Shedding some light on Fifty Shades Darker…

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.

My review of Fifty Shades of Grey

What to read after Fifty Shades of Grey

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7 Responses to Shedding some light on Fifty Shades Darker…

  1. Laurie says:

    I agree with your assessment of 50 Shades of Grey. Like you I thought the story was good…really good…mostly because it really delves deeply into its characters. There are a lot of light and fluffy BDSM books that never really delve into the psyches of their characters to examine how they tick and why they tick that way. In a lot of BDSM books the focus is a lot on physical aspects and emotional and psychological aspects are given a short shift by comparison. That’s not the case with 50 Shades, at least in my opinion. I knew what Anna saw in Christian and what Christian saw in Anna not just in a physical sense but in an emotional and psychological sense.

    Like you I think it is a very good book but I think it could have been much, much stronger with a bit of good editing.

    I love the line of it being like an over-accessorized dress which makes it such that what one sees is too much glitz rather than the beauty of the dress beneath. I think that’s a fitting analogy.

  2. Cara Bristol says:

    Thanks, Laurie. I agree. Many bdsm books deal with only the behavior. Fifty Shades delves into the emotions and the mindset. Much more intriguing.

  3. Sadey Quinn says:

    Totally agree with you… 50 Shades gets a ton of bad press –and its share of good press, too!– it’s really an OK series.

    Not the best I’ve ever read, but far far far from the worst. 🙂

  4. Glori says:

    Hello Cara!

    I’ve been a silent reader fro a while, but I just had to comment on this post.

    I agree with what you said. At first, after reading the first book, I didn’t like it very much. I guess I’m spoiled because Emma Holly, Lori Foster, and all my other fave authors (nonBDSM) gave such juicy tales all the time. But then I found out that it started out as a fanfiction.

    I write a lot of fanfiction too. In fact, it’s how I started writing erotic fiction, although I’m still learning. I’m biased, I know, but that’s one of the reasons why I liked the book. It’s like proof that dreams can come true… Haha… I’m babbling…

  5. Cara Bristol says:

    Hi Glori. Nice to hear from you! I think however one comes to writing is a good thing. I think that E.L. James did so much that was right, it’s a shame that the editing gave readers and critics cause to criticize.

  6. Sue says:

    Thanks – it’s the first good review I’ve seen –not that I looked much. What’s the appeal though to the “mommy” set? Why these books and not the hordes of other romance novels out there?

    • Cara Bristol says:

      A lot of people think it’s the bdsm/sex part that is the attraction of Fifty Shades, but I don’t think it is. Fifty Shades is an intensely ROMANTIC novel. It’s a love story through and through, mixed with a little tragedy, some pretty hot sex and a little kink. It is much more romantic than the typical erotic romance and far sexier than the typical sweet romance — a heady combination. It actually combines the best of both.

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