So, this is it. The last chapter of this book. Let's do this bitch!
Last chapter ended with Ana and Grey going to his parents place for his birthday party to be yanked aside by a furious Kate, wielding a copy of one of the e-mails they had discussing the sub and dom contract from book 1. To my shock and delight, we are not forced to read it AGAIN because remember how we had to read it every third chapter in book 1? Apparently James took the hint and assumed we'd remember the email.
This chapter, obviously, is a continuation of it. I'm struggling to come up with anything cohesive or interesting to say about the exchange, because it is just really badly written. Ana is FURIOUS at Kate for meddling/ruining Grey's birthday, Grey is panicked Kate told anyone, and Kate is concerned and just keeps demanding "what has he done to you?" These are all valid stances, but they're all played terribly. It dissolves into Ana saying "I love him we're getting married and this has nothing to do with you", Kate apologizing profusely, maintaining that she was "just worried", and Grey earning his title All-Frown. Rather than have people be able to walk out of a room, conversation tersely resolved, we have Grace walk in to defuse the lingering tension.
Kate is a reporter, and apparently good at getting information. Why the ever living crap is she grabbing both of them, instead of just Ana, and why is she going about it in "I AM SO PISSED" instead of sweet smiles so Grey doesn't suspect anything? I mean, in high school was she never passed the "So I think my friend's boyfriend is abusing her" pamphlet? Or she's never watched a lifetime special? If she's SUCH a good reporter, she's probably taken some psych classes to figure out how to best ply people for information, right? Everything about her approach is wrong. I get that EL James wanted to amp up DRAMA but... there are way more interesting ways to do it, you know? Everything is resolved quickly and neatly in this book, the different "dramatic moments" simply being interspersed to justify the length since there wasn't enough plot for a whole book. It's boring. Seriously, if conflicts dragged out longer than a scene, it could have some potential.
Consider this: Kate takes Ana aside, asks her if she wants to talk--gives her the opportunity but she seems strange. Ana, knowing Kate so well, knows she's trying to get information but is miffed as to what she's after. When Ana doesn't bring up the BDSM stuff, Kate can say "Listen, I found this, and I'm worried. This isn't healthy. Has he hit you? Are you okay? I'm here for you". It is important to not be judgmental of people in abusive situations. You can't talk them out of it unless they're willing to listen, and pressing too hard will just get you frozen out and unable to help when the time comes. Again, 101 shit here.
Ana's response to Kate's questions would be an angry "Nono everything is fine I've fixed him! And this has NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU" and THAT would be where Kate should lose her shit.
Kate of the Katherine Kavanagh inquisition should know how to get information, but at the same time, she is fiercely protective of Ana, opinionated, and strong willed. Or so the book keeps trying to tell us. Seeing her friend diving into what is literally a textbook case of abusive relationship (and Kate hasn't even seen how controlling he is! Just glimpses) would drive her to go from "I am trying to be kind and supportive" to "Diving into oncoming traffic to stop this mess". Kate begs Ana to listen, but Ana refuses because she "just doesn't understand him" and keeps telling her it is none of her business. This is where Kate, in a desperate, well meaning and totally horrible moment, would threaten to go public with the letter.
Yeah, how much more interesting is that than "NO I DIDN'T SHOW ANYONE LISTEN I'M SORRY I WAS WORRIED"? It would also showcase Kate's apparent tenacity.
It would be at this point that Grey, unsuspecting, wanders in and naturally catches that exchange. He starts to panic, Ana starts to panic, Kate is probably angry crying now. Grey, in a moment of character growth, explains that he's left that behind him, he loves Ana, as she is, as an equal, and she's agreed to marry him!
Kate, apprehensive, but not wanting to actually ruin her relationship with Ana "for her own good" calms down. She THEN apologizes, but keeps justifying her actions. A nonapology, really. She was scared and worried and and and! Grey is annoyed and pissed, but crisis adverted. Ana sighs, forgives her in the name of "not wanting to fight" or ruin Grey's birthday, asks for the letter (which Kate hands over, but that's fine, we all know she has another copy of it, right?) and they all leave. It's awkward, trust has been fractured in a big way, and Ana isn't sure she trusts Kate anymore, but knows she can't just cleanly cut her out because she's marrying Grey, and Kate is dating his brother, and Ana is friends with HER brother. Things would be resolved, but not neatly, and it would be way more interesting and dynamic and take more than 30 seconds.
Alas, EL James isn't great at dealing with tension and drama, so it's over about as fast as it starts, and ends with this.
“You really are okay?” she asks hopefully.
“Yes.” I grin at her, my joy returning. She’s back onside. She smiles at me, my happiness reflecting back on her. I step out of Christian’s hold, and she hugs me suddenly.
“Oh, Ana—I was so worried when I read this. I didn’t know what to think. Will you explain it to me?” she whispers.
“One day, not now.”
“Good. I won’t tell anyone. I love you so much, Ana, like my own sister. I just thought . . . I didn’t know what to think. I’m sorry. If you’re happy, then I’m happy.”
IF NOTHING HAS CHANGED WHAT WAS THE PURPOSE OF THAT SCENE?! The only way to bring Kate up to speed on whats going on?
So off to the party, I guess?
Crap. How many people are here?
I scan the room quickly: all the Greys, Ethan with Mia, Dr. Flynn and his wife, I assume. There’s Mac from the boat, a tall, handsome African American—I remember seeing him in Christian’s office the first time I met Christian—Mia’s bitchy friend Lily, two women I don’t recognize at all, and . . . Oh no. My heart sinks. That woman . . . Mrs. Robinson.
OH MY GOD THE DUDE WITH DREADLOCKS FROM CHAPTER ONE BOOK ONE CAME BACK SO GREY COULD HAVE A TOKEN BLACK FRIEND! Amazing. He doesn't say or do anything, just there to be a face in the crowd and a nod towards Grey not being racist or something. This delights me.
Ana and Grey are facing a crowd of people, through which Elena elbows (well, I imagine she elbows) her way to the front to coo over Grey "ZOMG I THOUGHT YOU WERE DEAD WHY DIDN'T YOU RETURN MY CALLS?!" and ignores Ana while Grey desperately clings to Ana, trying to use her as a meat shield (I may be adding some embellishments here). Grey brushes her off--it's pretty brutal, actually--to announce he's going to marry Ana. So, his only friend in the world asks him if he's okay, expresses worry, and he may as well plant his palm in her face to cram her off to the side and announce he's marrying a woman who he's known for a month.
Lily, who is standing beside Mia, looks crestfallen; Gretchen looks like she’s eaten something nasty and bitter. As I glance anxiously around at the assembled crowd, I catch sight of Elena. Her mouth is open. She’s stunned—horrified even, and I can’t help a small but intense feeling of satisfaction to see her dumbstruck.
Yes, all of the single women are upset about this. Because by laying eyes upon Grey you want to be with him forevarz.* Awesome. Then his family are all over Ana with glee and love. Mia asks about the ring, which Ana totally didn't think about because she's sooo not a gold digger. They make the rounds and chat with Dr Flynn and his wife, who seems to imply that Flynn talks about Grey at home because that's professional, right? Flynn then chats with Grey about Leila, because patient confidentiality ain't no thang before we get to meet Ros. OH NO A WOMAN WHO WORKS WITH GREY (and the first redhead we've met). But it's cool, she's a lesbian, so they can be friends!
I am tired of this shit. Men and women can only be friends if one of them is into the same sex? Does that mean Ros can't have any female friends? Well, at least EL James isn't trying to tell us that Grey can turn a lesbian onto men. I would need to buy a copy of the book to burn it if she were, but this is an obnoxiously prevalent trope.
More pointless nattering with characters who have no bearing on the plot, didn't exists before this scene, and I don't give a crap about. Food's served, Mia corners Ana with a cocktail that's "much nicer than champagne" (Wtf?) to ask her advice on Elliot. She likes him, he likes her, but because his sister is dating her brother he feels... awkward about dating. Ana's response is basically "Damned if I know. Try being "just friends" and ask Kate? Yeah, be friends, and ask Kate!" because people never get upset when they find out someone they were "just friends" with turns out to be harboring secret feelings for them!
Mia skitters off (which Ana remarks is impressive in her heels) and I find that of the entire cast, Mia is the only one I have any sort of mental image of. Everyone else is hair color and clothes, but Mia's personality comes out in how she moves, that doesn't happen with the other characters in the same way. After Mia flounces off, Elena saunters in, pissed and with a mission.
“Ana,” she sneers.
I summon all my self-possession, slightly fuzzy from two glasses of champagne and the lethal cocktail I hold in my hand. I think the blood has drained from my face, but I marshal both my subconscious and my inner goddess in order to appear as calm and as unflappable as I can.
IT'S MOTHERFUCKING GO TIME!!! Ana's inner goddess hands her earrings to her subconscious.
Elena tells Ana she can't possibly make Grey happy, he has needs and she'll regret what she's doing and what the hell does she think she's doing? Ana handles herself pretty well, it's a decent trash talking scene, and when Elena calls her a gold digger, Ana throws her drink on her. Before Elena can transform into a snake and try to strangle Ana, Grey walks in and finds his ex/friend dripping and livid, and his fiancee ashen and shaking and rightfully asks what the ever living crap is going on? Elena tells him Ana isn't right for him. Because that answers his question.
“What is this?” He pauses, glaring at her. “Do you think it’s you? You? You think you’re right for me?” His voice is softer but drips contempt, and suddenly I don’t want to be here.
“I was the best thing that ever happened to you,” she hisses arrogantly at him. “Look at you now. One of the richest, most successful, entrepreneurs in the US—controlled, driven—you need nothing. You are master of your universe.”
He steps back as if he’s been struck and gapes at her in outraged disbelief.
“You loved it, Christian, don’t try and kid yourself. You were on the road to self-destruction, and I saved you from that, saved you from a life behind bars. Believe me, baby, that’s where you would have ended up. I taught you everything you know, everything you need.”
Grey then tells her "No, you taught me to fuck, but it was empty. Like you. No wonder your ex left you" (ouch).
“You never once held me,” Christian whispers. “You never once said you loved me.”
She narrows her eyes. “Love is for fools, Christian.”
“Get out of my house.” Grace’s implacable, furious voice startles us.
And then Grace bitch slaps her, calls her a whore, and tells her to get out again. No, really, actually calls her a whore. I like Grace more all of a sudden. Elena bolts, and Grace asks to talk to Grey alone. Ana also bolts (although not before she listens at the door for a moment. AGAIN) to hear Grace asking "how long, how old were you?" through the door before bolting up to Grey's childhood bedroom where she reflects on what just happened.
She flirts briefly with the idea that Elena was right, that she isn't right for Grey before reminding herself that, no, she fixed him it's cool! Seriously, Ana keeps talking about how he's "in the light now" throughout this book and she's basically saying "NO I FIXED HIM" every time. It's just driving in the already dangerous narrative that women can fix damaged and violent men with love. No, these men can fix themselves with therapy, no one can fix anyone who doesn't want to be "fixed".
Ana wallows in drama on his bed for a bit before inspecting the picture of Grey's Mother to see if they DO look alike and declares the only similarity is they're both brunettes, and his Mother has lighter hair than Ana does so she's good! The fact that Grey has said he hooks up with brunettes BECAUSE they remind him of his Mother should still be enough to freak Ana out. She may not actually look like the woman, but Grey has made the connection in his head. Isn't that enough to be gross? Apparently not, since Ana is relieved and liberated by the fact that she doesn't look like his Mother and, having collected herself after ALL THAT DRAMA, goes to find Grey. He naturally is going to look for her when she wanders out and they meet on the steps and talk about what the hell happened.
It actually isn't terrible. He apologizes that she had to see/go through that, she says she's sorry he lost a friend. Grey says he'll have the salon gifted to her, as it's "the least he could do", which struck me. He denied that she helped him in the last conversation, but he had said about the same things Elena had to Ana in the past. She saved him from self destruction, got him on the right path. I think his telling her off was telling her off for her current actions, but he actually does agree that in the past she helped, and that's why he's gifting the business to her. He might say he's not that petty, but considering he wasn't willing to take five minutes to tell Ana he wasn't dead because there was another man around her... he's totally that petty. I think he feels bad about what just happened, even if he recognizes that she is/was toxic.
Next we have Grey leading Ana out to the boathouse because he filled it with flowers and fairy lights and proposes again, this time with a ring on one knee. It's a giant diamond, but apparently simple, size aside. They schmoop all over the place, the scene ends with:
I know deep down I will always be his, and he will always be mine. We’ve come so far together, we have so far to go, but we are made for each other. We are meant to be.
See? No need for a third book (I would argue no need for a second one)! Except wait! We slip back to 3rd person narration of someone drinking and smoking out from a boat, watching the Grey's house!
It's Jack, who tried to sabotage Grey's helicopter, and now that he has ruined his life is going to try to murder Grey and Ana. He also apparently has a photographic memory, which means every book he's read he has learned and memorized? It's thrown in there to make him seem actually dangerous, but I don't think that's how photographic memories work? Is photographic memory a super villain power?!
He settles back in his seat. Looks like it’s going to be a long night. He’ll stay, watch, and wait. He takes another toke of his Marlboro red. His chance will come. His chance will come soon.
I commented on the big bad Pimp from chapter 1 reading like a caricature of a bad guy. We see a lot of the same things in Jack. He's smoking and drinking hard liquor! He sneers and plans violence! This isn't a bad reaction, Grey DID just ruin his life, but... why is it here? Why could the flow have not been: Grey and Ana get back together, shit with Leila kicks up, Leila is found, Jack attacks Ana, gets fired, we get the engagement stuff and this chapter, and the stuff with Mrs. R sprinkled throughout? Then we would spend the rest of this book on Jack trying to kill the happy couple as they plan their wedding! Or whatever book 3 is. The book would have action or plot then, but no. Everything is drawn out and, when it is finally addressed, resolved quickly. There is rarely any long term impact of any of the conflicts, because they're all meant to be filler. A shot of drama to keep the pretense of a plot around, but this book is just filler, no substance. I'm at the point where I'm struggling to deconstruct it because it doesn't do anything, just wades around in its own fluff and bullshit, and it's just more of the same fluff and bullshit.
THAT IS THE END OF THIS BOOK! OHMYGODFINALLY!
Now, some announcements of the future of the 50 Shades here at Something Short and Snappy. I will not be doing a chapter by chapter break down of "50 Shades Freed" because I just don't think there's enough new material there to keep them interesting, and I stopped drinking because of health stuff. I am going to deconstruct it still, just differently. I will read it (EVEN THOUGH IT IS OVER 500 PAGES WHYOHGODWHY) and write a series of posts about it once I have. However with it being over 500 pages, and my doing NaNoWriMo until August** I will tentatively slate the series starting back up again in September. In the mean time, Thursday updates will continue (and probably be lots of social justice stuff). I am also in the market for a new book to deconstruct (I have had enough of series, and am in the market for suggestions).
Until next Thursday, dear readers! As always, if you need a fix of me in between updates (which obviously you do because I am awesome) you can find me on twitter @SnappyErika and I'd love to hear what you make of this sorry excuse of a book now that we're done in the comments.
*Except for Kate who has a really high Will save I guess?
**Have I been NaNoing and writing blog posts at the same time!? No, I managed to get a month's worth of posts done ahead of time. BECAUSE I AM A MACHINE!