LSD Hits The Books #2: Fifty Shades Darkerby Author / Mikey Lee Ray
LSD HITS THE BOOKS
VOLUME 2: 50 SHADES DARKER
By MIKEY LEE RAY
Copyright 2017 by MIKEY LEE RAY
TABLE OF CONTENTS
THE DEVIL’S IN THE DETAILS
THE COURT OF HOWLS
THE HIT LIST
LINKS TO OTHER WORK BY MIKEY AND RICHARD
I’d like to share something with you dear reader. My experience in reading 50 Shades of Grey. Now I’ve read good books before, bad books and even a few really terrible ones. But it was only after reading 50 Shades of Grey that I experienced something I’ve never felt before. I was turned off reading and more importantly turned off writing as well. I asked myself the question maybe other authors have asked, namely ‘Why bother writing good books when garbage like this is hyped and sells a hundred million copies?’
I believe we are in a downhill slide as far as literature goes these days. Occasionally there’s a gem out there but there’s also a lot of rubbish like this that gets all the attention and sales. 50 Shades of Grey introduced some annoying tropes that are repeated here, the ‘I’m so naughty because I’m not wearing panties’ trope for one. The ‘eating oysters with sexual innuendo and discussion’ trope as well. I guess that’s the thing about sex, rely on it too much to carry a book forward and in the end it all becomes repetitive and dull which as an author is not what you’re aiming for, obviously. So why do it you ask dear reader? Why bother to analyse terrible writing in such detail? A few reasons. For one it’s fun to pick apart truly awful writing. Also, if you learn how not to write then by proxy aren’t you also learning how TO write? (That sentence made complete sense in my head). So I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.
THE DEVIL’S IN THE DETAILS
So, this is our second volume in the LSD Hits the Books series and as things evolve so they change a little bit from time to time. This time around I’ll be using less quotes from 50 Shades Darker and simply focus on the same subjects we covered in our last review. The topics I feel are of most importance when reviewing a book are the following: Story, Characters, Credibility, Immersion and Description. We’ll also be looking at Product Placement in the book because there is A LOT of it. Sounds fun right? Then let the analysis begin…
Just a couple of points before I get on to the main themes for this review. If there’s one thing that’s really confusing about this book it’s who exactly is the target audience. On the one hand so many of the author’s scenes and ideas are horrifically dated at best. Descriptions feel like they came out of an 80’s Patrick Swayze movie. Every time Christian Grey puts on a white tee shirt and jeans we have to hear about what a ‘bad boy’ he is. Like watching a Levi’s Jeans ad from the 90’s or something. As I Said, horrifically dated. There’s also the constant references to Mrs. Robinson, the lead female role in the 1967 Dustin Hoffman movie ‘The Graduate.’ It’s a film where a young guy is seduced by an older woman.
Then on the flip side of this reference coin we have the fact that both Christian Grey and Ana Steele are insufferable tech addicts. There are literally pages and pages in this stupid book of them emailing each other over the smallest, inane things. They text, they call, they message, use Blackberries and are in constant communication. It’s something packaged specifically towards the ‘Tech Generation’ which I guess would be Generation X or Y. Which leads me to the inevitable question, who is her audience? Gen X and Y have no idea who the hell Mrs. Robinson is and don’t care and have very different ideas about what’s ‘hot’ these days. The older readers on the other hand who would get these references probably aren’t all that tech savvy and don’t spend all day on their iPhones or Blackberries texting, tweeting and messaging each other. See what I mean? It’s just a big confusing mess that tries to have ‘something for everyone’ and instead just offers nothing to pretty much everyone.
KNOW YOUR GODDESSES:
Speaking of Goddesses, as those who know me well will attest, I am a huge fan of Greek Mythology. Geeky I know but then so many books these days are either based directly off the Greek Myths such as the Percy Jackson books or borrow heavily from it such as the Harry Potter books i.e. the story of Morpheus and Medusa in books 1 and 2.
So there’s a little incident in 50 Shades Darker where Christian Grey just picks up Ana Steele and carries her over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes down some busy street as people look on.
Ana of course is ‘so embarrassed’ and yet she puts up with it from him because he’s ‘so freakin’ hot and rich’ and blah blah blah and she’s just a weak little woman. Later on at some point during one of the book’s countless and inane, dull, repetitive sex scenes Ana says, “I feel just like Aphrodite.”
Of all the things that really disgust me about the 50 Shades books (and there are a lot of them) it’s this ignorance of characters from someone who is constantly mentioning her Inner Goddess that really gets to me. She knows nothing about Aphrodite or the sort of person she was. Ana only brings her up the same way the author brings up Shakespeare, to make her seem more intelligent. She fails of course, dismally and this is why.
EL James if you’re reading this (assuming you can read and I personally have my doubts) allow me, Mikey Lee Ray, to school you on the sort of person Aphrodite was with a little anecdote. We all know how Aphrodite came to be, her divine beauty, Goddess of Love, had many lovers etc. This story isn’t about that.
A guy by the name of Glaucus insulted Aphrodite and this is the story of how she punished him. The night before he was due to take part in a big chariot race she gave his horses water from her sacred well and fed them a special herb. As the race started the next day the horses went mad, they turned and crashed the chariot, killing Glaucus immediately. They then proceeded to eat their former master. So there you go, Aphrodite, Goddess of Love. Someone who to put it bluntly every guy wanted to screw but someone who you probably shouldn’t screw with. Just ask Glaucus. Do you think Aphrodite would have allowed a man to tell her to ‘get in the fucking car’ or chariot maybe in her case? For that matter would she have allowed a man to pick her up over his shoulder and carry her home like she was a bag of groceries? Nope. Didn’t think so.
Compare Aphrodite’s behavior to Anastasia’s over the course of the book, her constant self-doubt and groveling before a man. Constanly questioning herself and not wanting to upset him, wondering if she has crossed a line at the smallest of things. Aphrodite would be ashamed of Anastasia Steele and so should any woman with an ounce of backbone in her body.
STORY AND CHARACTERS:
I’m not quite sure why this happened (poor editing maybe) but for some reason the book opens with a stupid dream sequence from Christian’s perspective that reveals nothing new about him anyway. His mother was a crack whore and he was abused. We know all this from the first book so why is this idiotic dream sequence tacked on to the opening. For the same reason why is there this cheesy tacked on bit at the end where the villain basically says ‘Christian Grey will get what’s coming to him.’ Again, it makes no sense at all as it explains nothing about the character and is inconsistent with the rest of the book which is seen through Anastasia’s eyes. Game of Thrones did the whole ‘switching between characters’ a hundred times better. In fact if you’re looking for a good book then read those ones, not this crap.
So the book opens with Anastasia Steele crying her weak, pitiful eyes out over Christian Grey and basically falling to pieces.
‘I have survived Day Three Post-Christian…’ Anastasia begins as though she has just made it through an ordeal to rival Anne Frank’s and it’s a result of truly poor writing that the narrator has almost no previous life experience at all to compare it to and no perspective at all. She doesn’t eat for five days which shows she is truly stupid and also admits that she doesn’t know how to apply make-up. It is embarrassing and pathetic to see a female character so weak and unsure of herself that she simply falls to pieces and is unable to look after herself because she doesn’t have a man in her life.
Now I’m not saying that every female character in a book has to be a combination of Arya Stark, Wonder Woman and Amelia Earhart but considering that a lot of the book’s readers are female EL James could have put in at least a bit of effort to give them a character worth investing time in. Ana Steele is the narrator after all and since ninety nine percent of the book is seen through her eyes it really doesn’t help that she is a borderline schizophrenic, narcissistic, whiny, weak willed piece of crap who cries a lot.
Christian Grey on the other hand is a pathetically inconsistent character, one who is weak-willed, insecure, ridiculously competitive over the smallest things and utterly out of touch with the modern worlds and a woman’s place in it. He also goes to great lengths to accommodate Anastasia and keep her but this is what really makes him weak. He tries to show how much he has changed and abandons his former hobbies in the bedroom i.e. the whole BDSM thing. It therefore makes no sense at all that at the same time Anastasia becomes more or less obsessed with sex and begins participating in kinky sexual fantasies and activities just to please him.
This second book has a ridiculous amount of sex scenes thrown in just to distract the reader from the fact that NOTHING IS HAPPENING. Everything that happens in the book would be classed as a ‘sub-plot’ (no pun intended) in any other book.
There’s the ‘plot’ about Christian’s crazy ex-sub which is resolved with a cup of tea and some strong words from Christian in his ‘Dominant’ voice. Yes, it’s every bit as pathetic as that sounds.
There’s the ‘plot’ where Anastasia gets a new job and her boss is a ‘sleazeball’ according to Christian. Almost from the moment he’s introduced he’s described as a ‘sleazeball’ and it’s inferred that he probably sexually harassed a previous personal assistant of his. The fact that this is telegraphed over and over to the reader just means that when he inevitably makes a move on Anastasia there’s no impact to the scene at all and it just comes across as more weak, watery sub-par (pun sort of intended) storytelling.
One last point about Anastasia as a narrator, several times during the book she simply acts as a weak bystander in some of the most significant events in what should be HER story. Christian tells her to leave after he’s had a moment with his ex-sub and she does what she’s told. She may not have signed a contract this time around but she’s every bit as weak and submissive as in the last book.
I’ll close this little section on Story and Character (before this review becomes a novel in itself lol) by talking about the supporting characters. By gee there are a lot of them and by gosh most of them are completely worthless and without substance.
We have Kate (Ana’s friend) and Elliot (Christian’s brother) who began dating in the first book and in this book they’re still on holiday in Barbados. Then there is Ethan (Kate’s brother) who begins dating Mia (Christian’s adopted sister) in this book. Two quick points here. Number one, you know it’s a sign of really bad writing be it on television, in film or in a book when the supporting characters just pair off and begin dating each other. Number two, when the supporting characters play such a minimal role in the book and begin talking and sounding the same and are described so poorly the reader often ceases to care for them at all. I got confused between Ethan and Elliot and Kate and Mia and in the end I just didn’t care. They add nothing to the book at all. Why throw in all these worthless characters? Then there are the ones on the other end of Christian’s inane phone conversations, the other people who work with Anastasia and others and they’re all just filler like so much else in the book. It adds nothing but if you took it out then it would be admitting would the book really is. Porn for sexually unsatisfied housewives with as little imagination as the author has got.
I like to be thorough in my reviews as well as in-depth (and we’re talking 20,000 leagues under the sea in-depth here) so I did a little searching for incomes of highly paid CEOs. Firstly, Christian Grey claims that he makes $100,000 an hour. This equates to an annual income of $876 million. That’s a lot of money and sure he is described as a ‘billionaire’ but just consider this for a moment. One of the world’s wealthiest CEOs John H. Hammergren, CEO of health care company McKesson brings in a whopping $131 million per year (This includes a salary of 6.3 million plus 112 million from exercising stock options).
So Christian Grey, a guy who by all accounts I would consider to be a bit of a playboy and man of leisure somehow manages to pull in six and a half times the annual income of one of the world’s wealthiest CEOs. You’ve. Got. To. Be. Joking. In a word it’s simply incredible and I get it that this book is just a piece of fantasy, I understand that. If however, almost nobody can relate to the situations the characters are in or their financial situation or believe it for that matter, then the book just becomes a bad joke. Even fantasy novels, say Harry Potter or Game of Thrones take place in a world that is believable in its own way. There are certain rules, restrictions and limitations in their worlds as opposed to 50 Shades in which everything is taken to a ridiculous extreme.
There are more examples of where credibility takes a nosedive but I leave them for you to find dear reader and feel free to comment about them in the comments section.
IMMERSION AND DESCRIPTION:
In a good book you will find that you are losing yourself in another world, swept up in the imagination of the author’s creation. There’s drama and tension and suspense, you can feel what the protagonists are going through in their struggles. Then there’s 50 Shades Darker in which description is non-existent and it feels like EL James simply Googled descriptions of Seattle and other places as opposed to actually visiting them.
Anastasia for example describes Seattle as having ‘twinkling lights’ so many damn times I swear she’s thinking of a Christmas tree. At one point in the story Christian carries her over his shoulder and she says something like ‘right down the middle of Second Street’ as if we should know what this means.
As well as this they’re constantly driving somewhere and the only details are ‘we merged from the I20 over to the I8’ or words to that effect. I’m not American I should point out. I have no idea what this means and I don’t have the foggiest of how this looks, it is simply pitiful description.
The author makes token descriptions about the Sound in Seattle, whatever that is and other landmarks but reading the book feels like looking at a flat postcard on a wall. Reading a good book should throw you headlong into the world that is being described.
There’s another part in the book in which someone points a gun at Anastasia and instead of building tension it all falls flat as she makes yet another inane, stupid and worthless comment about her Inner bloody Goddess. This kind of crap writing really takes the reader out of the action and interrupts any sense of tension or foreboding as to what is about to happen.
Finally, let’s talk about the product placement. It is horrendous quite frankly. In just about every page there are references to Christian using his ‘Blackberry’ or Anastasia listening to her ‘iPod’ and using other Apple devices. It’s so bad and blatant that there really is little wonder how books this awful get turned into multi-million dollar Hollywood films. Everyone drives an Audi and speaking of Blackberry product placement at one point in the book Christian is literally screaming at Ana to ‘Use your fucking Blackberry.’ It’s not exactly subtle is my point. I should also point out that Anastasia takes Christian back because he buys her an iPad and makes her a mix tape… what a solid foundation to build a relationship on with the woman you just beat with a belt.
The author even manages to work some rather blatant ‘Ben and Jerry’s Ice cream’ product placement in to one of the book’s many dull sex scenes. Any author with an ounce of self respect would be ashamed at this level of groveling to multinational corporations that EL James resorts to here.
For the record, product placement is not a replacement for the art of description. Saying ‘he drove past in his Audi’ really tells me nothing at all and it is a truly weak and pathetic author that relies entirely on product placement to do the describing for them.
So to sum up how can I describe this book? It’s a masturbatory aid for sexually unsatisfied and frustrated housewives and soccer moms and little else. Anastasia Steele is an insult to an entire gender as she is weak and pathetic, constantly seeking the approval of her ‘man’ and always in fear of being reproached by him for the smallest of infractions. At one point she is afraid to go out in a dress that shows off her legs, someone please remind me what century we are living in. This is some truly backwards thinking crap by an author who quite frankly should know better. If a man wrote 50 Shades then the critics would be up in arms saying this is a lot of sexist bullshit but the fact is a WOMAN wrote it… and it is stupid, sexist bullshit that portrays women as inferior. Well dear reader now it’s your turn. Agree? Disagree? One last point and I guess I should have put this at the beginning but… spoiler alert.