Thursday, August 23, 2012

Review: Fifty Shades Darker by E. L. James

Title: Fifty Shades Darker
Author: E.L. James
Series: Fifty Shades #2
Pages: 537
Publisher: The Writer's Coffee Shop
Date Published: September 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
Genre: Erotic Romance
Source: Target...but I shouldn't have bothered

Daunted by the singular tastes and dark secrets of the beautiful, tormented young entrepreneur Christian Grey, Anastasia Steele has broken off their relationship to start a new career with a Seattle publishing house. But desire for Christian still dominates her every waking thought, and when he proposes a new arrangement, Anastasia cannot resist. They rekindle their searing sensual affair, and Anastasia learns more about the harrowing past of her damaged, driven and demanding Fifty Shades. While Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Anastasia must confront the anger and envy of the women who came before her, and make the most important decision of her life. 

My Review:

I admit that I was swept away by Fifty Shades of Grey. Christian's cold and enigmatic personality really intrigued me and I loved the highs and lows of the beginnings of Ana and Christian's relationship. I've never really been exposed to the kind of BDSM that James describes and the complicated web of emotions that Ana felt about Christian because of it. I admit it...the Red Room of Pain held my attention and had me on the edge of my seat to see just what was going to happen. And it was HOT. But here's where I'm going to lose all of you fans of the series. I don't think book two stood up to book one. At all. Not only was it sorely lacking in any of the "kinky effery" that made book one so outrageous, but the plot devolves into angst-filled whining and somber moping. And the entire time I found myself bored and getting irritated at the repetitive inner monologue running through Ana's head.

My favorite part of the entire book would have to be the sexy emails. I loved them. They actually gave me hope that Christian and Ana could potentially be a successful healthy couple. The emails were full of personality and cuteness and made me want to have an illicit work relationship just so that I could have someone to send my flirty emails to. I think there's probably been more filthy emails sent because of this book than have been sent since sexting was created and I give James props for that. I actually found myself looking forward in the book to see if there were any more email segments, and you know that something is awesome when I'm skipping ahead just to find them.

That being said, there was a reason that I was skipping ahead. I was bored. I don't understand why so many people are obsessed with Christian Grey. I admit that I kind of fell in love with him against my own judgment in the first book because he was interesting AND seemed to have a past that was worth discovering. I liked that we got a chance to learn more about that past, and at first it actually made me like him more. But then I realized something. Christian Grey is deranged. It doesn't matter that his twisted past is what made him this way. He literally beats on women who look like his crackhead mother...which is a noted sign of certain serial killers and definitely of sociopathic personalities. Also it's extremely unrealistic that a LIFETIME of sexual perversion and psychological issues can be altered by the love and magical sexual skills of a 22 year old virgin. Seriously? What kind of message is that sending out to girls? It's okay that your boyfriend is an overbearing, narcissistic sociopath, you'll be able to tame those lifelong issues within weeks (as long as you are pure and innocent) then get married and live happily ever after because YOU changed him.

Ana is not a character that you should emulate. Sure...she wants to help Christian and to be in a relationship without compromising her own morals. That's admirable. The fact that she fails so miserably at it is what makes her a weak imitation of a real protagonist. I just got so frustrated being trapped in her head. She seemed so childish sometimes, even when talking about explicit things, so I felt like I was talking to a 10 year old about sex and it made me feel all squeeshy and gross. If she mentions her own inner goddess, librarian, etc. again I will grab her figurative self and shred it to itty bitty pieces in my paper shredder.  ALSO I am so unbelievably irritated that her nickname for Christian is actually "Fifty Shades". Dumb. Also kind of pretentious. And irritating. For one thing the nickname is longer than his real name. For another it makes the story seem even more angst-ridden than it already is and has me on the verge of jumping off my balcony every time she says "my poor fifty". Poor rich, sexy, handsome, well-loved sad little thing you.

So with all the problems with the characters you would think that James would have had time to come up with some really great plot.Yeah. Not the case. There's a creepy boss who gets increasingly creepier until you actually are in favor of Christian's control freak, paranoid tendencies to have Ana followed. Then Christian's crazy ex's start making appearances, including some very tense moments with the woman who trained Christian to be all Dom-all the time (Mrs. Robinson). So mostly the entire story is about relationship drama and sex literally until the epilogue finally gives us some kind of development (though it smacks of campy "I'll take over the world" moments. You can almost picture the villain stroking a pure while Persian kitty and going "muahahaha". Still...knowing that there may be SOME form of plot in the next book is really the only thing that has me vaguely interested in continuing.
There were three great things about this book. The cover, the fight with Mrs. Robinson in the end,  and the emails sent between Ana and Christian. I know that I'll probably catch some flack for this review from some of my followers. I'm sorry...I just couldn't stomach the almost sickly-sweet relationship between Christian and Ana in this book. Things that were cute in book one just got irritating as they were repeated over and over again. It got old, and it didn't even have the kinky sex that brought readers to book one. Honestly, I think people are getting caught up in the hype surrounding the series and giving them higher ratings than they actually deserve. There really isn't a whole lot of merit in the series from this book onward, just rehashing past thoughts, overly descriptive sex scenes that lose their passion and relevancy after only a few paragraphs, and massive amounts of annoying references to Christian being " Fifty Shades of *****D up" We get are psychologically scarred. I don't need Ana to tell me about how scarred you are every other chapter for the entire book.


  1. I agree with you totally. I found the author very unimaginative in this book, with all non-sex related type just being repeated over and over. I also found the words she chose weird. Its all very simple until she randomly busts out a thesaurus every now and then. She used some words that I actually had to look up because they were so obscure. It was a lot of the exact same thing over and over. And don't even get me started on Christian as a psycho. Women don't actually want someone like him (like they seem to be shouting from rooftops that they do) they want someone rich enough to buy them stuff and woo them on expensive dates. I despise these books, and I'm only half way through book 2. Book one, I thought was OK, but I have been trying to read book 2 for 2 weeks and I keep picking up something else instead because its so boring.

  2. I completely understand where you are coming from with this. Ana is a psycho as is Christian, and the author didnt do very well with making the plot amazing and all that. hat I must say though to counter some of your comments is that often, some BDSM relationships, especially starting out, seem to be a bit strange. I tend to enjoy researching things so I can understand and I learned something about the submissive bond subs form to their dom's once they're introduced into it. Some of the stories I've read make me wonder if BDSM doesnt change people's minds a bit. It kind of made me understand Ana's strange issue with not being able to leave Christain alone. In terms of Christain chosing women to beat on and control and have sex with and all that, that's just crazy. I cant really get that, but I suppose it's a common thing for people. I know a lot of people that have fetishes with people who look like their family members or old girlfriends or whatever. I suppose this is a bit of the same, but I just cant get with it. It just seems a bit...wrong.

  3. (no idea why the word hat is randomly placed in there, ignore it!)

  4. I really don't get why most people like this book. I couldn't force myself to finish the last one.