Last time, on Fifty Shades Freed, Christian threatened Ana with rape (no, he really did) and the plot happened. All at once. There are still three chapters of this mess left and my Kindle bar says I’m only 79% of the way through.
There is only pain.
Not true. There’s boredom. Lots and lots of boredom.
My head, my chest…burning pain. My side, my arm. Pain. Pain and hushed words in the gloom.
So quite a lot of pain then? Any more Ana, or shall we just leave you alone to write teenage goth poetry?
“Her ribs are bruised, Mr. Grey, and she has a hairline fracture to her skull, but her vital signs are stable and strong.”
“Why is she still unconscious?”
“Mrs. Grey has had a major contusion to her head. But her brain activity is normal…”
Ah, that’s nice. Thank you, book. That’s the first time I’ve had a really good belly laugh in I don’t know how many pages.
“She’ll wake when she’s ready. Just give her some time.”
“And the baby?” The words are anguished, breathless.
“The baby’s fine, Mr. Grey.”
“Oh, thank God.” The words are a litany…a prayer. “Oh, thank God.”
Oh my. He’s worried about the baby…the baby?
Yes, Ana. The baby. Good lord, are you sure this is normal brain function, doc? She seems awful fucking stupid.
Everything is heavy and aching limbs, head, eyelids, nothing will move. My eyes and mouth are resolutely shut, unwilling to open, leaving me blind and mute and aching. As I surface from the fog, consciousness hovers, a seductive siren just out of reach. Sounds become voices.
“I’m not leaving her.”
Oh no. I think I remember this bit when it used to be in Breaking Dawn. Is she seriously going to lie there like a sad sack of shit, drifting in and out of section breaks while everyone else talks about how she’s the best person to ever get turned into a crap vampire smacked on the head?
“Christian, you should sleep.”
“No, Dad. I want to be here when she wakes up.”
“I’ll sit with her. It’s the least I can do after she saved my daughter.”
Yep. They are. Oh joy.
You’ll be pleased to know Mia is none the worse for wear. Full of Rohypnol, scared and angry, but hey – fuck her. She’s probably just post-traumatic. Let’s get back to Ana.
“Ana’s a remarkable young woman. She was incredibly brave.”
“Brave and headstrong and stubborn and stupid.” His voice cracks.
“Hey,” Carrick murmurs, “don’t be so hard on her, or yourself.”
Then she conks out and wakes up again to hear her father telling her husband to spank her when she wakes up, which is all kinds of fucked up. Maybe she’s having some kind of twisted dream.
Section break time again and this time it’s the police.
“Detective, as you can see my wife is in no state to answer any of your questions.”
“She’s been lying there like a blow-up doll for the past three days. It’s not actually a coma – she’s just really fucking bored or something. We’ve been stacking objects on top of her like a game of Buckaroo but she’s just not into it.”
This is not right – I should not be laughing this hard at a main character conked out in a hospital bed. I don’t know why it’s so funny to me. She’s just lying there all ‘ohhhh’ and angsty and they’re all wandering and in out saying ‘Ana, Ana, you’re the greatest person who ever lived, Ana. You’re so awesome’. It’s the most hilariously melodramatic piece of wish-fulfilment ever.
“I thought about it, and she’s shown me over and over how much she loves me…to the point of putting her own life in danger.”
“Yes, she has, darling.”
“Oh, Mom, why won’t she wake up?” His voice cracks.
I dunno. If she’s going to just lie there bathed in praise you should try a little negative reinforcement. Talk some shit. Say she smells. And that she’s dumb. And have you noticed the way keeps staring at her fingers? What the hell is up with that?
Then she needs to pee, so she wakes up. She has a catheter, but she needs to pee. That’s not actually how catheters work, but princess is grossed out so we’ll yank that fucker out so she can raise her fragile flowered skirts (probably to the sound of heavenly choirs) and pee like a lady.
Christian is incredibly rude to the nurse, because Christian is sadly not dead and still a total bag of dicks. Ana is feeling stiff and hungry as one might well feel after lying around for several days like a lost sock. (I’m sorry, I can’t stop fucking laughing – it’s just so incredibly funny to me that there was no valid medical reason for her just lolling there.)
She asks for something to eat (soup) and the nurse says Ana will need the doctor’s approval before she eats anything.
He gazes at her impassively for a moment, then takes his BlackBerry out of his pants pocket and presses a number. “Ana wants chicken soup…Good…Thank you.” He hangs up.
This follows a literal shoving match where he had to be the one to carry Ana to the bathroom because she is his wife. At this point the nurse would be well within her moral rights to shove that fucking BlackBerry somewhere where the x-ray department would find it highly amusing.
Then they sit around and moo at each other and all their problems have been magically resolved because Ana is not dead. And neither is he. Shit.
Christian brings her the greatest soup that ever did soup because he does grandiose gestures so well when he’s feeling guilty.
Christian is unpacking the box, producing a thermos, soup bowl, side plate, linen napkin, soupspoon, a small basket of bread rolls, silver salt and pepper shakers…
There’s something incredibly sad about this. Only Christian Grey could take the simple love out of an honest bowl of chicken soup and turn it into something ostentatious and wanky.
They backtrack over the kidnap plot, although nobody knows why Jack was out on bail (he wouldn’t be). Apparently Sawyer knew Ana was at the bank because her car was fitted with a tracking device.
“On some level I knew you’d be stalking me.”
“And that is amusing because?” he asks.
“Jack had instructed me to get rid of my cell. So I borrowed Whelan’s cell, and that’s the one I threw away. I put mine into one of the duffel bags so you could track your money.”
Yeah. So he’s still tracking her phone. That’s healthy. I also like how we’re supposed to be impressed with Ana’s smarts after three books worth of evidence that she is dumber than a sack of developmentally disabled rocks.
There’s some talk about how Ana is amazingly smart and brave and it’s all incredibly, fantastically boring. Then Ana whines a bit about Mrs. Robinson and he says they’ll discuss it tomorrow, like anyone even cares.
“Do we know why Jack was doing all this?”
At this point it’s more of a question of why wouldn’t he? But it’s time for a section break and even Ana is so bored she slides into merciful unconsciousness.
Then it’s time to wake up again and here’s the nurse that Christian annoyed and now she’s annoyed again because he crawled onto Ana’s bed and almost pulled her IV out.
He mumbles in his sleep, “Don’t touch me. No more. Only Ana.”
I frown. I have rarely heard Christian talk in his sleep.
Except for all those times when he had ‘nightmares’ and lay there moaning “Don’t leave me. Never leave me.” Yeah. And then she goes to sleep again. This chapter has more section breaks than the entire book so far.
When she wakes up Carlisle Carrick comes to perform the now accepted rite of fawning over Ana.
“I don’t know how to thank you for my daughter, you crazy, brave, darling girl. What you did probably saved her life. I will be forever in your debt.” His voice wavers, filled with gratitude and compassion.
I hate this family. I hated them when they were the undead Osmonds back in Twilight and I hate them now they’ve been find/exchanged into the Greys. In both incarnations they are creepy, cultlike and unforgivably fucking dull.
“I don’t want you talking any more silly risks with your life and the life of my grandchild.”
I flush. He knows!
“Grace read your chart. She told me. Congratulations.”
Grace clearly skipped the ‘patient confidentiality’ part of med school. I would say this was the Greys cue to start feeding Ana raw liver and inviting their friends round for unsettlingly goat-and-pentagram filled baby showers, but I’m afraid they’re just not that interesting.
Then he fucks off and Christian comes back and then there’s food and eating and I am so bored you have no idea. Kill it, E.L. Just end it. Take this book outside and tell it whatever fucking lies you have to tell it as you aim the gun at its temple. Tell it about the rabbits – yes, there will be rabbits. I promise. We’ll have rabbits.
“What kind of father could I possibly be?” His voice is hoarse, barely audible.
Again, is this a rhetorical question? He’d be a horrible father. He’s little more than a giant angry toddler himself.
“Oh Christian.” I stifle a sob. “One that tries his best. That’s all any of us can do.”
“Ana – I don’t know if I can…”
“Of course you can. You’re loving, you’re fun, you’re strong, you’ll set boundaries. Our child will want for nothing.”
This book is still taking place in oppositeland, I see. Fun. Is it wrong that out of all those things that’s the one I take most exception to? Fun? Christian Grey is about as much fun as finding blood on your toilet paper.
“Oh Ana,” Christian whispers, his voice anguished and pained. “I thought I’d lost you. Then I thought I’d lost you again. Seeing you lying on the ground, pale and cold and unconscious – it was all my worst fears realized. And now here you are – brave and strong…giving me hope. Loving me after all I’ve done.”
Chapter Twenty Four
…opens with this sentence.
“Much as I’d like to kiss you all day, your breakfast is getting cold,”
I don’t hold out much hope of it being anything but even more mindless, boring filler. It seems that after a whole chapter of plot, the author is exhausted and wants nothing more to do with it.
Ana is in the papers again, because apparently she’s that interesting. Also Christian Grey reads print newspapers, yet another sign that he used to be a centenarian vampire who should rightly have been chalked up as yet another flu statistic back in 1918. I don’t think I know anyone under sixty who still buys newspapers.
He smirks and proceeds to read the article aloud. It’s a report on Jack and Elizabeth, depicting them as a modern day Bonnie and Clyde. It briefly covers Mia’s kidnapping, my involvement in Mia’s rescue, and the fact that Jack and I are at the same hospital. How does the press get all this information? I must ask Kate.
Our ‘bright’ heroine once again astonishes us with the depth and breadth of her intellectual curiosity. Yes, I really must ask my best friend how journalism works.
Detective Clark makes an apologetic entry into the room. He’s right to be apologetic – my heart sinks when I see him.
“Mr. Grey, Mrs. Grey. Am I interrupting?”
“Yes,” snaps Christian.
Half an hour later, Clark is done. I’ve learned nothing new…
…much like this book.
Ana is released from hospital and the first thing Christian does is check with her doctors if she’s okay to have sex. No, really.
He grins and returns to the room a happier man.
“What was all that about?”
“Sex,” he says, flashing a wicked grin.
Oh. I blush. “And?”
“You’re good to go.” He smirks.
Christian’s security goons want to see him because apparently they’ve found a connection between Jack and Detroit WHICH WE FUCKING KNEW ABOUT TEN CHAPTERS AGO. Oh my God, why won’t this end? Why?
Halfway up in the elevator Ana breaks down in tears because everything has finally caught up with her. Like anyone even gives a shit any more.
He carries me through to our bathroom and gently settles me on the chair. “Bath?” he asks.
I shake my head. No…no..not like Leila.
“Shower?” His voice is choked with concern.
Oh dear. I feel like every time they get into the shower in these books it’s either to fuck or cry or both. And worse, Ana becomes prone to those Facebookish brain farts about ‘liberating realisations’ and how much she loves her darling sociopath and we all die a little more inside.
And in that moment it occurs to me, any explanations on his part have to come from him. I can’t force him – he’s got to want to tell me. I won’t be cast as the nagging wife, constantly trying to wheedle information out of her husband. It’s just exhausting. I know he loves me. I know he loves me more than he’s ever loved anyone, and for now, that’s enough. The realization is liberating.
See? Being proved right gives me no joy any more. Nothing gives me joy any more. Once upon a time the world was interesting and colourful. It was full of David Attenborough documentaries and cats that did amusing things in cardboard boxes. There were good books and amusing conversations with pleasant, opinionated people, but now I feel as though I can’t remember any of these things. I can’t remember any of Hamlet’s big soliloquy beyond ‘To be or not to be’. I can’t even remember how to set the washing machine to a thirty degree economy wash. It’s like my whole life, my whole memory, has been consumed by the endless grey waste of unending, tumbleweed-blown boredom that is Fifty Shades Freed.
Anyway, it turned out that Jack blackmailed Elizabeth into helping him kidnap whatserface. He had a bunch of sex videos he’d made of them together and for once Christian shows something like a flash of self-awareness and likens it to the blackmail photos of his exes he used to keep in his closet. And the stalker dossiers.
This is Ana’s cue to say that Christian is totally not like Jack and excuse every rotten thing he’s done to her since he first kidnapped her from the parking lot in Fifty Shades of Grey. And they say romance is dead.
Blah blah blah – meaningless puff. Then we find out that Jack and Christian both lived in the same foster home in Detroit. There are photographs of Christian in his Victorian orphan days and Ana is predictably thrilled, because Ana is creepy as fuck.
Apparently Jack has an axe to grind because the filthy rich Greys picked Christian out at the crack baby sale and not him. I love the way the author is just carrying on like anyone even gives a shit any more.
Then the fucking Greys turn up to moo over Ana some more, including Dr. Grace, she of the impeccable medical ethics.
“Ana, Ana, darling Ana,” she whispers. “Saving two of my children. How can I ever thank you?”
Thank you for loving the sociopathic hellchild I couldn’t be bothered to properly raise. Thank you for loving him into the shape of an acceptable human being, because that’s a thing that totally happens and doesn’t result in misery, pain and death.
Then they have a welcome home party because everyone hasn’t spent enough of this chapter talking about how great Ana is.
Fun fact – baby Damien is due in May. Less than a year to the day when Ana first met Christian. This marriage is going to be a hot mess.
“My parents think you walk on water,” Christian mutters as he drags off his t-shirt.
No fucking shit, Sherlock.
Oh I don’t care. I don’t care about any of this. I’m so tired and so bored. I’m sick of every single plot point being spread so thin its barely even recognisable any more. I’m sick of these terrible, terrible people. I’m sick to death of the horrible minutiae of their meaningless, self-centred, stupid lives. I’m sick of comma splices, prepositional messes, said-bookisms and pop-psych. I’m sick of conspicuous consumption and endless whining. I’m sick of crying and I’m sick of laughing. I’m sick of everything, but most of all I am sick to motherfucking death and back of watching a thick person play sex Barbies with the characters from Twilight.
Chapter Twenty Five
Christian talks about how he first had sex with Mrs. Robinson. He was fifteen and angry and of course he has to talk at great length about how he wandered from day to day in the same state of emotional incontinence as…well…much as he does now, really.
Blah blah blah. Then he met Ana.
“You turned my world on its head.” He closes his eyes, and when he opens them again, they are raw. “My world was ordered, calm, and controlled, then you came into my life with your smart mouth, your innocence, your beauty, and your quiet temerity…and everything before you was just dull, empty, mediocre…it was nothing.”
Oh boy. Do I know that feeling. I haven’t felt this empty and heartsick since the last time I tried to read Ayn Rand.
They talk forever about their cardboard feelings and how when he went to Mrs. Robinson that night it was to cut ties with her forever.
AND IT IS STILL NOT OVER. WHY IS THIS NOT OVER?
Sleep. Section break. Breakfast. Talking about nothing. Why is this happening?
They go to the new house and they go to have a picnic in the meadow because this used to be Twilight. It won’t end. I’m serious. This book will not end. Apparently it turns out Mrs. Robinson’s nasty ex husband posted Jack’s bail, even though Jack was ineligible for bail under Washington State law.
Christian says he’s going to bankrupt Mr. Robinson, because he’s not a vindictive man or anything. And I have no idea why I am still reading this. And then they fuck. It’s not over.
And then they’re e-mailing. WHY? FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY WHY WON’T THIS FUCKING BOOK END?
Jeez…Life is never going to be boring with Christian,…
…says you. My fucking brains are leaking out of my ears.
…and I’m in this for the long haul. I love this man: my husband, my lover, father of my child, my sometimes Dominant…my Fifty Shades.
Oh my sweet merry fuck. There’s a fucking epilogue.