Nicole's Reviews > Fifty Shades Darker

Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James
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It seems no one really believes you (okay, me) when you say you're (okay, I'm) reading the Fifty Shades trilogy for science. I've had this conversation a few times in the past couple of weeks:

THEM: What are you reading?
ME: Uh... you know the Fifty Shades books?
THEM, suddenly looking uncomfortable: Uh, the softcore porn? Yeah. Yeah, I've heard of it.
ME: Well, I decided to read those. You know, for science. Like my own little sociology project.
THEM, raising an eyebrow at me: Um, right. Science. Sure.
ME: No, really!
THEM: Whatever you need to tell yourself. So anyway, how 'bout them Yankees?

Anyway, I really didn't like the first book. I was surprised to not hate this one.


THE GOOD
In some ways it was better written than the first. For example, even though she indignantly says things like, "Just because he brought me here, I have to do as [Christian] says?" and then does what he says, Ana seems like more of a character in this installment, occasionally displaying a backbone and personality and not sitting around like a limp noodle waiting to be sexed. I thought the best part of Fifty Shades of Grey was the email correspondence between Ana and Christian, and the emails in Fifty Shades Darker made me laugh a few times--especially when Ana refers to Christian including "the Stalker's anthem" ("Every Breath You Take") on his playlist for her. I still don't get why every guy she meets want to nail her, though. I kept thinking of the line from Ten Things I Hate About You: "What is it with this chick, she have beer-flavored nipples?"


THE BAD
The overall writing is still pretty iffy. James still hasn't really figured out how we talk in the US. We don't say, "What's his surname?" or "Right, anyone for drinks, then?" or "All the canes have gone." The inner goddess and subconscious are sadly alive and well. Also, Ana has taken to calling Christian "Fifty" and "Fifty Shades" in this book. It turns out a good way to annoy me is to give your boyfriend a dumb-ass nickname and call him by it 67 times. There are some real inconsistencies with characterization: Christian does a complete 180 in this book, going from the domineering BDSM enthusiast in Grey to a guy so emotionally needy it's exhausting. And he's suddenly super vanilla in the bedroom. There is lovemaking, you guys. And it's done to "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face."

There are some problems with the plot, as well. Christian tells Ana her work emails are saved to the server even after she deletes them, so she should make sure to email him sexiness only from her BlackBerry. Then he keeps replying to her work account while yelling at her for still using it. His crazy ex-sub shows up and there's real potential for some drama there--she's crazy! (view spoiler)--but then Crazy Ex-Sub disappears for fifty pages or so and once she reappears the drama comes to a head (ooer) very quickly and nothing really happens. And then she's gone and there's still another 200 pages of the book left. There's further opportunity for excitement when (view spoiler) except it turns out (view spoiler). I ended up just being annoyed with that plot twist because everyone FREAKS OUT and there's a missing persons search and news headlines and panic in the streets. And that's just ridiculous. People aren't considered "missing" until they've been gone at least 24 hours. Someone being incommunicado for eight hours is not "missing," at least not to the law.

I counted things again. There was only one comparison to Tess of the D'Urbervilles, thank god, but there's still much eye rolling and lip biting and OH MY GOD THE EYE DARKENING. It's like they get eye exams and have their pupils dilated every single day. There is significantly less gasping in this book than in Grey, but there are 87 incidences of blushing. A more accurate title would be Fifty Shades of Red: My Battle with Compulsive Blushing. I honestly don't know how anyone in their social circle is still standing upright, what with all the blood in their bodies constantly going to their cheeks. Probably around twenty of the blushes took place during a single party scene. Why is everyone so red all the time?


THE UGLY
The Creepy Parade marches on: Christian (view spoiler) He knows her bank account number. He tells her the only way she can show him she'll never leave him is (view spoiler), and once she's agreed to that he says the only way she can show him she'll never leave him is (view spoiler). Please note they have only known each other five weeks, even though it feels like much, much longer. Oh, and based on the book's ending it looks like Christian (view spoiler). But he's rich and his shrink says he's fine, so all of this is okay!

Many of Ana's interactions with Christian reminded me of when you're watching a horror movie and you scream at the characters, "DON'T GO IN THE BASEMENT!" but they do it anyway and end up getting killed. I feel like James is perpetuating some seriously bad ideas here. Christian Grey's issues do NOT make him sexy. A lifetime of physical and emotional abuse and sexually deviant behavior cannot be cured in five weeks. Someone who constantly gives you ultimatums to prove your love is not behaving normally. A therapist who says this is normal behavior and who discusses his patient's treatment and psychological issues with others (I never saw any indication that Christian gave his consent; in fact, he seemed upset about not knowing what Dr. Flynn was telling Ana) is not a good therapist.

Anyway, here's my favorite line from the book:
He gives me a tight smile. "Will that be all, ma'am?"

"Yes, yes, of course." I flush. Will I ever get used to Taylor calling me ma'am? It makes me feel so old, at least thirty.


Enjoy!
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Reading Progress

05/31/2012 page 16
3.0% "You guys are BROKEN UP. Stop emailing each other."
05/31/2012 page 20
5.0% "She's only been with Christian about 4 pages and we already have one mention of the inner goddess, an oh my, two gasps, one reference to Icarus, a blush, and a lip bite."
05/31/2012 page 31
8.0% "Wait, what?! She said she forgot to use the safe word because she was caught up in trying to deal with the pain and he's saying how can he ever trust her again? I don't get it."
06/01/2012 page 71
18.0% "Ew, he knows her bank account number." 4 comments
06/01/2012 page 129
32.0% "There is so much blushing at this party."
06/01/2012 page 196
49.0% "Hey boneheads, deleting an email from your inbox doesn't delete it from the SERVER. So maybe don't send CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION to each other via COMPANY EMAIL. Which is something you ALREADY ADDRESSED, Mr. Grey. Why don't you listen to your own warning?"
06/02/2012 page 242
60.0% "What fresh hell?!"
06/02/2012 page 250
62.0% "This is like one of those movies where you're all, "DON'T GO INTO THE BASEMENT!" and they do anyway."
06/02/2012 page 280
69.0% "He is So. Exhaustingly. NEEDY. In this book."
06/03/2012 page 349
87.0% "WHAT THE HELL?!"
06/03/2012 page 372
92.0% "It has just officially been confirmed that he does have a heart and it's beating. I feel so cheated!"

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