking what? It is 4:20pm, E. L. James, do you know where your editor is? Seriously, that sentence and whatever the intent behind it did not make sense. Is Ana tripped out by the sweat, by the fact that Christian Grey sweats (guess what? He shits and farts and gets hard-ons, too… unless of course he’s a vampire who doesn’t have normal bodily functions and… oh. Wait. Do vampires sweat?)

Ahem. The idea of sweat, particularly appearing on someone after they’ve physically exerted themselves, isn’t that odd. I return you to your scheduled programming.

Grey asks how she is (“Better than I deserve,” Ana mumbles). Ana asks how she got there.

He sits down on the edge of the bed. He’s close enough for me to touch, for me to smell.

Realistically, unless he’s been drinking heavily, consuming interesting supplements, eating strong-smelling food, or not showered for awhile, he shouldn’t be THAT smelly. Here’s the thing about that: sweat itself doesn’t smell: it’s the bacteria which smells, and the bacteria doesn’t set in initially. This is why you can come home from roller derby training with new wristguards that are merely wet after use, and then chuck them in your bag, thinking nothing of it, and a few days later, they smell like rotting Doritos. Not the sweat, the resulting bacteria taking hold and going into action.

While Ana’s inner goddess hasn’t come forth, her inner George Takei speaks up again:

Oh my… sweat and body wash and Christian. It’s a heady cocktail—so much better than a margarita, and now I can speak from experience.

Technical issue here: I thought Christian smelled like body wash and sweat. But here she’s referring to him as an additional component of the smell. So what does sexy twenty-seven-year-old control-freak millionaire smell like anyway? A sharp hit of ambition, polished office surfaces, sensible business sense, with a basenote of regret and unexplained emotional depth. (And a representative twist of Earl Grey tea.) Damn, this is what happens when I spend a few years obsessing over BPAL perfumes.

“After you passed out, I didn’t want to risk the leather upholstery in my car taking you all the way back to your apartment. So I brought you here,” he says phlegmatically.

Grey then explains that yes, he put her to bed and undressed her and it’s all a bit boring and there are no words like “phlegmatically” used so, hey, you guys get the gist.

Ana does ask if they fucked. But she’s too mortified to ask. Grey’s powers of deduction come in handy, and he reassures her.

“Anastasia, you were comatose. Necrophilia is not my thing. I like my women sentient and receptive,” he says dryly.

You know, I know the idea is about making him not look creepy, but it didn’t work for me. And there’s a bit of a difference between “comatose” and dead… I’m pretty sure if we’re talking about it in terms of sentencing, it’s a huge fucking difference. Furthermore, someone, you know, not raping someone when they’re unconscious doesn’t make them a good person any more than the person who doesn’t go on a shooting rampage in a shopping centre deserves an award for acts of humanity.

I still get the impression that Grey not being a rapist is meant to make him awesome. At which point I feel bad. Surely someone’s good qualities can be extended further than “isn’t a rapist.” (And “is rich and good looking.”)

They talk a bit, and Ana asks about him tracking her mobile phone. Apparently it’s okay that he tracked it because the technology is available widely on the internet (I’m not even going to point out the problems with this rationalisation), it didn’t originate from his company (whatever that has to do with things) and she wasn’t overly-impressed with Jose “pushing suit.”

Oh. My. Fucking. God. It’s like he’s just told her that because his stalkery behaviour was something anyone could have done, and it resulted in her not getting raped by Jose, then it’s okay.

Um. Okay.

“Which medieval chronicle did you escape from? You sound like a courtly knight.”

His mood visibly shifts. His eyes soften and his expression warms, and there’s a trace of a smile on his lips.

“Anastasia, I don’t think so. Dark knight, maybe.”

Holy unintentional hilarity, Batman. Let’s see: he’s brooding, he’s intense, he’s loaded, he probably conceals a side no one’s seen, and he’s mysterious. And he saves the day while still being a snarky motherfucker.

I have figured you out, Grey.

Anyway, Bats asks her if she’s eaten and gives her the Responsible Consumption of Alcohol Talk most kids get in high school or at least in the first year of uni, and Ana eventually snarks at him for scolding her.

“You’re lucky I’m just scolding you.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, if you were mine, you wouldn’t be able to sit down for a week after the stunt you pulled yesterday. You didn’t eat, you got drunk, you put yourself at risk.” He closes his eyes, dread etched briefly on his face, and he shudders. When he opens his eyes, he glares at me. “I hate to think what could have happened to you.”

I scowl back at him. What is his problem? What’s it to him? If I was his… Well, I’m not.

Creepiness from Grey aside here, and I am in NO way abdicating his creepiness in the exchange, Ana is sounding seriously issuey. Playing Devil’s Advocate for a sec: this is possibly Grey’s way of verbalising that he was worried about her safety. Unless you’re living in a dry state or only hanging around with straight-edge types or otherwise not really anywhere near booze, I’m pretty sure the experience of worrying about an intoxicated friend is universal, especially if you can’t keep an eye on them. I’ve worried about a number of people before: even people I don’t know very well or don’t like very much, just because, well, not liking someone is not the same as thinking nothing of someone getting assaulted while they’re unable to fight back merely because they’re a girl and they’re drunk.

That doesn’t mean that I have any deeper concerns beyond, well, a very basic level of decency. It sure as fuck doesn’t mean that I want any personal involvement with them. So Ana’s “if I was his… well, I’m not” thing just makes me want to scream. He’s allowed to not want you to come to harm even if he has no personal interest in you, Ana. Jesus fucking Christ.

Her thought processes here remind me of some, erm, rather unstable people I’ve known. “IF YOU DON’T LOVE ME WHY SHOULD YOU CARE AT ALL ABOUT ME?!” And gawd, those people are irritating, especially when they pull that shit after you’ve a) only seen them a couple of times, and b) have been kind of nice or decent towards them and showed them some concern. Grey went above and beyond what I would have done for her; I’d have grabbed Kate and made them get a taxi home. And then blocked Ana’s number. Not my drunk girlfriend with a personality disorder, not my fucking problem.

Ana then goes into Walter Mitty land and starts thinking about what it would be like if she was “his” and—

I flush at the waywardness of my subconscious—she’s doing her happy dance  in a bright red hula skirt at the thought of being his.

Christ. Even the subconscious’ dress sense gets commentary. Is this a regular thing in chick lit? (Not that I’m saying American Psycho is chick lit.) Also, we are at 68 pages, and nothing really has happened. How people are calling this “porn” (of the mommy or otherwise variety) is beyond me. Um, in my porn, people fuck. In romance, they draw out the fucking with headgames and innuendo and this wonderful thing called subtext, whipping the reader up into a state of loving how drawn out it is and wanting to scream “Just fuck, already.” They don’t stumble around awkwardly and be dislikeable and kind of aimless and drama-llama-y like this is.

Ana then downplays the seriousness of her situation, saying she would have been “fine” if Grey hadn’t stepped in. Grey suggests someone should teach Jose some manners.

Hey, guys: don’t force yourself on drunken girls who aren’t into you: it’s not polite. Erm, no, arsehole. This isn’t about manners.

Ana doesn’t do much better though:

“You are quite the disciplinarian,” I hiss.

“Oh Anastasia, you have no idea.” His eyes narrow, and then he grins wickedly. It’s disarming.

Who else read that and wanted Grey/Jose revengey hatesex fic? That was my first thought.

He goes to have a shower, Ana swoons, he grins, and then does that thing where he tells her to breathe—I think this is meant to be more foreshadowing for the whole domly thing where he virtually controls her every movement or whathaveyou later on. It makes me think of that blonde joke about the blonde wearing the earphones at the hairdresser.

Ana relives him touching her face (this is getting old), and thinks about her desire for him (this is getting old, too), and flops back onto the bed thinking about him.

He’s the only man who has ever set the blood racing through my body. Yet he’s so antagonising, too; he’s difficult, complicated, and confusing.

Oh, here we go with all the adjectives again.

One minute he rebuffs me, the next he sends me fourteen-thousand-dollar books, then he tracks me like a stalker. And for all that, I have spent the night in his hotel suite, and I feel safe. Protected. He cares enough to come and rescue me from some mistakenly perceived danger. He’s not a dark knight at all but a white knight in shining, dazzling armor—a classic romantic hero—Sir Gawain or Sir Lancelot.

Oh fucking dear. Firstly: he’s fucking scary. Like, ‘is he going to mail you his ear next week?’ scary. Secondly, tracking you like a stalker and sending you expensive things aren’t gestures or affection or concern (and if he’s really as loaded as you say he is, Ana, fourteen thou on some books is peanuts). Thirdly: how the fuck was a guy forcing himself on you while you were severely intoxicated “mistakenly perceived danger”? That looks like pretty real danger to me, especially when you’re fighting against a solid wall of muscle as it was described, and he’s pulling your fucking head back.

Fourthly, this is how abusive relationships work. The creepy and scary behaviour gets justified, or tempered out with the nice behaviour. The abuser behaves poorly, realises, freaks out, and does extra-special-nice things to keep his hold on the person and prove to everyone that he’s not such a bad dude. (“He” being used because at the moment we are talking about a male/female ship; I’m fully aware that women can be abusive and that abuse like this doesn’t just occur in male/female relationships, too, before anyone asks.)

Ana scrambles around when he returns (shock horror! She hasn’t shaved her legs! OHNOEZ!) with just a towel around his waist (has he shaved his legs?), while she’s looking for her jeans. He had them sent to the laundry because, well, puke. Then he got his assistant—or whoever Taylor the Buzzcut Guy is—to get shoes and another pair of jeans for her. Presumably, amongst Taylor’s bodyguard credentials, he’s an expert in ladies’ fashion.

Ana has a shower and thinks some more about Grey.

He said he likes his women sentient. He’s probably not celibate then. But he’s not made a pass at me unlike Paul or Jose. I don’t understand. Does he want me? He wouldn’t kiss me last week. Am I repellent  to him? And yet I’m here and he’s brought me here. I just don’t know what his game is. What’s he thinking?

Oh, Lordy. I’m not sure if I’m feeling almost sorry for her if she’s thinking that the only reason people do nice, decent things for other people is because they want to screw them. Or if I hate E. L. James for normalising the idea of men only being nice to women because they want sex and women being accepting of that.

You’ve slept in his bed all night, and he’s not touched you. You do the math.

Champagne plus margaritas equals passing out. Passed out girl does not equal potential sex partner, inability to give informed consent being a variable here.

Ana thinks about Grey whilst she’s showering and rubbing his body wash all over herself. Not sure if we never know what it smells like because either the writer has no imagination or it’s a wild card thing where every woman ever reading this will impose her own idea of an erotically-charged scent into the mental image she has of this.

She fantasises about his hands touching her, and her inner George Takei comes forth with another “Oh my.” I love that guy.

She’s interrupted by the arrival of breakfast, so she gets out and dries off and gets dressed.

She doesn’t just have “new clean clothes,” it seems.

Not only has Taylor bought me jeans and new Converse, but also a pale blue shirt, socks and underwear. Oh my. A clean bra and panties—actually, to describe them in such a mundane, utilitarian way does not do them justice. They are exquisitely designed fancy European lingerie.

Okay, now that just sounds awkward. Also, I hope I’m not the only one finding this overstepping some boundaries here. How the fuck did he know what sizes to get these in?

Apparently they fit perfectly. Taylor must do this an awful lot. Wow. There I was thinking that the hairdresser’s apprentice I once met, whose boss used to make her buy boxes and boxes of condoms (thereby humiliating the poor kid at the checkout, because what teenage girl doesn’t feel weird buying a shitload of condoms and worrying what people are thinking?) was a demanding and mean boss.

She dresses, and tries to control her hair. It doesn’t get controlled which is probably a metaphor for something I’m too uninvested in to give a fuck about. She then walks through the suite to offer more superfluous description which any decent editor would have pared down, to see Grey sitting at a table reading a newspaper. She remembers that Kate was out with her last night, too, and seems scandalised by Kate’s fervent dancing in order to seduce Christian’s brother. Whoda thunk other people have their own less drawn out mating rituals?

She worries about Kate’s reaction to her staying out, and then considers the fact that Kate is still out with Elliot.

She’s only done this twice before, and both times I’ve had to endure the hideous pink PJs for a week from the fallout.

So Kate seems to be as prone to obsessing over random strangers as much as Ana is. Told ya they were the perfect couple. They’ve got more in common than any of the canon pairings, anyway.

Anyway, we get a description of Christian’s outfit, and then he invites, I guess you could say, her to join him for breakfast.

“Sit,” he commands, pointing to a place at the table.

Charming. You know, I’ve read fic where the couple are doing a serious total power exchange thing where the submissive party isn’t even “allowed” to blink without permission, but even then, whoever’s dominant speaks to the other person with more respect than this guy. And at least, in those fictional settings, it can be argued that the character gave consent to being ordered around like that. If someone talked to me like I was a dog, I’d get up and walk out, no matter how cute they were, because that’s some scary-arsed foreshadowing for later down the track.

The table is laden with food. “I didn’t know what you liked, so I ordered a selection from the breakfast menu.” He gives me a crooked, apologetic smile.

“That’s very profligate of you,” I murmur, bewildered by the choice, though I am hungry.

Profligate. How many people use that word in day-to-day conversation? Why the fuck would she even say this to him? Why not a fucking “thankyou, that’s really generous of you”?

“Yes, it is.” He sounds guilty.

I’m having a hard time believing this. He’s sickeningly rich. Philanthropic tax write-offs aside, if he’s buying fourteen-grand books for Ana on a whim (and mailing them with no insurance or registered mail, too, actually), he doesn’t seem to consider the notion of “waste.”

They have breakfast and he remembers that she likes tea. Ten bucks says that Ana’s preferred type of tea is the same as E. L. James’.

“Your hair’s very damp,” he scolds.

“I couldn’t find the hair dryer,” I mutter, embarrassed. Not that I looked.

Christian’s mouth presses into a hard line, but he doesn’t say anything.

“Thankyou for the clothes.”

“It’s a pleasure, Anastasia. That colour suits you.”

Nope, not at all creepy and controlling. I mean… getting drunk? He really had no right to get shitty about that, but… wet hair? As for the clothes, the insinuation that he knows what looks better on her than she does is just yuck.

I blush and stare down at my fingers.

“You know, you really should learn to take a compliment.” His tone is castigating.

But… Grey: you like her solely because she has no self-worth and is pissweak. Make your fucking mind up, hypocrite.

Ana offers to pay for the clothes and says she’s returning the books. They have words. If effect, he admits to buying her stuff “because [he] can.” Because he can afford it, I assume, and because every other woman he’s tried the creepy stalker act on has sicked the cops on him.

Anyway, she asks about the books, and then things get deeper. .

“Why did you send me the books, Christian?” My voice is soft.

He puts down his cutlery and regards me intently, his eyes burning with some unfathomable emotion.

I’m trying to fathom burning eyes at the moment, and I’m expecting to see them in a subsequent creepy dream sequence.

“Well, you were nearly run over by the cyclist—and I was holding you and you were looking up at me – all ‘kiss me, kiss me, Christian’”—he pauses and shrugs—“I felt I owed you an apology and a warning.”

Jesus fucking Christ. This has seriously got to be the most idiotic piece of dialogue I have read. I actually needed to read it twice to make sure that I wasn’t being mean and imagining it in there.

Firstly, what guy over fifteen would use a term of phrase like, “you were looking at me, all”, and secondly: is this him implying he knew that she wanted to be kissed? When did he become a mindreader? Why didn’t he just say “no”? Thirdly, he already did say, “Ain’t gonna work.”

Fourthly: and I am sickened when Ana says it about herself in relation to other guys so it would apply to Christian, too: what’s with the apologetics about not wanting to be romantically involved with someone? A polite, “I’m flattered but I’m sorry,” is all that is needed, and still remaining friends is nice, but beyond that, nothing is required. You shouldn’t be bogged down with pity or shelling out for expensive and rare gifts because you don’t want to exchange bodily fluids with someone.

“Anastasia, I’m not a hearts and flowers kind of man… I don’t do romance. My tastes are very singular. You should steer clear of me.” He closes his eyes as if in defeat. “There’s something about you, though, and I’m finding it impossible to stay away. But I think you’ve figured that out already.”

Or circumstances and a drunken dialling have made it impossible to. This is, what, their fourth meeting?

“Then don’t,” I whisper.

He gasps, his eyes wide. “You don’t know what you’re saying.”

“Enlighten me, then.”

We sit gazing at each other, neither of us touching our food.

“You’re not celibate then?” I breathe.

Amusement lights up his eyes. “No, Anastasia, I’m not celibate. “ He pauses for this information to sink in, and I flush scarlet.

Warning: do not read this book if you are prone to fits of eyeball rolling.

I don’t know if this is meant to be seduction, either, but generally, if you’re telling a girl to stay away after buying her expensive things, playing white knight and telling her in as many words “I just can’t quit you,” it’s a bit pointless. You’re just making yourself into the Restricted Section, where, let’s face it, people want in purely because it’s off-limits. There are so many better things Grey could have done to throw Ana off the trail:

a)      “I am a plushie. You know what that means, right? If not, Google is your friend.”

b)      “I am about to move overseas forever where I will not have internet, phones, or anything anyone could contact me with.”

c)       “I am vegan.” Trust me, this one will send people running.

d)      Sent her a full collection of the works of the Marquis de Sade. Let’s face it, he was weird and kinky, but the writing wasn’t fantastic. Though compared to this, he’s Tolstoy.

e)      “I’ve got [insert STD here] and it’s [insert graphic description of STD’s effects in here].” Just after she’s eaten or while she’s about to.

f)       “Do you like snuff movies? You come over and watch some with me sometime.”

g)      Hit on Kate.

h)      Hit on Jose.

At least one of these would have sent her running. Instead, he does this “I am the prince of darkness and I have mysterious pain living in my soul and I’m ambiguous because deep down all I really want is for a woman to love me” crap.

Anyway, Ana explains that pretty soon, she and Kate are moving to Seattle, coincidentally right near where Grey lives. He asks what she’s going to do when she gets there and she calls inquisition, though says she’s applied for internships.

“Have you applied to my company as I suggested?”

I flush… Of course not. “Um, no.”

“And what’s wrong with my company?”

In addition to the fact that we don’t really know what the company does (please let it be a worldwide money laundering operation! Prostitution ring! People smuggling operation!) they do appear to have some sexist and discriminatory hiring practises. But maybe Christian assumes that Ana was stupid enough to have not noticed that,

(OMG, perhaps he’ll hire her, and make her bleach her hair… and all those other blondes in his office are his previous off-casts whom he grew tired of and didn’t get rid of because he didn’t want sexual harassment cases to deal with.)

“Your company, or your company?”

Well, there’s a lot wrong with that, too, now that you mention it, Ana.

“Are you smirking at me, Miss Steele?” He tilts his head to one side and I think he looks amused, but it’s hard to tell. I flush and glance down at my unfinished breakfast. I can’t look him in the eye when he uses that tone of voice.

“I’d like to bite that lip,” he whispers darkly.

Um… that was unexpected. It wasn’t particularly sexy, but it’s possibly been the sexiest thing said in the book so far, but that Christian Grey, stalker extraordinaire is saying it just makes it creepy. Does the guy have Mike Tyson tendencies?

I gasp, completely unaware hat I am chewing my bottom lip and my mouth pops open. That has to be the sexiest thing any body has ever said to me. My heartbeat spikes, and I think I’m panting.

Okay, back up a little here: her heartbeat, um, spikes? Does she have cardiac monitor attached to her? And… panting? I’m not sure if E. L. James gets how the human body works, but mammals tend to pant when they’re physically hot through extremes in temperature or physical exertion. Unless someone just whacked on the heating, none of these scenarios have occurred. Then again, it’s Ana thinking she’s panting, and Ana is fucking delusional, so I’ll call it even and say we have a very unreliable narrator here. Hence why she’s thinking this dude is being romantic rather than scary.

“Why don’t you?” I challenge quietly.

Arrrgh. Editor in me is wanting to punch someone for not pointing out to this girl that every single sentence doesn’t have to end on an adjective.

“Because I’m not going to touch you, Anastasia—not until I have your written consent to do so.” His lips hint at a smile.

Now, because this gets arduous, I’ll sum up: he doesn’t actually explain any of this. He merely suggests they meet up again so he can explain everything to her properly (because apparently he needs time to hide the bodies or something, or he really, really has to get back to reading his newspaper) later that evening. We are on page 74 of this book. So much of this could have been condensed, by the way. I can understand drawing out a romance or making a reader crazy for the characters to “just do it!” But this is fucking ridiculous. And boring. And horrible. And seriously, if you’re going to warn someone off, and then decide that you want them after all, and the whole “this is how I do things” deal is so unfathomably unbendable for you, you fucking well owe it to that person to explain yourself. Once again, Grey is being mean. He knows this girl likes him, and he’s being a custarddick about it.

And ALL of this shit could have been pared down with Grey saying, “I don’t believe you would understand my sexual interests” and Ana saying “Try me” rather than this pathetic dilly-dallying about that’s gone on for the last few chapters.

You know what this is making me think? It’s making me think the fanfic was released in multiple parts, and E. L. James drew out the interactive stuff because the idea of writing sex—especially kinky sex—was making her feel a bit uncomfortable. Which is fine: everyone’s gotta start somewhere, and sex can be awkward and weird to write. But this, ladies and gentlemen, is why we have editors. When something goes from work-in-progress fanfic on the internet to professionally published book, changes (other than the names of characters and a few locational deets) get made. In normal circumstances, anyway. (Seriously, wtf was this? Vanity published?)

Grey tells Ana that once she’s enlightened, she’ll probably never want to see him again. Still, they agree to meet in the evening. Why not just get this miserable mess over and done with as quickly and cleanly as possible? I want this chapter to end. I want to go back to reading about Warrick and Toreth. I want to play with the kittens I’m fostering. I want to go hit the gym or go skating or blend up litres of celery and pear juice or something.

Grey then makes some arrangements with Taylor-the-women’s-fashion-buyer and suddenly a helicopter is organised. Oh, yeah, amongst the stuff that Grey failed to mention? He’s got a helicopter. Which he can fly. But he wants a standby pilot there as well at the start. Ana is bewildered and blinky about it, and Grey is all blasé about it and tells her to finish her breakfast. I should be impressed, too, I mean, hey, it’s a fucking chopper, but you know what? This book is so godamned ridiculous that a tentacle monster could emerge from the hotel toilet and unexpectedly request to have its way with Ana, and all I think I’d be doing it critiquing the hideous sentence structure and over-used phrasing.

How can I eat now? I’m going to Seattle by helicopter with Christian Grey. And he wants to bite my lip. I squirm at the thought.

This is where I hear the voiceover dude’s voice—(you know that guy who does the “This Summer” and announces some plot points over a movie trailer with the intended effect of making you go “I’ll see that!” ) for the trailer for 50 Shades : The Movie—saying something like, “At five hundred feet, you can scream… but no one will hear you” while they’re alone in a helicopter together and he wants to bite her lip. (Mental note to self: when this atrocity does get released as a movie, do some creative re-editing of the promotional material to showcase the true genre this belongs in: horror.)

“Eat,” he says more sharply. “Anastasia, I have an issue with wasted food… eat.”

If he has such an issue with wasted food, why the fuck did he order pretty much everything on the menu? Unless he’s one of those feeder people who is going to insist on controlling how much food she ingests. Boy: and there I was thinking this wasn’t going to get any more disturbing.

“I can’t eat all this.” I gape at what’s left on the table.

“Eat what’s on your plate. If you’d eaten properly yesterday, you wouldn’t be here, and I wouldn’t be declaring my hand so soon.” His mouth sets in a grim line. He looks angry.

Okay, scary controlling shit going down right there. Or pedophilia: he’s talking to her like she’s a fucking child. Or not a fucking child—um… ew. Even describing the way he talks to her starts to get gross and wrong and creepy and holy fucking shit, this is meant to be romantic?

She eats up.

“Good girl,” he says. “I’ll take you home when you’ve dried your hair. I don’t want you getting ill.”

There’s some kind of unspoken promise in his words. What does he mean?

Oh, yuck. Firstly, the “good girl” thing makes me wonder if maybe he’s used to dating little girls since that’s how he seems to naturally talk to Ana, secondly, there’s no “unspoken” promise: he’s said he’ll take her home. Sheesh.

Oh, and thirdly: having wet hair doesn’t give you colds. Bacteria and a weakened immune system will do that more than having fucking wet hair. Christian Grey isn’t an all-knowing god, he’s a fucking idiot.

Ana goes to leave, but on her way out, asks where Grey slept. In the bed. Next to her. And it was a novelty—Ana assumes because he didn’t have sex, he tells her because he slept with someone. Oh, hello, Edward Cullen. This is all coming across like a dodgy localisation now, where the editors haven’t realised that some things should be, erm, localised a trifle better. Meyer!Vampires don’t sleep, do they? Grey isn’t a vampire… I don’t think.

Ana apparently doesn’t get that sleeping with someone and fucking with someone are two different things.

What in heaven’s name does that mean? He’s never slept with anyone? He’s still a virgin?

Oh dear GAWD.

Anyway, Ana dries her hair. Grey takes a business call in the next room. Then they walk out and pop into the elevator and—

Suddenly, for some inexplicable reason, possibly our proximity in such an enclosed space, the atmosphere between us changes, charged with an electric, exhilarating anticipation. My breathing alters as my heart races. His head turns fractionally towards me, his eyes darkest slate. I bite my lip.

“Oh, fuck the paperwork,” he growls.

Uh-oh. That paperwork, I believe, was about consent, wasn’t it? Does he realise what he’s actually saying there?

He lunges at me, pushing me against the wall of the elevator. Before I know it, he’s got both of my hands in one of his in a viselike grip above my head, and he’s pinning me to the wall using his hips. Holy shit. His other hand grabs my hair and yanks down, bringing my face up, and his lips are on mine. It’s not only just painful.

No, it’s not. Non-consensual, too.

I moan into his mouth, giving his tongue an opening. He takes full advantage, his tongue expertly exploring my mouth.

God, I’m guilty of using phrasing about tongues exploring mouths, but after reading this, I promise I will never, ever do it again. This book has the Gerbil Effect on things that were previously considered sexy. (Type “Richard Gere” into Google and notice how “gerbil” comes up next to his name. Do some creative clicking after this if you still don’t know what I’m talking about.*)

My tongue tentatively joins his and joins his in a slow, erotic dance that’s all about touch and sensation, bump and grind.

It sounds like snails fucking. Has anyone seen how they do that? My mind narrated that in Richard Attenborough’s voice and I just saw snails thanks to all the nature docos I watched in my formative years.

He brings his hand up to grasp my chin and holds me in place. I’m helpless, my hands pinned, my face held, and his hips restraining me. His erection against my belly. Oh my… He wants me.

I had one thought when reading this: I don’t believe that is an approved restraint technique. Even though he secured her chin. And then that thought was interrupted by George Takei’s voice.

“You. Are. So. Sweet,” he murmurs, each word a staccato.

Holy fuck. That was creepy. Sorry, folks, but that really was. That sounds like the sort of thing that a serial killer is meant to say while someone is dying in agony as their intestines are spilling out onto the cold hard floor beneath them. Um, ew.

Anyway, the whole mess is saved by the bell—the ping of the elevator as the doors open, and Grey is all cool and calm which annoys Ana because he’s just rocked her world or something. Grey makes a quip about elevators which is meant to be comedic because the last time they saw one, there was a couple making out in one.

Then they leave, and thus concludes the chapter.

I am reminded of Miles Edgeworth’s (from Ace Attorney) fear of elevators, for some reason, though in fairness, he had good reason to have post traumatic stress disorder attached to them.

Then again, so does anyone rational who managed to get through this chapter unaffected by drugs or alcohol.

Maybe my problem with this book is that I’m reading it sober.

* Yes, I realise it’s urban legend. But it still made more than a few people lose interest in Gere who, prior to that, had been considered the epitome of hawtness.

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15 thoughts on “50 Shades of Grey, E. L. James; Chapter Five

  1. Laughing and laughing here as I read this. I must agree, the writing is so poor that it still fascinates and puzzles me why it so widely popular.

    • Thankyou! I’m seriously of the opinion that good marketing, and jumping on the right wave at the right time is where the majority of the book’s success is coming from. I wonder what the next trend will be.

      It makes me sad, though. Five years ago it was Twilight. Before that it was Dan Brown. If we continue on in their vein, well, let’s just say whoever wrote that infamous “My Immortal” fanfic is just waiting for their ship to come in. D:

  2. Absolutely fecking (Irish word) brilliant! I hope you’re going to publish the whole set of reviews, it will sell more than ‘Shades’. Please promise not to review my book!

    • ROFLMAO. You’re too kind. 🙂 I’m just doing this for the love of snarking at the status quo and for… community service. 😀

      What’s your book? Whatever it is, it’s probably nothing on Shades. (I’m actually chapter-by-chapter reviewing another series on here… and I’m not finding much to be nasty about. Promise ya. 🙂 )

      • I’ve never read ‘Shades’ and reading your comments on Chapter 5 precludes me from doing so. Status Quo? It is a sad reflection on humanity that such crap is so popular. The world must be full of women who have never been properly loved with E.L. as Boudecia at their head. There must also be a huge collection of men who should be ashamed of themselves! I see from my blog you’ve answered your question about my book. It is mostly auto-biop with fiction thrown in to make it more interesting. Note: at no point does the hero ever EVER ‘close his eyes, dread etched briefly on his face, and shudder’ . I certainly have never wirnessed a man behaving like that but there are certain establishments I do not frequent!

      • Sorry confuded you with Derby and replied to a blog not directed at me

  3. I must admit that I love the 50 Shades books but wow. After reading your review it is not only hilarious but a little shocking to reread it from your point of view. I can totally understand where your coming from. I, on the other hand, read this book within 24hrs without stopping to actually think about anything…I just kept reading and reading…and reading. There were more than a few signs of issues but I was too drawn into the story to actually take a step back and look. My eyes are literally watering from laughing so hard while reading this blog. Please…I beg of you, write about another chapter from this book. 🙂

    • Aw, thankyou. Pleased to be of service. 🙂 And thankyou for the reblog: I’m glad you’re enjoying.

      And… yes. I plan on getting through the whole thing. Not sure if I will do the whole series though.

  4. Reblogged this on MLNewman87 and commented:
    I just found this blog and I can’t get enough of it. My eyes are watering with laughter. It’s amazingly hilarious.

  5. mannafrancis on said:

    I hate to tell you this, but a friend of my sister who was Reading 50 Shades complained that there wasn’t any sex until page 117. (I think. A surprisingly large page number, anyway.) I guess it might depend on your edition, though.

    Random facts of the week: There’s an awesome Robbie Williams song called ‘I Tried Love’, of which the opening line is ‘Is the Richard Gere gerbil story true?’.

    • There are multiple editions— like a “director’s cut” type thing– of this book? Trust me to get the one that hadn’t seen an editor. 😛 Perhaps it’s a good thing there’s no sex yet… I live in hope that the writing stabilises before sex gets thrown into the mix and gets a good dose of the Gerbil Effect. 🙂

      And thankyou! I need to go and find that Robbie Williams song now. Gross and disturbing urban myths amuse me far too much.

  6. Um… Gray sweatpants and a sleeveless gray sweaty t-shirt?

    Sorry, that’s not a sexy dom, that’s Rocky Balboa pulverizing beef carcasses and grunting up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

    And “phlegmatically”. Really? Phleg-matically…phlegm-atically….

    Now you may be having your inner George Takei being stimulated by Ana, but that word has me channeling Big Mac from My Little Pony. (“ahhh-yup.”)

    • ROFLMAO. You are so right. And I was giggling at these observations. (And who the hell uses the word “phlegmatically,” anyway? Oh, wait: it’s the author’s wayof demonstrating Ana’s extensive vocabulary because she’s an English Lit student, I think.

      And… OMFG. I hope phlegmatically turns up in a sex scene now! *GRINS* Along with the inner George Takei. 😀

  7. mannafrancis on said:

    Interesting chapter!

    I guess I find myself apathetic on the rampant unreality. It’s fantasy, and sexual fantasy is not the place to look for realistic depictions of first-time sex, BDSM or pretty much anything else. Sure, it might not be my kind of fantasy, but I’m happy for all the people out there who are getting off with it. (Especially as I’m not having to read it closely for the purpose of review, heh.)

    The AU aspect, though, is still fascinating me. Writing fanfic AUs is something that requires more care and planning than people might think. There’s a lot that goes into balancing the original characters against the new setting, and making decisions about what you need to change and what you need to keep, and what constitutes a step too far that will lose the essence of the source. This is why there are a lot of really bad AUs out there.

    Of course, when you start filing off the serial numbers and make the story stand alone and work for readers who don’t know the source, you can then choose to change pretty much anything you want. Equally, though, you don’t want to lose whatever it was that made the source successful.

    There are some solid translations in 50 Shades. Bella moving to a new town and school becomes Ana graduating into the adult world. The vampire/mortal power disparity becomes millionaire/new graduate. Arguably, vampirism becomes BDSM — a scary-but-fascinating secret. Even Volvo-driving vampire becoming SUV-driving businessman tracks nicely, if you want to keep the quirk of an odd car choice.

    Then some of the other choices E.L. James has made with the AU seem jarring, where things are carried through from source to AU without explanation or translation (e.g. Ana’s teenage naivete, Christian’s old-fashioned language, his obsession with her physical fragility). On the other hand, the way the books have sold suggest that James has probably picked out what it was about the Bella/Edward relationship that made Twilight sell like gangbusters, too. Is the language a critical part of that? Would it be possible to keep that part of the fantasy appeal while making it feel more in character for two twenty-somethings? I have no idea, but it’s interesting to think about.

    • mannafrancis on said:

      Whoops, left that on completely the wrong chapter! Let’s try again – delete this one, if you like 🙂

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