|How's about a different ginger for a change?|
At this point for me, it's been a while since I've read anything for pleasure or reviewed a movie or a book I like. I feel like anyone coming in here would think that I don't like books or fanfiction or anything good in the world. I do, I love stuff. And I don't dislike unsympathetic or evil characters, either. I love them. I love a well-rounded villain, or even just someone who loves being evil for evil's sake. I love well-written, developed characters that an author clearly cares about and is willing to sacrifice just about anything, including a character's dignity, to make them real.
|And Bromance. I freakin love Bromance. Especially between the unabashedly evil guy and the guy who maybe has some redeeming qualities.|
Christian is set up to be some sort of paragon of manliness that draws all women (not men, just women) like a magnet to him. He is who a man should be in this author's mind. Ana, by contrast, is a wilting flower. She is supposed to be submissive to Christian. Subordinate. She is supposed to be his plaything, his Real Doll in real life. He has her to dress up and screw, to beat and punish for his own crimes, and what makes him different than Guy of Gisborne is that we aren't supposed to think he's a bad guy. So while we love Guy, we hate Christian because he lacks self-awareness as a character and his author is blind to his faults. Since no one can see these flaws, there is no chance for development. Every supposed "weakness" of Christian's is a hidden strength, every flaw a perfection that's not being looked at the right way. In the words of Gertrude Stein, girl, there is no "there" there.
|She wasn't into burning books, but I think she would have made an exception.|
Chapter Twenty Two
Ana got upgraded to first class by Christian and is hanging out in the "first class lounge" that I've heard exists but have never actually found, even when I was flying first class. Supposedly, she's been massaged and manicured and given two glasses of champagne. She tells Christian about this and he wants to know who gave her the massage.
This is what I'm talking about.
|Thank you, sir, can I have another?|
She of course teases him that it was a guy who massaged her. It's not like she was naked, geez. There is such a thing as a platonic touch in this world! Of course Christian's response is menacing and frightening in such a way that would be cute and funny in a normal guy, but in him, you really do believe he'd tie her up and duct tape her into the cargo hold in order to keep a man from touching Ana.
So, when Ana's on a layover in Atlanta (I thought she was going to Georgia, yeah? So why layover in Atlanta and not Memphis or Minneapolis?), she shoots off this great e-mail about how he can't say that kind of stuff about tying up and stuffing into cargo holds because with him it's not joking and how she really likes him and wants to be with him, but she's sure he'll leave her and hurt her, and she's not submissive, but she just would really like to make stuff work. And what's his definition of "more?"
It's the first actual flow of information that either of them has ever made, and considering the fact that it hasn't taken place in the first 75% of the book, this is very telling about their relationship.
Eventually, Ana lands in Savannah and goes to her mom, and begins to cry. This just...isn't how relationships are supposed to make you feel. Maybe after you've been together for a while and you start getting on each other's nerves, but come on. If someone makes you feel this way, you leave them out of your life.
Ana spares a thought for Christian and hopes he isn't lamenting over his piano this morning. Seriously, if you personally are the indicator for what sort of mood someone is in, then that person has issues.
Well, what do you know? Ana knows enough about geography to figure out that she's left the Pacific side of the USA and is now on the Atlantic side. We're making progress!
Ana's mom wants to know about the guy who sent her across the continent, and Ana divulges a little. She says that Christian's mood swings give her whiplash. What mood swings? His mood is one and one only: foul. Just because he lightens up every now and then does not take away from the fact that he is in a constant sate of anger, jealousy, spite, and misery. That is a really horrible cocktail. But then again, he's fifty shades, and that's as many as five tens, and that's terrible.
|It's not like you didn't know I was going to have to make this joke at some point.|
Back at the ranch, Ana goes to her room and finds an e-mail from Christian. He's upset that Ana is never as open with him in person as she was in this e-mail. Well, jeez. Maybe if they stopped having sex for five minutes and kept their clothes on the entire time, Ana could open up. He reminds her that subs have all the power in the relationship, and that in the boathouse, she said no so he couldn't touch her. On my first read through, I thought this was a continuity issue since she said no at dinner when he put his hand up her skirt, but now I realize that she told him he couldn't spank her. He goes on quite a bit and really pours his heart out. If they were having his conversation in person, I'd like it. But all they do in person is screw and talk about nonsense that comes out in double entendres. Christian says that she needs to trust him, and then hits on the fact that he can't trust her to say when he goes too far...
Fine words, but let's look more closely. Ana can't trust Christian because as such they have no relationship. They're basically, pardon my crudeness, fuck buddies. How can she trust him? And she does tell him when he goes too far. He just doesn't listen.
Instances of Christian going too far and not listening to Ana: There was the books, him spanking her and then leaving directly afterwards, then the car which I think counts as three issues: He bought the car, he decided Ana couldn't drive the Beetle, and he sold it out from underneath Jose's Jr. and Sr. without giving them a chance to buy it back. Oh! Number four: He also totally made Charlie (or whatever Ana's dad's name is) feel bad for buying the Beetle in the first place because it's a "death trap" and what dad wants to hear something like that? Okay, and then after the car, he freaked out when Ana had drinks with her friend Jose, he freaked out about Ana wanting to visit her own bloody mother, he upgraded her ticket to first class (that might have been nice...) and it's not like you don't know he's going to show up in Savannah.
After Ana naps, they exchange a little more and it's back to the really superficial banter about his twitching palms, her eye rolling, and her backside. Again, this is what I'm talking about. There's no point in making a big deal about this relationship when there is nothing there. It's like making bread without eggs.
We get a small three paragraph reprieve with Ana talking about her mom and step father du jour, but then we go back to the cutesy, stupid e-mails which end when Christian says he's having an old friend for dinner. I don't think he means in a Hannibal Lechter sort of way, but he did get the Serial Killer Special at the beginning of the book.
|"Oh, no, the duct tape was for home improvement!"|
Ana thinks he's with Mrs. Robinson and Ana wishes she could punch the lady. Good luck, Ana. She does finally figure out that she has no idea who he is and Googles him. I guess Jose's picture of him has made in onto the search engine, and Ana wants to know how. Are we sure she's 22 and not 12? As Ana goes to sleep, she wishes Christian was with her. Oh jeez.
The next day (yes, still the same chapter), Ana and her mom go shopping and then out for drinks. Well, great, go out for drinks again, Ana! Ana's mom goes for a bathroom break, and Ana begins exchanging e-mails with Christian again on her phone. At the end of the exchange, it's clear he's in the bar, watching her.
At least she's on birth control now.
Chapter Twenty Three
Ana's all, "My boyfriend's back and I'm gonna be in trouble."
Instead of being like, "That's crazy insane dancing on a toaster!" Ana's mom's all, "Hey-la, hey-la your boyfriend's back."
And even Ana's mom is now lusting after Christian. Are there no bounds to this man's perfections? I mean, aside from his abhorrent personality.
Okay, introductions made, Ana gets all snippy and short with Christian, who predictably bristles at this treatment after all the chummy little e-mails they've exchanged. And then Ana starts thinking that he can't be mad at her for having drinks with her mom.
Ana? Christian will be mad at you no matter what. Either you accept this about him and put on your big girl panties and live with it, or you dump him. Since you can't seem to dump him, you need to suck it up.
Ana's mom invites Christian over for dinner and then absents herself to the Ladies even though she had just been there. Christian decides to take the time to discuss Mrs. Robinson with Ana. He calls her judgemental for thinking of Mrs. Robinson as a child molester.
Yeah, and all the laws we have protecting children are just so arbitrary and mean. Just ask anyone in NAMBLA.
|There is no way in hell I'm looking for a picture to follow that up with, so here's some kittens.|
Christian says he doesn't want to discuss this all right now, so Ana ends it by saying that Mrs. Robinson is to Ana what Jose is to Christian. Christian finally figures out that Ana's jealous, but Ana modifies his conclusion by saying she still thinks poorly of Mrs. Robinson for what she did to a teenaged boy.
Christian says this stupid thing:
And as for your jealousy, put yourself in my shoes. I haven't had to justify my actions to anyone in the last seven years. Not one person. I do as I wish, Anastasia. I like my autonomy. I didn't go and see Mrs. Robinson to upset you. I went because every now and then we have dinner.
Um...you mean like how Ana hasn't had to justify herself to anyone for her whole life and likes her autonomy too and you're expecting her to put all of her metaphorical eggs into your basket and let you rule her life while you continue to do any little thing your heart desires? Good job, Christian. Good job.
Just putting this out there: psychopaths aren't capable of putting themselves in anyone else's shoes. They are completely devoid of empathy. Just saying.
|"I'm a psychopath. We look just like everyone else."|
Emphasis on the "crazy" part.
She says that they're obviously in love, and Ana says no, but her mom's not convinced, but Ana's hung up on the D/s thing. I don't blame her, the way Christian does it is no way to have a relationship. (Not being a part of the lifestyle, I can't speak for others, but it doesn't seem like something you just do on the weekends, yanno?)
Eventually, Mom talks Ana into going to Christian's room.
Oh great. More sex is in store because they need to "talk" and this is how they "talk."
Christian is on the phone when Ana comes in, but we get a really good description of the room. I guess if you can't have well-rounded characters, you shoot for well-rounded hotel rooms. When Christian gets off the phone, Ana restarts the argument about Mrs. Robinson, and Christian admits that he didn't love her. This relieves Ana so now we're a-go for sex. Or, more appropriately, we're a-go for sex while Ana's on her period.
I really hate this author.
Do I have to commentate on the sex? They do it in front of the sink. Watching themselves in the mirror. Christian helps Ana manually manipulate herself, and then of course she bends over and takes it. Then they get in a bath.
Okay, I totally go for old wives' tales, and two things you aren't supposed to do on your period are have sex and soak in a bath or hot tub. Ana is doing both so far.
They get in the bath and Ana realizes that the scars Christian has on his chest are burns. Like cigarette burns.
My grandparents had a dog that had a cigarette burn on its butt. If I ever find the guy that did that to her...Anyway, that sucks. Ana wants to know if Mrs. Robinson did it, and Christian says no. Let it go, Ana.
Christian says that if he hadn't met Mrs. Robinson, he'd probably have ended up like his birth mother, and that Mrs. Robinson helped him. He says that he doesn't talk about this with anyone except his psychiatrist and sometimes Mrs. Robinson, but he wants Ana to trust him, so he's telling her.
|"Let's do some trust exercises I learned at the last CEO retreat..."|
Ana, of course, can't let that go. She wants to know more. I've said this before and I'll say it again: I really hate that the author couldn't just have Christian into kink or BDSM, she has to make him psychologically broken in some way and have that be the reason why he turned to BDSM. It makes it seem like no "normal" people would be involved in the lifestyle. So the end of this story has to be that Ana helps Christian learn to have "vanilla" sex because that's what's acceptable.
After Ana is finished grilling Christian, he decides to grill her back. Back to quid pro quo, Clarisse. He wants to know how Ana feels about the proposed D/s arrangement, and Ana says honestly that she doesn't think she can do it. Christian doesn't think she can, either. He proposes some kind of compromise, the first that we've seen in this book that we are 75% of the way through, a book about a relationship, whose entire plot is wrapped around a relationship (such as it is...in both cases...). Ana says that what they're doing now is tying her up in knots, and of course Christian has to make a quip about it. She splashes him, and then of course they have sex.
|Oh look! A tiny turtle nomming a strawberry!|
Hm...now we're at 85%. Maybe not.