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June 22, 2012

The ESC Reads 50 Shades of Grey: Chapter 4

WARNING: This blog post contains spoilers. But, of course, that's kind of the point.

We decided to tackle the Fifty Shades of Grey series one book at a time and give everyone chapter-by-chapter summaries and critique. We're going to read Fifty Shades of Grey... so you don't have to.

Chapter 4

Summary: Grey doesn't kiss Ana like she wishes, instead he tells her to "steer clear" of him. She gets upset and goes to sit in her car and cry about it. She wonders if he's celibate (ha!) Later in the week, after she finishes her final exam, she receives a mysterious package. It contains first editions of three volumes of Tess of the D'Urbervilles (a very expensive gift from Grey). Ana, Kate, José and some other guy who doesn't matter go out to celebrate the end of finals. José buys everyone a pitcher of margaritas and says "dios mio" a lot, because E L James is really subtle. Ana gets drunk for the first time in her life and drunk dials Grey. He tracks the phone call, because he's a psycho, and shows up at the bar to "protect" her. José tries to kiss her and won't take no for an answer, but Grey rescues her just in time. Ana vomits. A lot. For a long time. Grey decides to take her home and they go out on the dance floor to let Kate know, who is dancing with his brother Elliot. The chapter ends with Ana passing out and Grey saying "fuck".

Sexiness factor (scale of 1-10): -5

This chapter is so unsexy, we rated it a negative number. As if the vomiting wasn't enough to completely kill this chapter, Ana's self-loathing and the near date-rapey scene with José put it over the edge for unsexiness.

Number of times Ana's "subconscious" communicates with her: 7
Stop! Stop Now! – My subconscious is metaphorically screaming at me, arms folded, leaning on one leg and tapping her foot in frustration. Get in the car, go home, do your studying. Forget about him… Now! And stop all this self-pitying, wallowing crap.
This one is the funniest. Her subconscious has been talking to her for the past 3 chapters and only now does she mention that it is metaphorically screaming at her. Hopefully it's not literally screaming at her. Because, you know, it's her subconscious. It doesn't send direct messages. This isn't Twitter!
Oh, of course he did. How is that possible? Is it legal? Stalker, my subconscious whispers at me through the cloud of tequila that’s still floating in my brain, but somehow, because it’s him, I don’t mind.
Finally her subconscious is telling her something she should listen to. Yes, he's a stalker! Stay away! End the book at Chapter 4, please. Unfortunately that's not going to happen and we've got 22 more chapters to suffer through. But somehow, because it's Christian, we don't mind...oh wait, yes we do. We mind a lot.
Oh Ana… are you ever going to live this down? My subconscious is figuratively tutting and glaring at me over her half-moon specs.
Her subconscious wears half-moon specs? (Again - British slang, we don't call them spectacles, we call them glasses!) Personally, I like for my subconscious to wear my contact lenses, because I hate it when my conscious eyes get dry.

Plot Holes, Fact Checking Fails, and Other Observations:
"Anastasia, you should steer clear of me. I’m not the man for you,” he whispers.
So, you invited her to coffee in order to tell her to stay away from you? She's so awkward and shy she would've already been steering clear of you, if you hadn't invited her out to coffee or agreed to do a photo shoot or shown up at her job in the first place. Also, we're pretty sure this part is more evidence of the Twilight rip-off. Listen people, there's a difference between fan fiction and just copying.

More inconsistent voice:
“Anastasia?” He’s surprised to hear from me. Well, frankly, I’m surprised to ring him.
We're also pretty surprised that you decided to "ring" him, because you're not from England!!
“It’s about knowing your limits, Anastasia. I mean, I’m all for pushing limits, but really this is beyond the pale. Do you make a habit of this kind of behavior?”

My head buzzes with excess alcohol and irritation. What the hell has it got to do with him? I didn’t invite him here. He sounds like a middle-aged man scolding me like an errant child. Part of me wants to say, if I want to get drunk every night like this, then it’s my decision and nothing to do with him – but I’m not brave enough. Not now that I’ve thrown up in front of him. Why is he still standing there?
She absolutely should have said all of that to him, but we'll give her half a point for at least thinking it and realizing that he was being a jerk.
Holy cow – he’s leading me onto the dance floor. Shit. I do not dance. He can sense my reluctance, and under the colored lights I can see his amused, slightly sardonic smile. He gives my hand a sharp tug, and I’m in his arms again, and he starts to move, taking me with him. Boy, he can dance, and I can’t believe that I’m following him step for step. Maybe it’s because I’m drunk that I can keep up. He’s holding me tight against him, his body against mine… if he wasn’t clutching me so tightly, I’m sure I would swoon at his feet. In the back of my mind, my mother’s often-recited warning comes to me: Never trust a man who can dance.
Dude, she just puked her guts out and is so drunk that he felt the need to track her down and come rescue her. And they're dancing? Plus she probably still reeks of vomit.
But I never got to talk to her. Is she okay? I can see where things are heading for her and him. I need to do the safe sex lecture. In the back of my mind, I hope she reads one of the posters on the back of the toilet doors.
Since Ana is the virgin here who has never even held hands with a man before Christian Grey, maybe Kate would be better off getting her safe sex lecture from... well, anyone else on earth. I mean, just one chapter ago Kate was telling Ana that she felt Grey would be dangerous for someone innocent like her. Probably Kate's got a lot more experience and doesn't need Ana's advice. That's not to say that virgins can't be knowledgeable about sex and birth control and all of that, they obviously can be and many are, it's just really random that Ana suddenly decides that Kate desperately needs her guidance on the issue.

Some of the worst writing in the chapter:
Kiss me damn it! I implore him, but I can’t move. I’m paralyzed with a strange, unfamiliar need, completely captivated by him. I’m staring at Christian Grey’s exquisitely sculptured mouth, mesmerized, and he’s looking down at me, his gaze hooded, his eyes darkening. He’s breathing harder than usual, and I’ve stopped breathing altogether. I’m in your arms. Kiss me, please. He closes his eyes, takes a deep breath, and gives me a small shake of his head as if in answer to my silent question. When he opens his eyes again, it’s with some new purpose, a steely resolve.
Melodrama! There's something about the words that E L James chooses that are so... ugh. I implore him! His steely resolve! Blaaaaah. We know a lot of 50 Shades fans have talked about how "edgy" the books are, but some of this stuff seems like it's straight out of a book that should have Fabio on the cover. (Incidentally, did you know that there's an entire Fabio book cover gallery on the website of the Fabio International Fan Club, or the Fabio IFC as the cool kids call it? Well, now you do. You're welcome.)
Adrenaline has spiked through my body, from the near miss with the cyclist or the heady proximity to Christian, leaving me wired and weak. NO! My psyche screams as he pulls away, leaving me bereft. He has his hands on my shoulders, holding me at arm’s length, watching my reactions carefully. And the only thing I can think is that I wanted to be kissed, made it pretty damned obvious, and he didn’t do it. He doesn’t want me. He really doesn’t want me. I have royally screwed up the coffee morning.
To quote the fierce and flawless Latrice Royale, Ana seriously needs the 5 Gs: Good God Get a Grip Girl.
I have never been on the receiving end of rejection. Okay… so I was always one of the last to be picked for basketball or volleyball – but I understood that – running and doing something else at the same time like bouncing or throwing a ball is not my thing. I am a serious liability in any sporting field.
Yeah, that situation is totally comparable to this one. Great analysis, Ana.
Oh no… not the Katherine Kavanagh Inquisition. I shake my head at her in a back-off now, Kavanagh way – but I might as well be dealing with a blind, deaf mute. “You’ve been crying,” she has an exceptional gift for stating the damned obvious sometimes.
Um... what? She's dealing with a "blind, deaf mute"? (Yeah, that's not at all offensive.) If she's dealing with someone who is blind, deaf and mute... then how exactly would she be able to make obvious observations like "you've been crying" anyway?
I pretend to read the article, all the time meeting his steady gray gaze, searching the photo for some clue as to why he’s not the man for me – his own words to me. And it’s suddenly, blindingly obvious. He’s too gloriously good-looking. We are poles apart and from two very different worlds. I have a vision of myself as Icarus flying too close to the sun and crashing and burning as a result. His words make sense. He’s not the man for me. This is what he meant, and it makes his rejection easier to accept… almost. I can live with this. I understand.
Of course that's not what he meant at all, but get used to the "Icarus flying too close the sun" metaphor, because much like the frequent visits from Ana's subconscious, you'll be seeing it again soon.
My stomach heaves, and I double over, my body no longer able to tolerate the alcohol, and I vomit spectacularly on to the ground.

“Ugh – Dios mio, Ana!” José jumps back in disgust. Grey grabs my hair and pulls it out of the firing line and gently leads me over to a raised flowerbed on the edge of the parking lot. I note, with deep gratitude, that it’s in relative darkness.

“If you’re going to throw up again, do it here. I’ll hold you.” He has one arm around my shoulders – the other is holding my hair in a makeshift ponytail down my back so it’s off my face. I try awkwardly to push him away, but I vomit again… and again. Oh shit… how long is this going to last? Even when my stomach’s empty and nothing is coming up, horrible dry heaves wrack my body. I vow silently that I’ll never ever drink again. This is just too appalling for words. Finally, it stops.
That scene took us forever to read. It was just so cringeworthy. It's as if E L James really went out of her way to make Ana as pathetic as possible. (We also had to laugh at the phrase "vomit spectacularly". We get what it means here, but it just sounds like 'sure you puked all over the place in front of the only guy you've ever been attracted to, but at least you did a really good job of it!') And ELJ makes José out to be a total jerk in this chapter - he keeps trying to kiss Ana even after she says no repeatedly, and then leaves her with some guy that they all just met. It's like she needed to have the "Jacob" character in the original fanfic, but wanted to make sure that nobody would actually root for Ana to get with him instead of Christian.

Conclusion: Ana has hit a new low. (Again.) And Grey shows her more of what a psycho he is. (Again.) She calls him drunk and he traces the cell phone call to find out where she is and shows up to "protect" her? WTF. Now it just so happened that she did need his help (being harassed by José and so drunk she was sick) but he couldn't really tell that from her stupid drunk phone call, so instead of coming off as "knight in shining armor" it comes off as overprotective, obsessive creepy stalker.

We'll be charitable at this point and follow up to our thoughts on Chapter 3 by saying that at least in this chapter E L James did give us a little bit more of Ana's thoughts and perspective on why she's never had a relationship before and always kept guys at arm's length beyond just 'they're not literary heroes'. Like Fox News, we strive to keep our reporting fair and balanced.

Also, this is unrelated to the story, but we have to say that it's really annoying to type "E L James" over and over while writing these posts for a few different reasons. First, we're constantly writing E.L. James instead and having to correct it. Then, we get distracted wondering why it's E L James and not E.L. James. (We could look it up but that would require us to waste even more precious moments of our lives on this stupid book.) And then, we think of E.L. Fudge cookies, which makes us wonder if we have any good snacks, and then we're even more distracted, and the posts take forever to write. We hope you all appreciate our suffering.



Tiffany said...

My mind just imploded from the stupid that is this 'book' or shit sniveling travesty as I say on my FB.

Rosemary said...

Thank you so much for sparing me the ordeal of reading the actual book myself.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sparing me the ordeal of reading the actual book myself.


Anonymous said...

What you're doing is a public service. Now I'll know what everyone is talking about without having to have my eyeballs melt out of my head from the horrible prose.

Rubyfruit said...

It's as if E L James really went out of her way to make Ana as pathetic as possible.

Therein lies the problem with these books, for me. In most other romance novels, even the ones that are only slightly better than Fifty Shades of Grey, the author at least tries to make both protagonists seem at least competent, so that the reader isn't left wondering how one character managed to take in air without the other character's existence.

So Ana's left less "one-down" and more "a hundred-down". And that makes Christian look more like a creep than he already does, which is saying something. Nothing good, though.