Saturday, April 6, 2013

50 Shades Freed recap chapter 12, or "How's your Aspen?"

My tweep Purva alerted me to this really dumb slide show. Let's all suffer together, shall we? I think the most frustrating one was the cupcake one. Since when do cupcakes need a fucking backstory to enjoy them? Also, who the fuck wants to eat a pile of fondant as big as those decorations were? And they're sex themed cupcakes. The only way that's okay is if there is some kind of gooey, salty filling in them. That's the only way I'm on board.

Tweep Anna sent me this link to David Bunce's review of 50 Shades of Grey. It's definitely worth a read.

Okay. Let's get this over with.

LOL, remember when recaps used to start with, "On to the recap!"? All enthusiastic and shit because my soul wasn't irreparably withered? Just for reference, when I started reading these books I was a church-goer. Now I'm an atheist. I'm not saying they've destroyed my faith in God all on their own, I'm just suggesting they may have been a contributing factor.

When we last left them, Chedward had just told Ana that he was born in Detroit, and it is apparently a mind-blower:
"I though you were born here in Seattle," I murmur. My mind races. What does this have to do with Jack?
I don't know, maybe your crackerjack narrative will tell us at some point. You know, after you murmur and muse about it for seven or eight chapters, and then the big reveal ends up being something incredibly stupid. But yeah, no reveal in this chapter.

Since it's been two weeks, I'm going to remind you guys that at this point, he's done orgasm denial that caused her to safe word and she broke down crying. He's yet to ask her if she's okay or if she needs anything, and we're now talking about his traumatic childhood and the conversation is all about him.

This is the face I'm making right now.

Christian explains that he and Elliot were both adopted in Detroit, but Grace wanted to leave, to be on the west coast and away from "the urban sprawl." Which is pretty rich, considering Seattle's geographical size is about half a square mile less than Detroit's. Ana asks Christian how he knew Jack Hyde was from Detroit:
"I ran a background check when you went to work for him."
You know, like any non-psycho boyfriend does.
Of course he did. "Do you have a manila file on him, too?" I smirk.
Christian's mouth twists as he hides his amusement. "I think it's pale blue."
I'm glad they can joke about Christian's repeated and obsessive invasions of privacy against people in his life and people who are only marginally connect to people in his life.

Ana asks what's in Jack Hyde's file, and Christian is all, "'You really want to know?'" like it's going to shock Ana so badly he needs to protect her fragile female brain from the terrible reality of who Jack Hyde is. When Ana asks how bad it is, Christian immediately reminds her of his horrible childhood:
"I've known worse," he whispers.
No! Is he referring to himself?

I didn't mean for TLJ to become a thing, but it seems like this is the recap where he becomes a thing.

Rather than just telling Ana what's in the fucking file,

"What's in the fiiiiile?"

they talk some more about his horrible childhood and how he's like, clearly 100% over it:
Christian stiffens. "I wasn't talking about me. I don't want your pity, Anastasia. That part of my life is done. Gone."
"Except for when I need to manipulate you into doing something or staying with me when I've treated you like shit," he definitely did not say next. "So let's never talk about it, because if you think I've gotten over it, I won't be able to use it as a weapon against you anymore."

Even Ana knows that's bullshit, and she calls him on it:
"That part of your life is not done, Christian - how can you say that? You live every day with your past. You told me yourself - fifty shades, remember?" My voice is barely audible.
But before you're like, "Right on, Ana, call him on his bullshit so he has a microscopic chance of healing or whatever, as if I even gave a shit what happens to this guy," she continues:
"I know it's why you feel the need to control me. Keep my safe."
"And yet you choose to defy me," he murmurs, baffled, his hand stilling in my hair.
Whatever, "Jareth."

I frown. Holy cow! Do I do that deliberately? My subconscious removes her half-moon glasses and chews the end, pursing her lips and nodding. I ignore her. This is confusing - I'm his wife, not his submissive, not some company he's acquired. I'm not the crack whore who was his mother... Fuck. The thought is sickening. Dr. Flynn's words come back to me:
"Just keep doing what you're doing. Christian is head over heels... It's a delight to see."
That's it. I'm just doing what I've always done. Isn't that what Christian found attractive in the first place?
Oh, this man is so confusing.
So was literally ALL OF THAT. What thought is sickening? The thought of his mother? Of being his sub? Of him acquiring companies? And no, dummy, your personality isn't what Christian found attractive. The fact that you looked like his mother is what made you attractive to him. You already know that. He could have never been attracted to your personality, because in the first book you never said more than a few words at a time to him, because you were terrified of him. He found you attractive because he thought you were going to be a fuck doll he could manipulate and abuse until he got tired of you and threw you away.

Ana tells Christian that she's just doing what Dr. Flynn told her to do, and she defies his orders to get him "'away from your past,'" which would make sense if she didn't bring up his fucking past every time they had the slightest argument. We're in Ana's head, so we know how often she's thinking of him as being some grubby, abused toddler. Christian is not impressed that his psychiatrist suggested something that he feels might actually help him, and Ana says:
"Christian, I know you loved your mom, and you couldn't save her. It wasn't your job to do that. But I'm not her."
He freezes again. "Don't," he whispers.
"No, listen. Please." I raise my head to stare into wide eyes that are paralyzed with fear. He's holding his breath. Oh, Christian...  My heart constricts. "I'm not her. I'm much stronger than she was. I have you, and you're so much stronger now, and I know you love me. I love you, too," I whisper.
Okay. First of all, Christian's mother was a single mom, a drug addict, a prostitute working in unsafe conditions and under the control of her abusive pimp. She was trying to raise her son in abject poverty in Detroit in the 1980's (not one of the city's finest decades). She was not weak, Ana, you ignorant, privileged asshole. Strength has nothing to do with that situation.

I fucking hate, hate, hate this book.

Second, you tell Christian it wasn't his job to save his mom, and you're not her, but then you tell him you're strong because of him. Which completely contradicts the point you were trying to make about not needing to be saved in place of his mother.

I fucking hate, hate, hate this book.

 You know what's coming.

His brow creases as if my words were not what he expected. "Do you still love me?" he asks.
"Of course I do. Christian, I will always love you. No matter what you do to me." Is this the reassurance he wants?
She will always love him, no matter what he does to her. So... he doesn't really need to change. He can keep abusing and isolating her, forcing her to make "choices" that are already pre-decided, and run her off from her dreams and aspirations until she's exactly the person he wants her to be. That must be a load off his mind.

Christian tells Ana that when she asked him earlier in the day if he hated her, he didn't understand why, and Ana asks if he still thinks she hates him. He says:
"No." He shakes his head. "Not now." He looks relieved. "But I need to know... why did you safe-word, Ana?"
What the hell kind of question is this? Wait, let me clarify: what the hell kind of question is this for Christian Grey to ask? Because a good Dom is going to ask, "What was it about the situation that made you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, and is there anything I can do next time to avoid making you feel that way?" That's not how Christian is asking it. He's asking why she safe worded because he sees it as an act of betrayal against him. The implication here is that she used the safe word because she hates him or wants to punish him.

What was Ana's reason (Trigger warning):
What can I tell him? That he frightened me. That I didn't know if he'd stop. That I'd begged him - and he didn't stop. That I didn't want things to escalate... like - like that one time in here. I shudder as I recall him whipping me with his belt.
If the control issues in their relationship were confined purely to their sex play, if they had a healthy BDSM relationship in which one partner didn't expect their D/s roles to continue outside the bedroom when the other partner didn't have that same expectation, this would be a fine and a sensible answer. In this context? It's Ana admitting that she's afraid of her husband and the fact that he uses BDSM as a way to abuse her.
I swallow. "Because... because you were so angry and distant and... cold. I didn't know how far you'd go."
She doesn't trust him enough to submit to him. End of story. They should not be engaging in D/s play at all. Lack of trust is what makes their sexual relationship abusive, because Christian has been aware of her lack of trust and has done nothing to build her faith in him. He prefers her frightened, so he can manipulate her.

Ana asks Christian if he was eventually going to let her come, and he says no. Which is totally shitty, because he never said, "Hey, are you cool with some orgasm denial?" before they started. In fact, he made it seem like they were going into the Red Room for mutual satisfaction. He can't get Ana's consent if he doesn't ask for it, so once again, we read a rape scene dressed up like sexy sexin' times. He also tells her that he's glad she safe worded:
"Yes. I don't want to hurt you. I got carried away." he reaches down and kisses me. "Lost in the moment." He kisses me again. "Happens a lot with you."
Oh? And for some bizarre reason the thought pleases me... I grin. Why does that make me happy? He grins, too.
"I don't know why you're grinning, Mrs. Grey."
"Me neither."
Me neither.
"It means I can trust you... to stop me. I never want to hurt you," he murmurs.
I love how he always says this RIGHT AFTER HE HAS DONE SOMETHING TO HURT HER. And by love, I mean I want to set myself on fire.

There's nothing wrong with a Dom expressing gratitude for the trust he has in his sub's ability to stop him from crossing the line unintentionally. But I think we're all aware that Christian is making Ana solely responsible for controlling him when they're together. If she forgets to safe word because she gets into a bad place mentally, well, open season I guess, because we already know from the belt incident that Christian feels the onus is on Ana to keep the scene from going too far. Which is really funny in a "this writing is so fucking pathetic" way, because Christian goes on and on about how much he needs to control Ana in every aspect of her life, but he can't exert any control over his own actions in his role as Dom. It's another case of the author telling us what kind of a person the character is, while showing us tons of evidence to the contrary.
This is the heart of our dilemna - his need for control and his need for me. I refuse to believe these are mutually exclusive.
This is the heart of every abusive relationship. One partner's need to exert control over the other partner, through any means necessary, and the abused partner's utter refusal to accept the reality of his/her/zir situation.
"I need you, too," I whisper, hugging him tighter. "I'll try, Christian. I'll try to be more considerate."

Moving on, because I'm not going to be able to handle the rest of the fucking scene in which Ana earnestly apologizes to Christian for not being a good enough abused wife for him, Ana wakes up, still in the playroom, and Christian is, predictably, having another manipulative, thrashy nightmare.

This is what Christian Grey looks like when he's sleeping.

She wakes Christian from his dream, and they immediately start fucking:
"Ah!" I cry out, not from any pain, but from surprise at his alacrity.
Alacrity means being ready to do something in an cheerful way. Like, "The alacrity Jenny showed sprinting toward the liquor store was truly impressive." It's not the right word to use when someone has just woken up from a violent, screaming nightmare and starts desperation fucking the nearest available hole. They fuck, he comes, she doesn't, and finally, FINALLY, he asks her if she's okay:
"You okay?" I breathe, caressing his lovely face.
Oh, shit, no, HE STILL DIDN'T ASK HER IF SHE'S OKAY, SHE ASKED HIM. Because he is the most important.

Now, a lot of people have been like, "Oh, he fucks her again and leaves her hanging," but he really doesn't. When he realizes she didn't come, he immediately heads south and gets her off orally, and then, with practically no refractory period required, fucks her again, and this time they both come. So, he does take care of the orgasm thing. And that's where she could have used the word "alacrity."

They get up and head back to the bedroom, and I'm not sure why we need a scene of them discussing this, especially since the scene takes up approximately a page of text. Other than to show them going from the playroom to the bedroom, which could easily have been done in a single sentence in the next section, which begins:
My eyes spring open. Something is wrong. Christian is not in bed, though it's still dark. Glancing at the radio alarm, I see it's three twenty in the morning. Where's Christian? Then I hear the piano.
You know why she had the feeling something was wrong? Because there wasn't an "Edward plays Bella's lullaby" scene in this book yet. It's weird that Ana is waking up all the freaking time to find Chedward not in bed with her (this is because Edward Cullen, a vampire, never slept, and in Breaking Dawn Bella wakes up to find him not in bed with her, so it has to be a theme E.L. beats to death in her fanfic) and yet she always finds it so alarming and crazy. "He's not in bed with me? This has only happened a hundred and fifty other times! SOMETHING IS WRONG OMG HYDE MURDERED HIM."

Also, why is it important for us to know that the alarm clock has a radio in it?
Quickly slipping out of bed, I grab my robe and run down the hallway to the great room. The tune he's playing is so sad - a mournful lament that I've heard him play before. I pause in the doorway and watch him in a pool of light while the achingly sorrowful music fills the room. He finishes, then starts the piece again. Why such a plaintive tune? I wrap my arms around myself and listen spellbound as he plays. But my heart aches. Christian, why so sad? Is it because of me? Did I do this?
Yes, Ana. Your abuse is all your fault and you should feel bad about making him do that to you. OMG THIS BOOK IS SO FEMINIST BECAUSE IT MAKES ME PLAY WITH MYSELF.
When he finishes, only to start a third time, I can bear it no longer.
That is a really long time to stand and creepily watch someone play piano. After Ana goes over and sits by him, he tells her the piece he's playing is Chopin's "Prelude No. 4 in E minor (Suffocation)," so that means Ana stood there for like, almost six minutes listening to him before she said anything. Go stand and silently watch someone do something for six minutes. It's a long time.

Also, it's pretty funny that we're supposed to be all, "Oh, he's so talented, playing the piano in the night like some tortured genius," because that's actually not a very complicated song to play. A friend who teaches piano told me she uses that piece to strengthen an intermediate student's left hand timing. And I was all, "That's what she said," and then she hit me. But whatever. Christian's playing a pretty simple tune and we're all supposed to be impressed at his skill.
 Reaching over, I take his hand. "You're really shaken by all this, aren't you?"
He snorts. "A deranged asshole gets into my apartment to kidnap my wife. She won't do as she's told. She drives me crazy. She safe-words on me." He closes his eyes briefly, and when he opens them again, they are stark and raw. "Yeah, I'm pretty shaken up."
More proof that Christian Grey should never, ever Dom. Ever. EVER. He takes the use of a safe word as a personal insult, a thing that shakes him up. Remember, Ana was sobbing, she didn't want him to touch her, she felt violated, but he's shaken up by it?
I squeeze his hand. "I'm sorry."
She's sorry. For safe wording, for not mindlessly obeying him. She's apologizing, again, for him abusing her.
"I dreamed you were dead," he whispers.

Ana comforts him over his awesome dream, his pajama bottoms hang THAT WAY, and they go back to bed.

Ana wakes up with Christian laying all over her, like usual:
Hard to believe that the man lying beside me, looking so serene and young in his sleep, was so tortured last night... and so tortured me last night.
So, file "tortured" away with "beat" and "hit" from the first book.
But am I strong enough for both of us? Strong enough to do what I'm told and give him some peace of mind? I sigh. He's not asking that much of me.
Just that you relinquish all personal autonomy and live in his glass castle, never leaving or having any contact with the outside world but always ready to sexually service him and listen to him cry about his childhood. That's not too much to ask at all, is it?
I flit through our conversation of last night. Did we decide anything other than to both try harder? The bottom line is that I love this man, and I need to chart a course for both of us. One that lets me keep my integrity and independence but still be more for him. I am his more, and he is mine. I resolve to make a special effort this weekend not to give him cause for concern.
That's right, Ana. You need to shoulder the burden of fixing your relationship, and be a better person for Christian so he doesn't have to do anything. Because he didn't decide to try harder the night before. He just let you apologize over and over for making him abuse you.

This book is fucking sick. I remember when I was first reading them, and everyone was like, "You're going to change your tune when you get to book three, because he's sooooo different and gets sooooo much better." No, he doesn't. He doesn't change at all. If anything, he gets slightly worse, but only because with a ring on her finger, he's emboldened to let his diseased personality run wild. The only person who changes is Ana, because she makes a concerted effort to put up with his abuse.

Christian wakes up and they have their intensely belabored dialogue, as is standard for their mornings:
"Good morning, Mr. Grey." I smile.
"Good morning, Mrs. Grey. Did you sleep well?"
Every time they wake up, they remind me of the fish from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.

"Oh look, Chedward's being eaten."

Ana asks Christian what he would like to do today, and he tells her he wants to take her to Aspen. Then they talk about how they're going to get there and blah blah blah, we can skip to the next scene. Taylor drives them to the airport, where Christian's corporate jet is waiting.
He looks dreamy, all tousled hair, white T-shirt, and black jeans. Not CEO-like at all today.
There's that damn description again. He either looks exactly like a CEO, or not at all like a CEO. At this point, I'm begging for just one variation on the theme, like, "He looks nothing at all like a rodeo clown," or "he looked every bit the guy who obsessively brushes his teeth."
He takes my hand as Taylor glides to a stop at the foot of the jet steps.
"I have a surprise for you," he murmurs and kisses my knuckles.
I grin at him. "Good surprise?"
"I hope so." He smiles warmly.
Hmm... what can it be?
Considering you ran into a bit of pronoun confusion and this tender exchange has taken place with Taylor, not Christian, I hope the surprise is that Taylor is going to murder your husband and steer that jet to Europe.

But you know what? Taylor doesn't deserve to put up with your bullshit, Ana. He can stay with Mrs. Jones.

They get into the plane:
Christian and Stephan shake hands. "Good morning, sir." Stephan smiles.
 This is going to make the scene somewhat bearable guys, just roll with it.

"Thanks for doing this on such short notice." Christian grins back at him. "Our gests here?"
"Yes, sir."
This week, Seattle's hottest club is GEH Jet. They have everything: a sadistic billionaire, a timid brunette, her nosy best friend -
I turn and gasp. Kate, Elliot, Mia, and Ethan are all smiling and sitting in the cream-colored leather seats. Wow! I spin around to Christian.
Uh... if they're RIGHT THERE, why did Christian have to ask if they were there? Just for the drama?

Ana is speechless to find her friends there. Okay, not strictly her friends. Her friend, her friend's brother, and Christian's brother and sister. But still, more people than she's usually allowed to associate with:
"You said you didn't see enough of your friends." He shrugs and gives me a lopsided, apologetic smile.
If he was really apologetic, Jose would be there, right?

This is exactly how I felt when I typed that sick burn on a totally fictional character. My life has meaning.

Ana is totally grateful, and of course it's time for her to show her gratitude by being objectified, so Christian puts her over his shoulder and marches her past the friends she's there to spend time with in order to go straight to the bedroom. There is a description of Elliot "whooping like a demented gibbon," and all I can think of is the comment someone left on another recap that read "I come loudly, whooping like a demented gibbon," and I cannot stop laughing.

Alone in the private part of the cabin, Christian says:
"That was fun, Mrs. Grey." And his grin widens. Oh boy. He looks so young.
 He is 27. In what universe, even to a twenty-two year old, is twenty-seven not young? As Kody Thomas points out in her analysis of the plagiarism in the series, both Edward and Christian are depicted as seeming older than their years. But that's because Edward is a vampire. It makes no sense for Christian to be thought of as old. At all. Except for the part where he was plagiarized off a vampire.

They have a moment in the bedroom of the jet, and Christian reveals the reason for the trip:
"[...] I thought it would be easier to avoid the press in Aspen than at home."
The paparazzi! He's right. If we'd stayed in Escala, we'd have been imprisoned. A shiver runs down my spine as I recollect the snapping cameras and dazzling flashes of the few photographers Taylor sped through this morning.
Leaving aside the part where I imagine Taylor actually speeding through hapless photographers, their bodies exploding like water balloons filled with blood and bone chunks, and the part where we've already discussed that Americans don't give a shit about the day-to-day lives of industry tycoons who aren't fictional,  WTF? You're going to Aspen to get away from paparazzi? Great plan, because as everyone knows, NOBODY FAMOUS EVER GOES TO ASPEN, RIGHT?

Christian and Ana rejoin their friends, because it's time for takeoff. Now, I know I just told you that, but I'm also going to let Stephan tell you that, so you can imagine Bill Hader is on the plane with them:
"Please be seated, ladies and gentlemen, as we'll shortly begin taxiing for takeoff." Stephan's voice echoes calmly and authoritatively around the cabin. The brunette woman - um... Natalie? - who was on the flight for our wedding night appears from the galley and gathers up the discarded coffee cups. Natalia... Her name's Natalia.
"Good morning Mr. Grey, Mrs. Grey," she says with a purr. Why does she make me uncomfortable?
Because she's female?
Maybe it's that she's a brunette. By his own admission, Christian doesn't usually employ brunettes because he finds them attractive.
So, because Christian can't trust himself to behave ethically around an employee he finds attractive, he actively discriminates against certain types of women? HE'S SO DREAMY I NEED TO TOUCH MY NO NO.

But Ana is distracted from further misogynistic musing on the subject of bitches who want to steal her man, because she's going to think about Christian instead:
He seems relaxed and happy, even though we're with company. Idly, I wonder why he can't always be like this - not controlling at all.
No, not controlling at all, even though you're on a last-minute surprise trip out of state that he planned so he could micromanage your socialization. Not controlling at all.

Remember how in the first two books, and to a lesser extent, in this very book, everybody described Ana as "bright" or "intelligent" within two paragraphs of meeting her? Keep that in mind during this next exchange:
"Hope you packed your hiking boots," he says, his voice warm.
"We're not going skiing?"
"That would be a challenge, in August," he says, amused.
 At tonight's performance, the role of Jenny Trout will be played by Dule Hill.

I hate so, so much being TOLD by an author than a character is a certain way, when the character's actions are SHOWN in a completely contradictory way. Ana is super duper smart... and she thinks they're going to go skiing in AUGUST. But don't worry, reader, she's bright, and you know that because the author said she was. As it is written, so mote it be.
Natalia runs through the plane's safety procedures in a clear, ringing voice. She's dressed in a neat navy short-sleeved shirt and matching pencil skirt. Her makeup is immaculate - she really is quite pretty. My subconscious raises a plucked-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life eyebrow at me.
Ana starts to think something complimentary about another female, and her subconscious puts the lid on that right quick. Plus, I love that we just got this detailed description of the flight attendent, but I still have no fucking clue what Elliot looks like. I mean, from any of the information in any of the books, not just in the scene. There are minor characters I could draw a police sketch of, but secondary characters who are just faceless blanks shambling around in the story.

As they taxi out, Kate asks Christian questions about Jack Hyde. Because, you know, the guy she's been with for exactly as long as Ana has been with Christian (longer, because she and Elliot didn't break up due to him going sickhouse on her with a fucking belt) is at risk of being murdered by Jack, as well. But Ana doesn't see it this way. She sees Kate's questions as an intrusion, so when Kate asks why Christian fired Jack, this happens:
"He made a pass at me," I mutter. I try to kick Kate's ankle beneath the table and miss.
She tries to physically assault her best friend because Christian wants to be in complete control of the information flow regarding Jack Hyde.

I also want to point out that Christian beefed up security for Mia and Elliot, but Kate never mentioned anything about getting security for herself. If Jack is so deranged that he wants to hurt the Greys at any cost, wouldn't he go after Elliot's girlfriend? But Christian doesn't care, because let's be honest, if Kate dies, he gets Ana all to himself.

They keep talking about Jack Hyde, and there's no new information revealed, really. It's all about how Kate is so exasperating and terrible, asking all these questions. Even when Elliot gets in on it, it's unacceptable:
"What do you know about him?" Elliot asks, oblivious to the fact that we are hurtling down the runway in a small jet about to launch itself into the sky, and equally oblivious to Christian's growing exasperation with Kate.
Elliot, who has to have extra security because of Jack's secret and horrible internet search history, isn't entitled to information about what makes Jack a threat to his safety. Christian explains Hyde's background:
"We know a little about him," Christian continues. "His dad died in a brawl in a bar. His mother drank herself into oblivion. He was in and out of foster homes as a kid... in and out of trouble, too. Mainly boosting cars. Spent time in juvie. His mom got back on track through some outreach program, and Hyde turned himself around. Won a scholarship to Princeton."
Yeah, I'm not buying that someone who had a record and spent time in juvie would be admitted to Princeton. It seems like that would be one of the things they'd use to weed out applicants.

I'm getting a little pissed off at the stigma against single mothers and low-income families in this series. Christian and Jack were both kids from impoverished backgrounds who became successful, but they're both emotionally fragile, apparently because of their upbringing. Their childhoods were marked by violence - Jack's father died in a bar fight, Christian was abused by his mother's pimp - and addiction - alcohol; crack - and they were both "saved" by money. Christian was adopted by wealthy parents, Jack got into a prestigious school. And yet both of them are still so scarred by their upbringings that they fall apart at the slightest stress. Christian snaps and whips Ana with a belt, Jack loses his job and decides to start sabotaging helicopters and stuff. Because growing up without two parents in a heteronormative nuclear family environment leaves you irreparably damaged, and every person who comes from a background of poverty or fatherlessness is in the same situation.

Think about it - Ana's parents are divorced, but she's "normal" because of the presence of Ray or Charlie or whoever in her life (I honestly can't remember which dad is in which book) and his masculine influence. Everything useful that Ana has ever learned, she learned from Rarlie. What has she learned from her mother? A legacy of bad decisions about men. Because of this masculine influence from her stepfather, Ana is a whole person. Christian and Jack are incomplete, because their mothers weren't "strong" in the way Ana is.

This is exactly how I looked when I realized I had uncovered yet another problematic aspect of this book.

I thought I was done finding things there were wrong with this crappy series. But there. Right there. No fucking wonder Ana's subconscious is always reading Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens. THIS IS SUPER JUDGEY ANTI-POVERTY PORN. Poor urchins are saved spiritually and physically by huge doses of vitamin $.

"Princeton?" Kate's curiosity is piqued.
""Yep. He's a bright boy." Christian shrugs.
1. Kate's curiosity was already piqued, it's why she's been asking questions the whole time.
2. Further down the page, we learn that Jack Hyde is thirty-two. So Christian is only calling him "boy" because Edward was a vampire.
Much as I'd like to know what's going on, I don't want to encourage Kate's questions. I know they're irritating Christian, and I'm sure she's on his shit list since Cocktailgate.
If a friend told me I was on her husband's "shitlist" because she chose to go out for drinks with me when he'd asked her not to, I would never speak to that person ever again. I am not submissive to other people's men, thanks a bunch and go fuck yourself.

Ana asks Christian if he thinks Jack is working with Elena "the bitch troll." I will never tire of that delightful phrase, let me tell you. Christian says:
"You  do like to demonize her, don't you?" Christian rolls his eyes and shakes his head in disgust.
Yeah. People tend to demonize adults who prey on emotionally damaged teenagers in the hopes of grooming them into the perfect sex slave. Something about that doesn't sit right with most people, for some reason.

There is some back and forth between Christian and Elliot, and Elliot and Kate are suddenly not getting along great - because obviously, Elliot needs to rein her in and make her stop annoying the billionaire important man with questions about the guy who might end up killing her - and Ana thinks about how since she's Christian's first real girlfriend, Mrs. Robinson and the fifteen subs don't matter.
"Okay, ladies and gentlemen, we'll be cruising at an altitude of approximately thirty-two thousand feet, and our estimated flight time is one hour and fifty-six minutes," Stephan announces. "You are now free to move around the cabin."
In my head canon, this is where the lights go out and the human suitcases roll down the aisle.

Now, it's a pretty well-established rule of novel construction that your chapters should end with some kind of hook, something that will make the reader want to continue reading even though they've reached a convenient break. This can be the revelation of important information, a sudden exclamation, or a resolution of a minor problem that creates new questions the reader will be anticipating as they move into the next section of your story. Here's how chapter twelve ends:
Natalia appears abruptly from the galley.
"May I offer anyone coffee?" she asks.

Masterful. Positively masterful.


  1. I think I am definitely most frustrated by the "trust" slideshow.

    Yes trust is important which is exactly why this sucks because there isn't fucking any.

    1. That slide show boils down to "because other people like it." The book sold fast, other people fanned some Twitter pages, etc.. So basically go along with the crowd.

      And the sale of rope has gone up? Even if some of that could be attributed to this trilogy, that's dangerous! When Harry Potter was the top series, people bought costumes, fabrics to make costumes, props, trinkets and toys, etc., and no one talked about how "helping the economy" was a good reason to enjoy the books. Nope. It was reasons like how Harry learned to deal wit adversity and went through struggles with his friends and still remained true to them.

      Every single one of those reasons are bad.

    2. I swear I read that your random person the street shouldn't use rope for bondage because they don't really know what they're doing and it can actually be dangerous. (I mean, assuming your random person on the street isn't into bdsm, of course.)

      Am I off-base here or could this actually be a bad thing?

    3. Laina, that's right. It can rub the skin off the wrists and cut off blood circulation.

    4. Increased sales of rope are not automatically "good for the economy". We can't know that until we know whether or not consumers stopped buying other stuff in order to free up money for the rope.

      And, for sure, nationwide data do not exist on sales of something as specific as rope. So that factoid can only be anecdotal, probably sourced from Wal-Mart or something, which does not make it true for the entire American rope market.

      Reaction to these books already offended me as a woman, now it also offends me as an economist.

    5. If people using rope will keep people from using handcuffs I call that a win (handcuffs are probably the most potentially dangerous restraint most people try). Handcuffs can cause cuts and nerve damage, rope can potentially cause nerve damage but it's a lot less likely. I'd rather people use proper leather or canvas cuffs of course if they don't know what they're doing with rope but they are an investment.

    6. See, I don't mind handcuffs, so long as they're being used in a way that the restrained person isn't pulling on them or resting their weight on them. If they're there for a reminder, not a load-bearing restraint, they're not too bad.

    7. Maybe this book has really just increased serial killing and the rope sales going up is really a reflection of that. After all I do find myself going into a murderous rage every time I read even as much as these recaps.

    8. When I saw the 'trust' slideshow I seriously thought it was fucking sarcastic.

      My god, it wasn't, was it? It was totally honest.

      ... *whimper*

  2. I love how he always says this RIGHT AFTER HE HAS DONE SOMETHING TO HURT HER. And by love, I mean I want to set myself on fire.

    He is such a fine specimen of manhood. I think you mean you're on fire WITH LUST.


    See? Told you.

    This is exactly how I felt when I typed that sick burn on a totally fictional character. My life has meaning.

    That's exactly how I felt when I read it, so we can be meaningful together.


    I really, really hope all the focus on the coffee means it's strychnine for Chedward's cup in the next chapter. I mean, by her own admission James hated the story by this point so it'd be nice for her to have them all die in a fiery plane crash after everyone panics over his sudden demise. Except Kate. Kate can survive.

    1. We can only hope!

    2. Out of curiousity, when did James say she hated the story at this point? What that while it was still Master of the Universe, or after it had become FSOG? I managed to find a copy of MOTU and that sumbitch was like 70+ chapters, so I could see why she'd be sick of it then.

      Ditto on Kate. In a truly just world, this story would've been about Elliot and Kate, and the major drama would've been rescuing Ana from Chedward.

    3. Agree with Crude. Kate, Elliot, Mrs. Jones and Taylor saving Ana because apparently she has the mentality of a rock.

    4. I will submit myself for a thorough whipping for knowing this, but Erica is a coffee addict (as am I), and not having enough of it is practically a crisis. She prefers is black with hot frothed milk, which isn't available everywhere. So a chapter ending on someone asking if someone else wants coffee and a milk steamer may not be available (as it's not on most commercial flights) is enough to set Erica on edge.

    5. Crude: It was when it was MotU, in private emails that were made public IIRC. I kind of hate myself for knowing that. So, Alys, no need for whipping. ;-)

  3. I think going from The Boss to this may have given me whiplash. Very good timing in regards to the "sub drop" issue.

    (and on a completely unrelated note, thanks so much for teaching me about that! I really needed to know it :)


    And then I laughed like a hyena, because if I didn't laugh I'd cry, and also break up with the friend who loaned me these fucking books in the first place.

    The whole "poverty is Teh Bad" angle has bothered me since the first book... no one ever talks about it, I think because there are so many worse themes at play here, but as someone who grew up poor all of the "oh my goodness look how our money makes us wonderful" shit filled me with stabbity-rage.

  5. Conversely, I was an atheist my entire life, until I was exposed to this series and realized that we really DO need some kind of benevolent higher power to save us from ourselves (or, at least, to save us from middle-aged fan-fiction writers inexplicably obsessed with book series for preteens while hellbent on rolling the cultural evolution clock back a few centuries).

  6. " Taylor glides to a stop at the foot of the jet steps."

    Because he's on rollerskates, practicing for a role in an upcoming production of Xanadu. Taylor is so awesome.

    P.S. I hate Christian, Ana, and this book.

    P.P.S. The slideshow, WTF? I should read this pile of crap because it made people want to wear gray ties?

    1. OMG, our high school just put on Xanadu, and the lead characters were really on rollerskates! But I refuse to diminish my enjoyment of kids born in the late 90's trying to recreate a 1980 movie by tying it into FSOG.

  7. Maybe Ana describes the women so in depth because she is a closet lesbian (or bi-sexual). She finds women attractive and that is why they are a threat to her relationship with Chedward. Or something .. hah.

    1. My BF and I got into a debate about whether or not Chedward would be down with Ana fooling around with women on the side. He was convinced that Chedward would be ok with it (because it's not like she's boning other MALES), but I still think that Chedward is too controlling to even allow for a threesome where he's present the whole time. He would also have mad jealousy issues that the other partner was a better lover than him, methinks.

    2. She's not allowed female friends. I doubt she'd be allowed to sleep with women.

      Chedward wants her to focus 100% on him (and vice versa). Any other person receiving her attention must be done away with.

    3. If anything, HE'D be the only one allowed to stray. know... HE wears the pants.

    4. And he wears them IN THAT WAY OMG!

    5. OMG, I literally just wrote this. Which is awesome - if there are this many people saying it, can we just agree that it's true and ignore the book?

    6. That's the vibe I got, as well. But I highly doubt that would be the case, since E.L. James is somewhat homophobic (in the first book, thinking a handsome, successful man being gay is apparently a SIN OF THE HIGHEST CALIBRE, because GOODNESS FORFEND positive and desirable qualities ever be associated with a gay person).

    7. Could you imagine what this book would be like if Christian was bisexual? Not only would Ana have to hate on every female, she'd also have to hate on ever male.... Every single person in this book would be a possible threat and Ana would walk around super paranoid all the time, ahaha!

    8. I think Ana is a really-really closeted lesbian. Think about it: She ever had a sexual thought about a man (until Christian), she constantly describes women in detail and every argument she has about Kate can be boiled down to "she's so hawt." Again, this is of course not intentional (like most of the crap in these books), but that's just the way it seems. I think that's also why she treats Kate so poorly and always compares herself to her etc. - because she's secretly in love with her and is frustrated by it. I also think that her mom may be a closeted lesbian, and given her these misogynist and judgmental views of women (last one was Jen's thought) .

    9. i really want the fic where this natalia is secretly a badass lesbian fbi agent (assigned, of course, to look into the string of murders chedward has clearly committed) and ends up helping ana come to terms with her sexuality.

  8. You're right, that is a terrible to end the chapter. I should have ended with Ana saying the coffee tasted weird, and then all the characters collapsing because Natalie had been working with Jack all this time and she poisoned the coffee!

    I continue to be overtly optimistic, thank you very much.

    1. This would have been such an easy addition that would have added some suspense. The coffee could have tasted weird just because it was a French roast and Ana's used to a lighter roast or something.

  9. The idea of Bill Hader's Stephan makes this book so much better.

  10. Oh please, please say that when Natalia pours the coffee, she spills some, Christian loses his mind over it and reveals himself to be the abusive fuckwit we all know he is, everyone sees it and Kate stages an intervention and gets Ana onto some sort of abuse-support programme...

    ...Except that would make this trilogy almost worth reading, because the abuse would be shown up for what it is, instead of it being horribly, genuinely sickeningly romanticised time and time again.

    I'm currently writing a semi-autobiographical novel about an abusive relationship and one of my readers came back to me after reading the first third of the book and said: "I kept thinking I recognised the abusive male character and his behaviour... Then I realised: He reminds me of Christian Grey." So by deliberately writing about abuse, I've created a character just like the guy that EL James insists IS NOT abusive. Interesting...

    1. Yeah, it really ties in with what several commenters have noted at this point: the description of abuser behavior is getting so uncannily accurate, so true to life, that you really start to wonder/worry about the author. Sure, she doesn't intend to portray it as abusive behavior, but she still manages to describe abusive behavior in such lifelike detail that you fear she might have experienced it first-hand.

      There's a lot of it in this chapter (and, y'know, all over), but the detail that stuck out for me this time was "I dreamed you were dead". That one's a downright skillful abuser tactic - and one that I recognized, one that I'd heard of real-life abusers using on people I know.

      On the one hand, we have the obvious emotional manipulation of "look at poor me, I am so tortured and broken, and now I am having terrible nightmares because you dared to disobey and upset me" and "look how much I love you, losing you is my worst nightmare, clearly all my controlling and abusive behavior is excusable because it's all just motivated by my fear of losing you".

      But on the other hand, we also have the not-so-subtle threatening undertone. It's unsettling to hear about someone dreaming of you dead. Springing that one someone every time they behave in an "unacceptable" way is a handy way to punish them for the behavior, without even having to take responsibility for it (because hey, it's not my fault these dreams keep happening to me!).

      So you wind up with an emotional double-whammy - "Woe is me, I suffer so and I love you so much!" meets "Cross me, and I kill you in my dreams!"

      (Not to imply that nightmares about losing one's partner can't be real or are always abuser tactics. Post-traumatic stress, fear of abandonment, anxiety disorders, all that shit can be quite real and doesn't make anyone a bad person. I was just referring to blatantly manipulative uses as part of a pattern, like in this book.)

    2. Totally agree. Three big signs of emotional abuse in this chapter:
      1. Being upset about something reasonable end with you apologizing.
      2. He's so nice and fun around other people, but when it's just the two of you he's needy, sullen and/or miserable.
      3. You think "trying harder" will fix things/him/you.

  11. That slide show was almost as depressing as the books.

    1. It's just so *lazy.* Look, grey color swatches! They're GREY! Like the name of the dude in the book!

  12. Read through the slide show and threw up a little in my mouth. Thanks for that, Trout.

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. Jenny, I know that you have already read this book in its entirety and therefore, you KNOW what happens with the coffee in the next chapter. I mean, how can you be so cruel and demented that you won't just tell us. Was there cream? Was it not hot enough? Day-old and stale?

    Come ON! I just might never again read your blog over this cliffhanger.

  15. I'm now inspired to bake sex-themed cupcakes (minus fondant) filled with salted caramel goodness... My ass does not thank you.... ;-)

    1. But perhaps they'll save me from the depression this book is inducing.

  16. That slide show did not offer one single compelling reason to read a single one of these books. The last slide, though? About how it sold faster than Harry Potter? Yeah. That made me incredibly depressed.

    I "read" them for on reason only, and that was so that when I criticized them, no one could come back and say I didn't know what I was talking about.

  17. Have you ever played Cut The Rope? Cute little monster called Om Nom, likes candy, physics puzzle to get candy on a rope into the little demon's lazy mouth. Replace the candy with a breeze block and replace Om Nom with Chedward. I would SO play that game. Repeatedly.

    1. Okay, I just downloaded Cut The Rope, and I cannot stop giggling when I imagine Om Nom as Chedward!

  18. According to the first book:

    Elliot is tall with wide shoulders, curly blonde hair, and light, wickedly gleaming eyes.

    I'm guessing he looks like a mixture of Movie!Emmett and Movie!Jasper.

    Yes, Ana. Your abuse is all your fault and you should feel bad about making him do that to you. OMG THIS BOOK IS SO FEMINIST BECAUSE IT MAKES ME PLAY WITH MYSELF.

    This made me laugh for five minutes straight.

    And you're right about the super-judgey anti-poverty porn. Rich people are always good and virtuous, especially rich white American people. (Remember how Mrs. R gets derided for having a "foreign" name like Elena?) It's very much a theme of Stephenie Meyer's, so I'm not surprised.

    1. I still want EL James to explain how in the actual fuck someone called ANASTASIA can have this ridiculous xenophobic attitude towards "foreign" sounding names. It's in my top ten of things I want her to be forced to explain in public.

    2. Naw dude, her last name is Steele. That's as AMURRICAN as xenophobia itself!

  19. "Ana starts to think something complimentary about another female, and her subconscious puts the lid on that right quick."

    Honestly, in my fun, better-than-this-book, head!canon, Ana's actually a closeted lesbian or bisexual with internalized homophobia, and that's why she's so antagonistic and misogynistic when it comes to other women.

    Which would explain this part right here. Her subconscious reacts the same way to her thinking anything complimentary towards other women as her inner goddess reacted to her thinking about Mac in a sexual way.

    So yeah, Ana's a closeted queer.

    And she's secretly in love with Kate.

    1. That's why Ana still has Kate's dress. She can roll around on a bed strewn with red rose petals and have a full-on body hug with Kate by wearing that saucy number.

    2. Yes, that's exactly what I think!

  20. If a friend told me I was on her husband's "shitlist" because she chose to go out for drinks with me when he'd asked her not to, I would never speak to that person ever again. I am not submissive to other people's men, thanks a bunch and go fuck yourself.

    Brilliant as always but it is this passage and when Ana (The self-entitled witch) tires to hurt someone who truly cares about her that takes the cake. She's got Stockholm
    Syndrome alright! She so "loves" Chedward's wild monkey sex and his crappy treatment of her, and her MEGA sense of entitlement, that she really deserves to have no friends, especially ones that want to help and look out for her. She SHOULD be stuck with Chedward, he who only cares about himself (as well as his golden appendage!) and let him suck her dry until she IS OLD and alone (when he dumps her another "crack whore" look alike who is even more of a desperate door mat then she is) living in one room cell complete with matress, wood stove, closet, and oh, how could I forget 50 CATS!!

    1. Hey, don't go bringing cats into this. They.didn't do anything to deserve being.stuck with bitter old AMA!

    2. I know but that is what Ana fears most of all, I wanted to STICK it to her she's so dense, don't YOU? :)

  21. You know what? I'm going to let Jetnia the Great tackle this one.

    "I thought you were a writer. If so, why do I have the urge to shove this pen in my eyes so the ravens can feast on the jelly? This is typed diarrhea. Just joking,[EL JAMES]. It's not diarrhea. It's more like burning jalapeno shits after using a belt sander as toilet paper. Just saying. You do know what grammar is, do you not? They're, there, their. Jesus H. Christ. It ain't hard."

    And my personal favorite; Imagine, [EL JAMES], if you will, going to prison for a crime you didn't commit, and where a hairy-knuckled gorilla-man cellmate named Lil Petey makes you his butt-buddy wifey that he shares with all his other half-simian friends, for years upon years. Imagine that kind of pain and degradation. It's not a good feeling, unless of course, one is into anal trains. Personally, I'm not. But I guess you must assume everyone is because I think I'd rather get cornholed with a chainsaw than reread this 'work' of yours. Serious, [EL JAMES]... How the fucking hell do you come up with this shit? You might want to do some research on abusive relationships and their cycles. It'd make you look like less of an ignoramus."

    I hate this book. Abusers should not be given apologies. It enables them to keep the cycle going.

    Once upon a time I made excuses for a man [whose family will one day be the subject of a novel -because it is that fucking weird-] because of how he was raised. Know what? The fucker still tries to cash in on the Gimme Sympathy bullshit.

    He wants sympathy? He can find it in the dictionary between Shit and Syphilis.

    1. Much as I understand the searing hatred of the utterly bad writing in these books, and much as I applaud the first quote about the jalapeno shits... that second quote is a pretty uncomfortable read. Using graphic descriptions of prison rape to make a jokey literary metaphor and equating rape and bad writing... really? Maybe I'm oversensitive, but I can't imagine I'm the only one who kinda gets the weebles from that.

    2. @Neurite: Rape jokes aren't funny. I've heard exactly one funny rape CULTURE joke and that was by Wanda Sykes. Rape jokes aren't funny no matter who they're about. Jokes about prison rape are rape culture. And I'll put this list here, too:

      No, I agree with you here. It doesn't really seem fitting to have a rational conversation about consent... and follow it up with a rape joke.

    3. You're right, it wasn't appropriate.

      But from the POV I'm operating from, EL James doesn't understand non-violent rape. And if I have to illustrate it graphically to make a point of her stance that, "Oh, it's okay for Christian to have his way with Ana, no matter what because I wrote it in a lovey-dovey consenting manner" (I'd love for James to read this blog and it's comments, yes, it's a hope.) - doesn't matter, it's still rape. We can all agree on that, right? No doesn't mean Yes, no matter how it's written, whether depicted violently or in pseudo-romantic rapey-prose, that the masses seem to be gobbling up lately.

      James couching Christian's rapes in soft prose infuriates me. It's not romantic. Rape never is.

      About the prison rape link-- is it a possibility that assaults against men are under reported? From my understanding, statistically, males do not report sexual assault out of shame/lack of masculinity/culturally ingrained to "take it like a man". I can imagine it's more entrenched in prison culture, not to be a nark or you'll get it worse next time.

      If I could edit my first post, I would. I'd make a comparison to FSoG being like a broken roller coaster, instead of prison rape (although, with how the story line goes, reading the abused apologizing to the abuser time and again is like mental rape to me, seriously. How else can he dehumanize her needs as a person and get a pat on the back at the same time? and then for oodles to say, oh, he's so romantic and she forgave him so it's all okay... mental fucking rape, endorsed and condoned.) The crowd on the ground can spot where the track is missing, and oh shit! the coaster cars will crash. Those on the roller coaster are having too much fun to really notice the impending doom--except those in the first car who can see for themselves what lies ahead, but their screams of terror are drowned out in everybody else's screams of delight.

      I didn't intend to endorse rape culture, only draw a parallel of how uncomfortable these books are to experience, on both a physical and mental level. Attempt at humor interjected lest the enormity of society's approval of keeping quiet so fucktard people can get on a-raping to their heart's content, really sink in and saturate my brain.

      My bad.

    4. Neurite - great comment, as always. Thanks for pointing that out; I couldn't figure out why that was bothering me so bad.

    5. Mandi - Part of the problem is that the rapey-anecdote in that quote was followed by "rather be cornholed with a chainsaw than re-read this book", which sounds like it's a comment on how bad the writing is instead of the sexual violence aspect. The person eventually gets to addressing the abuse, but up until that point, the prison rape anecdote could've literally been commenting on any part of the book that that critic didn't like.

    6. The original quote is from a novel, which I copy and pasted with little editing other than name. Used the whole block of text as recalled by a character. My explicit contribution was the first sentence and then the sentences that are not in italics.

      Context of the chapter that snippit is from being the worst written beat down an author could get, bad enough to put off writing for a year. A litany of abuse for lack of editing and patting oneself on the back before going through beta. I thought it appropriate, in the sense that EL James doesn't do much in the editing department, and reading the work is uncomfortable at best, down right painful at worst.

      But yes, you are right.

  22. In the UK, a big story in the news at the moment is the Philpott case, in which a father of 17 has been convicted of the manslaughter of six of his children. He attempted arson to frame his former girlfriend because they were in a custody battle over their children. Our nastiest (well, one of them - there's a lot of competition) newspaper used the case to demonise all benefit claimants, insisting that our welfare state encourages idle scroungers to have hundreds of children, take money from the taxpayer, and implying that poverty causes criminality and, bizarrely also, that giving people benefits encourages it.

    This excellent article: explains brilliantly why the poverty angle is a red herring - it's part of the current government agenda that the right wing press supports of telling us that poor people are to blame for all our societal problems (while cutting income tax for the rich over and over).

    The interesting thing about this case though is how it intersects in two ways with 50 Shades - both with its classism and misogyny. Philpott was described by the judge in terms which we'd all recognise as applying to Christian Grey - controlling and abusive in the worst possible way. Because he's "poor", he's seen for the monster he is - but then immediately used to demonise all poor people in a way that reminded me of the 'poor=evil' bullshit in 50 Shades.

    To circle the square, or however it was that James managed to mangle that idiom, the Daily Mail is also full of the sort of 'spice up your sex life with mummy porn' tittering fucking bollocks articles designed to make us all feel inadequate. Basically, all of it is disgusting. sometimes I really do believe there's nothing redeeming about a society that allows any of this into its mainstream cultural discourse.

    1. It's one thing to allow this book into discourse, and another to have that discourse be mostly praise and adoration.

    2. I made the mistake (always a mistake) of reading some of the comments on that article and a few people suggested that if Philpott had had a job then he wouldn't have had the time and energy to abuse women. My dad worked night shifts in a factory, cycling 12 miles every day to get to and from work, and he still managed to find the time to physically and psychologically abuse my mum for decades and treat his kids like shit to boot.

      You could also see that concept as a form of poverty-shaming, that poor people should be made to work so hard and so long that by the end of the day they don't even have the energy left to beat their wives. Presumably domestic abuse should be a privilege enjoyed only by the middle and upper classes, those with sufficient leisure time to devote to destroying people's lives - people like Christian Grey perhaps.

  23. Your revelation about male influence and how it psychologically affects the characters throughout their childhood was freaking amazing. I made the Bert (Ernie?) face too while I was reading that, because holy shit. That is some Fridge Horror shit right there. (though to be fair, this entire series is Fridge Horror. Once you actually start to think about it, it becomes terrifying.)

    Something else I wanted to throw out there - the way Christian's constantly talking about Ana defying him is really gross. From what I've read about abusers (and I'm not an expert) the only reason he'd really like her defying him (and he really seems to) is because he then gets to punish her.

    Abusers like grooming their partners - they enjoy the challenge and the process of fixing/correcting their partners until they match up with the abuser's idea of perfection. It's the reason Christian always compliments and rewards her when she does something he approves of (wears the clothes he likes, eats the things he wants her to eat, follows his instructions for how she should look, etc.) And it's the reason he punishes her when she does something he doesn't like - a definition, it should be noted, that's constantly changing depending on how he feels and where their relationship is.

    And the saddest part is that she keeps falling for it. She keeps changing herself for him.

    1. There's also the questionable definition of "defying him". Ana isn't defying him at all. I think we can mostly blame this on James's bad writing: She describes Ana as this intelligent, independent, brave woman who is too active and free-spirited to be dominated. Instead she's this dumb as hell doormat who can barely exist without her man. What Christian describes as acts of defiance is really just Ana acting completely normally. This is your average 50 Shades scene:

      Christian: Here's your tea. Would you like some sugar?
      Ana: I prefer honey.
      Christian: ARE YOU DEFYING ME, MISS STEELE?! I need to punish you so that you can be more submussive! But keep defying me, that's what I love about you.

    2. Yeah, "defying him" is pretty much Ana making any sort of autonomous decision. Abuser's are self-entitled so he feels like her doing anything without his say so and the very nature of her having independent thought is an act of betrayal.
      RE: Your Fifty Shades Scene:
      ...I could totally see that happening. And I legit can not stop laughing right now. Seriously, if anyone asks you what 50 Shades is about just hand them that.

  24. And here I was thinking E.L. James could get through an entire chapter without her misogynist protagonist hating on another woman - silly me.

  25. A really common discussion in the YA circles is the lack of parental figures in the books, especially the lack of two-parent one father one mother families.

    And I usually just go, "Okay, I'll be over here casually thinking about how my parents were never normal and my father took off when I was 9 and I haven't seen him since. Not like I needed books with characters like me when I was a teenager or anything."

    1. I never actually realised it till now, but single parents really are demonised in this book, along with other groups of people in society. Excuse me, James, but my cousins and my best friend are perfectly fine and their mothers were never drug addicts or alcoholics or whatever you think single mothers actually are, thank you very much. I'm guessing James has a very sheltered view of life and doesn't realise not everybody in this world matches the stereotype placed upon them...

    2. Single-parent households we an old convention used back in the early Hollywood days popularized during Shirley Temple's popularity. Kids loved the singing kid, and adults wanted to step in and be the missing parent(s).

      With books it's a way to "reach" the most viewers. Kids with the "normal" families can't feel left out by reading about kids with "less," and kids with "less" won't feel jealous reading about two-parent families. If course this leave out a lot of variables and common sense,

  26. No hang on. Look at those cupcakes. They've done the nice swirly buttercream thing... and put it *underneath* the flat slab of fondant.

    Cupcake makers, you have forgotten why/how/camel to fondant!

  27. Just that you relinquish all personal autonomy and live in his glass castle, never leaving or having any contact with the outside world but always ready to sexually service him and listen to him cry about his childhood. That's not too much to ask at all, is it?

    That's totally the reason why I started writing my spitefic on against this disturbing excuse for a 'book.' Basically how Christian really is stripping away Ana into what he wants and showing the abuse for what it really is. There's also another bit of inspiration I got from Jenny's recaps as well a few chapters back that also helped, but I can't give it away cause it's part of the story :D But thanks anyway, Jen!

    But the other disturbing aspect of the spitefic? Some who have reviewed my fic don't see Christian for what he is, still hoping for a HEA and thinking Ana will help him through it. I'm just gonna tell you now: Ana will indeed escape his clutches and Christian is nothing but a psychotic dickhole who'll get what he deserves! I fear for women today, really...

    Here's the spitefic:

    1. I read your spite fic, and it's absolutely great. It illustrates how Ana's world would be after her misguided bloom of 'first love' is over and she comes to the reality of Christian's possessiveness. Having not been in any abusive relationship, it shows me how a relationship like theirs can progess into a horror for the woman.

    2. Different Anon:

      Reading the comments, it's amazing how many of them seem to see his behavior as a unusual spin on Christian that's different from the canon characterization. He wasn't creepy and controlling BEFORE?

    3. Different Anon - Trust me, I'm not doing an 'unusual spin' on Christian at all. It shocks me that they actually believe he's okay and that his behaviour doesn't need to change in the slightest. Or choose not to see it... Really, ladies, it's not that big a stretch in characterisation for Christian. Just read the books...

      Glad you've both enjoyed it so far!

  28. Lady, you are hilarious, I have only discovered you a week ago and thank God, because I read the whole series just recently and I thought I was loosing my mind. I think I lost some brain cells in the process but it is all worth it because of recaps like this. Thank you, at some points I laughed so hard I had tears coming out of my eyes. I have never been so angry at characters in a book, so angry that something like this got published.
    I am originally from Poland and just today I did a google search in Polish and Oh my, there it is in my native country they are all reading it there too.

  29. AUGH. This is the first time I haven't even been able to finish one of these reviews because SEETHING RAGE.

    Look, the first two books he's mad because she didn't safeword AND NOW HE IS MAD BECAUSE SHE DID WTF. I'm not a heavy D/s person, but my spouse and I occasionally enjoy some lighter BDSM. And I've used my safeword, because that's what it's fucking for. It means "this is not good" in a way that cannot be mistaken for play. It's not a personal attack, fer fuck's sake.

    Now I'm going to to try to finish this review again but holy shitballs, this series gets worse every goddamn chapter.

    1. "Look, the first two books he's mad because she didn't safeword AND NOW HE IS MAD BECAUSE SHE DID WTF."

      That's because what Christian is REALLY mad about is that Ana dares to dislike any of his abuse in the first place. She should never even want to safeword; she's his possession, so she should be lapping all his abuse up and begging for more. Every part of his behavior towards her indicates that he's grooming her to become exactly that.

  30. A+ as usual and oh my god all that stuff about her rationalizing being solely responsible for her shittastic relationship is the worst. JK EVERYTHING IS THE WORST. But especially that. So twisted.

    Anyway, when I suffered through this book with mine own eyes, I remember being genuinely puzzled by how Natalia appears abruptly. What the fuck does that even mean? How do you appear from another room slowly? One limb at a time?

    1. I always picture characters doing that zooming stealth vampire speeding thing from The Vampire Diaries (which, as must always be pointed out to Twihards, existed first). Or maybe Natalia was hiding behind the door and popped out just to scare the shit out of these nitwits.

      Another thing I hated about this was the way Ana had to fumble to remember Natalia's name. Because Ana, who is so bright and intelligent, can't be bothered to remember the name of someone as lowly as a flight attendant on her husband's private plane. She's just the hired help trying to steal Ana's man.

    2. I have a genuine hard time with names even for people I care about and love. If someone changes their avatar, I may not remember who they are. I can seriously take me a year or more to remember a friend's name. Usually I let people know up front that I can't remember names well. I've even confused names in my own family. My IQ had legitimately tested in the genius range several times and I can remember complex math and science equations. But with people's names, forget it.

      For Ana though it's selective. She remembers the names of people who are as upper crust as she is, and everyone else she forgets.

    3. The only explanation I had thought of to Natalia's entrance was Kramer impression.

  31. I've noticed that the way I read these reviews has changed. I still look forward to them, like I've looked forward to all of them since I found these recaps, but instead of savouring every hilarious word Jen writes, I usually skim the reviews now. Not because Jen's gotten any less amazing (that will never happen, ever, not a chance), but because these books are so fucking messed up that I can't even read secondhand and critical descriptions of them without feeling sick to my stomach and honestly quite upset by the shit that gets pulled. Christian is a scary fucking dude. I didn't think this series could get any worse than it was to start with, but boy was I wrong.

  32. Wow. Just... wow. It's like I keep coming back, thinking "Okay, I'm immunised. I'm ready. She can't possibly write something even worse than what she did last time!"

    And every. Single. Time. She proves me wrong.

    Jenny, I don't think there is enough love and appreciation for you in the world. You are a freaking martyr.

  33. re: the Princeton thing . . .

    I used to work at the admissions office at one of the other Ivies. One of the other admissions officers tacked up an essay on the hallway board (with name blacked out) where a student wrote about the time he got pulled over for drunk driving and had to share a cell overnight with an old man who taught him a bunch of life lessons and how now he's a better person because of it. It was a very well-written essay, which didn't help the student at all because *it was all about that time he got arrested for drunk driving while in high school.* So yeah, I think being in juvie would be a deterrent :-)

  34. I am going to leave this link here-

    with a few points that won me over.

    " SSC: Safe, Sane, Consensual. As a Master, you need to understand and respect this. That everything you do with your submissive needs to be safe, sane and consensual. Your goal is NOT to cause trauma on your willing submissive. You are their teacher, their guide. As a submissive - you need to understand that if someone is hurting you in a way you don’t approve; even if they’re your Master. You need to GET OUT of that relationship."

    "RACK: Risk Assessed, Consensual Kink. ...It’s my fucking duty as a Master to make sure they’re A) Willing to take part in my desire. B) Mentally prepared for the shock, the pain, and the fear that might come with it. C) Physically able to endure being choked. D) Understand the risks, and understand they have a safe word (or sign)."

    "Safeword / Safesign. A safeword or a safesign is used as a “I’ve had too much”. Say - you’ve got your submissive gagged, and you’re spanking them. They CANT take anymore - so you have a set up safe sign, she raises two fingers. You ungag her and ask - do you need a break, or do you need to stop. A SUBMISSIVE SHOULD NEVER BE PUNISHED FOR USING THEIR SAFE SIGN OR SAFEWORD. This is put in place to safely and politely say - please stop. If a submissive uses their safeword, you need to stop and take them up in arms, make sure they’re alright."

    "If you don’t respect limits, you can emotionally and physically traumatize your submissive. And then you go to hell, where I’m waiting to fucking disrespect YOUR limits."

  35. This was both depressing and hilarious, as always. I usually lurk and don't comment, but I did want to say that as someone who heard of E.L. through fandom and the write up of the wank surrounding "Master of the Universe", I was kind of FASCINATED to see you mention the poverty thing.

    In the original wank write up about Masters of the Universe, where E.L. James - in her fandom name - allegedly complained mightily about having to continue the story, or write snippets for a charity drive, the wank reporter talked about how REPEATEDLY James referred to her own financial status and money.

    I haven't read either the original fic or 50 Shades, I'm just reading your recaps, so the poverty stigmatizing wasn't something I'd picked up on, but now that you mention it, it seems VERY fitting considering her past M.O. (Wank reports are never without some editorializing and bias, but in this instance I can believe it pretty easily.)

    1. She was invited to write a short story for a charity drive. It's not a rumor. She complained about being asked to do something if there was nothing in it for her. Everything she's dome has been about making money for herself. I don't have any links off hand and am getting distracted right now, but there are screen caps of her original posted complaints that eliminate all bias. She absolutely balked about being asked to write a short story to be auctioned since she wouldn't be paid for it.

  36. I'm starting to think that we need to set up an official Kinksters Against 50 Shades organization, because the idea of novices getting "inspired" by the faux-BSDM in these books and trying to play in real life using that as a template scares the crap out of me.

    1. There's been some publicized cases of people being hurt, and even some criminal trials. The best known happened in Europe, and there's a bad catch-22. On the one hand, a lot of people got angry that the judge declared the defendant not guilty because the plaintiff accepted the role-play. Some people got angry because she wasn't enjoying it and the defendant didn't stop. On the other hand, a lot of people said it wouldn't be appropriate to punish the man when the couple read these books together, saw how it went down in them, and decided to act a scene out. Since these books have been advertised as manuals, he thought he was doing it right. It wasn't outright ignorance where they didn't bother to read anything. They read what has been presented as a how-to manual (and it's even sold in 50 Shades branded sex kits).

      If he was experienced, he should have been punished, but what happens when a couple genuinely doesn't know and aren't truly prepared and honestly believe they know what they need to know because of how a publisher and author market the books? The woman was a victim. Thing is, the man was too in a way. They were both misled into believing something false, and one person was physically injured. It's an awful situation all around and I think the publisher needs to be held liable. I can't bring myself to say the man should have been sentenced to jail, but at the same time, I feel absolutely awful for the woman.

      Now that the precedent has been set that no one will go to jail, not the man or woman, and that the publisher won't be held responsible either, chances are a lot of other people have been hurt and won't say anything because "they consented," even though the consent is based on something false.

  37. Jenny, your recaps are the only reason I've even kept on reading this series. I just want to be able to participate in the criticism! I'm a little ahead of where you are in the recaps, but every chapter I read, I can't wait to hear your take on it!

    First of all, the skiing in August thing was the best. Another point for "bright" Ana Steele. I would almost understand if a person who was raised/lived in a place with zero access to mountains and snow sports may be confused and think there was skiing in the mountains year-round. But Ana lives in Washington. I am from Washington. We all pretty much get that skiing is a winter thing. Not even all of Christian Grey's money can make skiing in Aspen happen in August. Also, I live in Colorado now and I would bet that Christian is one of those rich assholes who owns a house in Apsen but goes there only to shop, party and be seen in expensive cashmere sweaters. And to, ahem, enjoy the "snow," wink, wink.

    I was also shocked (if it's possible to be shocked by these books at this point) by the fact that Christian took offense when Ana "safeworded." Especially after chastising her before for NOT doing so. Don't get me wrong, I know it can hurt my feelings if my partner wants to stop sex unexpectedly in the middle. But 1)I don't restrain and torture him when he's not informed about what's going to happen, 2) I respect his sexual limits and boundaries even if they crush my lady-boner or hurt my feelings, and 3) I fucking get over it by the next morning and don't turn sexual misunderstandings into relationship drama. And when you add on the fact that "safewording" is an intentional, expected, built-in part of BDSM, it just doesn't make any sense. Just another in the series of repeated facepalms that is going to leave me disfigured by the time I finish this series (oh my god, you guys, it's like Christian is abusing and disfiguring me through the book!).

    I also really, really hated how Christian put together this Aspen weekend so Ana could "spend some time with her friends." How about "spend some time with my relatives, and your two friends who happen to date my relatives, all within the confines of my plane, my home, and an isolated wealthy enclave." Come to think of it, all of the time Ana and Christian spend together, even in Seattle, takes place in exclusive clubs, fancy restaurants, private homes, or Christian's places of business. Places he can control. Ugh.

    Anyway, keep up the good work, Jenny! The first two books were basically just the warm-ups before getting to the real, not-so-fun nitty-gritty of book 3.

    1. RE: The Aspen thing.
      Honestly, I grew up in Alaska where skiing is sort of a thing (and no, we didn't have snow year round) and I didn't realize that there wouldn't be snow in Aspen in August. The only pictures I've seen of Aspen have been when it's covered in snow, so that's been my mental picture of it since as far back as I can remember. I thought they would go skiing until Jenny explained otherwise.

      I'm not saying Ana's bright (we know that she isn't.) Just that in this instance, particularly when you consider that Ana grew up in Nevada desert before living in Washington and doesn't seem very sporty thus far, it kind of makes sense that she wouldn't know that.

      On another note, I would like to add some money to the pot in regards to your bet, because Christian is totally that kind of asshole.

    2. Sure, Ana grew up in Nevada, but that's awfully close to Colorado. She also spent at least four years living in Vancouver. I live in Vancouver, and the closest college is the one she "went to." There's no way to think that there's enough snow in August to go skiing in Aspen. Since we aren't living the time of year Ana is, it's easy for us to forget that they're in summer. If it's August in Seattle, you're going to be hot and realize there's not going to be tons of snow going south. Ana is just an idiot.

  38. I love these recaps, but times like these, are they ever difficult to get through.

    One the one hand, hilarious stuff. On the other? Sometimes the extent of the abusive, misogynistic bullshit in these books makes me feel physically ill. I honestly had to stifle myself from screaming in rage at parts. I mean, how in god's name can I really see the phrase, "Won't do as she's told" applied to a woman in fucking 2013 as a negative?

    I'm a bookseller, and it makes me die a little inside to hand this miserable thing to customers. I feel like I'm giving them pure poison in book form.

    1. omg, are you allowed to tell them that it's not a good representation of BDSM and healthy relationships for that matter? Not outright forbidding them to read it, but like... warning them.

    2. Not really. All I can tell them is that it's got sexual content, and I can use my judgement to deter anyone under 18 from buying it, but that's it. It's a huge moneymaker for us, the entire publishing industry is in love with it. I have to stand around having women come in and gush about how romantic it is and how much they wish their husbands were like Chedward, and if I want to keep my job, I can't say a damn thing.

    3. Can you tell people about a "hilarious" blog by "someone named Jenny Trout"? So they can see for themselves?

    4. Oh wow, super tempting.

    5. Slip in bookmarks?

  39. One of the many things that angers me so much about these books/Chedward is the way he always refers to his girlfriend/wife as defying him. The word "defy" is something that a parent would apply to a child or a dictator would apply to a rebellion, meaning that the parent or dictator had some kind of rule/law that the child/rebellion is disobeying. It's not the kind of word that should be used when describing a healthy relationship where both parties are equal partners. The fact that Ana thinks it's perfectly fine for him to chastise her like a disobedient child (when all she did was meet her friend for a drink) sickens me. But of course Chedward sees it exactly that way: he makes the rules and HOW DARE she not follow them? Ugh. Classic abusive behavior though: try to isolate the victim from her friends so that she has no one to turn to when you are a total ass to her.

  40. I wonder if she'll really get some time with her friends at all...

  41. Oh, also, have you heard this song? It references 50 Shades. And I only knew that because of you.

    So thanks :P

  42. I've been reading the blog a long time, but I've only just caught up reading the actual book (I relied on the blog for the first two, but was given the third as a gift and felt obliged to read it), so haven't posted until now. The last two chapters have made me shout more at the book than most, especially the scene where he actively blames her for daring to safeword and it's the woman's fault he has no self-control and therefore he isn't responsible for his own actions. And Ana's acceptance of that makes me want to scream. I possibly did so.

    Recently I've come to the conclusion that the paparazzi don't actually exist - they're just a tool used by Chedward to control Ana and make her more frightened. Which would actually make sense considering how controlling he is of her.

    Also, love the Bert gif :)

    1. Many people actually know Mark Zuckerberg's face, and when Steve Jobs was alive, many more recognized him. I can't even count how many times I've seen them walk down the streets. The paps do NOT care about people like that. They like celebrities, like Kristin Stewart. I guarantee the paps don't care about Christian Grey. He's just another billionaire in a time when a lot of people are mad at billionaires (including some other billionaires, like Warren Buffet), and there are plenty of hot models we can ogle without their shirts on. Christian has inflated his own sense of popularity.

  43. Wasn't there a whole thing in the first book when Christian mentions going too far with a sub and hurting her? I'm trying to understand how a guy who could still remember and apparently feel guilty about sexy times gone wrong X number of subs ago can be so thick when it comes to hurting his current sub (and wife). Either he was lying from the beginning and that was only meant to manipulate Ana into a relationship (no shit) or he's suffering some kind of weird too-much-sex amnesia.

    I choose to focus only on this point because the rest is way too freaking depressing.

    1. Or, hum, I don't know... EL James herself doesn't remember writing this? This could be one explanation. ;)

    2. It's not that she forgot about writing it. It's just Twilight dropped the ball and EL James can't deviate too far from the original material.

    3. Cue for me to delurk and share my favourite spitefic. It is about the submissive who was hurt and what she did next:


  44. "Recently I've come to the conclusion that the paparazzi don't actually exist - they're just a tool used by Chedward to control Ana and make her more frightened."

    You know what, you're probably onto something. I wouldn't be surprised if he paid some people to act like paparazzi in order to frighten Ana into staying behind closed doors.

  45. Guess which book I saw in the teen room at my local library last week?

    That's right, Fifty Shades of Grey!

    The worst part is that it was on the rolling shelf behind the counter, indicating that it was either 1) being held for a teen to check out or 2) had just been returned by a teen and had yet to be re-shelved.

    1. This is so, so, so upsetting.

      I honestly want to make a "Fifty Shades Lite" version of the trilogy that is exactly the same in every way, but with all of the sex scenes cut out or done as fade to black. (Like a Fifty Shades KidzBop?) Then, it should also come with a discussion guide that would ask questions to get teens thinking about the fucked-up shit. Like, "If you were Kate, would you have trusted Christian to take Ana out of the bar when she passed out? Why or why not?" or "What would you do if your boyfriend or girlfriend not to wear a certain outfit because it was too revealing? Would you react differently based on where you wanted to wear the outfit, e.g. to the grocery store vs. to a party? Would you react differently than if it was your parent asking you to change? Why?" The way I see it, this book is already out there, and teens will probably be able to get ahold of it despite schools' and parents' best censorship efforts. If they're going to be reading it, we ought to be able to use it as a teaching moment, because this book presents an almost unparalleled opportunity to get kids thinking critically about what domestic violence and unhealthy relationships look like.

    2. Same Anon here:

      A discussion guide edition would probably be viable (I know of at least one book club group that read FSoG), but I don't think that anybody would want to read a Bowdlerized version when they could get the original! The only reason FSoG is in the teen room in the first place is that it's part of the library's stated mission to cater to popular interest, and as long as teens are interested in erotica, well...

      I am in my last semester of library school, and I'm hoping to get a job as a teen librarian. One of the first things I plan to do is to start a romance book club so I can talk about these very issues you're discussing. FSoG most likely won't be on the book list (parents and other stakeholders would almost certainly pitch a fit about the library promoting such a prominent naughty book), but at least stuff like Twilight is fair game. Plus I tend to like romance novels. :)

  46. "Just that you relinquish all personal autonomy and live in his glass castle, never leaving or having any contact with the outside world but always ready to sexually service him and listen to him cry about his childhood."

    Oof. This. I was in this glass castle for a few years and thank goodness I finally ran. He wanted control of all of my decisions (like who I hung out with and when; whether I cut my hair; and if he wanted sex I had better be available), because if I disagreed at all it was my fault for making him feel "rejected," and whenever I got up the willpower to leave he would burst into tears and go on about how his mom moved away when he was 10 and he can't help being like this, I had to stay and help him. FUCK THIS BOOK.

    ANYWAY Tommy Lee Jones makes my life 1000x better. XD

  47. So all of Ana friends are sat waiting on the plane, on the runway, while Chedward takes Ana into the bedroom for a quickie? How is this not incredibly embarrassing for everyone involved?

    1. Not to mention rude AND ill-timed! THese two screw like DOGS!!

    2. If I had been there, I would have made some sarcastic comments about it afterwards, just to give them (or rather, Christian) the hint that it was really something you should avoid while in company of other people. Just saying.

    3. No, they didn't have sex, they just went and had a little moment where they called each other Mr. and Mrs. Grey again (because that isn't tiresome at all) and talked. Believe me, if they'd fucked, I would have commented on it because OMG DON'T INVOLVE OTHER PEOPLE IN YOUR SEX LIFE.

  48. Here's what James was thinking while writing this chapter: "OMG, Christian is totally the hottest, most amazing romance hero ever, ‘cause he always cares about Ana’s orgasms. I am romance-genius! Te-hee.” NO! Fuck you, James.

    Also: Is he STILL on about how Ana didn’t do as she is told (aka stay imprisoned)?! Doesn’t he realize she’d most probably be dead, of she did. Does he really want her dead? IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE.
    OH, and I keep wondering: How is this guy such as successful businessman, if he walks out on an important meeting, because HIS WIFE SPEND TIME WITH A FRIEND?! What about his bizarre hiring politics, that is just super weird and unpractical. If he doesn’t trust himself around Natalia why is he married? Are all brunettes pretty much the same person to him, and he might have married Natalia instead of Ana and it wouldn’t make a difference (except – I hope – she’d be too smart to put up with all of his bullshit)? And why is he jealous over Ana MAKING OUT a few times in HIGH SCHOOL when at the beginning he WANTED (supposedly) her to have had sex. How does he just take Ana for a quickie while everyone else just waits outside?! How did they get out of the Escala in the first place if the media surrounds it? You know what, let me just refer you to this video:

    P.S. Whatever happened to you posting pictures for your picks for 50 Shades movie?!?

    1. Also, now every time Ana says "Oh, my" I read it in this guy's voice: Everything immediately becomes 100% funnier. :D

    2. I think I got bored and wandered away from my story casting of 50 Shades. I'll have to pick that up again.

    3. In my fic (Couple Shades of Taylor), I had a scene where Taylor was informed that Christian thinks he's pulling all the strings at the company, but his dad really is. It makes more sense than the way Christian runs the company.

    4. oh my god yes. Christian is the mentally ill son, whose delusion is that he is in charge. his dad actually runs it and everyone who works there knows to humour Christian on the one day a month his stalking commitments allow him to spend in the office. So when he babbles meaningless business speak into the phone there's a secretary at the other end not listening but going 'yes, sir' and getting a bonus for putting up with his rudeness.


    5. oh my god and Mrs Jones is his nurse and Taylor is there in case Christian deteriorates and gets violent. and the red room is actually a padded cell, and all the 'restraints' and straitjackets and so on are for if he becomes dangerous.

      and Ana is suffering from some kind of folie a deux, where she believes his delusion is true as well. IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW. Brilliant stuff, Alys!

    6. triple post, sorry, but I just had to say, this really does explain everything. Why everyone's so amazed a young good looking man has a girlfriend. Why his company has such a stupid name. Why they won't call the police no matter what happens - because the threats are in Christian's head only. A suicidal woman gets a weapons permit? Christian made it up. That's why his security team let him go charging into the building. there's no actual threat at all. The whole "crack whore" story? He made it up. His relationship with his mum's friend? Made up.

      It explains why he can't erase Ana's emails at the same time as his - because he doesn't own the publishing company at all. Why there's a national panic when he goes missing for 2 hours - because he's a vulnerable adult. Why Dr whatshisname seems so useless. Also it's Taylor flying the helicopter, letting Christian think he's at the controls.

      the filmmakers HAVE to make it this way. A third act reveal. it would be brilliant. A commentary on collective delusion. When you think about it the whole publicity circus around EL is a bit like this - she's protected from the uncomfortable truth that she cannot write and her books are actively harmful by all the hype. Vintage letting her publish a 'how to write' book is the equivalent of Christian's family giving him pocket money and letting him think he's running a company.

    7. This is brilliant! SOOOO clever!

      And yes, Christian=Joffrey... its very clear what a sick little fucker that kid is. It all makes sense

      urgh. i hate this book

  49. This comment has been removed by the author.

  50. Quick question: Didn't Ana bid on a weekend trip to Aspen back in book 1? When they were at the charity ball auction majig?

    1. She did. I think Christian does mention that this is supposed to be the trip she won at the auction, and she had forgotten all about it until he reminded her. (I have a theory that Ana has ADHD. All of the the forgetfulness, the naivete, the social and emotional immaturity, the daydreaming, the tendency to zone out unless others are talking about something she wants to hear, the fact that her mom shares all of these traits too, ...)

    2. @Crude. That's an interesting theory. In this instance, the fact that it's been three months might be the cause for her forgetfullness, but her having ADD/ADHD would explain some things about her character - especially the fact that she forgot about the auction trip almost immediately. I have experience with people with ADD and I have a mild case myself, and now that you mention it I can see some of the characteristics in Ana.

    3. I also have ADHD (which I've managed to bring under control), which is why I started noticing so many uncomfortable parallels between Ana's behavior and my own, when my stuff was really out of control. This situation isn't the strongest evidence for her having ADHD; rather, it's the first two to four chapters of Fifty Shades of Grey that are REALLY suggestive. Constant references to how she'd rather be alone with her thoughts and a book, how she feels like a misfit, the clumsiness, ... and when she described her mom, I was like THAT PERSON SO OBVIOUSLY HAS ADHD IT'S UNCOMFORTABLE TO EVEN THINK ABOUT. I also consider her personifications of her subconscious and inner goddess a form of daydreaming (rather than hallucinations, as someone else suggested a few recaps back). ::deep exhale:: I've been holding that theory in for so long and it feels so good to let it out lol.

    4. @Crude, thinking about the first book, I can totally see what you're talking about. If you think about her behavior outside of her relationship with Christian (I feel like we only learn about her when she's not around him) she has a lot of the symptoms.
      It would also explain why she got so mad at Kate when Kate needed her to go interview Christian. From my (limited) experience, people with ADHD/ADD tend to plan activities in a really particular way and if something goes wrong/deviates from their schedule, it can be really frustrating. So even if Kate was totally within her right to ask for a favour, Ana might react badly only because she had her schedule set and an unexpected change is stressful and hard to manage. Particularly when someone has difficulty focussing and socializing as it is.

  51. First off, I would like to say both thank you and fuck you for these recaps. I am so glad that someone both sane and hilarious has spelled out clearly and entertainingly how fucked up these terrible books are. On the other hand, I just wasted a lot of time reading them all...

    Secondly, this: "Because growing up without two parents in a heteronormative nuclear family environment leaves you irreparably damaged, and every person who comes from a background of poverty or fatherlessness is in the same situation."
    Yes, yes, yes! The abuse, the bad writing, the general lack of plot, &c. all piss me off, but this is the sort of thing that especially sticks in my craw. I grew up with two parents in a heteronormative nuclear family environment, and I was irreparably damaged. As a child, I used to wish my mother, in an abusive relationship with my father, would divorce him, which would have made me a much more well-adjusted, albeit poor, child of a single mother. The idea that heteronormative nuclear families are universally good and healthy, while all alternatives are bad and emotionally-scarring, is the second most ridiculous thing I have ever heard (the first being that there is anyone in the entire world who read 50 shades of grey and enjoyed it).

    1. I'm a regular commenter, but don't share much about my family openly. So anonymous.

      I also grew up with a heteronormative set of parents who were married to each other. Childhood was great. But teen years spent juggling my parents' court appointments and dealing with their alcoholism and fighting to retain a sense of loyalty to a mother who tried shooting me when I was sleeping one night (while being glad my dad was a stickler about the ammo being in a locked case) and fighting to keep me and my brother out of foster care where we probably would have been separated left me very fucked up. I have a subconscious habit of pushing people away. My dad is dead, but the hatred I have for my mother is much worse than Christian feels toward the mother who at least made an effort to care for him. My mother has made deliberate efforts to RUIN my life and has friends who are Hell's Angels who have claimed they'll kill me if they ever find me (I reported to the cops, but without evidence, it's heresay, and audio recording without permission is a crime, so I can't do that).

      My married, heteronormative parents have destroyed the lives of their kids drove me and my brother apart for years, have had me trying to kill myself to get away, still having difficulty recognizing TMI boundaries, I can be callous sometimes as a self-preservation method, I didn't recognize horrible abuse at the hands of an ex who nearly killed me which wouldn't have done any good anyway since I was raise that you don't leave for any reason at all (I was a failure when I finally escaped)...and this is just scratching the surface. It's bad enough I'm having my facial features altered both so I'll be less recognizable if my mother ever does see me, and so that the few she and I have in common will no longer remind me of her when I look in the mirror. The alterations have already started.

    2. OMG! I'm so sorry for everything that happened to you!! I hope you will find some peace soon!

      And I totally agree with you both that it's disgusting how these books judge non-heteronormative relationships and child-upbringing! It's also very victim-blamey, ugh!
      I feel like smacking the dude every time he says 'the crack whore'!!

      I've also lived in a married heteronormative parental environment and also with a single mum, and every time my mum was single our lives were much better. She was also abused by 2 different partners. And now she's decided to stay alone because she doesn't trust men anymore, and my little sister has a great, calm life now.

      Also, that slide show was horrifying!! There's a 4th book coming?? Noooooooo!

  52. You know I've been thinking I want to write the 4th installment of this series, called "50 Shades of Reality" when Ana wakes up one day and realizes how shitty her life is and the she needs TGTFO ASAP! But I'll probably never write it....

  53. '... speeding through hapless photographers, their bodies exploding like water balloons filled with blood and bone chunks'


  54. I don't know if you've already seen this, but Dan Bergstein blogged his way through the Twilight series over on Sparknotes. Later on in the recaps, he started counted how many times Meyer used the word 'murmur', and he found it 95 times in Eclipse and 89 times in Breaking Dawn.
    EL James uses it 4 times in this chapter alone, taking plagiarism to a whole new level ¬¬
    Also you should check out das-sporking for their recaps of the Twilight series and 50 shades, they point out everything that's wrong with both of them and that gives me a warm fuzzy feeling in my soul

  55. The other issues have been covered pretty well, so I'm just gonna add that it's not actually possible to "win" a scholarship to Princeton, as they do not have merit awards. A+ fact checking as usual, Erica.

    1. It is possible though that a criminal record wouldn't have held him back. I admit I don't know if this would be different in the States (and I bet the author doesn't either) but Stephen Fry got into Cambridge after spending 3 months in prison for credit card fraud and a fairly colourful history which got him kicked out of two quite prestigious schools. He also won an academic scholarship to Cambridge based on his score in the entrance exam.

      I really think E.L. James would have been better off not writing a book set in America with American characters. There have been several instances in these reviews where Jenny has been quite surprised or shocked by some detail that as a British reader I didn't bat an eyelid at - two that spring to mind are Ana not having seen a gynecologist at 21 (in England pap tests are first done at 25) and not being asked for ID when checking into a hotel (I've stayed in a fair number of hotels in England and Wales and I can't remember ever being asked for ID). You can't just pick a location at random and impose your own linguistic and cultural norms on those characters even if they do speak a dialect of the same language, at best you look like an idiot and at worst you look like an insensitive dickface.

      It's also possible that people might be more willing to overlook relatively minor details if the book didn't spend so much time drivelling on about minor details, or if it was otherwise a decent book.

  56. Is that a hyena in the corner giving birth through her external genitalia? No, It's Ana and Christian Grey watching everyone else, condescendingly.

  57. Something that struck me while reading the safeword section of this recap:

    I've had a bunch of terrible hookups with dudes. One trait that I notice with many of them is that while they feel free to offer me pointers and feedback, some invited and some not ("this is great, but it'd be better if you did X" = awesome; "you have a really small clit" = NOPE), anytime I'd try to return the favor, they got very offended and started asking a lot of semi-panicked questions.

    Basically, my body and sexual performance were constantly assumed to be open to criticism. Their ironclad status as amazing sexual partners were so important to them that they could not stand to hear the slightest redirect. Sometimes, these partners did things that hurt me (it's a vagina, not a garbage disposal you just dropped a cufflink into). Didn't matter! They were amazing and couldn't stand hearing otherwise.

    That's what I think of when I think of Chedward blaming Ana for safewording/not safewording. When she didn't safeword and he hurt her, he blamed her because to do otherwise would be to admit he's not the amazing, controlled Dom he presented himself as. But even when she does safeword, the fact that she expresses an iota of dissatisfaction with anything he's done demotes him from 'sex god' status, and he can't take it.

  58. That thing. I can't even. One thing that irks me the most is how they gloat over the fact that the series sold more copies faster than harry potter after they previously stated that it started as Twilight Fanfiction. So they have the balls to admit that but won't agree when people call it plagiarism? *facepalm*

    And then the fact that you should "read the book to get an idea of how your lady friend thinks". I DUNNO WHY DON'T YOU JUST ASK THEM OR SHOW INTEREST.

    1. if it wasn't so life suckingly depressing it would be funny.

      sitcom writers all over the world must be taking nice characters and having them read this book, then come home and 'forbid' their wives/girlfriends to go out with friends, or wear what they want, or choose what they want to eat.

      CUT TO

      Man standing haplessly on garden path, surrounded by suitcases and plastic bags, saying 'but they told me this is how you think!'

  59. I can't even come up with an intelligent reply because of how much this makes me rage. But you said everything I was feeling and thinking, Jen.

  60. I had to stop reading the slideshow at the fifth slide. It made my heart hurt.

  61. [url][/url]

  62. Gifs of both Gus & Shawn and Bert & Ernie? A+

  63. I was wondering what kind of moron enjoyed 50 Shades books, so I decided to look for positive Youtube reviews. This girl says some of the most ridiculously offensive things within the first 2 minutes of this video that I'm fuming. Honestly if she ever finds her own personal Christian Grey, then she deserves it.

    1. I have no words... where do you think young girls are getting these messages that they should be allowing men to speak to them like shit? FROM BOOKS LIKE THIS YOU SANCTIMONIOUS TWAT!!!!!! And if its on TV, how is it any different from being in a book?

      I don't have a fantasy of being dominated.. ever. If you're into it, sweet, but I'm not, so don't as "what woman" if you don't want the answer. There's a gorram difference between being assertive and being abusive.

      I couldn't even finish watching this video.. then I read some comments and somebody suggested my girl Emma Stone as Ana. Then I think I had a rage blackout.

      seriously, this is my face right now

  64. Imagining Stephan from SNL witnessing this mess and then making his usual faces did significantly improve this chapter for me.

  65. Chedward constantly referring to other males as "boys" is so fucking condescending. It was bad enough when he did that with Jose (who was all of what, five years younger?) but when he does that in reference to a man who is the same age as he is, it just makes me rage. He is so determined to put down everyone else so that he can seem superior that he's resorting to referring to someone who is HIS AGE as a boy. For fuck's sake. He's the male equivalent of those insecure girls who make catty comments about how fat/ugly/old/young/fake boobed/flat chested/blonde/brunette/whatever every female within a hundred yard radius is.

    1. Which is why he and AnaBella are such a perfect couple, no? She's convinced every slut out there is after her man...

  66. Check this out:
    "A Common Pattern
    Fromm was writing about psychological sadists and masochists in 1956, but he could have been referring to some of today's college students. Immature relationships often fall into a pattern resembling Fromm's psychological sadism. Here is the pattern:

    What pattern often occurs in some immature relationships?
    The relationship starts out fine. The couple presents their best faces to each other. They fall in love and they are on cloud nine.

    After the couple dates steadily for a while, the thrill starts to wear off and simultaneously the sadist (usually the male) starts to become more domineering. The domination is flattering at first but soon becomes excessive. He attempts to pick his girlfriend's make-up, select hobbies for her, even pick her friends. He is displeased if she sees old friends.

    A crisis occurs. He accuses her of flirting with other men, or he picks a fight with someone at the party. Perhaps he gets rough, speaks harsh words, or strikes her. She is shocked. She gives him an ultimatum: if he ever does such a thing again, they are through! He assures her it won't happen again.

    But it does happen again, because it seems to be out of his control. There is another act of violence or humiliation. True to her word, she breaks up with him.

    A spectacular display ensues. The tough macho man breaks down and reveals the little boy inside. Tears flow. He promises he will never do it again, if she will agree to take him back.

    Sometimes there are many cycles of forgiveness followed by repeated acts of violence or humiliation.

    Eventually the person on the receiving end of the punishment sees the pattern and realizes it will not change. But breaking up with an insecure, bullying type of person is not easy! By this time he may have learned that his best tactic is stubborn persistence. He refuses to take No for an answer.

    If sheer stubbornness doesn't work, he goes to pieces, threatens suicide, or threatens to kill her. He might telephone many times a day, or sabotage her car, or wait in the bushes by the place where she leaves, ready to jump out and continue the arguments about why she should come back to him. Sometimes it is months, even years, before the harassment stops.

    This pattern was described by students frequently as typical of first relationships in high school and sometimes in college. Apparently it is a reflection of immaturity. It mostly occurs in first-time romantic relationships where people are not sure of how to interact, or not aware of the danger signs early in the relationship. The pattern seems especially likely to occur if the male comes from a troubled or broken home, as described next."

  67. Holy shit, I just figured out the title of this post! *Bert Face*

  68. This comment has been removed by the author.

  69. A friend and I had been talking 50 Shades, he's read only the first book and didn't feel it was abusive. I sent him the quote about Ana safe wording in this chapter. Her response, without my prior explanation, popped up at the top of the FB chat box. For a couple horrible sentences, he thought I was telling him I'd been raped. He is now totally squicked out by the whole thing and is going to stop offering any opinion on the series without reading them.

    And, yeah, it totally bugs me that the way I write my own dialogue is apparently indistinguishable from Ana's.

    1. It might be a totally bad thing. Or, rather, that's what makes 50SOG and Twilight both so accessible. Ana and Bella both sound like EVERYBODY.


    I NEARLY CHOKED ON THE CARROT I'M EATING (a real one, I swear!)!

    But seriously... how can anyone think Chedward's the perfect man?

  71. I've been reading your recaps for a long time, and am just now catching up with about 5 months' worth. First, I must state that I absolutely love that you've taken this project on; your commentary has been both hilarious and thought-provoking and I super-dee-duper adore reading these. (Also, holy run-on sentence, Batman.)

    That said. This part:

    He snorts. "A deranged asshole gets into my apartment to kidnap my wife. She won't do as she's told. She drives me crazy. She safe-words on me." He closes his eyes briefly, and when he opens them again, they are stark and raw. "Yeah, I'm pretty shaken up."


    Like, fucking hell, THIS GUY, WHAT THE EVERLIVING FUCK. I think his line about her "safe-wording ON HIM" (WTF) echoed in my head multiple times (like in funny cartoons) before my brain shut down from sheer, incoherent rage. I'm so angry it's hard to make words happen anymore.


    Okay, well. This was a terrible way to tell you that hey, I'm a super fan of your recaps and love them and will continue to read them -- 'cos that's all true. I just. Wow. Am amazed you're still trucking on. The fact that this is the best-selling series of all time (fucking seriously, what is wrong with the world) hurts my soul in ways I can't even properly express.

    So uh. Love what you're doing. Going to go back and finish this recap now. Just had to voice my rage and give you major kudos for not just burning the book at this point and calling it a day. I think I would have.

  72. This comment has been removed by the author.

  73. 'If we'd stayed in Escala, we'd have been imprisoned.'

    Oh heavens no, imprisonment is just so horrible. Unless it's your psycho rapist doing it. Then it's OMG totally sexy


Say some stuff! If you can't think of anything to say, leave a link to a cute dog picture. I'm easy.