While we wait patiently for the final installment in the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, fans of the bestselling erotic romance series can take comfort in knowing that there are other stories out there that fans of EL James’ best-selling novels might enjoy.
One of those stories is called, aptly enough, Fifty Shades Dark. When Twilight exploded in the mid-2010s with millions of readers around the world, its success encouraged many authors to dive into the seductive world of BDSM (bondage, dominance, submission, masochism) and explore the darker sides of human sexuality.
One of the most talked-about and anticipated releases of 2019 was Fifty Shades Dark. The Christian Grey novels have sold more than 125 million copies worldwide, making them the third bestselling novel series of all time. (The Hunger Games and Harry Potter are in first and second place, respectively.) While the last two books in the Grey trilogy have been available for quite some time, fans of the series can now complete their collection with the release of Fifty Shades Dark.
And while it is completely understandable why fans might be excited about the new additions to their favorite literary series, there are a few reasons why the hype surrounding Fifty Shades Dark might be a little much.
To start, the novel is the first to be told from Christian’s point of view. This means that the reader is getting an insider’s perspective on his relationship with Anastasia, as well as getting to explore his dominant personality traits and the forms they take.
For fans of the books, this will likely be the first time they get to see Christian’s side of events. In the previous Dark books, readers learned mainly about Dom’s (Dominic Rutherford) controlling nature and his interest in kinky sex. However, it is important to remember that this is the Christian we’re dealing with here, and while he might be a little more sophisticated and charming than we’re used to, we’re still not entirely sure whether or not he’s really a good guy. He might be a villain after all.
The Main Character Is Awkward
Even the most devoted Grey fan might not have guessed at the awkwardness that infuses Fifty Shades Dark. The entire novel is stuffed with cringe-worthy moments, from Christian’s ill-advised attempt at a hipster haircut (which turns out to look like a spider web) and his ill-fitting suit that looks more like a clown costume, to the way he throws himself at Anastasia’s bed every time she decides to have a few days off from work.
Other cringe-worthy elements include Ana’s (Mia Wasikowska) habit of flirting with Christian’s boss, the way Christian feels about his own height, and the fact that he keeps having to remind Ana that they are supposedly a couple.
Thankfully, it is not all bad. In fact, for all of its awkwardness, Fifty Shades Dark is a surprisingly sweet and funny book. It is filled with one-liners and sharp dialogue, and the way it handles the kinkiness of BDSM is both realistic and funny. The novel also features some surprisingly deep characters, and it is possible to have a complex relationship with a cupcake, which is probably what most of the book’s readers will be thinking about when they finish it.
Fans Will Be Satisfied With The Ending
Even if you’ve already read the third book in the trilogy, it would be a good idea to go back and read Fifty Shades Dark. Why? Because this is where the action really picks up, and from the moment the novel opens, the pace stays fast and furious. (And let’s be honest, who wouldn’t be eager to dive into a story where the intrigue, seduction, and dominance never ends?)
Christian takes Ana’s phone away, and it is implied that he will use it for something more sinister than flirting. In the meantime, Ana uses her boss’s Blackberry to check in with her friends, secure in the knowledge that she has a plan B in case her plan A (sleeping with Christian) fails.
The pacing is impressive enough in the first half of the book. We’re immediately thrown into the action, and we’re learning things as we go along. However, it is the second half that really shines, as the pace slows down and there are more detailed explanations of exactly what is going on. This is most likely because the author, Michael De Luca, is more than satisfied with how the story is going. (He wrote the first draft in eight weeks, and was able to complete the entire project in a few months.)
Regardless of how you feel about the series, or whether or not you’ve read them before, it’s impossible to deny that the last two books in the trilogy are some of EL James’ best work. The prose is gorgeous, and the way it is written is both artistic and innovative. James’ ability to make the reader care about her characters and their relationships is unparalleled. Even now, after finishing the trilogy and seeing the films, it is easy to be inspired by her work, and to want to write something new.
In the meantime, for those who are fans of the novels and feel the need to complete the circle, Christian releases a limited-edition box set this month that includes all three books in the trilogy, as well as an exclusive novella.