I am now officially two chapters and 34 pages in to this book. I’ve been taking notes along the way with a handy feature on my Nook Color (product placement!!) Most of my notes are short and rather repetitive, just like the text. Stuff like “Creepy” and “I get it” and “I GET IT” and “ZOMG I GET IT ALREADY PLEASE STOP TELLING ME ARGHHHHHHH!) I’ve never read a book for adults that reminded me so much of an episode of Dora the Explorer.
Her first use of repetition comes from her descriptions of Christian. Now I wasn’t a fan of Meyer’s writing in Twilight, but you have to admit that while she spent way too much time describing Edward, she did at least actually describe him. As in features like marble chest, topaz eyes, blah blah blah. That’s better than what James does, which is simply to tell us that he’s attractive. Just take her word for it. Take it several times.
I used the search feature on my e-reader, a handy little thing. Many people would protest doing this, because hey, it’s a long book, someone is bound to repeat a word or two here and there. Here’s what I’ve gotten from a search of the word “attractive” used with Christian. So young, and attractive, very attractive. (Ch1 p.13) Okay, so he’s very attractive. (Ch2 p. 21) Attractive control freak Grey. (Ch2 p.33) I find him attractive, very attractive. (Ch2 p.34) Keep in mind that I’m only using the “attractives” that refer to Christian, and only those mentioned in the FIRST TWO CHAPTERS. The only real details we get of Christian are his grey eyes (get it?), the bizarre misplaced modifier tie with unruly red hair (I’m guessing she meant Christain has unruly red hair), and hands with long fingers.
Speaking of that, what IS her thing with hands? She constantly mentions Christian’s hands and their fabulous fingers. Is this some sort of a fetish? Maybe it’s because my husband is a mechanic, and so his hands are not exactly pristine after an oil change; but honestly, I have never noticed a guy’s hands much. His touch, yes, but his hands? And the long fingers – that just sounds creepy, like something from a horror novel. At one point she even describes Christian’s finely manicured hands. Manicured? If I met a guy who went to the trouble of getting a manicure regulary, I’d probably figure he was batting for the other team. But that’s just me.
Next, let’s damn everything to hell! Damn my hair! (ch1 p. 9) Damn my roommate! (Ch 1 p. 9) Damn her extra-curricular activities (Ch1 pg 9) Damn my clumsiness! (Ch1 p.13) Damn Kate and her curiousity! (ch2 pg18) Damn Katherine Kavanagh! (ch2 p.21) Damn that woman was in the wrong place. (Ch2 p.25) Damn she’s inquisitive! (Ch2 p.24) He’s pretty damn bright. (Ch2 p.26) Damn, he’s handsome. (a two-fer) (Ch2 p29) Damn! Try to be cool,Ana! (Ch2 p.29) Damn . . . have I offended him? (Ch2 p.34) Damn, that’s a lot of damns. Good thing she intersperses plenty of “Crap!” and “Double Crap!” for variation.
You should know that there is a lot of sandstone in Christian’s lobby.
She also wants to make sure you know the names of her characters. It is important that when you first introduce a character, you point out his or her full name, if he or she has one. It is not necessary, however, to do this over and over again. I know Kate, Christian, and Ana’s last names. Please quit giving out their full names. There’s no set word count you have to make.
In case you didn’t realize it, E.L. James is British. We see her first British-isms in these chapters. I don’t get it. If you can’t grasp the difference between British and American English, here’s an idea. Set your story in freaking Britain. Hell, Harry Potter was set in England, and its sales were fairly good. So why did she have to make the story take place in America when she knew so little about it and didn’t want to research that much? It really wouldn’t have made a difference to the story where she had it take place. From what I’ve heard, most of it involves sex in various places that are usually indoors.
Still haven’t gotten to the sexy times. We did have a fascinating scene in the lobby (the sandstone lobby) with secretaries. They offer water. They bring her water. They hop out of their seats. They open the door. They tell her to go inside. They direct her to Grey’s office. Etc. Oh, and they are all blonde, and this bothers Ana, because she has a pathological fear of blondes. I guess.
Ana has a lot of issues, actually. She’s not only clumsy enough to qualify for a handicapped permit, she suffers from other medical ailments too. Heart failure, rapid eye blinking, belly muscles clenching, inability to access a very tiny underused part of her brain (James’s description, not mine, I swear), heart pounding, jello-legs, and heart attempting to escape mouth. At one point she speaks of feeling a current “all the way down to somewhere dark and unexplored, deep in my belly” (Ch2 p.30). Yeah, Ana, I’m thinking you’re feeling that somewhere south of your belly.
Finally, we begin to see the creepiness that is Christian. He starts making connections too quickly. He offers her a job apparently based on her ability to fall into his office, stammer, drop her tape recorder, and ask him embarrassing, poorly researched questions. Considering Ana’s descriptions of various types of heart failure, he has to know that he is making her uncomfortable. And he keeps doing it. He asks her personal questions (“what IS your thing, Anastasia?) He gets angry when another male talks to her – and they’ve barely met. He makes references to taking off his pants in a hardware store. If that wasn’t enough, he goes to Ana’s workplace with a wacky grocery list. Cable ties, masking tape, filament rope, some coveralls . . . what no lime, Christian? It’s so convenient when your future victims help you pick out your supplies!
I can’t wait till Chapter 3. Will we get to see Christian torture Ana and bury her in a shallow grave? I can’t say I would be totally opposed to that idea. Except that I’d like Christian buried with her. Ah, well, I guess I’ll just have to read on and find out.
I’ve decided to quote a favorite line at the end of each entry. This may be my favorite quote of the entire book:
“His voice is warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel . . . or something.” (Ch2 p28)
A lot of people put down T.V. because they think it makes kids lazy. I protest, for often my children watched T.V. while standing on their heads, or jumping on my back, which was revenge for when I used to turn somersaults in front of the set, narrowly avoiding electrocution each time. At any rate, in order to appease those who think T.V. makes you sedentary and brainless (imagine that!), network executives came up with the brilliant idea of “interactive” children’s shows. These are shows that ask kids to help the people on the screen, usually by shouting out obvious solutions to the problems of very stupid characters.
I picked two of these shows to highlight, although I warn you now these reviews might cause PTSD in susceptible parents. First up:
Dora, Dora, Dora the Explorah is a cute little Hispanic kid with a football shaped head. She has a pet monkey that wears boots, but nothing else. Together they force children to help them get somewhere, as if they were tiny human GPSs. Dora is prepared, though, with her trusty backpack (cue song: “Backpack, backpack, backpack, backpack . . . “) that contains a map. Yes, that’s right. You can’t hear that word without also hearing the song that goes with it. “I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the MAP!!!!!”
Next an arrow – like a giant, supernatural mouse pointer – “clicks” on whatever object the child is supposed to select. So it’s like a cartoon computer program, for annoying children who grew up with computers and frequently slam their hands into storybooks expecting them to talk. I guess the arrow helps them identify the obvious even more . . . obviously.
Since Dora is Hispanic, she often teaches the kids Spanish words, mostly by repeating herself, which if you haven’t noticed, is a major pattern in this show. I mean, sure, I’ve heard of Spanglish, or using a mixture of English and Spanish, but this kid just says the same thing in two different languages. Here we go again: “Come on Vamanos! Everybody let’s go! “
Okay, so basically this is what Dora is saying, if you just keep it all in English. “Come on, everybody let’s go! Everybody let’s go!” Do you know anyone that talks like that? If so, they’ve probably been damaged by children’s T.V. Anyway, besides teaching Spanish, Dora also teaches kids about using a map to get somewhere, which admittedly, most adults still haven’t figured out either. Each episode, she pulls out a map and points to three places they have to go on their way. It’s always three places, no matter what. It could be to the bathroom, and still she would have three stops. And she would point each one out. Repeatedly.
By the time Dora has done this a dozen or so times, the kids have gotten the hang of it and are calling out answers to her. But she doesn’t just want help with direction. She also needs help with basic motor skills, like when she says “Jump! Salta! Say it with me! Salta! Salta! Saaaaaaaaaaltaaaaaa!”. Executives and parenting experts think this means the show is actively engaging the child’s brain, which I guess it is, but only so the child can get the character to SHUT UP ALREADY.
To spice things up, the show has a villain fox named Swiper, because he . . . swipes stuff. Which I guess is a better name than Clepto. He has to be one of the dumbest crooks ever though, because he’s always stealing things like parts of railroad track, rather than, say, an Xbox that he could sell on Ebay. He’s also easy to turn away. All you have to do is yell – you all remember it, don’t you? “Swiper, no swiping!”
And magically he stops what he’s doing, says “Oh, man” and leaves. Imagine if every criminal was that easy to discourage. My brother pointed out that this could inadvertently encourage children to say “Sniper, no sniping” which would be a pretty bad idea, considering that the sniper would be much more likely to shoot you in the head as snap his fingers in frustration. But I guess it’s worth a try, huh? Hint: It might be more effective if you know how to ask in both languages, just in case he’s bilingual.
After some trial and error, and repetition, repetition, repetition, she gets where she’s going and we are mercifully treated to end credits. But the song NEVER goes away. Maybe this will help:
The second of our interactive T.V. shows is about a dog named Blue and her human owner, who is the stupidest man on earth. There have actually been two owners of Blue – who you notice gets her name in the title over him, despite being not only a dog, but a cartoon dog. You can’t blame them, though, since Blue is arguably the brightest one. Steve was first, before he left for “college”. Personally, I don’t think he was ready for college. Except maybe clown college.
Never fear, though, for Steve’s brother Joe steps in next. I liked Joe a little better, because he was at least cuter, even if there was a vacancy behind those pretty eyes. Unlike Dora, Steve and Joe – for simplification I’ll call them Stejoe – don’t use a map. That’s way too complicated. Instead they must search for clues; difficult, considering neither of them has one. Blue leaves these clues all over the house and yard in the form of paw prints. This would annoy the heck out of me, but I guess it is better than her leaving “presents” for us instead.
Blue starts the show by leaving clues for kids to follow in order to guess what she’s thinking. Because unlike Lassie, she can’t convey this in yips. Of course she can’t talk – she’s a dog. Everything else can talk, though, including the mailbox, a clock, a bar of soap, a shovel, a pail, a sidetable drawer, and, naturally, the salt and pepper shakers (Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper). (By the way, these two got married and had a baby named Paprika. Don’t ask.)
Blue leaves her clues on various objects, and Stejoe searches for them, often walking into walls, getting confused, and walking into the same wall again. Not really, but this wouldn’t surprise me. The clues are always out in plain sight, but somehow Stejoe just never sees them. This frustrated my youngest daughter so much that by three she was shouting at the T.V. in frustration “It’s THERE. Right THERE! THERE!!!!”
Once Stejoe finally gets the hint, he writes down the clue on a notepad. Because the guy can’t remember squat. Actually, he draws it, because he’s also not so hot at reading or writing. Along the way, he stops and talks to the inanimate objects, who give him advice like “Right in front of your face, you dork.” You know it’s bad when you have less intelligence than the salt shaker.
Once Steve has gathered all the clues, he has kids help him guess the answer. Because trust me, he would never, ever get there on his own. One thing I’ll give him – he was always very polite, even when I answered his questions rather rudely.
The concept of both shows is really not that bad. It’s great to teach kids to look for clues and solve mysteries, and everyone needs to know where they’re going. A few words of Spanish are nice too, for those moments when you must demand that a Spanish person jump. But the repetition is hard on us parents, who spend most of our lives repeating things anyway, to no avail. “Get your shoes. Your shoes. On your feet. Your feet. They’re right there. There!!! Your shoes!” and so on. So obviously repetition is not the answer, since it has never worked for me, so why further punish people? Just get the kids a GPS and a game of Clue and be done with it.
Repetition: Yes Yes Yes
Annoying songs: Yes
Forces interaction for self-preservation: Yes
Didactic: Sing with me!