Fifty Shades Freed
by EL James, contemporary (2012)
Arrow, £7.99, ISBN 978-0-09-957994-6


Fifty Shades Freed is the conclusion of EL James's runaway success series, which I'm sure you have at least heard by now was once an alternate universe Twilight until Ms James decided to use the popularity of her series to make some dough off them via the wonderful world of self-publishing. The books sold so well that the series got picked up for mainstream consumption. The story so far has EL James laughing all the way to the bank, the media beating the mommy porn horse to death, and folks tired of mocking Stephanie Meyer and Linda K Hamilton now perking up at having a new victim to make fun of for the next ten years on the Amazon discussion boards.

So, Fifty Shades Freed, the conclusion to the "Will Christian ever get psychiatric help?" saga comes to an end with a bang. And another bang. And another, and then another, because when the story opens, Christian and Ana decide to tie the knot. So they'll bang, okay? Along the way, he viciously scolds her for showing off too much skin that other people may see, suggests that she is too fat, and laughs at her face when she shaves her Sahara desert in an effort to impress him. He also gets surly over her decision to retain her last name and generally hovers over her, making sure that she is always in contact with him via email or the phone. I suspect that he's now realizing that his wife put out to him in less than a week after they first meet, was eager to do all kinds of "kinky fuckery" like a good little sex doll, and he's starting to get concerned that she will be just as loose and easy with his male acquaintances. The author stops short of forcing Ana into a burqa, because then the whole over-the-top control freak nonsense of Christian will be too... obvious, I guess.

Oh, and because we need to keep the more militant Team Edward fans happy, Jacob... I mean, Cardboard Villain Du Jour stirs up trouble and there is some mundane Lifetime family drama too to keep the story going when our two love-twits need to catch their breath from all that banging and slamming. Oh, and finally the butt plug shows up. It takes this long for that thing to show up, so I hope you aren't too disappointed when I say that the other fun stuff in the contract, such as fisting, never really comes to pass. But I guess that's mainstream BDSM for the masses? That's why I said in previous reviews that there is actually very little substance to back up the hype of this "sexy and daring" series: whatever EL James does here, there are many more erotic romance authors who have done better.

Anyway, the sex aside, it is easy to fall asleep while reading this book because, like the previous two books, this one has very little actual story. The writing feels even more like padding here than it ever was in the previous two books. For example, once Ana learns of an incident that befalls her father, she spends the next few pages explaining the details of this incident to several different people, again and again! EL James also must have taken writing classes from Laurell K Hamilton, because she loves to use a handful of words over and over again. Christian is always smirking, for example, and now that I think of it, is that the word to use for a supposedly charming and seductive hero?

On the bright side, the author is even more blatant here in mocking her own characters. Christian is just a foreskin snip away from being Mr Taliban 2012, and Ana mocks him for it several times even as she naturally goes along with his nonsense. Christian is still a ridiculous twat, whining and acting like an asshole when he is rich enough to afford the services of every single shrink in this world. Heck, he's even rich enough to be Oprah's pimp. But no, I'm supposed to pity this twat just because he had a bad childhood. Still, he's actually far more genial than your typical Greek billionaire asshole and he is also nice enough to support his ex-girlfriends. What more can a woman ask for?

Fifty Shades Freed is better than the previous book because we are back to more banging and less whining. It's on par with the first book: full of banal writing, occasionally sexy love scenes, some unintentionally comical sex scenes, and frequent unexpected displays of self-aware and even self-depreciating humor with regards to the characters' insipid shenanigans.

Hey, I survived the Fifty Shades experience! And I'm still wondering what the fuss is all about. This series isn't awful, it's just very mediocre. I'm actually disappointed by how boring it is at times, sigh.

Rating: 59


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