Lorraine picked up Fifty Shades of Grey, and, well, you try reading it with a straight face. She hopes you will join her on her journey.
Lorraine: I knew precious little about the “Fifty Shades of Grey” series when I picked it up– mostly that it had been appearing all over my Goodreads timeline and that it seemed to have a polarizing effect on readers.
I probably should’ve paid more attention to the, you know, description.
It was the very first page of the book that convinced me that this story was begging to be snarked: it opened with a girl checking herself out in a mirror! Aw, E.L. James. Way to take a page out of 90% of all Sweet Valley High books ever written.
Said girl, Ana, is lamenting her looks. Her hair is being really disrespectful and she’s totally upset that God gave her big blue eyes. EW. WHO WANTS THOSE? After trying to beat her hair into submission (or something) she gives up and decides to wear a ponytail. DOUBLE EW. WHO DOES THAT?
We quickly learn that in addition to having very regrettable blue eyes and disrespectful hair, Ana is also a terrible human being. She’s complaining about some girl named Kate. See, Kate went out and got herself sick on the day that she was supposed to be interviewing super important Christian Grey. Ana says that she knows nothing about Grey, but then tells us that he’s CEO of Grey Enterprise Holdings, is an exceptional entrepreneur and a major benefactor of the university she attends and that his time is super important. So… what you’re saying is that you DO know something about him, right?
Anyways, Kate, that bitch, is the editor of the newspaper at WSU and has landed an interview with the elusive Grey. But, like I said, she’s ill and has begged Ana to please stop studying and go do this once in a lifetime interview in her stead. Ana’s monologue complains some more, not only about having to go, but about how sick Kate is still totally gorgeous, even though her eyes are red and runny. Ana sweetly tells Kate that of course she’ll go, and then she internally says that Kate is manipulative and very good at getting what she wants. Also, she’s beautiful, that bitch.
Oh, did I mention Kate is her best friend?
Ana is a doll.
Ana drives to wherever Grey is located for the interview. She introduces herself to the receptionist as “Anastasia Steele,” and I groan. You can ask my three year old niece. She looked at me funny when I was all “uuuugghwhatwhy.” Grey. Steele. And in that paragraph alone, the author uses the word steel three times. I can’t even.
Ana is super intimidated by everything in the office, but especially by blondes. Unfortunately, she meets three of them there and she starts thinking that obviously this means that Grey only hires blondes because he’s… Hitler? I’m not sure.
We interrupt her thinking about if it’s illegal to only hire blondes to finally meet Grey. Ana goes to walk into his office and trips over her own feet, so that she ends up on her hands and knees in front of Grey.
Grey is totally laughing at her on the inside. On the outside he smirks a lot and does weird things like pet his bottom lip? I think it’s supposed to be a sexy brushing, but I just get “pet” in my head.
Grey, by the way, is a plain looking 20-something. JUST KIDDING. He is perfect in every way. He hurts to look at. When they shake hands, Ana feels electricity pulse through her, and then blames it on static. I wish you could all hear me cracking up over here. Static. Hahaha.
The next few pages consist of Ana conducting the most awkward interview of all time. She is both horribly embarrassed by Grey’s Adonis-like good looks (the author says Adonis. Hahaha.) and also, completely irreverent. I’m not sure how this works. She’s supposed to be completely under his hotness spell, and yet she still manages to brashly question him at points. I just shrug in this book’s general direction.
The interview allows us to be info dumped on. Grey was adopted and loves his family, even though he doesn’t plan on expanding it. He isn’t gay. He’s very good at business because he knows how to read and invest in people. Etc.
Ana follows up his answers with really hard hitting questions like, “so you’re a control freak?” Grey does not in fact kick her in the teeth, which is of course what all of us would probably do.
We get tons of heavy handed tidbits for good measure, too, like the below:
“So you want to possess things?”
“I want to deserve to possess them, but yes, bottom line, I do.”
HINT HINT, WINK WINK.
Grey soon turns the tables on Ana and starts asking her questions. She admits that she is just there to fill in for her best friend Kate, who is sick. She also says she doesn’t have plans for after she graduates college. Grey mentions interning at his company but Ana thinks she won’t fit in, since she’s not, you know, blonde. Grey doesn’t catch on to what she’s insinuating, mostly because it’s ridiculous.
Thankfully, the interview is finally over and Grey makes a crack about helping Ana out of the office so she won’t fall again. Ana sort of snaps at him and so clearly they are going to fall in love. I mean, he was condescending and she goes into cardiac arrest when she sees him which is the only recipe for love I know.
Now, that was a pretty ordinarily bad chapter, but what makes this book really, really bad? Why, the writing of course.
Firstly, EL James is the queen of clunky phrasing: “I scowl with frustration,” “I roll my eyes in exasperation,” “the elevator whisks me away with terminal velocity” and probably my favorite in the first chapter, “floor the pedal to the metal.”
LOL. I would ask what college student would ever say “pedal to the metal” but Ana also says “double crap” totally seriously. Like, she falls in front of this CEO and her thought is “double crap,” where as most of us would’ve probably gone with, “mother fuck.” Also, I’m pretty sure “floor it” and “pedal to the metal” are two separate expressions that should never be married.
Secondly, James shares entirely way too much trivial information. It gets the plot nowhere, but also, nobody cares. Example: “She hands me a security pass that has VISITOR very firmly stamped on the front.” Oh, very firmly stamped? Thank God we know that! Thank God we also know that the blonde receptionist is an intern and that Kate prefers Nyquil over Tylenol. Every single detail and every interaction is recounted when a simple phrase would suffice.
I’d say more about Ana being kind of a bitch and hating pretty people, but it’s only the first chapter, you know? I’ll pace myself.
Next time on Fifty Shades of Grey: What’s the most kidnap-y combination of items you could possibly buy at a hardware store? Find out in Chapter 2 .