Fifty Shades Darker

This Time It’s Personal….

“I have survived day three post-Christian.”

So it’s only six words into the second novel by E.L James and I’m already annoyed with her. Anastasia, that is. I’m constantly annoyed with E.L James and her long running sentences. And her lack of character progression. And her disgraceful treatment of women who have survived abuse.

But here I am! Yes, children. I am happy and thrilled to once again live in the world where English majors get a job in publishing directly after graduation and a world where controlling and possessive behaviour passes for love and romance.

But seriously…I was so moved and touched by the fact that people even bothered to read my furious ramblings during the first Fifty novel, and even more flattered by the people who messaged/emailed and called to show their appreciation for the return of the blog. You all mean the sarcastic little world to me and I hope you’ll stay with me for this second journey.

Now…on with the filth.

Ana is struggling to get through her first day at work owing to her crippling depression. Losing Christian has obviously drained her completely of the vivacious, winsome and plucky personality she had before he got his claws into her (cough) and her new boss is, in her mind, being very familiar with her. His name’s Jack Hyde, though…so what could possibly go wrong?

Is E. L James even trying? I mean, lady, are you even TRYING??? Better make up a villain for the story…what’s a villain-y name? I know! Dat story what dat good writer from Scotland wrote years ago! Jekyll and Hyde! I’ll call him Jack Hyde! It’s an uncrackable code!

Yawn.

But as we all know, from reading the first novel, it’s impossible for anyone with testes to be within one hundred yards of Ana Steele and not fall head over heels in lust. She’s that pure and angelic.

Ana leaves work and moans about the “hollow void” inside her. I suppose it’s meant to be a metaphysical hollow void but it could also be the fact that this is the longest she’s gone without having Christian Grey weasel his way into her puss. She goes home to her flat, which is empty, and mourns the loss of her ex-roomate Kate.

I, too, mourn the loss of Kate. Now there was a female character. While E. L James tried to make her unlikeable with her loud opinions and her bossiness, I fell in love. If only she were the protagonist… le sigh.

Someone knocks on the door to deliver a package. One can only guess who this will be from. Ana, however, is still the stupidest woman alive and is puzzled. She opens it to reveal a dozen long-stemmed white roses. Now, E.L James has obviously never known a florist like myself or she would have realised that white roses actually mean “a heart empty of love”. So not romantic at all.

Yah boo.

The note attached reads, “Congratulations on your first day of work, etc, etc, blah blah”. It’s basically a stalker-type card reminding Ana that he’s watching her every move (maybe by drone?) and that he is always aware of her whereabouts. Shexy.

Ana goes on to describe that her days now simply consist of waking up, going to work, eating and crying because she can’t escape thoughts of her crazy ex, even in her dreams. She says that she has become an island. Well, to use her exact words, “a ravaged, war-torn land where nothing grows and the horizons are bleak”.

All right, calm the fuck down; dumping someone is not comparable to genocide or nuclear war. Your post-relationship state isn’t Syria, let’s all just keep simple.

While at her desk, she receives an email from Christian, who apparently hasn’t grasped the concept of being dumped. He’s asking if she received the (heart empty of love) white roses and reminds her that Jose’s gallery opening is coming up. He wants to accompany her. Ana, after about nine pointless paragraphs of deliberation, agrees that they should go together.

So it took all of four pages before she took him back? Excellent.

Just a quick reminder, Jose is Ana’s friend from uni who sexually assaulted her when she was drunk. He is yet another member of the male species unable to control himself around her. Despite the fact that he tried to take advantage of her while she was drunk, Ana is more than keen to see him again and support him during the opening of his photography show.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that all of his photographs are probably of her. Possibly taken when she was asleep? Is he also a fan of the drones?

Ana tosses and turns at night, unable to contain her excitement at the prospect of seeing her abusive ex once again. When at work, Jack Hyde (snort) is “extremely attentive” though she can’t for the life of her understand why. She spends a good few paragraphs ruling out the possibility that he’s a creepy pervert who likes harassing his employees because she just cannot possibly be attractive enough to catch his attention.

I’m so unappealing and unattractive, why does every man I meet try to molest me?

Narcissist party of one please? Thank you.

Taylor, Christian’s valet and manservant, arrives and Ana gets into the car and sees Christian Grey for the first time in, like, forever. Or a few days. Give or take.

He instantly starts harassing her about how much she’s eating, telling her that she looks tired and underfed. If it were me, I would be out of the car at this point but Ana simpers and swoons because, you know, he’s only controlling and manipulative because he cares so gosh-darn much!

He eventually gives up his “scolding” and asks her how she is, at which point she bursts into tears. He pulls her into his lap and gives her his handkerchief.

Wasn’t aware grown men in the twenty-first century still carried such items. Am also unaware as to why this practice was ever attractive.

They both gush about how much they’ve missed one another and any hint of sustained suspense with the plot is gone. She has taken him back by page eleven. No drawn out period of waiting, no tension, nothing.

So now what?

They arrive at Jose’s show and the man himself comes rushing over to greet Ana.

“Dios mio, have you lost weight?”

You know, because all Latino people say “dios mio”.

They chat together and neither addresses the fact that he, in the previous novel, was unable to grasp the basic concept of consent. He is then whisked away to talk to a journalist and she is left staring over at Christian, who has moved to the bar.

They reunite and pose for pictures together and then turn the corner to find, lo and behold, seven enormous hanging portraits of none other than our very own Ana Steele.

Ana is confused and then suddenly remembers that time when “Jose fooled about with the camera”.

Christian is “completely transfixed”. Either he’s never seen a photograph before, which would not surprise me as most of his behaviour belongs in the nineteenth century, or he’s completely overcome with lust and devotion for Ana.

Let’s assume it’s the latter.

Christian then disappears for a moment and, upon his return, reveals that he has just bought all seven portraits. His reason?

“I don’t want some stranger ogling you in the privacy of their own home.”

Lord, give me strength.

This must be sexy to Ana, however, and perhaps many other women given the success of this story because she simpers and fawns at how romantic his frightening behaviour is. They discuss their relationship quickly and quietly, and Ana claims it won’t work between them because he wants a submissive.

I’m confused, Ana. You are literally the most submissive female character in fiction. You have the spine of a well-chewed strand of spaghetti. Not once have you been a proactive, decisive woman who knows her own mind and body and you follow this man’s instructions and desires down to the letter so why on earth would throwing the title of “submissive” into the mix make any fecking difference?

Christian tells her to “say goodbye to the boy”. His use of the word “boy” when talking about a person of colour, who is also the same age as him, is both patronising, slightly racist and revolting. There is nothing this guy can do to redeem himself to me, not that I’m surprised.

My expectations cannot sink any lower.

Ana says a sheepish goodbye to Jose who senses something is wrong. When she reveals that it’s Christian who is making her leave, Jose is naturally concerned.

After all, isolating a woman from her friends and family is one of the earlier moves of an abusive partner. But whatever! He bought those pictures of her, he’s a softy at heart.

Vom.

When Christian witnesses Ana hugging Jose, he pulls her in for a somewhat aggressive kiss and then states “You. Are. Mine.”

I. Am. Mentally. Ill. There…I corrected it for ya.

I suppose I’m meant to find this sexy and commanding but, like most of Christian Grey’s actions, it actually scares the hell out of me.

They leave to go and eat dinner somewhere, because Ana has been unable to physically feed herself in Christian’s absence. Lucky for her she now has a big, strong man to take care of her baser needs.

Sweet tap-dancing Christ…

And thus, the first chapter ends.

And it’s like I never left.

See you next week, Shaders. Despite how God-awful the writing is, it feels good to be back. And another shout-out and big thank you to everyone who has been so supportive of this venture. I love ya!

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