Monday, 6 August 2012

Fifty Shades Darker by E. L. James

Fifty Shades Darker
by E. L. James

Summary: Daunted by the singular tastes and dark secrets of the beautiful, tormented young entrepreneur Christian Grey, Anastasia Steele has broken off their relationship to start a new career with a Seattle publishing house.

But desire for Christian still dominates her every waking thought, and when he proposes a new arrangement, Anastasia cannot resist. They rekindle their searing sensual affair, and Anastasia learns more about the harrowing past of her damaged, driven and demanding Fifty Shades.

While Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Anastasia must confront the anger and envy of the women who came before her, and make the most important decision of her life.
So before I get into the review (which may be more rant than review) of this book, there's something I need to say about the first book: I found it entertaining.

The writing is terrible, the characters are terrible, the story in general was pretty terrible... but it was more entertaining than I expected it to be. But my expectations were really, really low so it's not like that's much of a compliment. But yeah, I enjoyed it - it wasn't amazing, I'm well aware of its flaws but just as mindless entertainment? *shrugs* So long as I read it as a story about two messed up characters and their messed up relationship, instead of trying to view it as romantic or erotic (it was neither), then it worked okay.

This book? Awful. Awful. Awful. Fifty shades worse than the first one.

The characters got worse. The writing bugged me more. I wanted to yell, "SHUT UP YOU MORONIC LITTLE TWIT!" when Ana, again, started prattling on about her "inner goddess" and her subconscious (you're not supposed to be conscious of what's going on in that part of your brain, that is kind of the point of your subsconcious, so stop talking about how your freaking subconscious is doing cartwheels and all that nonsense). And just - eugh.

Let's talk about Christian, shall we? Why in the world are so many women creaming their panties over this character? Seriously - sense, it's not making it. I just - why?

His "positive" qualities:
  • He's hot.
  • He's rich.
His negative qualities (some spoilers, probably):
  • His personality.
  • To be more specific: he's controlling
  • Abusive (and I'm not talking about kinky sex, like - in this one, after Ana has made it clear that she doesn't want to be hit as punishment, he still threatens on more than one occasion to spank her... and makes it clear he doesn't mean it in the sexual way).
  •  Creepy.
  • Stalker (he actually has her followed, tracks her location using her phone, buys the company she works for so he can control that aspect of her life too).
  • Possesive (some examples mentioned above).
  • Hypocrite (he's not okay with her hanging out with male friends even though he's still friends with the woman he was screwing for years, he gets mad at her for rolling her eyes when he does it too etc.).
  • He does things wrong then somehow manages to manipulate her into apologizing.
  • Says charming things like this: "You are coming back to my apartment if I have to drag you there by your hair." (seriously, his actual words - not the typical caveman "I'll throw you over my shoulder and carry you" no, actual violent threat...although, he does then proceed to throw her over his shoulder and carry her against her will).
  • He treats her like a child. Like, he bosses her about, is overly obsessed with her diet, he chastises her like she's a kid and he's her father and just... eugh.
  • "Come." - this is supposed to be an erotic novel (it fails though), but I don't mean the word in a sexual context. No, whenever he wants her to follow him or go with him, he commands her to "Come." like she's a dog (perhaps that one is just being nitpicky, but it bugged me so much with how frequently it was done).
  • He books an appointment for her to get birth control without asking her, when she asks why he says it's because he hates condoms, her reply is, "It's my body." his is, "It's mine too." - No. Fuck no. It is her body, only hers, her choice in birth control is just that - hers. At most, it's something they could discuss together but at the end of the day the decision should be hers and her body is her own.
  • "Ana, I'm not used to this. My natural inclination is to beat it out of you, but I seriously doubt you'd want that." - now, he won't hit her without her consent but it's still really freaking messed up that he'd openly admit to wanting to hit her (and for the dumbest things).
  • He refuses to let her go somewhere for work (like she even needs his permission) and when she says she's going anyway, he intereferes with her job (after buying the company) so that she can't go anymore. Not okay. Not even close to okay.
  • She gets assaulted, and he's actually mad at her and seems to kind of blame her for not doing as he asked.
  • He gives her a lift to her friends photography exhibit thing. He only lets her stay for a little while then drags her out when he gets jealous of her hugging her friend, drags her into an alley, shoves her against a wall and kisses her (and says that she is his. This is when she's still technically his ex, and yet he's saying she's his). She actually does use the word "drags" to describe how he got her out of there - she ends up reciprocating the kiss but just... reading it seemed more like an abusive, possesive guy assaulting a girl than something romantic or sexy or mutual.
  • He angrily demands to know what she ate and when and then orders her to eat (multiple times in the book, even when she says she's not hungry - at one point she mentions eating when she's not hungry just so he won't get mad). His obsession with her diet is creepy as hell and her letting him dictate when she eats is just - not cool. Parents telling their younger children to eat and being concerned about their diet? That's fair enough. A guy you've only known for three weeks and broke up with about a week before? No. Just no. She's an adult, that is not okay. He also orders for her when they're out and calls her childish when she asks, "What if I don't like steak?" - yeah, wanting to order for yourself, it's so childish, right? *facepalm*
There's way more negatives than that, but I'll stop there.
Now, lets be honest: if he wasn't described as being hot, he would be considered the bad guy in the story... some creepy stalker whom the protagonist has to escape and the story would end with him either dead or in jail (as those stalker stories tend to go). He is not an appealing character... thinking he is seems kind of unhealthy.

So... yeah. Not romantic. At all. And Ana - it's impossible to respect her as a character because, aside from her being incredibly dull, she's a total doormat. She'll say one thing, then when Christian comes along looking all hot, she just forgets reason and does what he wants (and I hate feeling that way, because the relationship is abusive, so it's not her fault, but it does make it frustrating to read - in real life, I'd have a world of sympathy for her, my issue is really the way she's written and the fact we're supposed to view it as a romance).

Like, she'll be rightly angry about things he does, but then he'll either scold her like a child or distract her with sex or excuses and she forgets the anger. And she does give him mixed signals, she'll say she wants/doesn't want something...then totally contradict her words with her actions.

The characters got a little more likeable nearer the end but by that point, the plot was just stupid enough to cancel that out. One of the ridiculous things is that, the time frame for book one and two is only about 5-6 weeks, lust and love seem to get muddled up.

The sex scenes - I just skimmed most of those, they're not sexy, they're not erotic, they're not well written (I actually burst out laughing at one of the ones intended to be more romantic because she says he put on The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face for them to have sex to - yeah, so not a sexy song and... just - yeah, it's ridiculous and one of those times when the books "I'm written by a middle aged married woman with kids." was showing).

Honestly, I think the two main issues I have with the book is the writing and the genre. The writing is just - bad, I wish the publisher had put it through some proper editing when they bought it instead of just putting out the same self published version, the dialogue is ridiculous and unconvincing and it's so obvious at times that it's a middle aged British woman writing American characters in their 20's.

And when I say genre, what I mean is that - it's shoved into the erotic romance catagory and it's marketed as this epic, sexy love story and most of the women prattling on about the books talk about how romantic it is or how awesome Christian is or how hot it is and just... No. I can read books with unlikeable characters, I can read books about messed up relationships, even abusive relationships - but when an abusive relationship is romanticized, when an abusive character is considered appealing and romantic and wonderful, well... that's what I have an issue with.

I'd rate it 1 star out of 5. Maybe 1.5 if I'm being generous. Not really getting how people can love it, can't decide if I want to inflict the last book on myself


Later.


5 comments:

  1. I love this post. I love your review. Reading the reviews of 50 Shades of anything is honestly a great way to procrastinate or lift your spirits. I refuse to read any of these books for a number of reasons and I also can't understand why some people find it so great... sigh.
    Anyway, awesome review!

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  2. Exactly why I can't stand this series. There's a good amount of pedophilia in FSD as well which made me immediately put the book down and never want to hear the words "INNER GODDESS" for as long as I live. I've read a lot of bad books but this one is bad in every sense of the word. Writing. Plot. Characters. AND it made me fear for little children.

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    1. Pedophilia? I never noticed any of that in the book (an older woman taking advantage of a teenager, yes, but that's not actually pedophilia, it's just gross and wrong).

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  3. I've seen some posts where they talk about Christian being messed up but it being a good thing and this right here...just no! Aren't we trying to get girls to not get into these kinds of relationships? Great review! Glad you didn't get sucked into "the amazingness that is Christian Gray."

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, him being messed up really doesn't bother me - there's plenty of messed up characters in books that are great, it's the fact that his issues are romanticized and that girls are saying they want a guy like him, it's really not a healthy thing to want. If the book was marketed differently (like, actually acknowledging that their relationship is not okay, then that wouldn't have been so bad).

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