Fifty Shades Darker & Fifty Shades Freed by EL James

Titles: Fifty Shades Darker & Fifty Shades Freed
Authors: EL James
Length: 544 & 581 pages (respectively)
Published in: 2011
Genre: erotic romance
ISBN: 9781612130583; 9781612130606
borrowed from a friend
Reason for Reading:
I enjoyed the first one, so I had to keep going
Rating: 5/5 for both

Here is the Goodreads summary of Fifty Shades Darker.
Here is the Goodreads summary of Fifty Shades Freed.

My Thoughts: I loved all three of these books. It’s hard to believe that pretty much all three of the books took place in about 6 months. I suppose it’s possible for a whirlwind romance, but my personal experience is dating for 5 years, engaged for 2, and then marriage–a bit different, but I wouldn’t believe every relationship has to go that way.

So much happened in these two books. It is already a bit difficult to remember which big events occurred in which book. But I found them more thrilling than I had anticipated. There was less sex in these than in the very first novel, which is alright–romance doesn’t have to be about sex, even erotic romance.

There was one thing that bothered me in all of these books, especially these two. (It also bothered me in the Twilight books, to which these are strikingly similar.) It’s that weakness in Ana. She is so strong about her decisions at the onset, but then, as soon as Christian gets near her (especially in a sexual way) she gives up. I understand that you have to pick your battles–that’s something you have to do with your spouse or your children constantly. But if it’s something small, which seems to be the case more often than not, why can’t he give up at some point?! It just bugs me how someone can be strong one moment and so weak the next (and I know I do it myself sometimes).

Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James

Title: Fifty Shades of Grey
Author: EL James
Length: 514 pages
Published in: 2011
Genre: erotic romance
ISBN: 9780345803481
borrowed from my boss
Reason for Reading: 
my four closest girlfriends, three coworkers, and my boss have all read it and recommend it
Rating: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads):

When literature student Anastasia Steele is drafted to interview the successful young entrepreneur Christian Grey for her campus magazine, she finds him attractive, enigmatic and intimidating. Convinced their meeting went badly, she tries to put Grey out of her mind – until he happens to turn up at the out-of-town hardware store where she works part-time.

The unworldly, innocent Ana is shocked to realize she wants this man, and when he warns her to keep her distance it only makes her more desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her – but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success – his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving adoptive family – Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a passionate, physical and daring affair, Ana learns more about her own dark desires, as well as the Christian Grey hidden away from public scrutiny.

Can their relationship transcend physical passion? Will Ana find it in herself to submit to the self-indulgent Master? And if she does, will she still love what she finds?

My Thoughts: I’m not exactly sure what it says about me when I admit that I didn’t find hardly anything in this book shocking at all. Sure, there were things mentioned that I’d probably never do. Pretty much every woman I know that’s read these books says I will be shocked. And I really wasn’t. (I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, maybe I’m just not surprised by what people are capable of in their own private sex lives.)

At the beginning, I just couldn’t believe how much like Twilight this story started out.

  • Man warns woman to stay away from him because he’s dangerous
  • Woman has hunky dark-complected man friend whom she’s completely uninterested sexually, but who poses a huge threat to the dangerous man
  • Man is popular and rich; woman is unknown and not all that rich
  • Story is set in Washington (state)
  • Man is dominant, woman is submissive (with huge self-esteem issues)

I even found it humorous that Christian said he wanted to bite her. If you don’t consider the fact that he was talking about Ana always biting her lip, it’d make him seem a little vampirish, a la Edward.

But, I really liked the Twilight series. So it’s not bad that those similarities were there. But this book is clearly meant for adults. My friend’s younger 16-year-old sister tried to buy the book at WalMart and they wouldn’t let her because she wasn’t old enough. And, let’s be honest, the book is essentially soft porn for the bookish person. Although I hear this is going to be made into a movie and I’m not sure how they’ll make it a movie that isn’t porn. It would certainly have to be rated NC-17 in the US, I’m sure (that replaced the X rating, and means no kids at all under the age of 17–but I’m not sure why they didn’t just make it 18 if you can’t buy porn when you’re 17…)