After reading Fifty Shades Darker, the second book of the Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy, I think I have it figured out: Fifty Shades is like a beautiful, elegant dress that’s been over-acessorized. Many people will see all the “stuff” and not notice the beauty of the dress.
I noticed. Underneath the repetitive word usages, phrases and metaphors lies a moving love story with sympathetic dynamic characters, sensual sex scenes, amusing dialog and solid plotting. If you’ve read Fifty Shades of Grey, you know that Ana meets Christian who’s into some heavy BDSM. Ana can accept some of the lighter stuff, but has no desire or interest in participating in the harsher aspects, and that drives a wedge between her and Christian, whom she truly loves.
In Fifty Shades Darker, Ana comes to learn why Christian is the way he is, and he vows to give up the darker side of BDSM to make their relationship work. But she wonders if he really can. And past lovers/subs re-enter the picture to wreak havoc on the relationship.
My reaction to Darker was the same as with the first novel: I thought the beginning moved slowly, but once I got midway through, the pace picked up. There’s one scene in the book that was the turning point for me: in the middle of an intense emotional moment, Dominant Christian morphs into a sub and drops to his knees before Ana. You couldn’t have ripped the Kindle from my hands. The scenes where Christian who has an aversion to being touched allows Ana to touch him are incredibly poignant and moving. I even shed a tear or two.
I gave Fifty Shades of Grey five stars; I give Fifty Shades Darker four. The first half was slow (in fact I started the book, put it down and read two others before I finished it). I cut EL James some slack on the first book but by the second, I want it to move. Also, the hook at the end felt as if it was tacked on. The entire book is written in the first person from Ana’s POV, but then the end shifts to another character and is written in third person. The author needed that hook to lead into the final book of the trilogy, but it wasn’t handled well.
What strikes me about the series overall is this: it’s good. Damn good. But with editing, it could have been magnificent. Shame on the publisher for not editing.