Nov 252012
 

On a strictly literary level, Darker is worse than its predecessor. EL James’ prose style hasn’t improved, and her plotting has gotten worse. Fifty Shades of Grey is built around a back-and-forth between Ana and Christian, while Darker is mostly just forth. Ana isn’t seriously resisting Christian anymore. A large part of this book is external challenges to their relationship, but they are handled in such a way to remove any tension or excitement.

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Nov 132012
 

When Ana and Christian visit his parents to announce their engagement, Kate shows up and stages the intervention she should have held for Ana a book and a half ago. Somehow she has a printout of an email about the contract. Ana gets pissed off that Kate is ruining her big moment with petty concerns like possible abuse and shady documents.

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Nov 112012
 

In this chapter, aliens abduct Christian Grey, remove his brain, replace it with the brain of a competent and responsible dominant and return him to his penthouse. That’s my only real explanation for the change in character. For nearly two books, Christian Grey has been a textbook example of the overly aggressive male dominant, constantly pushing inexperienced Ana into a heavy duty relationship, not to mention waging a campaign to control every aspect of her life.

Now, suddenly, he’s tender, passionate, considerate, patient and reassuring.

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Nov 112012
 

This being Ana and Christian, they immediately go for sex, even though Christian had a life-threatening experience.

More vanilla sex in the shower. El James seems to have a particular thing for bathing, which is fine.

We also find out that Ana bought her gift that said “yes” to his proposal, before she went to see Dr. Flynn, which means that she had again denied herself power in this relationship.

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Nov 092012
 

We open with Ana staring into a fire, wondering where the hell Christian is. It even made the TV news, even though he’s been missing for only eight hours. Unless you’re under 10 years old, that’s not missing, that’s just late.

Again, it’s Christian Grey’s world. We just live in it. Even in his absence, he is everything.

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Nov 072012
 

Christian takes Ana to see the house he would like to live in with her. More class porn.

They go to one of Christian’s supper clubs. Christian starts up the kink again by having her take off her panties before dinner, then feeding her oysters while teasing her. Later she tries seducing him back. It’s all pretty cute and harmless. Christian is definitely playing Ana like a harp, but she’s enjoying it and he’s not doing anything physically dangerous or non-consensual. I could be churlish and criticize the ethical issues of public play in front of strangers, as when Christian fingers Ana in the elevator with other people present, but after everything else that’s very small potatoes.

More importantly, Ana brings up the non-disclosure agreement over dinner, and Christian says she can tear it up. He says he trusts her.

There is a Bluebeard moment when Ana is poking through Christian’s things, ostensibly to find one of his neckties, and finds a collection of undescribed photos from the playroom. This leaves a nagging bit of insecurity in Ana’s mind, which is aggravated when Christian gives her the cold shoulder over email about Ana seeing her friend Jose.

Just so things don’t get dull, Christian goes missing in his helicopter.

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Nov 072012
 

Now that both Leila and Jack are out of the picture, there’s nothing left to deal with but Ana and Christian’s relationship.

“Christian, this has all been so quick. And by your own admission, you’re fifty shades of fucked-up. I can’t give you what you need,” I mutter. “It’s just not for me. But that makes me feel inadequate, especially seeing you with Leila. Who’s to say that one day you won’t meet someone who likes doing what you do? And who’s to say you won’t, you know . . . fall for her? Someone much better suited to your needs.” The thought of Christian with anyone else sickens me.

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Nov 072012
 

Ana has actually said she wants to try bondage with a spreader bar. Christian says okay, but not in the playroom.

“Ana, you may be ready to go back in there, but I’m not. Last time we were in there, you left me. I keep telling you—when will you understand?” He frowns, releasing me so that he can gesticulate with his free hand.
“My whole attitude has changed as a result. My whole outlook on life has radically shifted. I’ve told you this. What I haven’t told you is—” He stops and runs his hand through his hair, searching for the correct words. “I’m like a recovering alcoholic, okay? That’s the only comparison I can draw. The compulsion has gone, but I don’t want to put temptation in my way. I don’t want to hurt you.”

That was also the room in which he beat her into a sobbing wreck.

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Nov 062012
 

Jack Hyde makes a ridiculously clumsy pass at Ana, alone in the office. This is not subtle sexual harassment. This is blatant aggression.

Ana kicks him in the groin, runs out of the building and meets Christian and Taylor outside. Christian immediately explodes at her.

“Please don’t be mad at me.” I blink up at him.
“I am so mad at you right now,” he snarls and once more sweeps his hand through his hair. “Get in the car.”
“Christian, please—”

“Get in the fucking car, Anastasia, or so help me I’ll put you in there myself,” he threatens, his eyes blazing with fury.
Oh shit. “Don’t do anything stupid, please,” I beg.
“STUPID! ” he explodes. “I told you to use your fucking Blackberry. Don’t talk to me about stupid. Get in the motherfucking car, Anastasia— NOW! ” he snarls and a frisson of fear runs through me. This is Very Angry Christian. I’ve not seen him this mad before. He’s barely holding on to his self-control.

That Christian can explode like this should be a giant red flag to Ana. That he says he is angry at her, not at the situation or the guy who molested her, is an even bigger one.

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Nov 052012
 

Christian used to be a Master of the Universe (minus the blond pageboy haircut and fun-fur undies); now he’s regressed to the point at which Ana stepping into another room makes him panic. When she comes back, he flips from fear to arousal in an instant. Things get a bit hinky, and even Ana feels uncomfortable.

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