Turns out Ana couldn’t handle Christian’s “singular sexual tastes” and has broken off their relationship. That lasts all of three days, and then the two are back together, with Christian promising to try a “vanilla” lifestyle. As Ana helps Christian deal with the inner-demons that have made him into such a screwed up human being (allegedly), she must also deal with the fact that she’s irrationally angry over his past sexcapades.
Readers, I don’t know what’s left to say. All of the problems of the first book are out in full force in this follow-up. The problematic writing, flat characters, horrifically stilted (British) dialogue, and lack of an actual plot are all present and accounted for. This novel tries to incite some more action by creating conflicts in the form of Ana’s lecherous boss Jack and Christian’s former dominatrix Elena, but both characters are so cartoonish that it hardly matters. Besides which, their stories are so buried under the sex and angst that is the Christian and Ana Show that one can almost forget there’s supposed to be a conflict.
There’s no improvement in the writing, probably because James wrote all three novels as one long (seriously, SUPER LONG) fic. She makes ample use of Ana’s inner goddess and subconscious (which is still not the right word for what she’s attempting) to the point where it set my teeth on edge. Ana is still completely clueless, incapable of remembering things that happened a mere page before, and totally spineless when it comes to Christian. Christian is still a controlling asshat, despite his promises to be a real boyfriend.
The book continues to reinforce the idea that damaged people incapable of real relationships are the only ones who engage in BDSM. Christian maintains that the only reason he likes the sorts of sexplay that he does is because of his damaged childhood. Ana continues to wonder about the darkness inside Christian while alternately sniping at anyone else who has the audacity to question whether or not Christian is a good guy. The characters continue to contradict themselves. It’s still a huge mess of a book, and it’s way, way, way, too long.
The jury’s still out on whether or not I’ll have the stomach to finish the series. Part of me is screaming that life is too short–and another part of me wants to see it through to its logical end. We’ll see.
Fifty Shades Darker by E L James. The Writer’s Coffee Shop Publishing House: 2011. Borrowed copy.