I read and review Fifty Shades of Grey so you don't have to.
Right then. So, you know how I thought the incredibly inaccurate portrayal of BDSM in this book was making me angry? Well, I was wrong. Because in the last few chapters of this heinous crime people think is literature, E. L. James takes this bullshit to a level that I was genuinely unprepared for and I am now at a level of fury I was unaware I was even capable of.
Chapter 24 begins with Ana having a dream: Christian is in a cage and trying to feed her strawberries, but they can't reach each other. Let me repeat that: Christian is in a cage, and he and Ana can't reach each other. OH MY GOD THE SYMBOLISM IT IS SO CRYPTIC. What could it mean? Is this dream a metaphor for their relationship? Is it? IS IT? WE MAY NEVER KNOW. Christian wakes her up. It's very early in the morning, still dark outside. Christian is getting her up because he has a surprise for her, but first they have to argue about whether or not she's going to eat breakfast because no chapter would be complete if they didn't argue about food. They get in the car and Christian has opera on again because he is sophisticated and sad. Ana thinks it's depressing so he puts her in charge of the music. She scrolls through his iPod for a while and then selects Britney Spears' "Toxic". My personal friends who are reading this are laughing their faces off right now, as I'm pretty sure I've subjected every one of them to my rants about how much I hate Britney Spears because she can't sing. Don't worry though, Christian's judgment about music is still intact: he didn't put that in his iPod, Leila did. Ana is STUNNED. Who the fuck is Leila? Is she an ex-sub of his? Where is she now? Why is this happening? If James had written a line for Ana where she said something about having the vapors it would not have been out of place in this paragraph. It turns out she WAS an ex-submissive, one he ended things with because she wanted more. I have no idea if the author will go back to this in later books, but my money is on the serving girl at his parents' house who couldn't look at him without getting upset. This sparks a discussion about all his other subs and why things ended - apart from one, they all wanted more (by the way, they will start using this word like it's a noun for the rest of the book, i.e. "Thanks for the more". It is annoying). ANA IS THE SPECIALEST LADY EVAR.
They are headed to an airfield. Ana is alarmed: "We're not going back to Seattle, are we?" I mean, she hasn't told her mom she's leaving, and none of her stuff is packed, whatever will she do? Once again, the concept of free will and saying "I'm not going" is entirely lost on her. Luckily, that's not what's up: They are going gliding. Or the way Christian puts it, "We're going to chase the dawn, Anastasia." Fuck this dialogue. Seriously. Fuck this dialogue with a deer antler. When they get there, they meet a few people and then Christian starts strapping her into the glider (and her parachute) as if she were a small child, which is described in excruciating detail, unlike major plot points such as what being the child of a crack whore was like. He starts to strap himself in, but Ana can't move to see: "he's strapped me in so tightly I can't move...typical!" No, idiot, he's strapped you in that tightly because you are IN A GLIDER. She also gives some detail on the inside of the plane: "In front of me is a panel of dials and levers and a big stick thing." A BIG STICK THING. JESUS. I WANT THAT DEER ANTLER AND I WANT IT NOW.
So they go gliding, and it's all marvelous, and the sky is beautiful with "childlike clouds" whatever the shit that means, and he even lets her control THE BIG STICK for a minute and everyone is happy for once.
Christian drops her off at her mother's without asking how to get there because he probably collected that information weeks ago so he would know everywhere she might go to escape from him. Inside, her mother is freaking out about dinner because she is desperate to impress Christian rather than the other way around, the way it normally works for parents whose children aren't dating billionaires and who aren't stupid. Ana goes to start another game of e-mail tag, which is when she first finds out that Christian heard her talking in her sleep. The panic begins: What the hell did she say? Has she embarrassed herself? I know this is the start of a theme, and I know it's going to make me massively angry because shit you say in your sleep hasn't got a fucking thing to do with reality. The best example of this is the Sleep Talkin' Man blog, where a woman has been exploiting her husband's insane sleep talk ramblings for years to the delight of the entire internet.
After the e-mailing, Ana gets a phone call from the publishing firm she wants to work for offering her a job, which she accepts. Taking that phone call has made her miss a call from Christian. She calls him back to find out that there's some sort of "situation" and he has to go back to Seattle immediately so he won't make dinner. He sounds cold and angry..."But for the first time, I don't immediately think it's me." Oh for fuck's sake. I didn't want to do this but she's forcing my hand: here is a list of the warning signs of abuse, and every one of them applies to Christian except for threatening to kill himself if she leaves, but I'm sure that's coming. How are women enjoying this book? HOW?
That afternoon, Ana is sitting outside with her mother and contemplating the amazing morning she spent with Christian. He seems like a changed man, happy, playful, wanting a real relationship. She wonders what's different - he wasn't like this when she left....OH SWEATY PINK RHINOSAROUS BALLS. This all started after he had dinner with that horrible woman he was never in love with who is no threat to her. MOTHERFUCK. She must have told him to stop being such a massive penis and have a real relationship with Ana. How dare she help Ana get her way? WHAT A FUCKING CUNT. Seriously, this is Ana's reaction to this (entirely speculative!) realization. She has exactly what she has wanted this whole time, but it better not be because of that evil bitch or she will cut someone. Ana, you enormous fucking child. The only correct reaction to this, the ONLY one, is "Wow, I must have been wrong about her." Your complete fucking insanity is goddamn breathtaking. Ana doesn't mention this to him during that night's nausea inducing e-mail exchange. Instead they play more cat and mouse games that make me want to punt a baby duck. What did I say in my sleep? Not telling, teehee! You're mean! You're pretty! I've seen more mature conversations occur between two 13 year olds.
At the start of Chapter 25, Ana's parents are dropping her off at the airport for her flight back to Seattle. Incidentally, on both her flights the seat next to her in first class has been empty, and she speculates that this might be because Christian bought that seat so no one would sit next to her because he doesn't want her talking to anyone else ever. You guys, CAN'T YOU SEE HOW ROMANTIC THAT IS? She spends some time thinking about her relationship. (I am warning you now, this is the part of the book where I start to really fucking lose it.) So, her mother thinks Christian loves her, but she doesn't think so, because he can't possibly know what love is since his mommy preferred drugs and dying to child rearing and cuddles. And, you know, here's the problem: she needs him to love her. (She has known him for a month.) Needs. Desperately. She describes it as "a deep-seated compulsion to be loved and cherished." By a man that she doesn't think knows how. As premature and co-dependent as that is, it's about to get worse. Because then this happens (get ready my D/s friends): "He doesn't even love himself. I recall his self-loathing, her love being the only form he found acceptable. Punished - whipped, beaten, whatever their relationship entailed - he feels undeserving of love."
There is not a way for me to even describe the rage I am feeling right now. I have read those three sentences a dozen times at least and they are still having the same effect as they did the first time. I was actually shaking when I read this. In my notes I used an entire sheet of paper to write "FUCK YOU FOR THIS." She has just reduced the sex lives of thousands of people to the most disgusting and untrue stereotype she possibly could have. We are all so broken, we are all imbued with such a fundamental self-hatred, that we have to do horrible, punishing things to ourselves in order to assuage our guilt over receiving love that we know in our hearts we don't fucking deserve. E. L. James is not a member of the BDSM community. She is not in a D/s relationship, she has not done a shred of research, and she has not one fucking clue what the fuck she's talking about. How fucking dare this woman make this presumption? I have to tell you guys, the only reason I didn't stop reading this book RIGHT FUCKING THEN is out of a sense of duty to the people who have been reading and recommending this blog, and leaving hilarious and encouraging comments asking me to continue every day. Thank you - you are amazing. You deserve better than this horrific high school "love" story.
Sorry about that. I believe I was reviewing a book:
So, after that whole bullshit, she continues wondering what she said in her sleep. I can't even call this foreshadowing, this is the author standing on a stage with a megaphone screaming "THE THING SHE SAID IN HER SLEEP IS A PIVOTAL PLOT POINT." The e-mailing thing happens, the only real news is that the "situation" (she always puts this in quotes) has not improved. This worries her, not because something important might be wrong, but because she is afraid of what kind of mood he will be in when she arrives back in Seattle. When she does get to his place, she walks in to find him on the phone dealing with the "situation". I am getting pissed off about this because it keeps making me picture the cast of Jersey Shore. James has now made too big a deal about the "situation" for it to be a problem with his company; it's going to wind up being something more personal. We are not going to find out about it in this book, but based on conversational snippets, someone has gone missing and it's a woman, so I assume his ex-Domme has disappeared. I'll let you know when I get started on the next book (assuming she goes back to it since she tends to just drop things with no explanation constantly). He sees Ana come in and his relief at her presence is overwhelming. He kisses the living shit out of her while smelling like body wash (7). I assume his pants are hanging from his hips, but for once she doesn't tell us about it. He wants to take a shower with her right fucking now, but first he has to fuck her against the wall. I am convinced she only wrote that sex scene so she could use this line right after it: "He seems so much calmer now, his apprehension gone, dissolved by sexual congress." Yes, yes. He needs her, don't you see? He can't handle stress without her. This is like "I'll kill myself if you leave me" lite. Also? Never fucking use "sexual congress" in a sentence again unless you're being facetious or my antler and I will find you. All is well now. Everyone is happy. They get in the shower and he sensuously washes her with his magical body wash (8). She tells him about her new job, even where it is! He says he didn't already know, but I'm not buying it. I was born at night, but not last night. Then she decides to ruin it by mentioning that Jose's photography show is opening the next week and inviting Christian to go with her. He agrees to do so, but he is super jealous about it and tells her so very threateningly: "Yes I am, and you'd do well to remember that." This happens so often, I've pretty much resigned myself to it. Congratulations, James, you've successfully made not just your protagonist a victim, but your audience as well.
Afterwards, he decides there needs to be more fucking, this time in the magic sex room. For what was purported to be a BDSM based erotic novel, this is only the second time they've had sex in there. This is going to involve some sensory deprivation - a blindfold, and some headphone music so she can't hear what he's doing. He controls this music with "a small, flat device that looks like a very hip calculator." THAT'S A REMOTE CONTROL DUMBASS. THEY ARE OLDER THAN YOU ARE. I want to take the nearest remote control and shove it down her throat. Here is what's important about this scene, because it's going to make me very angry later, worse than I was about the not deserving love shit: Christian makes a very big deal about making her remember and say her safewords. He does this knowing he's not going to do anything that really hurts, but just in case, she needs to know what they are. He makes her repeat them just to make sure she's got the whole safeword concept down. When he's finally satisfied with her safeword proficiency, he subjects her to a very light flogging, which of course doesn't hurt at all and she has absolutely no reason to use her safewords in this scene. The only note I make about the rest of it is that he has to rub her legs to "bring life back into them" when he lets her out of her restraints, which means her restraints were too tight. Once again the author is straying from her own characterizations: an experienced Dom like Christian would have checked. Afterwards, they lay there cuddling and arguing about him still not having told her what she said in her sleep.
The final chapter of this volume opens with Ana waking up alone in Christian's bed in the middle of the night, again, because he couldn't sleep and has gone off to play sad, sad piano songs, again. She finds him at his piano and tries unsuccessfully to get him to talk about his childhood. He apologizes for waking her, but he didn't wake her, she just had to get up in the middle of the night to take her pill because she started taking them at 8 in the morning Georgia time, which is 5 in the morning Seattle time because she's an idiot. She writes this about Christian's reaction to her remembering to take her pill for three whole days in a row!: "He raises his eyebrows in surprise. 'Well remembered,' he murmurs, and I can tell he's impressed." Shut the fuck up. This isn't impressive unless you are dating someone who never learned to tie their shoes or cut their own meat. Christian suggests they fuck on the piano, but Ana decides she'd rather keep discussing their relationship endlessly. He tells Ana that he thinks the contract is moot at this point - so long as she follows the part about the rules he won't worry about the rest, but if she doesn't follow the rules she will be punished. She rolls her eyes at this, and so immediately he decides she needs to be punished, even though that's not anywhere in the rules. James' characters are now contradicting themselves in the same fucking paragraph. The thing is, she really, REALLY doesn't like to be spanked. At all. She makes him chase her around the room for a while like a tease before she bothers to tell him she is legitimately trying not to get caught because she hates the spanking. She compares it to how he doesn't like having his chest touched. He instantly deflates. His is visibly upset about it, so upset that Ana immediately backs off that statement because it makes him so sad (not because it isn't true, mind you, just because saying so has upset him. Grow a fucking spine). She finally tells him the truth: she doesn't actually like anything that goes on the playroom, she's only doing it because she wants to be with him, and she will endure whatever she has to for that to happen. He's very upset about this, because he needs to hurt her. She wants to know why, but he won't tell her because it will scare her away, and he can't lose her, he couldn't bear it, please, please, don't leave me, you said you would never leave me...and you begged me not to leave you in your sleep. Oh you've GOT to be fucking kidding me. THAT'S the all important thing she said in her sleep, please don't leave me? She was ASLEEP you fucking tool, for all you know she was talking to a purple dolphin with three eyes she met while she was stranded alone in the middle of an ocean made out of lemonade. You think you're ready for a real relationship because of THAT? How old are you, 12? Eat a dick.
You guys. She loves him so much though. Like, you have no idea. Her life depends on getting him to love her back. She'll do anything, for reals. "Show me," she says to him, "Show me how much it can hurt." Ok, he decides. He's going to show her. He's going to show her how much it hurts, because she asked him to. He is very explicit about it. He's going to hit her with a belt, six times, and make her count the blows while he does it.
Oh, no. Nonononono. I already see what's coming, and I don't want to read this ANYMORE, but there are only 10 pages left in this book. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, let me just tell you that getting hit with a belt REALLY. FUCKING. HURTS. It is definitely not for everyone. If she doesn't like the spanking, this is NOT going to go well. There's no chance she can handle six blows. She wouldn't make it through two. He asks her a bunch of times if she's really sure, and she keeps saying that she is even though she's not. This is like watching a train run over a pile of babies. I have never wanted to read something less in my entire life.
He hits her the first time and she is completely unprepared for just how bad it actually is. On the third one she starts to cry. By the fourth one it's already full on sobbing. At five she is convinced that she hates him. This is not something she can handle AT ALL, but he isn't going to stop....BECAUSE SHE HASN'T USED HER SAFEWORD. Ana, THIS is when you need your safeword. THIS IS WHAT SAFEWORDS ARE FOR. THIS WILL FUCKING STOP IMMEDIATELY IF YOU USE YOUR SAFEWORD. SAY IT. SAY IT! She never does. She never fucking says it. And after the sixth one, when he tries to comfort her, she is fucking enraged. She lashes out at him, because anyone who can do this to another person is obviously a depraved monster:
- "This is what you really like?"
- "You are one fucked-up son of a bitch."
- "You need to sort your shit out, Grey."
And she storms out of the room. Look, I know I've pointed out a million times about how abusive his behavior is, but this one is not on him. He warned her and he warned her, she insisted he do it anyway, and she did nothing to stop him when she couldn't handle it, despite being reminded only hours before of what her safewords were and how important they are. He would have stopped after the first one if she had said so. She didn't. He's not a fucking mind reader. And then she attacks him and tells him he's a terrible person for it.
I don't know a bad enough word to describe how much I despise this book.
She runs off to her room and cries her face off. She is completely shattered. This relationship can never work because he is a sick, sick monster. She needs to leave him but she doesn't want to, she less than threes him 4EVA. Her whole life, everything, everything is destroyed: "Oh, this is a dark morning of the soul for me. I'm so alone." I'm going to throw up. WHO FUCKING TALKS LIKE THAT? Christian comes and finds her and tells her she should leave him, so she tells him she's fallen in love with him. He is horrified (her word). "You can't love me Ana. No....that's wrong." Because remember you guys? HE DOESN'T DESERVE LOVE THAT'S WHY HE DOES THESE THINGS. He goes on to say he can't make her happy. "But you do make me happy," she says. Jesus Christ, could this be any more melodramatic? Or stupid? He DOES NOT make you happy. YOU DO NOTHING BUT CRY. Enjoying sex is NOT THE SAME THING as being in love with someone, and you would know that already if you hadn't been such a ridiculous prude and put your hands down there once in a while. She sends him away so she can pack, because she's leaving him, for reals. Except that there's two more books and dozens of unanswered questions: Why can't anyone touch him? Why was his mom a crack whore? What's up with her dying? How did the Greys come to adopt him? How did they add to fucking him up? So, you know, not really leaving him, just being a fucking drama queen. She's already foreshadowing that she'll come back to him: Can I forgive him? Can he forgive me? The entire rest of the book is nothing but overly dramatic despair that would make your average soap opera look like a blockbuster comedy:
- "I have...glimpsed the extent of his depravity, and I know now he's not capable of love." (You also "know" that helicopters need space to take off and land)
- "I gaze at myself in the mirror. A pale and haunted ghost stares back at me." (You just spent four days on the beach in Georgia, shut the fuck up)
- "...happier times, when there was hope of more." (Note: she's talking about YESTERDAY)
- "I'm a complete failure. I had hoped to drag my Fifty Shades into the light, but it's proved a task beyond my meager abilities." (Um, yeah, she actually calls him that through the whole second half of the book. I agree though, you are a complete failure at just about everything in life)
- "Shit, I've left him. The only man I've ever loved." (that you met A MONTH AGO)
- "The pain is indescribable...physical, mental...metaphysical...it is everywhere, seeping into the marrow of my bones." That's not indescribable. You just described the living shit out of it. You described it so much it doesn't even fucking make sense.
She leaves him after an argument about her keeping her gifts from him (she doesn't, she has INTEGRITY) and goes home, presumably to cry herself to death. We should be so lucky.
THE END. For real. She ended the book this way. Laying in her bed (with her shoes on even, so we know how epicly sad she is) There’s nothing for me to even say about this. It’s that fucking stupid. It's the most anti-climatic ending ever written that doesn't involve someone waking up and finding out it was all a dream.
So – That is my review of Fifty Shades of Grey, the first book in a series of three. Overall, I have to say it was the worst book I have ever read. It might be the worst thing I have ever read. I’ve read cereal boxes that were more entertaining and well written than this book. Out of five stars, I would give this book negative ten. My recommendation is: DO NOT read this book. If you come across this book by accident, throw it into a fire. If someone tries to give you this book, beat them over the head with it until your arms get tired, and then throw it into a fire. If you see someone else burning this book in a fire, go get some kindling and make a bigger fire. No matter what, do everything in your power to USE FIRE to make this shit not have happened.
NOW THEN – I swore I wasn’t going to read the other two books. But then this blog went viral last week and dozens of amused strangers begged me to read them both and write more angry things. So, I AM going to review the other two books. Here’s the thing though – I can’t just keep yelling at you in all caps for 1000 plus more pages of this because there’s only so many variations on “zebra raping fuck” I can come up with and you are going to get bored. So for the next one, I am changing the format a little in a way that will almost certainly be even funnier. I have somehow roped my best friend H-Town into reading this book with me because I am a terrible person. H-Town is the funniest person I have ever met in my life, and I am someone who once dated a professional comedian. H-Town is about 900 times funnier than I am. I’m not being self-deprecating here – I think I’m hilarious, it’s why I have a blog –she’s just extremely fucking funny. So what we’re going to do is read the book in sections, and then have discussions about it, and then I will write posts with a little background so you have the storyline for context, followed by our presumably incredulous and horrified conversations. And then later I will think of something else for the third book. BrownsFan thought it would be fun if I wrote predictions for each of the chapters, but I am open to suggestions, and you guys are awesome commenters so I know you have some. Thank you SO MUCH for all of the encouragement, I would NEVER have been able to finish this book without it, and I am one of those people who feels like a failure when I don’t finish a book I started (other people get that right? It’s not just me?). You are the best readers a gal could ask for. I hope you never meet your Mr. Grey.