Tag Archives: Fifty Shades

Review: Fifty Shades Freed

Fifty Shades Freed (2012)

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; 579 pages

Blurb

When unworldly student Anastasia Steele first encountered the driven and dazzling young entrepreneur Christian Grey it sparked a sensual affair that changed both of their lives irrevocably. Shocked, intrigued, and, ultimately, repelled by Christian’s singular erotic tastes, Ana demands a deeper commitment. Determined to keep her, Christian agrees.

Now, Ana and Christian have it all—love, passion, intimacy, wealth, and a world of possibilities for their future. But Ana knows that loving her Fifty Shades will not be easy, and that being together will pose challenges that neither of them would anticipate. Ana must somehow learn to share Christian’s opulent lifestyle without sacrificing her own identity. And Christian must overcome his compulsion to control as he wrestles with the demons of a tormented past.

Just when it seems that their strength together will eclipse any obstacle, misfortune, malice, and fate conspire to make Ana’s deepest fears turn to reality.

Word of Mouth#1 New York Times Bestseller, 70+ million sold worldwide.

I got into the third book because:
I was compelled to finish the trilogy.
…And perchance I have not much, anything better to do.  Still.

Whatever.  This is truly the better one.

Master of the Universe

There is a brief placement of this original title in the thoughts of one of the characters, describing Christian Grey, in his authority figure, the billionaire CEO of CGE.  Master of the Universe was an online serial publication with different characters; this romance novel is a rework.  For Universe, E L James used the pen name “Snowqueen’s Icedragon.”

Introduction

The setting: weeks later, after part two (Darker).  All of the arrangements and executions toward the couple’s committed relationship finished, they are closer than ever, away on a yacht for a few weeks.

Jack is gone (but not really), and Ana has moved up the chain at SIP.  Ana daydreams on a beach, topless; turning onto her back in her sleep, she is scolded.  A fire breaks out at GEH, and security is tightened once more.  Nevertheless, future plans are underway; the plans for the new house are rendered and are, well, more or less complete already.

Undermined out of his position, someone in the shadows is pissed.  So, of course, things will not move smoothly for Anastasia; but she’s maturing, getting used to her new life.  Little does she know what awaits her, lurking, nuts, and ready to kick her in the ribs.

Cutting to the Chase

This last installment in the trilogy actually gets to the point, and then some.  There are fewer not-so-well rendered moments of awkwardness, and the story enters territory the other appears more familiar with.  In other words, the author knows what she’s doing, where she’s going—we can see it; she’s done a better job.  There are tight sequences, there are action sequences, and there are… sex sequences.

The romance has quelled a bit to make room for what’s to come.  And finally, finally we find some carnal withdrawal.  In other words, the third time was the charm—this third book is more realistic.  With brevity the story worked better, the formula (for lack of better word) had panned out.  And more is offered, past all of the fantastical circumstances.  Giggling, tickling… safe-wording… an epilogue and two chapters from Christian’s POV.

Explanations are given, and the story is tied up.

There’s crime and there are consequences.  More specifically, the downside of sex is rendered—using it for power, with blackmail and denial.  CCTV footage is used against the abused.  Without giving too much away, Ana is hospitalized for days at one point.

Justification

There are numerous excuses as to why this part works: the story is set well ahead, where the characters can be blended (whereas in the first installment they cannot).

“Well, stop being such an arse.”

He chuckles and the captivating sound reverberates through his chest.  He tightens his hold on me.  “Arse?”

“Ass.”

“I prefer arse.”

“You should.  It suits you.”

The fantasy is told with humor and cuteness.  I can’t go into detail, though, on the ‘cuteness’ part, as doing so would spoil the copper-haired ending.

Summary

It’s an adult bed-time story.  Sort of.  Not bad, not great, not Inspector Linley… and Christian continues to tease Ana in public, almost in front of children; it’s a tad perverted.  In all, it’s an entertaining story that draws out a kind of bright, idealized world, conveying its emotions without stressing out the reader with unexplained detail.  All is revealed… except E L James’ secrets.  I give this book a B.
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Since completing this trilogy over a week ago, I’ve read into another “Erotic Romantic” series, and couldn’t continue past the first—namely, the explicit and perhaps rushed Bared To You by Sylvia Day.  Fifty Shades is clean in comparison to that and others.  I could say you might want to take that into consideration if ever your children would ever want to read this stuff.

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+

Review: Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey (2011)

Author: E L James (former TV executive)
Genre: erotic romance / adult fantasy
Reviewer Age Rating: 16+ (adult language, sexual content)
Website: vintagebooks.com

Blurb

When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Chrisitan Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating.  The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him.  Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates.  For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control.  When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

Word of Mouth

If this #1 New York Times Bestseller could be summed up in a word it would be: flawed.

I got into it but for three reasons:
1. I had nothing better / more entertaining to read.
2. I heard that it was poorly written.
3. I am hypersexual. It warms my cockles entertains me much at times.  (I laugh.)

So… Where do I begin?  Flawed.  Right.
It doesn’t meet up with expectations or even the second part of the blurb, entirely.
Still, it’s not horrible.

Introduction

At first it rolls off the tongue with reasonably real characters, Anastasia Steele and Katherine Kavanagh, two characters just finishing college, students in their early twenties, the rabbit-pattern jammies, etc.  Ana is shy and reserved, with brown hair and a taste for Twinings English Breakfast tea; Kate is a strawberry-blonde reporter, always able to sense something and draw it out of people (the Kavanagh Inquisition).

Kate is sick, so Ana volunteers to do the interview.  So far, so good.

Already, we’re introduced to the characters in Ana’s head—herself, her subconscious, the goddess, all at odds—oh, the infighting, with an obvious sense of humor.

See?  Not here to find you at all, my subconscious sneers at me, loud, proud, and pouty.  I flush at my foolish, wayward thoughts.” (p.26)

“I flush at the waywardness of my subconscious—she’s doing her happy dance in a bright red hula skirt at the thought of being his.”  (p.67)

Then, in small but exaggerated varying degrees, Ana is feeling so many things for the first time…and that’s when the unreal elements start popping up.

Imperfectly Perfect

First, when self-proclaimed “mousey” Ana is subbing for Kate, interviewing Christian Grey, she is turned on—like others, at his beauty—like clockwork, never failing to flush, in all the sharp swings of facial expressions.  For days.  And then, it’s like Ana has been living under a rock for twenty-one years.

“I’m squirming with a needy, achy . . . discomfort.  I don’t understand this reaction.  Hmm . . . Desire.  This is desire.  This is what it feels like.” (p.68)

So, we somehow have an intelligent college student that’s unfamiliar with relatively basic emotions and concepts below her age group, despite her required reading level?  Reading what?  Tess of d’Ubervilles.

Finally, we find out that Grey is a Dominant.  So in summary, he’s a multi-billionaire, with the Audis and the helicopter(s), running an enterprise with impossibly giant buildings, an impossibly giant pocket book to spend on expensive toys, anything…  He has an eclectic taste and knowledge in never-fail music that includes Kings of Leon, and he’s well-endowed, maturely sexually experienced in BDSM (S&M)—all at age 27.

So from Ana’s perspective, missing the point, he’s just…imperfectly perfect.
To make matters even more unlikely, Kate falls for Elliot, Christian’s brother.

And who can miss the underdeveloped ‘Hispanic’ photographer friend named José, and his “Dios mío! Ana!”  Uttered several times.  Like a catchphrase.

No doubt, Ana will try to manage the “relationship,” trying to escape every now and then, even drinking Cosmos with her mother in Georgia at one point.  But in her cries of pain, falling in love with Christian, her earlier messages draw him back to her, every time.

Nevertheless, it’s a novel that it ties up its elements; every point and turn amounts to something that draws “the couple” closer, including a meeting of the parents…unfortunately without panties.  Ana is always mortified.

Inarticulate Thoughts“Ground, swallow me up now!” (p.18)

Oh, there are so many oh nos, oh mys, Holy craps, and Holy fucks—strewn all over.

In one relatively small paragraph alone (p.58), all of the italics, in order are as follows (not kidding): “Holy crap.” … “Oh no.” … “Hmm . . . tequila.

When Grey makes a food analogy on individual taste, Ana thinks:
We’re talking about cheese . . . Holy crap.” (p.103)

Oh, shit . . . how long is this going to last?” (p.60)  I see…514 pages.  That’s how long.

First person and clean, you can’t help but notice the immaturity in Ana’s accounting of events, in often short expressional sentences, like a text-based video game.  Everything Grey does is ‘hot,’ and everything he offers is ‘delicious’ or ‘divine,’ including his ‘impressive length’—“Oh, the fullness” (p.328).  Not every paragraph, but…you’ve no idea.

“The chicken caesar is delicious. … The wine is crisp, clean, and fruity.” (p.317)

“Cranberry and sparkling water.  Hmm . . . it tastes delicious and quenches my thirst.” (p.332)

“He tastes divine.” (p.348)

“Christian Grey has a sad side.” (p.124)
(Oh, yes, the copper-haired Grey had also learned to play the piano at a young age.)

These are her thoughts?  She’s supposed to be literate and independent, finishing college!

Not For Children…sort of“Shit.  I groan . . . how can I feel this there?” (p.114)

The novel may be “NC-17” in its sexual content—literarily intense (not too explicit), with Grey gingerly biting at nipples ’n’ such, sending sensations…down there.  But you still can’t help but laugh.  It’s so childish in its construction that it can seem as mature as a cartoon, the way things reset.  Without fail, both Steele and Grey can ‘get it up’ every time, any time…also collapsing almost every time.  There is no biological come-down, no chemical resistance, and all the climaxes are described in terms ‘shattering into a million pieces,’ earth-shattering, spirally, etc.  And somehow, Ana the virgin is already skilled.

It may carry a bit of intelligence, using numerous technical facts (researched), but entirely all consequence in the novel boils down to the pending emotional damage.  That’s oversimplified adult fantasy for ya’.  Less knowledge and wisdom on life, more chapters you can expect to find mainly trying to touch you…there.  And then Christian Grey collapses on top of you, and you pass out soundly.

Emotional Draw

It may have deliberate humor, with the emails (“SHOUTY CAPITALS”), but so much of the book is unintentionally funny—almost a comedy.  That is, until the joke gets old, and it can become a sort of agony attempting to read the rest of it through.

It is only by the end that you can finally feel for the immature characters.  Once the onion has unraveled, Ana is hugging Charlie Tango—the balloon modeled after Grey’s EC135 Eurocopter.  She “followed her heart”…after overthinking things, throughout the story.

And so, like any commercial trilogy, it leaves you hanging, needing, lusting, desiring the sequel, Fifty Shades Darker.  And maybe the third, Fifty Shades Freed.  (What a title.)  Come to think of it, there are a few typos in this 2012 Vintage Books edition, including “,.”

In all, it’s readable if you have the time and sense of humor to laugh at your own groans.  And then it’s back to why am I reading this, again?  It’s no doubt entertaining.  But I wouldn’t entertain the idea of reading it all over again, unless to a crowd looking for humor.  At least it made me laugh hard, and groan, and feel a little…something.  At least it helped improve my vocabulary, with words like profligate and foyer.  At least it reminds me that novels have a plot, with detail and structure.  And that people have emotions.

Yes, people have emotions.

“I think I feel a little faint. I take another sip of wine. Alcohol—this will make me brave.” (p.104)

Oh, I can’t wait for the non-funny R-rated theatrical version (obviously cutting down a lot).  And by “can’t wait,” I mean I will make no real effort to see it.
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Next: This is Where I Leave You (finished reading), and Gone Girl (2012)

And for anyone interested in further exploring the ridiculous nature of the writing of this book, and how many times someone flushes or murmurs or rolls his/her eyes, cocks his/her head, Rebecca had posted her take in 2012 with all the counts, to the point of suggesting that the characters had disease(s).  Googly Eye disease.  And yes, it took me two years to put up the link (the new editor is not better!).