50 Shades Darker by E.L. James
My Rating: 2/5 stars
Goodreads average rating: 3.88/5 stars
I read 50 Shades of Grey when it first came out and there was serious hype surrounding it. Any time a book is getting this much attention, I need to get a copy in my hands stat so that I can join the conversation. But oh man, I hated 50 Shades of Grey. I couldn’t stand it, thought about not finishing it, and desperately wanted so many of those images permanently wiped from my brain. So why, you ask, would I ever pick up the second book in the series? It’s a little thing I like to call the T. Swift trap. No part of me had any desire to read this book or to ever see the movie until Taylor Swift had to write a song for it; a song that gets stuck in my brain and stays there for days. Here’s how my exact train of thought went down. If Taylor Swift wrote this great song for the movie, the movie has to be great too, right? But I have to read the book first. I’m a reader. It’s what readers do. Plus, the book is always better than the movie. Next thing I knew E.L. James had worked her way into my Thriftbook cart. I got Swifted, y’all.
Basically, this book picks up immediately after where the last book left off. The two characters have known each other for approximately five weeks, and have now been broken up for maybe a week, so naturally they realize they are deeply, madly in love and must never spend another minute apart. Christian has agreed to a “vanilla” relationship (because if there aren’t nipple clamps involved it’s obviously boring) in order to keep Ana happy. Now Ana must decide if she can grapple with Christian’s demons and spend the rest of her life with this man.
E.L. James does one thing well…she knows how to turn up the heat. Ms. James can write a seriously, steamy sex scene. This book was definitely way less focused on bondage and so the sex will probably appeal to a much wider audience. It also didn’t give me the creepy, rapey vibes the first book did. If you are in the market for trashy, can’t-read-in-public, hot sex scenes this book is a winner.
Christian’s life is a fantasy I love getting lost in. Hold the sex, I’ll take the sailboats and properties in Aspen. Most women will swoon over Christian’s sexy confidence in and out of the bedroom, but the one thing selling me on Christian is the super swanky lifestyle he comes with. Formal events every weekend. Hired help at your every bid and call. Fast-driving, fancy cars. A closet filled to the brim with satin and lace all accompanied by designer labels. E.L. James has created a world I want to live in.
Ana’s “inner goddess” drove me insane this book. Every other sentence practically, there is mention of Ana’s inner goddess, acting out some weird, inner monologue. My inner goddess is doing the merengue with some salsa moves. Remember the show Lizzie McGuire? Occasionally, Lizzie’s inner voice would show up as this cartoon character doing ridiculous things. This character is all I could see every time Ana described her inner goddess. It was fine in the beginning when inner goddess was simply doing things like dancing a little salsa, but later in the book when inner goddess is down on her knees begging for “kinky fuckery” it became a much less pleasant image.
The story telling is so repetitive. Ana gets jealous of one of Christian’s past girls. Christian gets mad at Ana for being jealous. They argue. They have sex, because obviously that’s the best way to stop a fight. And repeat. At least once each chapter Ana reminds us that she is very jealous specifically of “Mrs. Robinson.” Each chapter Christian shows off the fact that he is clearly bi-polar going from fun, boyish Christian to angry controlling Christian, over something like Ana didn’t eat enough today. Someone cries every chapter. This was split pretty evenly between Ana crying because she can’t be as kinky as Christian “needs” and Christian crying because Ana might leave him. And finally, each chapter they have a ridiculous amount of sex, everywhere and anywhere. The formula gets old fast and there is no reason for this book to be over 500 pages.
Ana and Christian have zero chemistry outside of the bedroom. Ana has never had another boyfriend but after only five weeks she is desperately in love with Christian. Christian has never been the boyfriend type, but now can’t imagine a day without Ana and he must make her his wife. This might make sense if they seemed to have any sort of connection other than the physical, but they don’t. If they aren’t having sex they are fighting or crying. I just can’t root for a love story, when I don’t see the love.
What happened to Ana being mousy? The first book Ana is described as plain and even mousy. This book, she can’t walk by a guy without setting off fire alarms. Apparently, when you lose your virginity, you automatically become super sexy. Good lesson for girls everywhere.
And finally, the big one. I HATE Christian. He is awful. He is possessive, jealous, controlling, entitled, and childish. I don’t care how messed up his childhood was, the man does not get the excuse to monitor Ana’s every move. There were so many times in the book when his reaction would suddenly shift, and I had no clue what triggered him to be so angry. How any girl could live with this sort of constant scrutiny from the man she loves, baffles me. To make Christian’s behavior worse, Ana goes back and forth between acting like a temper-tantrum throwing toddler to a kicked dog. Sometimes I felt like she purposely was picking fights. Other times Christian could just look at her the wrong way and she’d completely crumble. No matter how hot the guy was, I could never spend more than five minutes with a man like Christian.
In the end I gave this book two stars. I gave the first book one star, and this felt a smidge better than that one. There are so many other things I could rant about with this book, but I’d probably be here typing all night. I still plan to go see the movie, and once I do I will update with my thoughts and comparisons.