I'm going to try to post one of these a week and hopefully it won't take until this time next year. So here's Fifty Shades Darker, aka Fifty Shades of Tedious Fuckery 2, Volume One.
We begin with a short prologue from the immediately grating perspective of baby Christian Grey, hiding under a table while an unnamed man is shouting at and beating up his mother. Most of this prologue is taken up by the words “You are one fucked-up bitch” as the phrase is repeated six times in a row for no reason other than to fill up the word count, I suppose. Welcome back to Terrible Writing Town, kids! Haven’t you missed it?
The man turns on baby Christian Grey, at which point adult Christian wakes up with a start, for ‘twas all a dream and I guess we’re supposed to feel bad for him and his unpleasant childhood, which is nigh on impossible given what an irredeemable asshole we know him to be.
But back to sad-sack protagonist Anastasia Steele, who is balls-deep in misery since breaking up with Christian at the end of the last book, which you would have to have read before this as there’s absolutely no indication for the uninitiated as to what the fuck is going on.
Ana has started a new job at a publishing company and OF COURSE her new boss wants to bone her because every male character in this series immediately wants to have sex with Ana, despite her being completely devoid of personality.
After her first day at the office, she comes home to an empty flat as Kate is away on holiday and so she stares at a brick wall for the evening. Seriously. Then a delivery of two dozen white roses arrives with a note from Christian, congratulating her on her first day of work. A perfectly normal thing to do once you've broken up with someone, yes?
"Dutifully, I make my way into the kitchen to hunt down a vase."
Dutifully. Because even inanimate flowers can boss Ana around.
|Get us some water, bitch.|
Also, Ana hasn't eaten in FIVE DAYS apparently because she's SO SAD, which just seems like such utter bollocks. I just had my lunch and I'm hungry again.
Then, at work, an email from Christian arrives (he's tracked down her work email address, but this doesn't bother Ana in the slightest) and OH MY GOD I FORGOT ABOUT ALL THE PAINFUL EMAIL EXCHANGES. From, Subject, Date, Time and To ARE NOT NECESSARY EVERY FUCKING TIME.
Anyway, Christian is asking whether Ana wants a lift to José's art show opening the following night back in Portland and because she's never heard of public transport, she says yes. This takes six emails, with either "Christian Grey, CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc." or "Anastasia Steele, Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP" at the end of every one, because email signatures must be somehow integral to plot development.
So Ana borrows Kate's plum dress and black boots because she still doesn't own any goddamn clothes of her own, although "The dress is looser on me than it was, but I pretend not to notice."
Who is she pretending to, exactly? No one has pointed it out, she's narrating this to herself, so she HAS noticed and is trying to convince herself that she hasn't? That sentence makes no fucking sense and I hate it.
Before meeting Christian after work, Ana sadly checks out her reflection in the bathroom mirror.
"I am my usual pale self, dark circles round my too-large eyes."
Ugh, how awful for her, being a skinny white woman with large eyes. Gross.
She then wishes that she knew how to use make-up, before USING SOME MAKEUP and adjusts her hair "so that it hangs artfully down my back. I take a deep breath. This will have to do." Life is such a struggle and her hair only looks ARTFUL this evening. THE HUMANITY.
Christian's car is waiting for her outside, so Ana gets in.
"I turn and climb into the back, and there he sits - Christian Grey - wearing his gray suit, no tie, his white shirt open at the collar. His gray eyes are glowing."
Grey, grey, grey, grey, grey, grey, grey.
Fun fact! The word grey (or gray for 'Merica spelling) is used 77 TIMES in this book. NOT INCLUDING HIS NAME. EVERYTHING IS GREY. SO SUBTLE. MUCH STORYTELLING.
So there she is, sitting in the car marvelling at his Greyness and guess what the first thing he says to her is? Go on, maybe something like "Hello!" or "It's nice to see you!" Right?
“When did you last eat?” he snaps as Taylor closes the door behind me.
Crap. “Hello, Christian. Yes, it’s nice to see you, too.”
“I don’t want your smart mouth now. Answer me.” His eyes blaze.
Take your "blazing" eyes and use them to set FIRE to your stupid fucking FACE.
Taylor drives them to Christian's helipad, he manages to calm the fuck down somewhat, there's a bit of general "wahh I've missed you" carry-on and as they're getting out of the car:
"He gives me a warm, avuncular smile that makes me feel safe."
Uh oh. EL James has been at the thesaurus again. Avuncular literally means LIKE AN UNCLE. So that's not creepy at all. And I know this because I bothered to LOOK IT UP. I have already done more research for this book than she has.
Christian straps her into the helicopter and apparently there's massive, throbbing sexual tension going on between them, even though the part of Ana could be perfectly played by a plank with a sad face drawn on it. They do that infuriating "Mr Grey", "Miss Steele" thing that makes me want to punch them both in the throat and there's also a bit of "Icarus being drawn to the sun" bollocks thrown in (twice in quick succession, in fact), because she only has the one goddamn simile.
As they're being driven to the gallery for José's show, Christian pulls on his cranky-pants and gets on Ana's case again.
“Those beautiful eyes look too large in your face, Anastasia. Please tell me you’ll eat.”
They get to the gallery and for the entire evening, Christian refers to José as "the boy" in his conversations with Ana, which is both condescending and vaguely racist. WHAT A DREAMBOAT.
It turns out that part of José's show is a series of close-up portraits of Ana's face, which she didn't know about and really, it was kind of a dick move for José to include them without asking her first. Naturally, Christian is furious and buys all seven pictures.
"I don’t want some stranger ogling you in the privacy of their home.”
First of all, put your pants back on Christian, they're just photos of her face, it's not like she's got her tits out and secondly, isn't it just as well she doesn't have a Facebook profile so? Although considering how amazed she was to have an email account in the last book, the idea of Facebook might blow her tiny mind altogether.
Christian then laments the fact that Ana is never that relaxed and happy looking with him, (YA THINK?) so she quite rightly bats back with:
“You have to stop intimidating me if you want that,” I snap.
“You have to learn to communicate and tell me how you feel,” he snaps back, eyes blazing.
For fuck's sake Christian, she told you how she felt ALL THE TIME in the last book, and you just chose to ignore her, you ASS. Then, Ana lays out her exact feelings on the subject, how he tells her not to defy him, but says he loves her "smart mouth" and how generally confusing it is being with him. So there, that's her communicating, just like he says he wants. AND HE IMMEDIATELY CHANGES THE SUBJECT.
He then tells her to say goodbye to José so they can go get dinner, she wants to stay but he's having none of it. So instead of telling him to go fuck himself and that she'll get the bus home, she says goodbye to José, who she hugs and kisses on the cheek, seeing as he's her friend and all. However, Christian flies into a sex-rage and drags Ana out of the building, down a side alley and kisses her "violently". But it's totally hot, so no big deal, I guess.
“You. Are. Mine,” he snarls, emphasizing each word. He pushes away from me and bends, hands on his knees as if he’s run a marathon. “For the love of God, Ana.” (Kick him in the crotch and run the fuck away!)
I lean against the wall, panting, trying to control the riotous reaction in my body, trying to find my equilibrium again.
“I’m sorry,” I whisper once my breath has returned.
YEAH, HEY SORRY FOR MAKING YOU DRAG ME INTO AN ALLEYWAY AND SHIFT THE FACE OFF ME EVEN THOUGH WE'VE BROKEN UP AND I NEVER FUCKING ASKED YOU TO.
My blood pressure is not going to thank me for this.