Fifty Shades Darker by EL James (Arrow books)
Warning: Considering that this is a work of erotic fiction that features elements of BDSM, this review may contain a few references to sexual and deviant acts. Not your kind of thing? Click here to check out our other book reviews.
Also please note that this book is the second in a trilogy and may contain spoilers. You can read a review of the first book here.
Ok, I realise that this may be the most ironic thing that I'm about to utter considering that I'm actually about to review Fifty Shades Darker, but I have to confess the following:
I am Fifty Shades of fatigued.
It's not that I mind the books, which are poorly-written, but guilty addiction reads. Really, I don't.
It's just that I often find that when the hype of the book becomes too much - to the point where every website you stumble across has something to say about the "Mommy Porn" that's been taking the world by storm - it leaves me feeling too exhausted to want to have anything more to do with the books.
It's probably the reason why I'm only writing the review for 50 Shades Darker now.
That said, I'm all about honest, fair and constructive reviews, so will be the first to admit that even though I think these books are not very well-written at all (the author herself has admitted to not being a great writer), I do get the appeal behind the books.
I don't understand it, but I get it.
The tortured hero, the naive heroine and the kinky sex - it's perfect reading fodder for lovers of erotic fiction.
The thing about tormented characters (especially the male protagonists), is that there is something about them that make most women want to fix them.
These kind of heroes often appeal to us because, as a fellow book lover and tweeter put it, we think we can save them. And even though we don't, we want to try anyway.
And Christian Grey is about as angst-ridden and tormented by dark demons as can be.
When we last left off, Fifty Shades of Grey ended on a note that left Ana deeply disturbed and traumatised by the depths of Christian's depravity. Deciding that she's better off without him and his idea of kinky, she opts to break things off with him.
With a sterling new career at a publishing house, Ana tries her best to focus on a future without Christian, but the young and deeply afflicted entrepreneur dominates her every thought, filling her with a longing so deep, that it's not long before she finds herself accepting a new and irresistible, no-rules arrangement.
What follows in yet another roller-coaster ride into a world of sex, sex and more sex.
In-between, she learns more about the harrowing demons of his past, is forced to confront her insecurities about whether or not his feelings for her are as sincere as hers and has to deal with some unwanted women flocking around in the bid to get Christian's attention.
If you haven't read the books yet, the first thing you should probably know is that the books are more character-based than plot-based.
Personally, I think character-based novels can work, provided that the book is well-written and the development of the protagonists throughout the book make for an enjoyable reading experience.
Fifty Shades Darker?
While it doesn't lose any of its addictiveness, it definitely lives up to its title.
In fact, so much so, that I felt as if the book is just way too weighed down by all the angst. Readers can expect lots of fighting, make-up sex and more fighting.
Ana and Christian, for all of their efforts to resolve the various issues in their relationship, probably have one of the unhealthiest relationships imaginable. I'm not talking about their BDSM lifestyle here, but rather their sickly, emotional attachment to one another.
Watching their relationship progress throughout the novel, is like being caught up in a tidal wave that you can't swim away from. On the one hand, you can help but be annoyed with them and some of their more dubious actions, but on the other hand, you can't help but root for the two of them.
I know. So contradictory right? But then, I suppose ambivalent is the best word I'd describe when it comes to my feelings about this book.
Add Christian's broken past (and boy, does he have one screwed up history), Ana's obsessive need to get back into the playroom she first ran away from, the copious amount of sex (yes, there's so much it warrants another mention - it is, erotic fiction after all) and the moments of tenderness in between, and Fifty Shades Darker is a book that you'll, in spite of yourself, probably not be able to put down.
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