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1,439 of 1,571 people found the following review helpful
There are life's guilty pleasures, and then there is the guiltiest spectacle of them all: the Fifty Shades of Grey spectacle. It's time to review this precious pearl of literary genius, so I'm going to dive on in. Hold me.

When we last left our romantic icons, Ana Steele and Christian Grey, they were newly engaged and facing (a) Ana's ex-boss, Jack Hyde, whom Christian fired in a fit of jealous pique when Jack made a pass at Ana and (b) Christian's "Mrs. Robinson," the woman who initiated him into his life of BDSM. Can these two crazy love birds find happiness and contentment? Thank goodness E. L. James doesn't keep us hanging and gives us the GIFT that is Fifty Shades Freed.

The tale opens just after Christian and Ana's wedding, as the two bask on their European honeymoon. They bicker, rock the headboard, bicker some more, and have make-up rocking of the headboard. While enjoying their romantic interlude, Christian learns that someone apparently tried to sabotage part of his building. Enter the "plot" portion of the festivities. The threat to Grey Enterprises increases, and we are meant to be on the edge of our seats in anticipation of how this AWFUL THING will transpire. There also continues to be friction in the Grey marriage. These two argue about the same damn thing all the time, followed by furious headboard rockin'.

So there's your story.

While this one shares certain similarities with Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker, in Fifty Shades Freed, James actually attempts - gulp - style. There are flashbacks, seemingly set at even intervals, but then mysteriously dropped. Until, that is, the epilogue, where they show up again. Clearly E. L. James realized that we don't read these books for STYLE. I mean, really.

Let's get to the good stuff, shall we? Because, let's face it: we also do not read these books for their plot. Please. There are more important things to anticipate.


I know some of you have waited in breathless anticipation, and you will not be denied! We also meet the flogger AND the cross is used AND the grid. Insert jumpy claps here. Christian and Ana continue to Know Each Other in the Biblical Sense in different locales, including - but not limited to - an airplane, a yacht, a couch, a shower, a bathtub, a picnic blanket and - thank GOD - the red satin bed in the Red Room of Pain.

But you know what is not used in any romantic situation whatsoever? The grey tie! I am bereft with grief. I got attached to that tie, and while it makes a brief appearance, it does not do so wrapped around anyone's appendages. It's a tease, and I am not amused.

Also missing: any sign of a competent, coherent editor. What IS present is the same repetitious writing. It takes less than three pages for the first smirk to appear. And this time? Christian and Ana aren't the only two who smirk. Other characters get in on the action. I suspect that E. L. James is f-ing with me. We also get bitten lips, rolled eyes, lips pressed into a hard line, frowns and sighs.

But a new play has entered the repertoire: Christian rubs his nose down the length of Ana's nose.

Naturally, this being E. L. James, he does that A LOT. Almost as often as one of them says, "Hmmm." Clearly the message is that in the absence of the ability to write dialogue, insert a breathy moan.

And now, an excerpt. Feel free to use this as an interpretive dialogue:

Hmm ... my Fifty wants to tumble.

"Don't bite your lip," he warns.

Compliantly, I release my lip. "I think you have me at a disadvantage, Mr. Grey." [They call each other Mr. and Mrs. Grey ALL THE TIME, as if they forgot their first names.] I bat my lashes and squirm provocatively beneath him. This could be fun.

"Surely you've already got me where you want me?" He smirks [!!!!! - of course he does] and presses his groin into mine once more.

Ah, language. Its mellifluous use is a lost art, isn't it? Thank goodness E. L. James is here to reinvigorate writing.

As I typed that, I mistakenly wrote "goddess," rather than "goodness." That brings me to another repetition: Ana's subconscious, complete with the half moon glasses and disdain, shows up again. The inner goddess is not as present, but that subconscious school marm sure is. Oh, lucky us.

So is Fifty Shades Darker worth the read? OF COURSE IT IS. You can't stop at their engagement! You need to read about the wedding and the honeymoon and the corporate intrigue and the early months of their marriage and the in-laws and the Evil Ex-Employee and the Evil Ex-Dominatrix. You can't stop at the second one! You must read this!

Oh, it's awful. Don't get me wrong about that. It is just as badly written and edited as its predecessors. But, as I have said before, it is literary crack. So bad for you, but so addicting.

A plus: at the end, we get a brief glimpse of Christian's point of view. And then - AND THEN - E. L. James says, "That's all ... for now."

OH MY GOD - THERE WILL BE MORE! Please let it be. For the love of Mark Twain, PLEASE LET THERE BE MORE.

This review originally appeared on cupcake's book cupboard.
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543 of 636 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2012
What a treat this book was. We get to experience their dreamy wedding, including a totally inappropriate scene in front of the minister and all their wedding guests, in a series of flashbacks. They are on a dream honeymoon and already Anastasia is afraid of her husband's temper. It's never a good sign in a relationship if you are afraid of your partner or have to walk on eggshells around them. But it's alright. He has lots of money and is super beautiful and perfect, as we are reminded yet again on every single page, so as always with her, it's fine! He's just damaged! Her damaged dark little fifty. Ugh. Where's a shotgun when you need one?

The descriptions of her subconscious and inner goddess and what they are doing get oddly more specific with each book, to the point where it's just bizarre and annoying. Her subconscious at one point looked up from reading `The Complete works of Charles Dickens', to give Anastasia an admonishing look no doubt. It's not cute anymore. I usually have to put the book down after reading one of these gems and take a deep breath before I throw it. Oh, and her Inner Goddess reads Jackie Collins, in case you were wondering

In all three books now we are treated with the `No you hang up!' barf fest.

Jealousy, jealousy, jealousy. It's like all these two know is sex and jealousy. Every woman is jonesing after Christian all the time. And it's ok for him to get so irrationally possessive he buys her company, but if she shows a hint of jealousy with him, it's all *Tsk-tsk*

It is never romantic when your husband says he really wants to beat you. He says that lovely line after someone broke into her home. Victim blaming, anyone? I don't care if he is mad, which is totally misplaced most of the time. All of the time actually. He gets angry because she disobeys orders. He gets angry if she has a disagreeing opinion. He gets angry cause she wants to work. On top of that, she has to ask his permission to do anything. To go to work, to drive her car, to see her friend, to have fun. She is a grown woman. Does she know this is not how marriage works? That this isn't the 18th century anymore? And can I just say wow, at his reaction when she tells him she's pregnant. I'm surprised she didn't divorce him right then and there. But then again, she is always making excuses for his atrocious behavior. This relationship disgusts me.

Once again, the plot is more of an afterthought, which I should have known better by now. It takes forever to get there, and when it does, it's so stupid it's laughable. And then all is well in Ana and Christian Land and they live happily ever after and we have to read a terrible epilogue anyways, filled with pregnant sex. Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse. I knew I should have stopped reading at the end of the book. And then we are treated to this delightful little nugget: "I think she likes sex already." Yup. That's them talking about their unborn child right after they had pregnant sex.

You are welcome everybody.

Now I need to go read something good, or at least marginally better to get rid of the taste this awful book left in my mouth.
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112 of 129 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2012
When I first wrote this review two and a half years ago, I summed up the 50 Shades Of Grey trilogy as the BDSM version of Cinderella. In 50 Shades Freed Cinderella (Anastasia) gets her man (Christian) when they tie the knot and go on an elaborate European cruise. More sex... apparently every 15 minutes. More struggles with control.... he won't even let her go on a Jet Ski by herself. Until he thinks Ana betrays his trust. Ana gets the chance to save her prince in the end and they live happily ever after in their multi-million dollar mansions. Like the first two volumes, there were more sizzling sex scenes. If there is one thing EL does well, it's writing those tantalizing sex scenes.

However, looking back in broader context E.L. James through this series has exposed a topic to the world that very few people had ever thought about. This series ignited a boom in the number of people who are reading again, especially on Kindles and iPads. It has also created a spark in the bedroom for countless couples. Since reading this series I have read many series from authors who wouldn't be nearly so successful if it hadn't been for this story. Erotic series from authors like Silvia Day, J. Kenner, Cherise Sinclair and M.T. Stone (Raven's Seduction is my new favorite) have thrived in it's wake.

So even though Fifty Shades will never be regarded as a great piece of literary art, no one can deny it's far reaching impact. If you enjoyed the first two books in this series, you need to read this one as well. The transformation of Christian becomes complete and they finally achieve their HEA. Rock on Fifty Shades! The publishing industry and now the movie industry both owe you a huge debt of gratitude.
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158 of 187 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2012
I had to "safe-word" book three, it was that bad. Horribly written. No plot. Vague, stupid, mind-numbing story-telling about minutiae. The least threatening, most absent, completely impotent villain ever created just to give the author an excuse to add a useless book to this series. Repetitive sex scenes that just tire you (you know it's bad when you're skipping the sex scenes to hunt down a non-existent story in a book you undoubtedly selected for its escapism). Book two was weak. Book three is just one eye-rolly moment after the next. You'll find yourself taking frequent breaks from it's stupidity and tediousness. Or maybe that was just me. I've actually not even finished book three, and at this point, I'm doubting I ever will. I read book one in less than 24 hours. just garbage.

Let me save you some money and time. My recap of Freed: He's a child. Period. I don't care if he's hot. And my goodness, we get it. He's hot. His looks are mentioned three, four times on every page. Hey, author, we're reading here! Let's move this story along.

She's a doormat, who fancies herself insightful, and she's somewhat of a moron. Her inner dialogue is at all times some variation of "oh my" or "oh crap" or "oh f---" or "oh sh--" though she's supposed to be a literary intellectual--an actual editor! I'd bet good money at this point that EL James has never--NEVER--actually met an editor.

They argue. She gives in, every time. Not 'cause he's right. Nope. Just 'cause he's pretty. And you never get the chance to forget that. They screw, multiple times a day, and it's old and predictable and exhausting. Crap happens--uncompelling crap without any sense of reality-- just to give them a reason to argue and then screw. When they're not arguing and screwing, they're just screwing. And MY GOD it's boring. Who'd a thunk it? They live happily ever after. There. I saved you from the tragic waste of time book three is. Be grateful. Book one, for all its faults, was at least interesting. This...just sucks.

Laters, baby.
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840 of 1,014 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2012
An undercurrent, by definition, is the hidden movement of water beneath the surface; its tug and motion are only perceptible upon submersion. Fifty Shades is exactly like an undercurrent. You dive into the story thinking you know what to expect, only to find out once you're in it that it's something else completely. And Fifty Shades Freed is the riptide of currents. You'll be swept away with a force that is impossible to escape, not that you'd want to escape. You'll savor every moment, every word, and when it's over you'll want to pick it up and start again from the beginning. The only thing I'd like to caution readers about with the Fifty Shades Trilogy--it will literally ruin other books for you.

So many readers glance at the back cover this book and expect an erotic novel about BDSM. Yes there are some BDSM elements to the story, but that's not what this novel is about. Fifty Shades is probably the best romance I've ever read. It's impossible to put into words in a review what this book will make you feel. It's so emotional. It is authentic, open, honest, and at times both heartwarming and heartbreaking. I've recommended this series to so many people who told me that it was out of their comfort zone because of the BDSM. However, after practically browbeating them into reading it, every one of them came to me raving about how wonderful and unexpected it was. Still, I'm not going to lie, the erotic scenes are hot as hell--but they are tasteful, and nothing to shy away from in my opinion.

Christian Grey is the hero, and he defines the word contradiction. He is THE Alpha male. Strong, unbelievably sexy, and dominating, but just like other parts of this story, there are things unseen below the surface. There's a reason Ana refers to him as her "lost boy". Yes he is extremely successful, sensual and dominating (he doesn't apologize for his predilections), but he is misunderstood. He uses control as a mechanism to guard his feelings, and despite his behavior, Ana sees past the surface to the man beneath.

It's ironic that Christian spends most of his time trying to protect Ana. Initially, he views her as fragile, but as he quickly learns, appearances can be misleading. He discovers through Ana that strength is not only about brawn and toughness. Strength is displayed in bravery, fortitude, and the ability to cope with everything life throws at you, and Ana epitomizes inner strength. Not only is Ana the first woman to see Christian for who he really is, she is the first woman to stand up to Christian, and because of that she earns his respect, devotion, and unwavering love.

I've decided to rebel. There is no way I can justify classifying this novel as a 5 star read, so here it is: I've hijacked another star and I'm giving 6 stars to Fifty Shades Freed. I'm just hoping this blatant infraction of the rules is enough to warrant a run in with Christian's twitchy palm. I RECOMMEND (in shouty caps) this book to everyone who loves an amazing love story, because that's really what this book is.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2012
This review is for the whole series as it is virtually impossible to differentiate. I read this because it's become such a cultural phenomenon. I had been aware of it as a fan fiction ever since reading Twilight several years ago and never had an interest in reading it. I think the series is interesting as a cultural phenomenon more than a book. This is the book that will sell more e-book readers than any other and it is fascinating what this series' popularity says about women but that is not a book review.

There are many things throughout the series that are just annoying. The repetition! The entire series is a slight rewrite of one scene. The conversations in and out of the bedroom are repeated over and over and OVER. I cringed ever time I saw the words "inner goddess". The sex scenes show why talking during the act just shouldn't be. Drooling over your husband's body like a hormone addled teenager every time you see him half clothed is boring. Secondly the plot points, well the few that there are, could have all been stolen from whatever soap opera the writer happened to flip on on tv. No originality. In addition many of the plot points are simply not feasible. Christian buying and gifting a publishing company to his just graduated from university wife? Really? This man is the head of a multi-billion dollar company with a business acumen par none? Ana has virtually no knowledge of technology and has no email and she wants to get into publishing? Talk about severely unqualified. Finally, Christian, in one long passage at the end of the series, expertly explains his psychoses and their origins. He had been withholding this all along as being simply too painful but seeing Ana in mortal danger and a quick meeting with the woman who was his dom, just leads to him spilling everything in clinical detail as if he is now a psychiatrist. Too simple.

I know Ana is essentially Bella Swan and as such we shouldn't expect much of a character but her pettiness, for someone who is supposed to be special, reduces her once again to a teenager.Ana reads texts on Christian's phone, flies into jealous rages over and over and it's not interesting. She may have more of a back bone and a little more character development than Bella, but I don't see what Christian found so fascinating about her. She tripped and fell in his office and he knew he had to get to know her. Really? Like Bella and Edward, Ana and Christian discuss little other than how messed up he is and how much they lust and then love each other. I would argue that I can get the attraction between Bella and Edward better than Ana/Christian. I can understand why Ana is initially attracted to Christian but I don't understand why she falls in love with him.

Finally the reason everybody is talking about this series: sex. At first it is hot and titillating but by the third book I was mostly skipping over the repetitive and all to frequent escapades. It will probably improve some women's fantasy lives or inject some excitement into their relationships. The sex isn't as scandalous as one may be led to believe in reviews, but it is different enough to distinguish it from your average bodice-heaver.

Bottom line, as bad as the writing and repetition are, I did want to see what happened next. I get why the book is appealing. It deals with several well-known female fantasies: changing and reforming a very bad boy, being swept off your feet, finding unconditional love, the ugly duckling getting the beautiful swan. Christian is vaguely fascinating. However, I think the main reason, after the surreptitious e-book availability, is that people are indulging their Edward and/or Robert Pattinson fantasies. Many of us had such fantasies upon reading Twilight. EJ James simply wrote hers down.
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167 of 199 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2012
When you two are done having sex which is about 23 hours of the day, and if Ana can still walk, please seek professional help. And remember to leave all of the kinky toys and bondage at home. You two have too many weird mood changes to be normal. Christian, you are so hot, and so rich, that a majority of the reviewers just love you, and are willing to put up with anything you want to dish out. They consider you an Alpha Male and think it's cool that you like your women submissive. And to them, Ana is so sweet because she has no spine, and would do whatever dear hot Christian wants. Ana is the epitome of submissiveness! Poor Christian who had a terrible childhood needs a lot of TLC, so if he tells you to lay down and roll over, you do it because he is hot and rich! Oh, and if you decide to seek help you are going to have to learn words other than - Oh my, blushes, smirks, jeez, laters babe, my inner goddess, the 3 or more Holy's, mutters, whispers and all the rest, including HOT or they may want to commit you to a mental institution. And please don't constantly widen your eyes, roll your eyes, or bite your lip while you are there or it might annoy the person who is trying to help you.

As for the writing, I shudder to think of the grades I would have gotten from my English teachers/professors had I turned in papers with so many repetitive words. On the other hand, someone like Christian would have probably gotten away with it because he is so HOT! Had I not wasted enough money on these books (my fault for listening to the hot air publicity), I would have used it and bought a Thesaurus for both the woman who wrote the book and the publishing company. Unlike Ana, sex didn't leave me without a brain. And unlike the people who sold the books, reading all the sex scenes that were written did not damage my eyesight, therefore I was still able to see the words that were used way too many times.
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176 of 211 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2012
I know next to nothing about Twilight but could totally see how this ripped off the series, so right there that was a huge strike against it. apparently this started off as fanfiction so i'm guessing you can find it somewhere on the internets.

i was hoping for some good bdsm fiction, but this is maybe a step above vanilla, it completely mis portrays the lifestyle, but any gripes about how unrealistic everything is from describing super posh *pink* champagne (wth) to the fact that mr grey apparently never needs a refractory's just really really really terrible writing wise.

seriously, it's written at maybe a 5th grade lever with occasional instances where the author abuses her thesaurus and ends up making somewhat incomprehensible sentences. But typically she is repeating five phrases over and over again:

1) holy f***
2) holy c***
3) holy s***
4) stop biting your lip you know what that does to me
5) laters, babe

to the point where it goes past funny and just into painfully repetitive. the first three are almost a constant running theme in our narrators internal dialogue which becomes increasingly depressing when you realize she's supposed to be this intellectual who loves literature. the latter two belong to our dashing male lead, but once he came out with "laters babe" i was just lost in a fit of laughter.

so this is sort of like a literary version of Showgirls. It's awful and awkward and trying WAY to hard to be sexy and hardcore and while it fails miserably at all those attempts, it still manages to be kind of enjoyable in what a wreck it is.
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94 of 111 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2012
Other one star reviewers have alreay covered the absolutely, ridiculously, embarrassingly bad writing and repetitive phrases that read like a teenager wrote them. Amen to that! Besides the fact this story could have been distilled down to one book, here's what got me: all the titillating press coverage would have you believe this series is erotic fiction. IT'S NOT: nothing ever moves beyond light bondage and spanking, which are fairly commonplace in your average bodice ripper. Despite lots of hints of "we'll do this later", the action in the play room is dull, dull, dull. Nothing more ever happens than what takes place in the first book. If you read the first book, don't look for any different sex scenes in the next two books. I'm not suggesting Ana should have been hurt more - I'm just saying if you like creative, erotic fiction there is a ton of variety the author hinted at but never used for what could have been very hot - but safe - sex scenes. She never delivered. And some libraries banned this series? You've got to be kidding me - this is tame stuff.

I will give the author kudos for one thing though: she's laughing all the way to the bank. Gotta give her credit for whatever she did to get books published that would make any decent high school writing teacher vomit.
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174 of 209 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2012
I heard a segment on the radio about Fifty Shades of Grey being a good Mother's day present. Women rang up and said it was really racy and gave it rave reviews. All of them sited "Chapter 8" as being the most amazing sex they had read. After that I just had to read it to see what all the fuss was about.

I downloaded it and started on the journey. The first few chapters were poorly written but I gave James the benefit of the doubt and ploughed on though the banal descriptions of how hot Christian is (we get it, don't mention it on every page), ploughed on through the cringeworthy factor of a so-called dominant ...or really anyone over the age of 13 saying "laters, baby". Ploughed on, like a champion, through the excruciatingly boring emails (you're using emails to drive the narrative? Really?) and ploughed on through the lip biting and obsession with food and repetitive phrases, too numerous for a published author (for the love of God, get a thesaurus!), all with the promise of knowing that Chapter 8 would make up for it. An hour or so later I randomly checked my progress and realised I was at Chapter 10. Apparently I'd already read through the "hot bit" and didn't even know it!

Be under no illusions Dear Readers, this book is terribly written. It makes Twilight look like Anna Karenina and that is saying a lot since it started as Twilight fan-fiction (if that isn't enough to put you off then you cannot be saved, good luck to you). I've read stories by 5th Graders with more character development and narrative drive than this. I can't believe that it's actually a published book! Bad writing aside, this author also makes the rookie mistake of not knowing anything about her topic. It was not believable at all. A dominant would never behave so erratically or less like a dominant! I mean, he can barely control a 21 year old, it's embarrassing! I have a problem with him being only 27 as well. How can we take a 27 year old dominant seriously? Oh that's right, we can't. Not even Bella..I mean, Ana can. She is the worst, most annoying, uninteresting submissive ever written.

I have nothing good to say about this book. The characters were boring and unbelievable, there was no real drive in the plot, the vocabulary was repetitive and droll, the sex scenes were pretty much vanilla (not kinky at all) and these two characters together make up the worst examples of dominant and submissive I have ever read in "literature". In fact, I have read Facebook posts with more substance than this book. I despair for Pauline Réage, The Marquis de Sade, Anne Rice and other brave authors who have written about this topic in the past. This book is fifty shades of badly written banality.

Laters, baby.
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