****Spoilers are included in this post, with the assumption that you’ve read Fifty Shades of Grey and probably already have a good idea about what happens in the second book. Consider yourself warned.
Recap: The second book in the Fifty Shades of Grey series, Fifty Shades Darker delivers just that — a certain darkness not seen in the first book. Darker picks up right where the first book ends. The differences have become too great for Ana Steele and Christian Grey. But their break doesn’t last long, and once again, we’re caught up in the whirlwind romance — and mindblowing sex — that is their relationship. But Darker introduces new characters.
There’s Ana’s boss, Jack, yet another man who clearly has a thing for Ana. He gets creepier and creepier as the book goes on, proving that maybe Christian Grey has a point with his absurd overprotection. There’s also Elena — or as Ana refers to her, Mrs. Robinson. Elena is the woman who corrupted Grey when he was just a teenager, the woman who Christian refuses to acknowledge molested him. She also predictably becomes Ana’s mortal enemy and a persistent force to be reckoned with. There’s also Leila, a woman from Christian’s past who has some serious psychological issues.
And though these challenges make the progression of Ana and Christian’s relationship difficult, the two overcome many of their issues as best as they can, and look toward a permanent future together.
Analysis: Finally some depth! Fifty Shades of Grey gets the readers engrossed with oodles of sex. Darker doesn’t disappoint either, but the new characters add a new layer coldness and some action to an otherwise romantic novel. Jack makes inappropriate advances on Ana! Leila breaks into Ana’s apartment! Mrs. Robinson still wants Christian! Though the Leila storyline is particularly outlandish, it makes the story and the relationship between the two protagonists more serious.
As the book goes on, we also learn more about Christian’s childhood and why he is the way he is. Again, we’re getting deeper and darker, which both answers a lot of questions for readers and leaves us wondering more. In Darker, author E.L. James pulls us into the story with more than just sex.
That’s not to say there aren’t some truly ridiculous sequences of events — like the predictable and eye-roll-worthy marriage proposal or that Ana now wants to be treated more harshly during sex. The writing also continues to be poor. But again, if you’re looking to read a book for its literary wonder, this is the wrong book. If you like dirty, scandalous, and romantic, this is the book for you.
MVP: Elena. She’s one of the novel’s biggest villains, but she’s an interesting character and certainly keeps the reader guessing. With Ana so adamantly against her, and Christian so convinced that there are no lingering romantic feelings between the two, it’s hard to pick sides. And Elena’s insistence on becoming friends with Ana is equally as confusing to the reader as it is to Ana. There’s no greater moment of satisfaction than a particular party scene between Ana and Elena toward the end.