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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James


When unworldly student Anastasia Steele first encountered the driven and dazzling young entrepreneur Christian Grey it sparked a sensual affair that changed both of their lives irrevocably. Shocked, intrigued, and, ultimately, repelled by Christian’s singular erotic tastes, Ana demands a deeper commitment. Determined to keep her, Christian agrees.

Now, Ana and Christian have it all—love, passion, intimacy, wealth, and a world of possibilities for their future. But Ana knows that loving her Fifty Shades will not be easy, and that being together will pose challenges that neither of them would anticipate. Ana must somehow learn to share Christian’s opulent lifestyle without sacrificing her own identity. And Christian must overcome his compulsion to control as he wrestles with the demons of a tormented past.

Just when it seems that their strength together will eclipse any obstacle, misfortune, malice, and fate conspire to make Ana’s deepest fears turn to reality.

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A big disappointment after the strength of the last book in this series. All of the good momentum that had been gained in Fifty Shades Darker was largely lost in this volume, or at least the first half of it. After all the growth and progress Ana and Christian make with their relationship in Darker, the first half of this book puts us back to the repetitive back and forth bickering that we saw so much of in Fifty Shades of Grey. While it does pick up again in the second half, the agonizing first half really makes you question if you want to stay with it or not. Frankly, only sheer determination to make it through this one kept me from bailing on it, and even then it was a near thing at times.



Ana's character is one of the truly positive things in this book. Mostly. She continues to mature, and has come a long way in learning how to deal with Christian and keep things going relatively smoothly between them. She's aware of the problems they still face, and the issues that still need to be addressed, and she has a firmer sense of who she is and what she wants from life and from their relationship. This helps her to deal better with Christian's increasingly controlling behavior, though her own temper does still explode regularly when he goes too far in trying to rule her life. She's completely committed to seeing this through, however, and to sticking with him through thick and thin, and though it's a commendable quality it also hampers and weakens her because it too often means she ends up giving in to Christian's demands, however outrageous they might be, because she's decided that walking out is not an option. It isn't until a situation arises that involves someone besides herself that she's willing to really stand up to him and do what she's decided for herself to do (even though I don't think her actions were very well thought out or advisable).

After all the progress in being able to compromise with Ana that he's made in Darker, Christian regresses a lot in this book, reverting to being highly controlling and largely inflexible, convinced that he knows best and has the right to dictate every aspect of Ana's life to her. By the end of Darker I was really liking him, and and was really beginning to respect him, but his behavior through the majority of this book lost me again. The way he treated Ana was in many instances quite reprehensible in my opinion and I kept wanting her to just stand up for herself and not back down just because he was mad, and kept being frustrated every time she just caved and let him steamroll her just because she didn't want to make him mad. I get that he's still very much a victim of his past, and hasn't yet learned to move beyond it, but at some point that ceases to be an excuse for his behavior.

This book does redeem itself, at least to a reasonable extent, in the last half when the action picks up a bit and things start moving forward instead of stagnating like it does through the first half. Really, if most of the first half had been trimmed away, this probably would have been a pretty good book, for the story that we get in the last half isn't bad at all (well, mostly it isn't). Also, the development of Ana and Christian's relationship is worthwhile and we finally get to see them get some real resolution to their issues. Still, I could have really done without the huge regression that Christian goes through in reverting to the sort of selfish asshole behavior we saw from him in book one. I could also have done without all the repetition of situations between them, and yes, that includes a great many of the sex scenes which got kind of boring after awhile except for the occasional stand out scene where they actually did something a bit new.

Would I recommend this book to others? Well, if you've read the first two, then yes, I'd say you should probably read this one too so you have the full story, just be aware that this one is probably the bumpiest ride of them all in terms of being more than a bit of a slog to get through it at times. Once it finally finds the right gear, it does start to flow and becomes much less of a slog, though many will find the behaviors in it completely infuriating. I'm far more tolerant of such things than many I know and I found them frustrating at best to read about. I gave this one three stars because it did redeem itself fairly well in the end, but that third star is still given a bit grudgingly. Your mileage may vary, however, so give it a read (if you've read the others) and decide for yourself.

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