A Play by Play Book Review: Fifty Shades of Grey, Chapter Four

Fifty Shades of Grey by EL JamesOn some mornings, like this one, the only thing my sleep-muddled brain can handle is reading. While Fifty Shades of Grey isn't what I'd considered great reading material, it'll do. I don't have coffee this morning. I have tea, and since it isn't the caffeine in coffee that makes coffee so much fun, I expect this is going to be amusing for all parties involved.

If things don't make sense during this reading, you now know why. But you know what? Bleeeeeep. Let's have some fun, shall we?

I would like to make a note that I don't write erotica; I don't often write anything sexy, either. Last night, I was writing a somewhat sexy scene in Blood Diamond. No sex, but sexy. At least, in some weird and demented Fenerec way.

Long story.

Maybe I just wanted to prove I could write a tasteful, sorta steamy scene that actually made the plot and characters move forward. (But hey, while I'm talking about my books, you should totally go buy one.)

Onward, friends!

I'd like to make a second note that I'm listening to Manners Maketh Man from the Kingsman soundtrack. This could prove interesting.

Warning: This chapter discusses a lot of potential triggers. If you can't stomach the discussion of the difference between fantasies and reality, abuse, and subjects therein, please skip this review.

Chapter Four

At the end of chapter three, Ana had her hand holding virginity thoroughly eviscerated by Christian Grey. That dastardly man! Dastardly! How dareth he?

When I last left off, she decided that she was all sorts of ready to upgrade her love light from recent hand holding virgin to wanting our love interest, one Christian Grey, to put his mouth all over her.

Cue the last remnants of my sanity going poof. Richard looks a bit worried. He's an Alpha Fenerec, after all, and I haven't purchased a Nicole for him yet–so he's stuck with me. I'm so sorry, Richard.

Here we go. I'm nervous. Hold me.

Kiss me damn it! I implore him, but I can’t move. I’m paralyzed with a strange, unfamiliar need, completely captivated by him.

Can I go home yet?

Hold your horses, Ana! You're going to make all the uptight conservatives start squealing about how hand holding is the way to the devil at the rate you're going. This is why we can't have nice things.

“Anastasia, you should steer clear of me. I’m not the man for you,” he whispers. What? Where is this coming from? Surely I should be the judge of that. I frown up at him, and my head swims with rejection.

Aaaahahahahahaha… Aaahahaaa. Even Christian Grey knows he's a bad boy and that Ana's about two hundred years behind the rest of the world. Is rejection a shark?

I have this figured out! Ana and her rejection are left shark!

“That idiot was riding the wrong way. I’m glad I was here. I shudder to think what could have happened to you. Do you want to come and sit down in the hotel for a moment?”

Dear Christian Grey,

It is with a heavy heart I write to you today, but I fear that you have been led astray by the doe-eyed Anastasia. Please run the other way as quickly as possible. Please don't shudder on her behalf, it will simply make what I intend on doing to her far more painful to you.

I have upgraded Ana from a flaming defenestration with a landing in front of a speeding truck to strapping to rocket boosters aimed for space to make certain that future generations are not contaminated by this terrible lack of reality.

Also, here is where descriptions help. Cyclists… typically… are bicycles. You know, common, often seen around Portland area? They have two wheels and are powered by a human. Using their feet, except in some rare circumstances.

Next time, Mr. Grey, just toss her out in front of it. Maybe she'll learn next time.

Beware of bicycles! They're kiss me dangerous!

Moving on.

Oh god, so, they've gone ways… and oh god, shes crying in the parking garage. She's crying next to the Mercedes in the parking garage.

I'm the one who did it! In the garage with a lead pipe! In the parking garage with the lead pipe!

Richard…

Mourning something that never was – my dashed hopes, dashed dreams, and my soured expectations.

Ana, if you could read my mind, what a tale my thoughts would tell. Let me give you a clue: It involves fire.

Fluffy pink unicorns dancing on raaaainbows, fluffy pink unicorns dancing on raaaaiiinbows.

RJ SMASH.

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.

Girl, there needs to be an insurance policy specifically catered to you because you are a threat to you and everyone around you. You also are insufferable. You know what? A rocket is too good for you. Die from a thousand paper cuts under you fingernails. I hate you.

Christian Grey, you need rescued. Please follow me if you want to not die.

“Then why have you been crying? You never cry,” she says, her voice softening.

Are you fucking serious? Are you seriously fucking serious? This Ana, this… utterly incompetent, never-hand-her-hand-held, annoying pain in my ass doesn't cry? This… female who can't even handle walking through a door without falling on her face doesn't cry?

I. Cry. Bullshit.

Someone send me a copy of this novel in paperback so I can light it on fire. Is that too much to ask?

:Insert hair pulling and screaming here.:

“I was nearly knocked over by a cyclist.” It’s the best that I can do, but it distracts her momentarily from… him.

“Jeez Ana – are you okay? Were you hurt?” She holds me at arm’s length and does a quick visual check-up on me.

“No. Christian saved me,” I whisper. “But I was quite shaken.”

I'm crying. I'm sipping at my tea, crying. There are legitimate tears stinging in my eyes, all because of the above section of dialogue. If you wanted to know what the sound of someone's soul breaking is, it's a mix of a whimper, a whine, and a long exhale–too broken to even count as a sigh.

I was right. It was a bicyclist. All of this… oh my god.

I don't think even you can help me anymore, Richard. I'm so, so sorry…

“What do you mean?”

“Oh Kate, it’s obvious.” I whirl round and face her as she stands in the kitchen doorway.

“Not to me,” she says.

Is it so much to ask for some consistency, Kate? Just a little? Oh, wait, a new chapter must mean a new lease on life.

You just told her in the previous chapter that Christian Grey was bad news, Kate. Have you forgotten? I hadn't. I was even considering allowing you to live.

In my mind, you are now tied up, attached to a stick, and left dangling over the La Brea Tar Pit. May a chicken peck you to death, slowly.

This is not the worst book I have ever read, but it's definitely the first book I have read in a long time that has made me consider a career in mad scientist villainy–or applying to become an evil minion.

Is it bad that I wish the erotica had started in chapter one or two? Simply to spare me from how incredibly useless Ana is?

I'm sorry, but no. I'm all for the fantasies of acquiring that super sexy rich badass hunk of a man, but holy crap I do not know a single woman so utterly useless as Anastasia. Not a one.

So, ladies, please fantasize about Christian Grey doing all of the things, including and not limited to holding your hand. But please, you're so much better than this.

This book hurts me.

I might even get drunk! I’ve never been drunk before.

I thought Ana could not possibly be more sheltered, and then this happens.

For the record, there is nothing wrong with not drinking. I didn't get drunk until I was 18, the legal drinking age for where I live. There's also nothing wrong with being chaste or celibate.

But this level of ‘innocence' without a damned good reason or background–including religion–is just so over the top as to be contrived for the sake of playing out an entirely unrealistic fantasy.

Remaining pure for a partner is one thing, but this is just beyond anything normal or realistic. If there is anything abusive about this story, it is the fact that Ana was created as this clean slate with no life to her whatsoever.

No wonder those who have come from abusive situations are so up in arms over this. Ana is written to be entirely helpless, defensive, and incapable of any form of self defense. She isn't a person, she's a vessel for fantasies, and nothing else.

Sigh.

I need Tums.

At this point, Christian Grey has just sent Ana three first edition novels that I'd considering setting cars on fire for–and I don't even like that branch of literature. Dear sir, they're wasted on Ana. Send those to me.

Please?

Oh, look. Kate and Ana are moving together to a condo in Seattle. Where Christian Grey lives. How entirely unsurprising. Of course, considering I doubt Ana has any capability of living on her own–let alone surviving for ten minutes without a caretaker–I guess I should be relieved? Ana doesn't need a degree, she has Kate! Her own personal rich lady version of Christian Grey.

Sigh.

Why isn't Ana dead? Why has she not died yet?

Drunk Ana calling Christian Grey is fucking hilarious. Seriously, I'm dying. Poor Christian. That poor guy, seriously–poor guy. Sir, you could have just about any woman ever. Why pick Ana?

But I guess that's maybe wherein the fantasy lies?

Even the should-have-died-at-her-job Ana can land the hunk.

That said, it's time for serious talk.

“You know I like you Ana, please.” He has one hand at the small of my back holding me against him, the other at my chin tipping back my head. Holy fuck… he’s going to kiss me.

“No José, stop – no.” I push him, but he’s a wall of hard muscle, and I cannot shift him. His hand has slipped into my hair, and he’s holding my head in place.

“Please, Ana, cariña,” he whispers against my lips. His breath is soft and smells too sweet – of margarita and beer. He gently trails kisses along my jaw up to the side of my mouth. I feel panicky, drunk, and out of control. The feeling is suffocating.

“José, no,” I plead. I don’t want this. You are my friend, and I think I’m going to throw up.

“I think the lady said no.” A voice in the dark says quietly. Holy shit! Christian Grey, he’s here. How? José releases me.

Thank you, Christian Grey. Thank you.

This, ladies and gentleman, is probably one of the most accurate descriptions of the risks of going to a bar as a college student ever. This is also too damned common, and too damned pervasive in society.

Poorly written, but EL James just got a few points for using a very real and frightening problem in our society.

Good for you, Christian Grey, for reacting as he did–because he knows just what can happen in the big bad world. If this were the real life, I'd probably forgive him for using his rich stalkerly powers to track her cell phone and find her, saving her from the very real risk of rape.

Is his ability to get to her dangerous? Stalkerish? We knew he was in town. We knew he was in town for her, but this is a fantasy, not the real life.

The short answer is yes, it's dangerous and stalkerish–if this were the real life. It's not. It's a play by play of a woman's sexual fantasy. In this common fantasy, women want saved, rescued, desired–treated like a Princess by the man they lust for–even if that man isn't necessarily the world's best Knight in Shining Armor.

Then they want dominated. Because well, it can be really, really hot. There's a reason people want to be the submissive in a bondage relationship.

Christian Grey fits the role well, I'll give him that.

This isn't abuse and it's not condoning abuse. It's fantasy, definitely. A bit creepy of a fantasy, in my opinion, but fantasy all the same. In short, Ana was created to be the ultimate Mary Sue–a character so bland many people can imagine fitting in her shoes. She's a paper doll, someone who can be exchanged for the reader–because let's face it, most readers are more three dimensional than Ana.

For the record, Nice Guy Jose just got dick punched to death in my head. And he's no longer Nice Guy. He's been renamed Scum Sucker. Fuck off and die, Scum Sucker.

I'm going to confess this right now: Of all of the characters in this book, Christian Grey is the only one I have any form of liking for.

If there's anything abusive about this book so far, it's Kate and the rest of the people Ana knows, for not being true friends and giving her half a clue on how to survive in the real world. That's what friends are for, and these folks aren't it.

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.

And because I can't leave well enough alone, it's time for my stalker rant! One of the common things I've seen ranting about Fifty Shades of Grey is that it's all about stalking and manipulation, and that the book is a crime against women.

Ana is a crime against women, but I digress.

This is an erotic fantasy fiction. Get over it. Yes, those who have come from abusive situations are going to trigger like fuck all over this.

Abuse is real. Abuse is terrible. It's demeaning, it's wretched, and abusers of either gender need to be dealt with.

But there's nothing wrong about a woman or man wanting to fantasize about being stalked. There's nothing even wrong about a man or a woman fantasizing about being dominated or taken control of in a fantasy erotic scenario.

It's only a problem if someone acts on it. Don't take away another man or woman's fantasies because you can't handle what turns him or her on.

It doesn't mean s/he wants raped or abused. He or she should never be abused.

But there's nothing wrong with him or her enjoying the fantasy.

Will this chapter ever end? I'm afraid to keep reading. I might suffer an ulcer or an aneurysm at the rate I'm going.

“Drink,” he shouts his order at me.

The moving lights are twisting and turning in time to the music casting strange colored light and shadows all over the bar and the clientele. He’s alternately green, blue, white, and a demonic red. He’s watching me intently. I take a tentative sip.

“All of it,” he shouts.

This is one of those situations where some are like, he's so bossy and so and so. Have you ever been this drunk before? He's doing the exact right thing, in case you're as sheltered as Ana. If you're that drunk, water can make a huge, huge difference.

A life-saving difference, actually.

And yes, I have seen articles referencing this as abuse and manipulation. Overreactions. Geeze.

And of course Ana faints at the end of the chapter, where she's portrayed as being the best drunk dancer ever as she can somehow manage to keep up with Christian Grey.

Wait. I reached the end of the chapter?

Richard, we made it, Richard! We made it!

And there's no erotica yet.

Sigh.

After all of this, there better be at least some decent erotica in this book somewhere.

Leave a Comment:

2 comments
susan emans says February 19, 2015

I can’t believe I am speaking up in defense of Ana… I grew up with undiagnosed ADD, was a klutz, was one of the smartest people in my high school, did and do not drink alcoholic beverages, and did not make out with anyone until I was 23. Admittedly, we are talking about the 70’s and 80’s, but it is possible. I agree that men would not find Ana intimidating, but maybe her shyness kept her from experiencing typical teen romance.

Reply
    RJBlain says February 19, 2015

    I don’t know. Considering the time frame this book was released, and that it’s supposed to be modern, I just can’t buy into it. Lots of people don’t drink alcohol–and that’s fine. But she’s jumping right into the full bar scene entirely unprepared, her friends just abandon her to the wolves–and her friends ARE the wolves.

    She didn’t grow up in the 70s or 80s. I was born in the 80s, and in the 90s, even the most unpopular girls and shy girls had at least held hands with someone. It’s just too much. It’s not a matter of not making out with someone, but the fact that she has men crawling all over her yet she has zero experience with men and romance and doing anything?

    There’s shy, but then there’s this excessive take on it–and absolutely no support for it. There’s just too many men throwing themselves at her, to the point of attempting to rape her the instant an alcoholic drink is consumed.

    I just can’t buy into that. She’s shy, sure. But to this level?

    How does she leave the house?

    Reply
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