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June 19, 2012

The ESC Reads 'Fifty Shades of Grey": Chapter 2

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 2

Summary: Anastasia returns home to their apartment and gives Kate the interview recording. She's still annoyed that Kate didn't give her a biography of Christian Grey (because, you know, she's never heard of Google). Kate decides that Christian is "quite taken" with Ana. Their friend Jose shows up uninvited on Friday night with a bottle of champagne to celebrate that his photos were chosen for an exhibition. On Saturday, Christian Grey shows up at the hardware store where Ana works to buy rope and tape. He agrees to pose for a photo shoot for Kate's article, and the chapter ends with Ana hoping she can find a photographer somewhere to do the shoot for them, even though we just met Jose two pages ago and established that he's a photographer. What a dramatic cliffhanger!

Sexiness factor (scale of 1-10): 1

Still nothing sexy. The sexiest thing that happens is Christian alludes to taking off his clothes. But Ana thinking of herself as a "quivering mass of raging female hormones" who "must be the color of the communist manifesto" negates any potential sexiness from that interaction.

Number of times Anastasia thinks about how hot Christian is: 12
"He’s not merely good-looking – he’s the epitome of male beauty, breathtaking"

"I’ve never felt like this before. I find him attractive, very attractive."
Number of references to Christian's hot and sexy... fingers: 5
"I have to get off this subject – those fingers on that face are so beguiling.

"he murmurs, gesturing with his long-fingered, beautifully manicured hand."
Plot Holes, Fact Checking Fails, and Other Observations:

Continuity issue! In Chapter One, Kate was writing the article on Christian for the school newspaper. Now in this chapter, it's for the "magazine". She does realize they're not synonymous, doesn't she? (Maybe there is no article and this was just the world's most elaborate plot by a friend to get her awkward roommate laid.)

Christian goes to the hardware store to buy rope and tape. Doesn't the author know that they sell specific rope for bondage? You don't go to the hardware store. This is like in Cosmo where they always recommend using a silk scarf or your thong or something to tie up your guy so they don't have to acknowledge that sex toys exist. They do exist, and if anyone would know that they exist it would be Christian Grey, and while we're on the subject, doesn't a supermegaultra rich and successful executive like Christian have an assistant who can run to the hardware store for him? Although knowing how creepy and control freaky he is, he probably had Ana investigated to find out where she worked and contrived the whole thing just to see her again...anyway, we digress.

Some of the worst writing in the chapter:
No man has ever affected me the way Christian Grey has, and I cannot fathom why. Is it his looks? His civility? Wealth? Power? I don’t understand my irrational reaction. I breathe an enormous sigh of relief. What in heaven’s name was that all about? Leaning against one of the steel pillars of the building, I valiantly attempt to calm down and gather my thoughts. I shake my head. Holy crap – what was that? My heart steadies to its regular rhythm, and I can breathe normally again. I head for the car.
As I leave the city limits behind, I begin to feel foolish and embarrassed as I replay the interview in my mind. Surely, I’m overreacting to something that’s imaginary. Okay, so he’s very attractive, confident, commanding, at ease with himself – but on the flip side, he’s arrogant, and for all his impeccable manners, he’s autocratic and cold. Well, on the surface. An involuntary shiver runs down my spine. He may be arrogant, but then he has a right to be – he’s accomplished so much at such a young age. He doesn’t suffer fools gladly, but why should he? Again, I’m irritated that Kate didn’t give me a brief biography.
This part is just so dumb. She keeps repeating herself, wondering what happened and how dumb she was and how strange it all was. I can't fathom why. What in heaven's name was that all about? What was that? Surely, I'm overreacting to something that's imaginary. Okay, we get it. You don't understand what happened and you're a moron. Also, she's already starting to make excuses for his arrogant behavior for no apparent reason. Guess the exhilarating shiver she got from his super sexy fingers hasn't fully worn off yet.
Some of his answers were so cryptic – as if he had a hidden agenda.
Seriously E L James, we get it.
And Kate’s questions – ugh! The adoption and asking him if he was gay! I shudder. I can’t believe I said that. Ground, swallow me up now! Every time I think of that question in the future, I will cringe with embarrassment.
We wish the ground had complied with this request so we wouldn't have to read any more of her whiny internal monologue.
“Mostly he was courteous, formal, slightly stuffy – like he’s old before his time. He doesn’t talk like a man of twenty-something. How old is he anyway?”
Yes, it's almost like he's been living in this area for over 100 years, going to high school over and over again until he finally meets Bella Swan...wait, sorry, wrong book. (Yes, we're going to keep bringing up all of the Twilight references because we can't call bullshit enough times on the fact that 1) a Twilight fan fiction not only got published, but became a bestseller and 2) E L James claims that this book was totally rewritten and is now a completely original story.)
“I was in the area,” he says by way of explanation. “I need to stock up on a few things. It’s a pleasure to see you again, Miss Steele.” His voice is warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel… or something. I shake my head to gather my wits. My heart is pounding a frantic tattoo, and for some reason I’m blushing furiously under his steady scrutiny. I am utterly thrown by the sight of him standing before me. My memories of him did not do him justice. He’s not merely good-looking – he’s the epitome of male beauty, breathtaking, and he’s here.
What the hell is with her metaphors? Her heart is pounding a frantic tattoo? Is this a real expression? What does it even mean? Is she comparing her heartbeat to a tattoo gun, or...? And his voice is warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel... or something. Or something? Way to commit to that one Anastasia. Although it was nice of E L James to just fill in the "or something" that the majority of readers were probably already thinking. (But can you really describe melted fudge as "husky"? And does it have to be dark melted chocolate? Would milk chocolate sound different? So many questions.)
Katherine often teases me that I’m missing the need-a-boyfriend gene, but the truth is – I just haven’t met anyone who… well, whom I’m attracted to, even though part of me longs for those trembling knees, heart-in-my-mouth, butterflies-in-my-belly, sleepless nights. Sometimes I wonder if there’s something wrong with me. Perhaps I’ve spent too long in the company of my literary romantic heroes, and consequently my ideals and expectations are far too high.
Ah yes, who among us didn't dream as a little girl of growing up and falling in love so we could spend sleepless nights with our heart in our mouth and just a touch of restless leg syndrome. Of course, she just described the reason why crap books like this and Twilight are popular! This might also be another Bella Swan reference, since she's always talking about her love for Wuthering Heights (another book that stupid people think is romantic and a love story, when it's really not). There's also a Tess of the D’Urbervilles mention in this chapter, and we have to say we're not sure it's the best strategy to remind people of the existence of well-written and critically acclaimed works of literature in the middle of your shitty repackaged fan fiction.
“I was visiting the WSU farming division. It’s based at Vancouver. I’m currently funding some research there in crop rotation and soil science,” he says matter-of-factly. See? Not here to find you at all, my subconscious sneers at me, loud, proud, and pouty. I flush at my foolish wayward thoughts.
Ana's "subconscious" continues to communicate with her directly and give her instructions for the rest of the chapter. Is it normal for someone's subconscious to sneer and pout at them and order them around? We feel like there's probably a prescription drug with a lot of harmful side effects for that.
I feel like I’m fourteen years old – gauche, as always, and out of place.
Don't worry Ana, you talk and think and act like it too.
Our fingers brush very briefly, and the current is there again, zapping through me like I’ve touched an exposed wire. I gasp involuntarily as I feel it, all the way down to somewhere dark and unexplored, deep in my belly. Desperately, I scrabble around for my equilibrium.
Magic fingers again! Maybe Christian Grey is related to E.T., or one of the fairies from True Blood. (Don't anybody steal those ideas, we're going to save them for our 50 Shades of Grey fan fiction.)

Conclusion: We still think Christian Grey is a dick - she clearly tells him to call her "Ana" yet he still switches back and forth between "Anastasia" and "Miss Steele" and he gets pissy when she talks to another man in his presence. He speaks like he's 100 years old, not 27 (another reference to Edward Cullen from Twilight). Ana knows that Jose has a crush on her, but she just isn't interested in being more than friends even though she admits that he's hot. So clearly he's the "Jacob" character. Of course, it doesn't explain why Ana is so shocked that someone hot like Christian Grey might like her, when someone hot like Jose does. Nothing makes any sense and there's still no sex. On to Chapter Three!



Anonymous said...

I'm a huge fan of your blog (been an avid reader for two years now), and I'm glad that you guys are reading Fifty Shades of Grey. From what I've heard/read, I personally hate the book, and I've been dying to see your take on it. Anyway, I look forward to more of this because they're highly entertaining.

Jenny said...

I'm enjoying your chapter summaries. :) Fyi, the "heart beating like a tattoo" reference is basically Brit-speak/archaic American. A tattoo is drumming, like The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is a huge military drumming event in Scotland. It's a valid reference almost for an American character (sort of) but it's kind of old fashioned.

Mostly what I'm getting from your chapter sum-ups is that all of these characters talk like old people. ^_^

Jess Pop said...

I was just about to explain the 'tattoo' reference, but Jenny got there before me!

Your points about Anastasia's English-sounding slang is really interesting too. At first her dialogue didn't seem too awful to me, but that's probs because I'm English. And then I worked out she clearly thinks she is Cathy or Tess (can I point out Cathy is only romantic because she died more or less of a broken heart, and Tess got raped?! Victorian Literature is not really a fine moral compass when it comes to women's rights, and Anastacia seems pretty determined to live in one).

Anonymous said...

Oh my head, this is agonizing! Thank you for making it funny at least. Not that I'm trying out for the geography Olympics but I feel compelled to point out that WSU (in Pullman, WA) is actually a very far from Vancouver and, more importantly, that a Seattle resident would never "just happen" to find themselves in a small, uninteresting town 3 hours south of their city.