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    Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James
    "Yeah, I've continued with the series. Why, you ask? Why, when I so thoroughly despised Fifty Shades of Grey, would I do this to myself?

    Why, for the fun factor, of course! Bad writing tends to make me giddy because I'm much better at being a horribly judgmental person critic than I am at....well, most anything else. Reading books this awful actually brings a certain amount of joy into my life. Plus, I had a few people tell me they couldn't wait for my reviews of the second and third Fifty books. Alas, here I am. Unfortunately (for me), Fifty Shades Darker wasn't quite as bad as as its predecessor. Don't get me wrong, it was still awful, but the rage-inducing badness of the first wasn't quite as powerful here. Or maybe I've built up a bit of an immunity. No matter, it's still bad, and I'm still going to have a hell of a lot of fun writing about it. Now, the first installment in this series made me so angry, I could barely write a coherent review. I'll be using more source material this time around (but don't worry, there will still be gifs).

    Very first sentence:
    "He's come back. Mommy's asleep or she's sick again."

    My reaction to that sentence was a snort of laughter.

    We begin with a prologue of Christian Grey having a night terror regarding a childhood memory. I simply couldn't help laughing when his mom's pimp treated me to six utterances of, "You are one fucked-up bitch." In a row.

    After the prologue, we're right back in Anastasia's head (it's a good thing there's room for us in there). We're treated to a chapter of her wallowing in depression and self-pity while wasting away because Christian isn't there to remind her that eating is a fundamental aspect of survival. We're also introduced to Ana's new job at SIP, a small publishing company, and to her new boss. Mr. Jack Hyde.

    Mr. Hyde? Really?

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    Psst! He's a villain! It isn't at all obvious, either. Total surprise.

    After what seems a rather generous amount of whining from Ana, she and Christian are back together. Yay! All that screwed-up physical violence forgotten. It's so sweet, too, their reunion. Christian asks Ana why she didn't safeword in the midst of his assault (which occurred at the end of the first book), and she admits that she was overwhelmed and just...forgot. Call me crazy, but to me, this is understandable. You're not used to this consensual punishment thing (not to mention the fact that you never explicitly consented in the first place) and your man is enjoying viciously turning your ass into a slab of raw beef, and you forget there's an easy way out of it. I get that. Christian, not so much. He asks how he's ever going to trust her again. And Ana? She apologizes.

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    Was I angry when I read that? Shit, yes, but thankfully, things ended up taking a turn. Ana sort of starts to stand up for herself and Christian begins to catch on that he's a total d-bag and maybe he should tone it down. This is where the story changed for me. It went from all-out rage-inducing (like the first book), to incomprehensible hilarity. I had thought the first line was good, but in comparison, lines like this are pure comedic gold:

    "I want you, and the thought of anyone else having you is like a knife twisting in my dark soul."

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    Oh my, it's my dream man. He's crazy with a side of fries and he utters the worst romanticisms this side of a Nicholas Sparks novel.

    The sex scenes are tamer in terms of their content, but they're also extremely limited in terms of content. The same thing happens every time; Christian flashes Ana a "look", during which his eyes darken (he might have a serious ocular condition), desire "pools in her belly", some undressing occurs, then there's nipple teasing, he blows, sucks, nips, licks, whatever, and she is usually pretty passive, save for her gyrating hips, which were once "caught up in his cool vanilla spell" (I couldn't make this shit up), and then....Ana explodes.

    WARNING: Graphic Visual Interpretation of Christian and Ana's Sex (view spoiler)

    Oh, and she apparently loses consciousness after every orgasm. Why is this happening? She might be anemic. She should get that checked out.

    There was one really gross sex scene, though. The ice cream scene. Christian is dripping ice cream all over Ana, and I was going, "Ewwww!" because I really hate the stickiness of sugary foods anywhere on my body, and can you imagine that shit getting in your hair? (Oh, hush). Whatever, that's not the point. The point is, this doesn't sound right: "He shifts lower and starts eating the ice cream in my belly..."

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    It's the Zombie plague! It's got hold of Fifty! It's Fifty shades of viscera!!
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    Aaaanywho, where was I? Oh, right, the sex. Boring. Even more boring than in the first book because the same wording is used for nearly every scene. And since there are a lot of sex scenes, I experienced no less than 15 instances of deja vu. Even my inner voice sounded bored; "He slides his fingers in and swirls, blah blah blah, erection digging into my hip, yadda yadda, gotta remember to pick up milk at the store tomorrow..."

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    The tiresomely redundant writing would probably be a little easier to deal with if not for the fact that the majority of it is used to express the thoughts of what is unquestionably the dumbest character in the history of literature. Ana is a mental midget. This is not about her choices, it's about her inability to comprehend even the simplest of concepts. I think my favorite demonstration was during a charity auction Christian's parents were hosting. One of Christian's "ex-subs" (that's ex-submissive for those who aren't in the know *wink wink*) is wandering around, apparently armed and gunning for Ana. Or Christian. We never really know for sure, but anyway, because of this threat, Christian has hired more security. Taylor, Christian's chief bodyguard, now has three guys under his command, and all four of them are cruising the party, keeping an eye out for Ms. Small, Dark, and Nutsy. After watching a fireworks display (during which Ana was awed like a fucking four-year-old), I was treated to this exchange:

    Christian: "Stay with me a moment. Taylor wants us to wait while the crowd disperses."
    Ana: (thinks) Oh.
    Christian: "I think that fireworks display probably aged him a hundred years."
    Ana: "Doesn't he like fireworks?"

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    That's not even the best part, though. The best part is Christian's reaction:

    "Christian gazes down at me fondly and shakes his head but doesn't elaborate."

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    I had a really hard time not imagining what went through Christian's mind. You know what I'm talking about. "Oh, darling, it's a good thing you're hot. Otherwise I'd take you up in Charlie Tango right now and push you out somewhere over the Space Needle."

    There were times, of course, when the idiocy wasn't restricted to Ana and her vacuous noggin. At one point, Christian and Ana are discussing his crazy ex-sub, Leila, and Ana can tell Christian is holding something back, so she snaps at Christian to tell her what's going on.

    "She managed to obtain a concealed weapons permit yesterday."

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    Really? I know E.L. James is a Brit, and yeah, maybe she views this as the United States of Barbarity, but you can't just wander into a fucking gun store and ask for a goddamn CPL. In fact, in Washington state, it can take up to 60 days for an out-of-state resident to receive theirs, and that's after the background check. The stupid doesn't end there, though.

    "Oh shit. I gaze at him, blinking, and feel the blood draining from my face as I absorb this news. I may faint. Suppose she wants to kill him? No. “That means she can just buy a gun,” I whisper."

    Well, sure, if she wants to be all obvious about it. I kinda figured she'd go the subtle route and get herself a bunny.

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    It was during moments like that when I wished I knew Ana in real life, simply for of the amount of fun that could be had fucking with her.

    "Ana, you don't understand. It's so much worse than that. A concealed weapons permit means she can buy a concealed weapon. Concealed weapons are....invisible."

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    Did I mention Ana's dumb? Well, guess what? She also has the emotional maturity of a fruit fly. It's worse than hanging out with a love-sick 14-year-old. Why? Because it's hanging out with a love-sick 21-year-old with the emotional maturity of a fruit fly. I thought I made this clear. You know who else made it clear? E.L. James. I was beaten over the head over and over and over again with Ana's self-doubt and insecurities. She's so unsure of herself, in fact, that she keeps asking the reader questions; "What is he trying to tell me?" "What does he/she mean?" "What is going on?" "What should I do?" "Where is our relationship going?" "What was that about?" "Where are we going?" "What is he planning?" "What is he gonna do?" "How does he know?"

    Hey, Ana! Guess what?!

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    When she's not whining, crying, giggling, getting railed, or giving herself a migraine trying to think, she's going on and on in these relentless inner diatribes about how hot/sexy/adorable/god-like/beautiful Christian is, and joy is erupting inside her every time she realizes she's with him, and she gets a warm feeling whenever she thinks about how much she lurves him, and on and on and ooooon. Her inner goddess (ridiculous metaphor for her vagina) is still annoyingly present, and her subconscious has gotten even bitchier (just how Ana knows what's going on in her subconscious has yet to be determined). One of the best parts about her inner dialogue is that she's always telling us what's going on after we've had the scene described to us. And several times she reacts with astounded shock that someone *gasp* changed the subject. (No. I am not fucking kidding.)

    Ana is that special friend you end up wanting to choke to death every time you talk to her, but you don't have the ambition to tell her to go fuck herself with a rake, so you avoid her when you can, and when you can't, you sit around listening to her inane babbling like...

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    Her insecurity reaches monumental, mind-blowing levels, however, when she finds Leila (remember her?) in her apartment. Lord Fisterbottom rushes in to save the day, of course, but then Ana watches him go all "Dom" on Leila to defuse the situation. Then he ends up at Leila's side, stroking her hair, trying to chillaxe the crazy broad, and Ana starts getting jealous! Right there, I'm not kidding! She doesn't want to leave the apartment because she's afraid of what will happen between Christian and Loony Tunes! Taylor has to forcibly remove Ana from her apartment, and the whole time we're treated to Ana's bullshit thoughts regarding whether or not Christian is going to leave her for Leila.

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    Fucked up, right? There's a time and a place for insecurity; that ain't it.

    Oh, then she finds out Christian gave Leila a bath. What that has to do with the story, I have no idea.

    So are you getting the gist? Lots and lots of melodrama. Well, we haven't gotten to Christian's melodrama yet, so prepare yourselves. He starts freaking out on Ana, telling her she can't leave, she means everything to him, he needs her, blah blah blah, and then....then he says, "I'm a sadist, Ana. I like to whip little brown-haired girls like you because you all look like the crack whore - my birth mother."

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    Say what? Normal reaction to this is revulsion and horror. To give her some credit, Ana is a little horrified. Does she leave?

    "Then it hit me like a wrecking ball. If he's a sadist, he really needs all that whipping and caning shit. Oh fuck. I put my head in my hands. "So it's true," I whisper, glancing up at him, "I can't give you what you need." This is it - this really does mean we are incompatible."

    Oh, for fuck's sake.

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    That is not the proper response to your boyfriend's revelation that he likes to abuse and sex you because you look like his mom! This is:

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    There's also a helicopter crash, a marriage proposal, a showdown with an ephebophile, and an attempted rape. Why? Because why the fuck not?

    I don't even know where to go from here. This book is ridiculous. Even more so than the first since it's trying to sell the reader on this impossible scenario. You cannot change an abusive man, and it is dangerous folly to try. Quit romanticizing it. Fantasy is one thing, impossible delusions are quite another.

    I suppose I'll close with one of my favorite lines from the mind of the magnificently inept Miss Steele:

    "Raiding the fridge once more, I gather potatoes, ham, and - Yes! - peas from the freezer."

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    Word Count:
    "Oh my" - 47
    "Crap" - 36
    "Jeez" - 84
    "Holy (shit/fuck/crap/hell/cow/moses)" - 124
    "Whoa" - 30
    "Gasp" - 44
    "Gasps" - 17
    "Sharp Intake of Breath" - 5
    "Murmur" - 91
    "Murmurs" - 194
    "Whisper" - 140
    "Whispers" - 113
    "Mutter" - 71
    "Mutters" - 48
    "Fifty" - 95
    "Lip" - 47
    "Inner goddess" - 58
    "Subconscious" - 59

    And I'm out.

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    Click here to read my review of Fifty Shades of Grey
    Click here to read my review of Fifty Shades Freed["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>"

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