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

Fifty Shades of Grey by EL JamesFor the sake of disclosure, I am reading and writing this part of the review without any more than a sip or two of coffee. At least I've caught up on sleep.

Going into chapter two of Fifty Shades of Grey, I'm not really all that hopeful, truth be told. I don't think I've gotten so numbed to the telling and bad writing to be able to approach this without flinching a bit.

I'm going to try, because I want to find out for myself if this book is nearly as abusive as a lot of people are saying–and if it's really that bad.

So far, though, no signs of actual abuse, and I have read worse books… there's a lot of time for this novel to take the worst book I've ever read trophy, but it hasn't earned it quite yet.

Disclaimer: These are my reactions to the book as I'm reading. I'm weird, so some of my reactions may not be normal. If I am acting normal, please tell me so I can give myself a slap on the wrist.

Chapter Two (I need more coffee for this.)

I have one thing in common with Ana, at the start of Chapter Two. Her flight or fight reaction is very similar to how I react when I see an action flick. She's making a prey response, which I find interesting.

At least she recognizes her reaction is completely irrational.

What I don't like is that she's irritated at Kate again. Yeah, girl. If you had half a brain rattling in that skull of yours, you would have known to ask at least some questions. And Kate, if you had half a brain rattling around in that skull of yours, you wouldn't have left such an important interview to an incompetent.

They've both made stupid decisions for this, and they should both know better, seeing they've made it to their senior year of university.

Also, I know someone who owned a Mercedes very similar to the one described in chapter one.

It cost him $500,000.

I'll just leave that there as a baseline for why I think Kate/Ana's room sharing and this entire situation is ridiculous–and leaving me questioning why Kate would trust Ana with such a valuable vehicle.

And why Kate, who views this interview as soooo important, did not leave this with someone of equal competence… like a college professor. Because seriously, this interview involves a major university donor.

The higher ups would not be pleased leaving it to a flake like Ana.


I need more coffee.

He doesn’t suffer fools gladly, but why should he? Again, I’m irritated that Kate didn’t give me a brief biography.

That means you, Ana.

While cruising along the I-5, my mind continues to wander.

The above section is to draw your attention to the sort of consistency and quality issues riddled throughout this novel.

I check the speedometer. I’m driving more cautiously than I would on any other occasion. And I know it’s the memory of two penetrating gray eyes gazing at me, and a stern voice telling me to drive carefully. Shaking my head, I realize that Grey’s more like a man double his age.

Okay, the above section just baffles me. I mean, really? It goes against every possible human reaction. People who are pissed off usually drive faster, and Ana is kinda pissed off. I mean, the telling is one thing… but she's in a freaking Mercedes luxury executive's sedan. Have you ever been in one of these things? I have.

You could do 100 mph and feel like your'e doing 30. They have glorious engines, they have such a smooth ride… and they're sleek. Oh are they ever sleek. They're gorgeous vehicles. No, I do not buy into this, book. Argh.

Contrived bits of telling and submissive foreshadowing which doesn't even work very well. Argh.

Argh, Argh, Argh.

:Drinks some coffee:

As I hit the I-5, I realize I can drive as fast as I want.

:Proceeds to spit coffee. Cleans up mess.:

:Slaps forehead: I can't literally even right now.

Also, you were already on the I-5. You never left it. Did you just pull over, get out of your fancy Mercedes, and smack the pavement? I bet it learned a lesson there, Ana. Good job.

Dear Friends,

You challenged me into reading this as punishment for quitting my editorial job, didn't you?

I hate you until you buy me coffee.

~ RJ

As a side note: The references to Vancouver seriously confused me for a bit since I live in Canada. No biggie, but I keep having to think United States instead of Canada. Heh.

So, at this point, Ana has made it back to Washington state and Kate is feeling bouncy better.

Why am I not surprised? I'm actually disappointed. If Kate was still feeling mostly under the weather, I might have been at least a bit more sympathetic. Miraculous recovery, however, annoys me. Oh well.

The characters at least try to cover up why the interview was so damned sloppy. Of course, I don't buy into it, but to be fair, I was lost on the entire interview arc about the time I put any thought into it whatsoever.

If Ana had gone along to keep Kate company, and Kate had taken sick at the place, I could have seen this working brilliantly. But no, it didn't work like that. I wish it had, because on a long car ride like that, company is nice–and Kate vomiting all over the place of interview leaves a damned good reason for the second person in the car to be the one doing the interview.

This is the editor in me complaining, by the way. This is the sort of alteration I would have suggested to make this scene really work (for me, at least.) And as a bonus, it would get rid of the damned hair thing at the beginning, which STILL drives me nuts because it's written in a way where Kate always does Ana's hair instead of a one off–at least, that's the impression I got while reading.

I’ve worked at Clayton’s since I started at WSU. It’s the largest independent hardware store in the Portland area, and over the four years I’ve worked here, I’ve come to know a little bit about most everything we sell – although ironically, I’m crap at any DIY.

Wait. What? This woman works at a hardware store and has for four years? She works at a hardware store, and she's so unbalanced and clumsy…

Oh my god, how can she work at a hardware store? She'd… she'd get herself killed. She'd die. She'd freaking die. She would die because she'd stumble into a rack of saw blades, and she's so unlucky, the caps would come off. They'd cut her to bits. She'd bang into the lumber, and the whole thing would come down and squish her.

She can't walk through a door without tripping.

Coffee, coffee, Mommy needs you, coffee.

Richard and CoffeeRichard, you too. Mommy needs you. Come to Mommy, Richard.

P.S.: Meet Richard. Yes, I named him after the character in Winter Wolf. Here's him next to my favorite coffee mug.

When I can no longer handle the circumstances of something I'm doing, I rely on cute little stuffed animals to see me through. I'm allowed. You want to know why? Because I'm an adult, that's why!

After a quick cuddle with Richard and some coffee, I think I'm ready to try this again.


“I doubt that, Ana. Come on – he practically offered you a job. Given that I foisted this on you at the last minute, you did very well.” She glances up at me speculatively. I make a hasty retreat into the kitchen.

She did? What universe is Kate from? Never mind. Forget I asked.

RJ, stop expecting sense from this book. Stop expecting anything from this book. You might enjoy it if you stop expecting things, like sense, from this book. Treat it like a cheesy porn flick, one that forgot it was a porn for the first thirty minutes.

Maybe I should turn this into a drinking game. Wait, better not. I'm a light weight. Instead, I will read the text, out loud, as described. It goes something like this:

“You, fascinated by a man? That’s a first,” she snorts.

:Snorfle: You :snerksnort: fas–:snort:–inated by a ::snort:: man? That's :snort: a first, :snort:

I tried snorting the entire line of dialogue. It just doesn't work. Really funny, though.

It would have worked if it was written, “That's a first.” She snorts.

Having fun with dialogue tags, take one.

I think the coffee is kicking in. Hi, coffee. <3

“Oh, Ana, it can’t have been that bad. I think he sounds quite taken with you.”
Taken with me? Now Kate’s being ridiculous.

This entire book is ridiculous. At least she spelled ridiculous right. That word is ridiculous, and I rely on spell checker to fix it for me. That word has my number.

It's ridiculous.

This scene ended with Ana–I think–asking Kate if she wanted a sandwich? What? What? What? Where did this sandwich come from?

If you're in the kitchen anyway, and randomly making sandwiches for people, I'll take one. Please.

Once we’ve eaten, I’m able to sit at the dining table with Kate and, while she works on her article, I work on my essay on Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Damn, but that woman was in the wrong place at the wrong time in the wrong century.

I thought, for a second, that you were talking about yourself, Ana. You almost made me snort coffee up my nose.

I am sparing you the commentary of a section where time goes by and nothing happens. Well, except Ana's mom happens. She has the classic read-minds Mom-o-Meter thing going on. That said, why would anyone, Ana's mom included, think Ana got herself a man when everyone in this book–ever–has made it very, very clear Ana has the dating capacity of a rock? At least, that's what I feel from the internal monologues and from Kate.

Ana's mom, either stop smoking or start sharing. I need whatever you're on.

Enter Jose. Sorry for the lack of accent on the e; too much work. This is the point of the book where I have lost all hope for Ana.

Jose seems like a pretty nice guy, and not I would be stupid enough to friend zone. Good men are hard to find, Ana. Haven't you learned this yet? You're in university. This should be been learned by now, considering the high number of stupid college boys out there.

Oh boy. Hi, Christian Grey. We meet again. I'll give you credit, Mr. Grey… if Ana's narrative is to be believed, you're delicious enough to eat in your casual clothes.

Point to EL James; Ana's still a toaster strudel, but she managed to get a semi-sexy description without wasting words. The guy is hot.

Now, I'm going to talk about the one key thing a lot of people have been ranting about–stalking. I'm going to be bluntly honest with this one: Yeah, stalking is so not good. But, when someone crushes on someone else, it is very common behavior. Almost every girl I have ever known ever–myself included–has participated in some form of stalking or another when scoping out a delicious piece of male to hunt.

It's a part of current society. Doesn't make it right, but it happens all of the time for both genders. Stalking can, yes, be even as little as scoping out where someone works to get a glimpse of them.

Go ahead and deny it all you want, but both genders do it. The degree Christian Grey is doing it? Yeah, slightly over the top, but… he's ultra rich. He can take the day off work to make the drive to check out the lady he's interested in.

Visiting the workplace of someone you're interested–who has a job that allows it, such as a hardware store or McDonalds–is pretty common fare.

This instance and this instance alone I do not have a problem with. It's practically a part of the dating game. I'm pretty sure it's in the Lady's Guide to Selecting a Male. I have a copy somewhere. But seriously, I don't know of anyone who hasn't done this sort of scoping out of an interesting person of the opposite sex. In modern times, most folks do their game planning, which often involves a mild form of stalking, via facebook. (Get with the real world, Ana. Do you really not use the internet??!)

Glorious day! The end of chapter two has arrived!

Christian Grey is about as subtle as a train on fire hurtling down the tracks. Ana is about as oblivious as a rock–or a burnt toaster strudel.

So far, Christian Grey has a possessive attitude, and I can't deny the fact that women–myself included–want to feel wanted. It's very appealing to feel wanted. That sort of thing is, I think, hardwired into human beings–the need and desire to be a part of a group or couple.

Christian Grey fits that bill very well. Ana is also the sort who has no self-esteem, and it doesn't surprise me that she's taken aback by this guy. He oozes that primitive male possessiveness.

At the risk of pissing off all of those who hate Fifty Shades of Grey and everything it stands for, at this point–not abuse. Sure, he's a bad boy, sure he doesn't like other men around someone he's crushing on at the moment, but frankly… welcome to the dating scene.

Go to any bar and you'll see this exact sort of behavior. It's predominant in too many single men on the hunt for a woman.

Not necessarily right, but frankly, it's true to life. It's true to a lot of experiences, and I see absolutely nothing wrong with a woman playing out the fantasy of being truly desired or wanted in a submissive sense.

Up to chapter two, while I think the writing is completely abyssal–far worse than the huge, scary, creepy eyes of my Beanie Boo trio–I can't say there's anything in here that trips my trigger yet.

And I was looking for it. But I'm being fair to the book. Sure, it's crappily written, but it plays out a very common fantasy among women: being wanted and desired by a hot, wealthy, and powerful man who is fully capable of taking care of her.

I can understand how people would be hooked on this book at this point. Am I hooked? No, not really. Not at all, but I've read good bondage erotica–with proper story set up.

This book isn't good bondage erotica… but it plays very well to a very, very common fantasy.

It's fanfiction bad, but I came in expecting the writing to be terrible. I'm (mostly) trying to forget about how poorly written the book is. It's not working, as evidenced by the need for coffee and lots of love from Richard, but there you have it.

Too bad that it'd be stalkerish and rude to send the author a book on proper bondage… I have a really good one on my book shelf; it's designed for beginners seeking to understand the relationships between doms and subs, and I have a feeling it would have done her a lot of good to have read it before writing this novel…

And yeah, I have books like that. I used to work in the adult industry in a marketing department. I know a lot of people who are into the culture. Of course I'd have books like this.

I don't like judging people or their lifestyles, not without a damned good reason–and I figured if I had so many friends involved in the BDSM community, I'd pick up a few books to understand what it was all about.

There's a lot involved in the BDSM scene, but I'll just bring up one point for now. Scenarios are laid out in advance to make certain it keeps to pleasure without becoming trauma. BDSM should never traumatize either the dom or the sub.

The culture is as varied as the people participating in it–just like readers, really.

Leave a Comment: