Note: Fifty Shades Darker is a sexually explicit book. Please be aware of that before purchase
Summary: The conclusion of the trilogy, with a little suspense thrown in for good measure.
I finished this almost a week ago now. But I did not have a chance to write the review until now. Now that I have some distance I am going to try to write up a response to the whole trilogy as well as the final book.
It is not possible to separate the book from the sex that is contained inside the book. Even last night, the book came up, and the only topic was the sex contained inside the book, and whether it was just porn for women.
I briefly talked about why I thought it was not porn in the review for Fifty Shades of Grey, but I will mention one other point. As a Christian, I believe that the only appropriate place for sex is within marriage. Anything that detracts from sex within marriage is detrimental, and in many cases, should be considered a sin.
Porn (movies, magazines, etc.) has two big problems. One, it objectifies sex and makes it not about drawing a couple together, but about the gratification of people that are not the ones engaged in sex. Two, whether they agree with it or not, it lessens the humanity of those involved in the porn. So as a Christian, we use the metaphor of a family to describe other Christians (i.e., you are my brother or sister in Christ). I have heard from many, that when they think of the people engaged in porn (or screen or in a magazine) as their brothers or sisters in Christ and fellow children of God, it has helped to break the power of porn. Suddenly, they realize that the person has value because they were created in the image of God, not just because they are sexually stimulating.
So I do not believe that the Fifty Shades trilogy is porn because in general, it is not about diminishing the humanity (they are fictional characters) and because the positive view of sexuality in Fifty Shades is about drawing a couple together. (There are contrary views of sexuality that are portrayed in the books that do diminish their humanity, but they are mostly described as unfavorable.) That does not mean that everyone should read it. It is sexually provocative. If you are sexually active, this series will probably excite you, and you will likely desire to have sex more often while reading the books. But I do believe that while Fifty Shades idealizes sex, it can be read as sexually appropriate and encouraging to couples.
On the other hand, it is certainly possible that some people will read this and be disappointed that their spouse is not more like Christian Grey or Ana. In that case, it can be a detriment to the marriage. But it is not the sex in the book that would cause a person to be disappointed in their spouse; it is an illustration of marriage and relationship. This book is fiction. Real people are not billionaires and surrounded by security all the time. Real people don’t have sex three times a day for months at a time.
But real people are devoted to their spouse. Real people do show care and love for their spouse and agree never to leave the other in anger. When I talk to women about this book (because I haven’t had another guy I know admit to reading it), what is attractive is not the BDSM or the tons of sex, it is how much Christian cherishes Ana (who at the beginning of this book becomes his wife.)
Marriage does not solve all of Christian and Ana’s problems, but it does provide a level of relational glue to help keep them together. As with most relational issues, Christian and Ana’s problems here are mostly about fear and communication. Even though they love one another, they still fear that the other will stop loving them if they truly knew what was inside. I think we all have that problem. I have been married nearly 15 years (at the end of June), and I still have the fear that my wife will not love me if she fully knows me. It is both irrational (because she does know me quite well) and disproved by how she has reacted about the many things that she does know about me.
The other relational problem that continues to harm Christian and Ana is a lack of proper communication. While they talk much more frankly about sex than most couples I know, they still do not talk about everything. Christian keeps trying to protect Ana by hiding things from her that he thinks would scare her, and Ana hides things from Christian that she thinks would make him angry. Of course, it is these very things that they hide that harm the other in the book. It is the nature of fiction. But it is true in real life as well.
The thriller parts this final book give it a place to move around. It is not just about Ana and Christian. There is an area of conflict for the book that draws them together instead of bringing them apart.
Overall, while I have some reservations recommending these books because of the overt sexuality, the storyline and storytelling is as good as a lot of other popular fiction. And the epilogue at the end, telling some of Christian’s back story and part of the the story from Christian’s perspective was a nice little addition.