Monday, August 04, 2014

50 Shades En Fuego

THIS IS IT YOU GUYS. I am finally done reading these books and I swear to Christ if she writes a fourth one so help me I will burn the publishing house to the ground, pour gasoline on the ashes and BURN THEM AGAIN.

Because E.L. James is an artless, bungling, inept tool, she couldn't simply write one epilogue that concisely wraps up the book and provides the audience with closure (such as a month later, Christian dies in a fiery helicopter crash and Ana immolates herself because she can NEVER LOVE AGAIN and the rest of us can all live happily ever after). Instead she wrote three of them because even after she's finished writing a book she can't control her incurable explosive word dysentery.

The first epilogue is the kind of epilogue one expects at the end of a book, except that it is completely stupid and makes me want to punch a baby koala. It is just over two and a half years since the end of the book. Ana and Christian's mistake is two years old and Ana is pregnant with another fucking terrible idea baby. The first paragraph is Ana laying in the grass enjoying the afternoon sun. Since she's doing something for herself for once instead of catering to her abusive husband and presumably spoiled and obnoxious son, this happiness is obviously wrong: "I should feel guilty for feeling this joy..." OR you could just have a nice time for once without constantly looking for a reason to be upset about something you melodramatic assface.

For no reason at all except James hasn't written a boring sex scene in this chapter yet, Ana has a flashback to the last night she and Christian spent at his penthouse of sex before they moved to their new house. Since BDSM is ok now that he's been saved from wanting to do it and become a good person, this sex consists of a very light non-painful flogging, a blowjob (where she miraculously remembered not to rake her teeth across his dick), and then some good old vanilla penis in vagina missionary sex because that's the proper way for people in love to screw (also because Christian seems to think that if he fucks her too hard he'll poke his baby in the eye with his enormous cock). The next scene is inexplicably after some sex in the present since she's pregnant with their second child, unless it is supposed to be after the last sex at their old house which they moved out of two years ago, which now that I think about makes total sense since we've already established that James can neither tell time nor bother to review her own work. Anywang, it's after some sex at some point in the past, and while Christian is feeling the baby kick, Ana says "I think she likes sex already." YOUR FETUS DOES NOT LIKE SEX ANA. IT'S A FUCKING FETUS SERIOUSLY WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?

After the flashback (in an epilogue. She wrote a flashback scene in an epilogue), Ana wakes up in the grass to find Christian and their son looking for her. They have a nauseating conversation about how Ana should quit working because she's a mom now and her job should be to not have any life at all outside of her children. You know, like his mom, A FUCKING PRACTICING PHYSICIAN. Speaking of his mom, Ana wants to name their daughter Ella after his birth mom, and this is NOT FUCKING COOL. I mean, she made him say he loved his mom, she made him go to her grave, what the fuck does she want from him GOD STOP ASKING ME FOR TOTALLY NORMAL THINGS ANA. She immediately backs down from this stance, begging his forgiveness and praying to fuck in her internal monologue that she hasn't made him angry. For suggesting a reasonable name for their child. THIS RELATIONSHIP IS SO ROMANTIC YOU GUYS WHY CAN'T YOU SEE HOW LIVING IN CONSTANT FEAR OF YOUR HUSBAND IS EVERY GIRL'S DREAM COME TRUE? And then their kid drops his fucking popsicle in the grass and it is a tragedy that goes on for two pages.

TIME FOR ANOTHER FLASHBACK (in an epilogue. Maybe next time just actually finish writing the fucking book). Ana is in labor with their son. She has been in labor for fifteen hours, which apparently in E.L. Jamesland is a fucking extraordinary amount of time to be in labor (with your first child even). But now the baby is in distress and the doctor says it would be best if she had an emergency C-section. Now, I've never had a baby, but from everyone I've ever talked to who was told their baby was in distress and emergency surgery would have to be performed on their wife, I've been made to understand it's really fucking scary. Christian's reaction to being told this exact same thing is to scream at her doctor "About fucking time!" I wrote in my notes "CUT MY WIFE OPEN ALREADY YOU LAZY CUNT". For her part, Ana stays true to her epicly stupid character and wonders in italics why Christian would be worried that she's about to get cut open and a baby ripped out of her uterus. I am not kidding you, she cannot fathom why this might be worrying.

Flashback over, but now we have to relive the scene we just fucking read again while she tells Christian about the flashback she was having. Christian is adamant - this time they will have a planned cesarean. Because that would be safer? Because it's best in their situation? Because they've discussed it and agreed that it's what they both want? Of course not, don't be ridiculous. It's because he is NOT going through that again. You should have major surgery again because last time you had a baby it gave me bad feelings and I don't want to have another big sad.

The epilogue ends with Christian assembling his kid's train set for his second birthday tomorrow and anxiously wondering if he'll like it, and then the only other part of the epilogue that is an actual thing that belongs in an epilogue is that she makes quick mention of the fact that Kate and Elliot have a two month old baby and apparently her dad is still alive since he's coming to the kid's birthday party.

The end.

PSYCHE. Just kidding, the fecal festival is only just beginning! The other two epilogues are in a special section entitled Shades of Christian and they are both written from Christian's perspective. Allegedly. But we'll get to that. The first one is called "Fifty's First Christmas". It is not his actual first Christmas, it's his first Christmas since the Greys adopted him, so supposedly written from the perspective of a four year old. However, I'm pretty sure based on its content that E.L. James hasn't so much as seen a photo of a four year old. The reason I think this is that no one who has ever been in the same room with a four year old would imagine his thought processes the way James imagines Christian's. Here is the internal monologue of a normal four year old: "What's that? I'm hungry! CANDYCANDYCANDYCANDY OOOO LOOK A TRUCK VROOM VROOM! I want cookies and a puppy! MOMMY LOOK I FOUND A STICK. A worm! Smush it! I need the potty WHERE IS MY TEDDY BEAR. Fart noises with my mouth HAHAHAHAHAHAHA" Not Christian however. Christian, who by the way doesn't speak at all because he's been so traumatized by his life so far, spends an extraordinary amount of time thinking about how to pronounce the word "ornament" after his mother tells him that's what the shiny balls are that they're putting on the tree. He sounds it out in his head. A child that does not speak and that has just been presented with a large array of small shiny objects sounds out the word "ornaments" inside his head trying to get it right. FIVE FUCKING TIMES. This is the thing a small child in a room full of things that are completely new to him is most concerned about.

James also endlessly covers material we already know. Four year old Christian doesn't like to be touched exactly the way grown up Christian doesn't like to be touched? WHO KNEW? He's excited to eat dinner because he's so used to being hungry? YOU DON'T SAY. He is fascinated by the piano and helicopters and he has nightmares about his birth mother when he goes to sleep? YOU GUYS I HAVE SO MUCH INSIGHT INTO HIS CHARACTER NOW THIS EPILOGUE IS SUCH A REVELATION.

And then there is this paragraph:

I have seen pictures of Santa. But Santa never brought me presents before. I was bad. Santa doesn't bring presents to boys who are bad. Now I am good. My new mommy says I am good, very good. New Mommy doesn't know. I must never tell New Mommy...but I am bad. I don't want New Mommy to know that.
So here we have a four year old who has interpreted his mother's neglect as something he did, and who has made a deliberate and structured decision to hide his deep psychological scars from his mother. Four year olds have neither the logical capacity nor the emotional sophistication to make decisions with this sort of depth and internal reflection. The kind of secret a four year old is likely to keep is that he broke something, and he will be fucking terrible at it because small children have absolutely no concept of nuance. So not only does this second epilogue add absolutely nothing to our understanding of Christian, but it is in no way fucking believable as the perspective of a four year old. There is no point to this chapter other than to paint an abusive entitled asshole as a sympathetic character, as though tragedy in your childhood excuses you from acting like a fucked up syphilitic monkey dick as an adult. Fact: NO IT DOESN'T.

Ok. So. The final epilogue. This piece is called "Meet Fifty Shades" and it is...I don't know a word to describe the magnitude of my loathing for this chapter. BUT FIRST OF ALL: Allow me to now clear up a few errors I made as far as the timeline of this relationship in these fucking books. Because this chapter recounts the very beginning of Ana and Christian's relationship by retelling their first meeting and the first time he stalks her at work from Christian's perspective AND IT IS AWFUL. But that is not my first point. My first point is that the very first thing on the very first page of this is the date on the day of the interview when Ana first meets Christian. This date was not explicit in the original book - I made some educated guesses based on events going on in Ana's life such as finals and graduation.

Christian and Ana met for the very first time on May 9, 2011. Now, in the last few official pages of this book, Ana sends an email to Christian (from the next fucking room, instead of texting like every single other 22 year old in 2011 would have done because James is an out of touch middle aged asshat who I would say is way past her prime except that would imply that she'd ever had a prime) to tell him it's TIME FOR SEX, and that e-mail is dated September 21, 2011. That is 19 weeks - roughly four and a half months. I did a little flipping back through the book and found another email from Ana to Christian from while they were living on the yacht during their honeymoon dated August 17. This is at least two weeks into their honeymoon, as she has already said they spent a week in London and a week in Paris, so the very latest they could have gotten married was August 3rd, a whopping three months from when they first met. In three months she KNEW there would NEVER BE ANYONE ELSE FOR HER. This ALSO means that all of the completely insane bullshit that went on in this book took place in the space of ONE FUCKING MONTH. You guys JACK BAUER does not have this action packed of a fucking life. I'm too tired of James' total inability to understand how time works to do any more of the math, but I suspect that if I had enough interest in working it all out, there would not be enough hours in one month to actually cover all of the things that supposedly happen in this one.

Ok, so setting aside the fact that James doesn't own a calendar or even a clock for that matter, this is still not the worst part of the entire experience. This chapter was fucking horrible THE FIRST TIME I read it, in no way shape or form was I prepared to have to read the entire goddamn thing AGAIN. So this time around, we start out in Christian's office pre-interview. He is staring out the window thinking about his existential boredom: "...the familiar ennui seeps into my consciousness." This is supposed to be an ACTUAL THOUGHT a person had about himself. He segueways this thought into James' characteristic blatant foreshadowing: he is SO BORED of everything, what he needs is some sort of distraction in his life. Where oh where will he ever find any such thing? Maybe if we keep reading we'll all find out together! He suddenly remembers he has an interview with some annoying college student, and is disproportionately angry about it (which he takes out on his assistant whose fault it is most definitely not because the entire point of being the boss is that you get to be a dick to everyone for no reason other than to amuse yourself). He hates interviews, and I genuinely love this bit, because do you want to know why he hates interviews? I assure you that you do. Christian loathes (his word) interviews because he hates having to answer, AND I QUOTE, "inane questions from inane, ill-informed, vacuous idiots." In that case I have some VERY distressing news, Mr. Grey.

As we already know, because we ALREADY READ THIS, Ana comes tripping through the door. Christian claims he is fascinated by her immediately, but I can't for the life of me understand why he thinks this since he alternates comments about how fascinated he is with comments about how he doesn't like ONE SINGLE FUCKING THING ABOUT THIS GIRL. She has no dress sense at all (her clothes look like they're from Walmart, or even (gasp of horror) Old Navy!). She is inhumanly clumsy. She brought a digital recorder to the interview like some sort of fucking cave man. She hasn't done one single shred of research on him before this interview (I know, right? I'm totally with you on that one, C-man.). She has "not one iota of originality". Her attitude is pissing him off. She doesn't even seem to know her own questions. I agree, entirely, with this part of Christian's assessment of Ana. What's harder for me to fathom is how ANY of those observations make her seem interesting. She's so dumb and doesn't even know the question she's about to ask him, but when she looks at a painting and makes the completely empty, meaningless and idiotic statement  "The ordinary raised to the extraordinary.", Christian's reaction is to decide she is obviously, like, wicked smart. This doesn't make any sense. In fact, the only thing that I can even imagine would have caused him to give her one instant of his attention is the fact that she's really pretty. Like, fucking stunningly beautiful. To me, and to anyone who has met other human beings, this makes complete sense: Hey look, a fucking gorgeous woman! I totally want to fuck the shit out of that! Right? That's a totally reasonable reaction to expect. But shitballs if Christian isn't entirely flummoxed by his visceral sexual reaction to an attractive person with nothing else to offer in the way of being interesting. He DOES NOT UNDERSTAND why he keeps thinking sexual thoughts about her. Every time I look at this hot piece of ass, I get a tingly feeling in my penis! WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING TO ME???? This is a 28 year old man whose main fucking hobby is having rough sex with women who all look nearly exactly like this one. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY MAKE HIM BE THINKING THOUGHTS LIKE THIS? Is James just fucking insane? I mean forget about having ever met an actual grown ass man in her entire life, hasn't she ever seen one single sitcom, movie, or advertisement for literally anything ever? MOST DUDES DIG SEX, JAMES, PARTICULARLY WITH PEOPLE THEY ARE SEXUALLY ATTRACTED TO AND THERE IS NO REASON FOR CHRISTIAN TO BE *SURPRISED* BY HIS OWN MOTHERFUCKING BONER.

I'm not going to recount the entire plot for you again since this is not our collective first rodeo. However, I would like to say, to E.L. James directly: Hey, I know you are writing the exact same scene a second time, but maybe you could do it without using the EXACT VERBATIM THOUGHTS the other character in the scene had the first time around. Specifically, maybe you could have Christian NOT think the thought "Unable to keep the amusement out of my voice as I recall her less-than-elegant entrance into my office..." when in the first book you had Ana thinking "Obviously, he's referring to my earlier less-than-elegant entry into his office." because that's THE EXACT SAME THING YOU ALREADY WROTE WORD FOR FUCKING WORD. And this happens throughout the whole entire chapter. On the inside, Christian sounds like a naive, vapid, dipshit, space-cadet, shallow preteen girl. All James did was do a find and replace in Word and change "Ana" to "Christian" and then republish the exact same fucking scene. I mean, come on, you're not even trying anymore.

So anyway, here's the part that we haven't read before (although in fairness to our own intelligence and James' face-palmingly transparent writing style, we do already know about it). Ana leaves the interview, and Christian immediately gets on the phone and tells his private investigator he needs a background check. The next page contains the results of said background check. And as we already wearily know what to expect, it is not real on so many levels. The report contains her date of birth, address, phone number, social security number, GPA, SAT scores (2150 by the way. NOT FUCKING LIKELY as she isn't sure what is or isn't an element or that helicopters can fly at night or basic geography), place of employment, family background, and bank account details, including the balance of her account. Now maybe James doesn't know this because it would involve some fucking research, but in America, your bank account number is not something you just bandy about. There aren't really direct payments between personal accounts and you don't give anyone your account number so they can send you money that way. Similarly, banks do not just give out account numbers or balances to people at random, or in most circumstances, to anyone without a subpoena or a court order. I double checked this because  unlike James I prefer not to talk out of my ass. Direct from information provided by several private investigating firms, digging up people's bank balances without cause and under false pretenses is very fucking illegal. So Christian's guy that knows how to get any kind of information you could possibly ask about is quite probably a dangerous criminal, and really, probably someone Christian wouldn't actually want to have too much association with anyway since if he can get that kind of information about Ana and Jack Hyde and anyone else Christian wants to stalk, he can certainly discover all kinds of shit about Christian's life. There is also a section on Ana's religious affiliation (not found), sexual orientation (unknown) and relationship status (none indicated). This is stuff that would be hard to figure out without following someone around, or at least it was before Facebook, but since I think we can safely assume Ana is not on any sort of social media given that she doesn't have an email address or apparently even internet access at all before Christian buys her a laptop, I don't understand how he got any of that information either.

There is one thing in the report that explains a bit of why Ana didn't bother to get to know her abuser husband before she married him after three months: her mother's relationship history consists mostly of marrying men for a few months, divorcing them, and marrying the next one a few weeks later, so the idea of spending more than ten fucking minutes with someone before you marry them is pretty foreign to her.

So then Christian goes to the hardware store to stalk her, which he knows he is doing, but decides not to tell his psychiatrist because, you know, he might try to stop Christian from acting like a terrifying psychopath. He proves himself to be the horribly irresponsible Dom I've believed him to be all along with his internal thoughts about his shitty BDSM shopping list: "You'd be amazed what I can do with a few cable ties, Miss Steele." OO OO ME PICK ME! Is it permanent nerve damage? DING DING DING I WIN. He continues playing his insane "Haha I'm asking you for things to do with sex that you don't know have anything to do with sex" game in an attempt to get her to be interested in him, despite the fact that he KNOWS she's interested in him because she keeps blushing and can't look at him and he keeps mentioning it over and over again. He wonders if he should just ask her on a date like a fucking normal person but decides against it because then James wouldn't have been able to write three entire books based on an entirely implausible premise. He also continues to be impressed with things that are not impressive. For example, she knows how to tie a slipknot you guys! SHE WORKS IN A GODDAMN HARDWARE STORE. Are you so fucking stupid that you don't realize that someone whose job is to be able to coil rope should actually be able to coil rope, or is this just misogyny dressed up as a compliment? A GIRL CAN TIE KNOTS?? I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW THEY HAD ENOUGH FINGERS FOR THAT. Then Ana's coworker walks in. Remember Paul, you guys? The perfectly nice all American boy next door who Ana rejected for not being a wealthy entitled cock "literary hero"? Yeah Christian proves that he is a REAL DOM by being immediately threatened by someone he can clearly see Ana is not interested in: "Who the hell is this prick? (How dare she know another person on the entire earth who owns a penis? I WILL CUT SOMEONE.)...Get your motherfucking paws off her. (LOL 'paws'? Note to self - don't buy Ana a male kitten, Christian will rip its head off and punt it.)...Yeah that's me, you prick. (You better fucking know who I am! Also the only insult I know is 'prick')". He finally leaves the store without ever mentioning to her that he hearts her SO BIG and sulks that he'll just have to wait....AGAIN... and see if she wants to meet him for a photoshoot. I CAN'T HAVE AN ANSWER TO A QUESTION I DIDN'T ACTUALLY ASK RIGHT THIS SECOND? LIFE IS SO FUCKING UNFAIR.

And then...that's it. It just ends like that, except for an italicized note directly from E.L. James her motherfucking self: "That's all...for now." I was all set to complain about yet another epic anticlimax when she slipped that "for now" in there and ruined it. What do you mean "for now"? Does that mean you're going to write another thing at some point? Because don't. Do not. EVER. Write another thing. Don't make a list, don't sign a birthday card, and for the love of god don't even think about sex with a pen in your hand ever again.

In summary, this book is exactly as bad as the other two books except that it's worse, and what we all need to do now is to KILL IT WITH FIRE. You bring the books and the matches; I'll bring the rage and the marshmallows. We should at least get some toasted marshmallows out of this fucking horseshit.

_______________

So StereoNinja and I started working on our Super Secret Project over the weekend. It's going really well so far and I can't wait for you to see it.


14 comments:

Crystal Daze said...

thank you that was amazing. it has been a pleasure sharing this experience with you.

Heather Moreno said...

I'm a little sad to see this end. You made this series entertaining. I don't think I could have done, honestly. Can't wait to see what you do next!

Dan Bates said...

I'm glad you read these so I didn't have to. Thank you for taking one for the team.

Hannah said...

As happy as I am that you don't have to read that drivel anymore, I'm going to miss you bitching about it.

I can't find out to see what the Super Secret Project is though.

Hannah said...

Hmmm, I could've sworn I'd typed "wait" rather than "find out". My fingers clearly aren't connected to my brain today...

HornGillian said...

And so ends an era of pain and torment. Thank you for bringing me more joy from hating something than I ever believed possible.

Paul Anthony Shortt said...

I'm not sure which makes less sense to me, that EL James thought this was a good thing to publish, or that so many people rushed to buy it and make her rich.

I try not to think about that when I look at my own sales figured. I'd just cry.

S said...

I love you so goddam much.

Webbo said...

I look forward to your review of the fourth book that you just know is coming. Christmas is just around the corner, after all.

songoftheworld said...

I hate 50 shades of grey as much as the next guy for fetishising abuse and abuse and being so fucking abusive that it makes my skin crawl, but you're wrong about 4 year olds. They do internalise that kind of parental behaviour pretty often. Its NOT an excuse for his being abusive, and its absolutely horrendous for the author to be playing it off as such, but it is a thing that happens pretty frequently to traumatised kids.
Also, the pronunciation of ornament thing is something I probably would've done as a kid. It seems like something certain autistic kids would do.

Lucky Vine said...

"Christian claims he is fascinated by her immediately, but I can't for the life of me understand why he thinks this since he alternates comments about how fascinated he is with comments about how he doesn't like ONE SINGLE FUCKING THING ABOUT THIS GIRL."

~ Can you please illustrate this with an excerpt from the book or at least a description? Some people interpret subtle things to mean very blatant things, and I don't know if that's what you might be doing here unintentionally.

Lucky Vine said...

"...her clothes look like they're from Walmart, or even (gasp of horror) Old Navy!"

~ I've always been under the impression that Old Navy was actually a step UP from Walmart. :/

"She brought a digital recorder to the interview like some sort of fucking cave man."

~ Are you being sarcastic? If so, why? There is absolutely no call for that. How is using a DIGITAL recorder even remotely old-fashioned? It's what most reporters for newspapers and magazines use these days, in case you didn't know. I have seen them use such recorders countless times. In fact, the only time they actually write something down is when they want to make sure they're spelling a name correctly, even though they can just as easily ask the interviewee to spell his/her name out loud to the recorder.

lindaghill.com said...

I love your review so much. All of it. Why? Because there is so fucking much wrong with these books I wouldn't know where to start. What is beyond words you actually put into words.
I laughed 'til I cried. I swear to almighty God this review is the best thing I have ever read. You deserve three times the audience E.L. James will ever have.
Thank you for this.

amberance said...

That was Christian's reaction, not mine. I was paraphrasing his thoughts.