Fifty Shades: Ch 1
I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror.
That is the opening line, and already I can tell that the writing in this is going to cause me physical pain.
Our main character, Ana, is looking at herself in the mirror in what is probably the laziest trick that has ever been used by an author to describe the viewpoint character. There is a reason this is mostly seen only in fanfiction: professionals have editors that tell them not to do it.
Ana is upset because she’s getting ready to go interview a Very Important Person for her college newspaper, and her hair won’t behave because she slept on it wet. Well, Ana, here’s how you fix that problem: take a damn shower and then blow-dry it, and then stop complaining to your readers about something that is entirely within your control. True, fixing unruly hair is very annoying for day-to-day living, but on special occasions where you have to look professional, a shower is pretty par for the course.
The man Ana is going to interview is Christian Grey, the CEO of Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. Originally, her roommate Kate set up the interview, but Kate is too sick to go, and Grey is too busy to reschedule. Ana, though she doesn’t want to, has agree to go ask the man questions and get his answers. Throughout this scene, all I can wonder is why Kate can’t do a phone interview, or simply email him the questions. It is not imperative that someone physically go to his office in order to get this done. A phone interview would take less time than driving to Seattle, and would accomplish the same thing, and could be done by someone in less than perfect health.
This set-up only fails because Ana is not the instigator of the interview. If she had been the one to step forward, request an interview, and hound Grey until she got it, then it would make sense for her to go to his office. As it stands, it makes no sense, and it gives all the initiative and action to her roommate, with Ana just being tugged along for the ride.
We’re on the second page, and I already predict that Ana will have absolutely no agency in her own story. She can’t even meet our ‘hero’ because she wants to; she has to be shoved into it.
It’s a quarter to two when I arrive, greatly relieved that I’m not late as I walk into the enormous – and frankly intimidating – glass, steel, and white sandstone lobby.
Okay, was there no editor at all for this book? Considering its publication history, probably not. That’s hardly an excuse though, more of a compound problem.
Ana signs in with the receptionist and fails to understand the purpose of a visitor’s badge, but still wears one. She makes a point of comparing herself poorly with the pretty receptionist, because as well all know, women who read all have esteem issues. It’s just impossible to have a confident, or at least ambivalent, protagonist. How would the audience connect with her if she wasn’t downtrodden and self-conscious!
Really, though, we do not need four reminders in half a page that Ana is dressed less-snazzy than everyone else in the building. It’s a bit like the hair problem. She should have dressed better or borrowed from her roommate. She knew where she was going, and I don’t have sympathy for her if she didn’t properly prepare for that.
The elevator whisks me with terminal velocity to the twentieth floor.
I really, really doubt that.
I sit down, fish the questions from my satchel, and go through them, inwardly cursing Kate for not providing me with a brief biography.
He’s a wealthy CEO, and you’re a college student. Get on Wikipedia, spend five minutes reading, and stop whining. You should know how to do this by now.
Also, apparently every woman in this office is young, pretty, and blonde. No doubt this is just to make Ana feel even more like an ugly duckling in comparison.
There’s some really awkward and pointless conversing with the blond receptionists that sounds completely unnatural, before finally some man comes out of Grey’s office. He’s actually described by something other than hair color, so I’m sure he’ll show up again. Then Ana is allowed to enter.
Oh, and Ana is clumsy. She also tells us she likes to read ” classic British novels”. Yeah, someone did a search and replace to switch ‘Bella’ with ‘Ana.’ They haven’t even tried to hide it. Anyway, Ana trips and lands on her hands and knees in front of Christian. I’m sure this was in no way intended to be a portrayal of how Ana is going to be a submissive later on in the story. Nope. Just some innocent ol’ “on her knees in front of a man” action.
Christian is…Edward. Hot, young, rich, and a slew of improbable adjectives. I’ll spare you the details. It’s all rather generic anyway, so I’m sure you already know them. Ana is immediately smitten by his hotness, and even gets a tingle when they shake hands.
Have I just been touching the wrong boys? Because I have never had that ‘instantly turned to pudding at a touch’ reaction. Sure, I’ll get the butterflies for a cutie, but those are generally there before the touching, not caused by it or even particularly intensified by it.
Ana spends about a page telling us about how awesome his office is, which makes it seem like she’s just sitting there and staring at it rather than talking to the man who is so busy that Kate couldn’t reschedule the interview.
Finally Ana remembers she’s supposed to be talking to this guy, and she stutters and stumbles around the introduction while Grey subtly laughs at her.
“It really is all about having the right people on your team and directing their energies accordingly. I think it was Harvey Firestone who said ‘the growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.’”
“You sound like a control freak.” The words are out of my mouth before I can stop them.
Um, no, he doesn’t. Managing people is basically the whole point of an executive position. He’s not going to be producing anything as a CEO, or doing research, or having any hand in the physical work of the company. He’s there to manage the people who do the work. It’s an important job. If the CEO manages the workers, then they don’t have to spend time managing themselves and they can stay focused and work more efficiently. A man who does the job he was hired to do is not a control-freak. Or rather, he might be, but nothing he’s said so far indicates that.
Apparently this book just wants to jump straight to the power dynamics without bothering to set anything up properly. Or maybe Ana is just one of those ‘lone wolf’ types that thinks any kind of direction is really OMG THE YOKE OF OPPRESION STOP STIFLING MEEEEEEE!
Oh, Grey owns the company. He wasn’t hired. Does not negate my point. He’s still
doing describing his job, not describing a micromanager. And yet Ana continues to think of him as an unbelievably arrogant control freak, because how dare he tell people what to do in his own company, run that company extremely well, and then take pride in the fact that he’s doing so extremely well? The horror of someone who doesn’t immediately genuflect to a college student stopping by for an interview!
“I’m a benefactor of the University, and for all intents and purposes, I couldn’t get Miss Kavanagh off my back. She badgered and badgered my PR people, and I admire that kind of tenacity.”
Why isn’t Kate our protagonist? No, really, I want to know. She’s the only character so far who’s actually done anything.
It doesn’t make sense – feeding the world’s poor? I can’t see the financial benefits of this, only the virtue of the ideal.
That’s because you, Ana, are an idiot. First of all, this comes after a comment about ‘investing in farming technologies,’ not about just handing out free food. Selling food to an entirely new market is a good investment. Even if you only charge pennies for your food, if you can produce cheaply and sell to enough people, that’s still profit that you weren’t making before. Second of all, feeding people with decent, easy to obtain food means they’ll be healthier, and they’ll have more time, because they won’t be spending all their energy on sustenance farming. That means *gasp* they’ll have the ability to build a new market and turn into consumers, aka people who give you money. Third, even if they do take a loss on the actual food production/giving out, they still get mad amounts of good PR, which can translate into cold, hard cash in other areas of their business.
“So you want to possess things?” You are a control freak.
“I want to deserve to possess them, but yes, bottom line, I do.”
You keep using that phrase. I do not think it means what you think it means. Wanting to feel like you are good enough for the windfalls that fate has given you is not a sign of a control freak. It’s more a sign of someone trying to better himself or live up to expectations.
“How old were you when you were adopted?”
“That’s a matter of public record, Miss Steele.”
Um, no, it’s not. He might have mentioned it in public before, and that interview might be in an archive somewhere. It might be publicly known. But the records of someone’s adoption are most definitely not public.
And then she asks him if he’s gay. Apparently, it’s one of Kate’s questions. Why the hell would anyone think to ask that for an official interview? Why is it anyone’s business?
Grey cancels his next meeting (remember, this is the same man who was so busy that he couldn’t reschedule) because he wants to know all about Ana. Apparently stumbling over her words, reading off a sheet of questions, and looking nervous is what turns him on. Grey offers her an internship. For the sake of the plot, I guess, since he doesn’t even know what her major is, much less anything about her skills or work ethic. She kind of waffles and doesn’t give a real answer. Then, mercifully, amidst a lot of annoying and self-depreciating thoughts from Ana, the chapter ends.
Thesaurus Abuse of the Day: gamine — 1) a slim and boyish girl or young woman; an elfish tomboy 2) an urchin