Review: Fifty Shades Darker

Fifty Shades Darker (2011)

Author: E L James
Genre: erotic romance/adult fantasy
Reviewer Age Rating: 16+ (adult language, sexual content)
Website: vintagebooks.com
Printing: 2012.04 paperback, Vintage Books first edition; 532 pages

Blurb

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, Ana cannot resist.  The rekindle their searing sensual affair, and Ana learns more about the harrowing past of her damaged, driven, and demanding Fifty Shades.

While Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Ana must confront the anger and envy of the women who came before her, and make the most important decision of her life.

Word of MouthAnother #1 New York Times Bestseller.

I got into the second book because:
1. I am an idiot.
2. I am an idiot.
3. There is something special about the story…it isn’t mere S&M+fluff.

As with the first, the tears don’t flow until later… including my own.  Yes, I teared up.

Introduction

Darker kicks off with a nightmarish prologue—if only it was constructed better.

The story continues only a few days later from where the previous and first book left us.  Ana is feeling the pain in her chest, and eating less, yes even less than before.  (You’d think she’d be dead by now.)  There is no sweetness, there is no Kate, there is only the example of a common workplace with SIP (publishing).

Ana’s boss, Jack, is a load of infractions—the sexual harassment kind, and Ana doesn’t see it.  She is distracted and… well, there’s that gaping hole again.  That is until Christian reenters the the story line, and things uncomfortably move forward.  Slowly but surely, they are back together, and taking bolder risks.

Friction

And pardon the pun.  Yes there are oft-luxurious, steamy, sensual encounters.  But the dynamic has shifted with Grey.  Ana’s departure had forced him to reconsider everything.  No doubt, Steele’s friends would make him jealous, and his friends Ana.  There’s a lot of frowning and scolding.  And some “Very Angry Fifty.”

The S&M is dropped for the most part, replaced with big turns of events (say, plot devices) that force the “couple” even closer together.  More is revealed about Grey’s past, and he is exasperated as ever.  One of his ex-submissives, dirty and well, in need of psychiatric help…has a gun.

So this is not the same story as before; there are some big consequences.  But, unfortunately, the nature and detail of how the story is told is yet again somewhat weaker than how I’m describing with these reviews.  (Don’t set your expectations too high.)

Bored to Tears…or Tease

The beginning of the story with Fifty Shades of Grey started out okay, fairly detailed.  This second part starts off lacking.  With the purpose of moving the story forward, some things get overlooked.  We are instead given an earful of things that are…how do I say it?—Less romantic.  Nevertheless, Ana calls many of these things romantic anyway.

Yes, the process of sailing a boat—a handful of terms familiar to people with experience on the seas (a marina chapter), but fun for Ana, with a touch of…sex.  Of course.  Everywhere they go, sex.  The “Red Room of Pain” makes its brief return, but most of the “sensual affair” is teased out of the two.

But still, even on that end—the events are never “too strong,” even the lewd behavior.  The examples are too mature (adult) to mention here, but I can mention that Ana is once, yet again, put in a position…without panties.

Intensity“USE YOUR BLACKBERRY.” (p.351)

We find again, it is as if Grey has the ability to make undergarments combust into thin air.
“He gives me his devastating, lopsided, 150 percent panty-busting smile.” (p.347)
“… they disintegrate in his hands.” (p.271)

E L James doles out her sense of humor with lines like those, but maybe in better taste with the second book.  This time are there aren’t a ridiculous count of Oh mys and Holy cows, etc.  Thankfully.

“You are a pervert.”

“I know.”  He raises his eyebrows and his grin broadens.

“My pervert,” I whisper.

“Yes, yours.”

Nevertheless the story arc becomes more stimulating toward the end.

Oh, no you don’t, Grey.  I want you.” (p.389)
It would’ve been funnier if left just the first four words.

Construction

And…once again, the sentence construction, like the first book, could be considered on the High School level.  It can make it hard to call these books a series of novels.  And like the first, there are a few typos overlooked in the editing process.  Hmm . . . too mature to read over?  Missing punctuation on page 153.

You can tell it’s not written by an American when the expression “kinky fuckery” is used as if ordinary to the U.S. citizen.  And “Laters, baby.”  Ugh…

Explaining the obvious to the audience is unappealing.  Ana explains the word “repeat”?
“I choose a song haphazardly and press ‘repeat’ so it will play over and over again.  I need some music to think by.” (p.359)

And the blending of train of thought in the writing process, as if the characters were part of the same brain, with the same vocabulary…  (It’s James’ brain, of course.)

I shake my head at him.  “Whatever happened to delayed gratification?”

“I got over it, and I’m now a firm advocate of instant gratification.  Carpe diem, Ana,” he whispers.

Yeah…with this book you can expect anyone in the story to say “Carpe Diem.”  (Not that more than a few characters do.)  But really, “Laters” is the common word…

Moving

The first part was close with tools (S&M), the second closer to actual romance toward the end, with a touch of sincerity.  It actually got intense in the heartfelt sense, enough so that I would call anyone who reads Darker heartless if he/she felt nothing by it.

More of the sex is abbreviated with this book, though there is…still a lot of non-abbreviated sex, even “sexcapades,” even when it might not be necessary to the story.  But some actual hearts and flowers come into play, and Ana makes a chocolate cake for Christian’s birthday.

There is more than one episode where Christian Grey, the “control-freak,” is at the mercy of the elements around him, not just Ana.

“No . . . no!” he says in desperation and puts both hands on his head.

“Christian . . .”

“No,” he breaths, his eyes wide with panic …

So parts of it are moving, maybe more so than the first book.  But it’s still a fantasy with all the convenient circumstances leading up.  Fortunately, the ending—and what makes the third book possible—was written out of scope, creatively adding more of a crime narrative.  A plot device, of course, but something different for a change.

Summary

Some of it’s good and some of it makes you go, “oh, come on.”  Some of it’s tear-jerking and some it is [expletive]-jerking.

This time, toward the end, I actually wanted to get through it.  It is kind of special.  Still fiction, though.  The story so far with all of its events and constant sex spans at most three weeks time. Friction fiction.  Two weeks of perfect weather in Seattle?  Almost unheard of.  Grade: C+

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