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TBTS Reviews: Fifty Shades Freed

August 3, 2012

Fifty Shades FreedFifty Shades Freed is the third and final book in the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, and it brings the series to a dramatic yet satisfying close. We saw the shift from pure erotic romance to thriller in Fifty Shades Darker, and Freed takes it to a whole new level. Sabotage, arson, car chases, attempted kidnapping, extortion, and of course, the raunchy sex — there’s a little something for everyone.

Fifty Shades Freed is the longest book of the series, and there really is a lot of story crammed into those pages. A lot of weird shit happens to our heroes, and it actually becomes a little exhausting. Can’t these two crazy kids ever catch a break? Apparently E.L. James doesn’t think so. She wants to put our heroes through their paces, make sure they really mean it when they pledged their love and loyalty to each other.

The book begins with Ana and Christian on their honeymoon in the Mediterranean. We get to experience the incredibly short engagement (one month!) and incredibly lavish wedding through flashbacks. At this point they’ve known each other all of three months, and it shows. They know each other well enough to have sex constantly, but not well enough to avoid basic fights. Ana knows what pushes Christian’s buttons, yet is surprised every time she does something that makes him mad. Book 3 actually paints the pair in a pretty unflattering light — we feel as if we know these characters by now, and we don’t really like what we see. Christian is as controlling as ever, but he takes it to a whole new level in Freed. Between stepping up security after an attack at his business, trying to keep Ana from going back to work after their honeymoon, and leaving a business function in New York to fly back to Seattle just because she went out for a drink with a friend after telling him she wouldn’t — this man is the picture of domination. The Freed Christian is kind of a prick; he doesn’t look that different from your typical spouse abuser.

Ana is no better. She continues to put herself in risky situations with no regard for her own safety or what intentions Christian may have, yet when it comes to something that truly matters to her (like not changing her name at work), she backs down just because he throws a fit. She doesn’t stand up for herself when it counts, and she lets Christian run roughshod over her just because he loves her so much. She repeatedly says she feels like she’s been run over by a freight train, yet she does nothing to stop Christian from doing it. When she wants to talk, he wants to fuck, and she acquiesces.

The book is saved, but only just, by the suspenseful bits. Ana’s ex-boss, who Christian had fired after he made a pass at her, is back. He’s suspected of sabotaging Christian’s helicopter, causing its crash in Fifty Shades Darker. He moves on to committing arson in Christian’s corporate server room, followed by burglary at Christian’s fancy apartment, where he attempts to kidnap Ana and possibly kill Christian. He’s eventually released on bail, only to up the game with an extortion attempt: he kidnaps Christian’s sister, Mia, and demands $5 million from Ana in exchange for her release. Ana manages to outwit him, shooting him in the process and freeing Mia, with Christian and the police arriving just in time.

Fifty Shades Freed is clearly my least favorite book in the series. The outside drama is interesting, but it can’t make up for how unsympathetic Ana and Christian have become. There’s less growth in this book than the other two; you feel as if Ana and Christian have made it as far as they’re going to make it, and you kind of lose interest in them. They’re not the best of people, and they kind of deserve each other, though I was glad to see them get their happily-ever-after.

As I’ve mentioned before, it seems I can’t go a day without reading about the Fifty Shades hysteria. The series has knocked Harry Potter out of the top sales position in England. Hotels are starting to stock the books in their rooms in place of the Bible. There might even be a Fifty Shades of Grey-induced baby boom. And, of course, there’s the endless speculation over who will direct and star in the inevitable movie adaptations.

While overall I enjoyed this series, I think there is better erotica out there to be found. Hopefully the success of Fifty Shades of Grey will prompt women to seek it out, and will encourage publishers to print the sexy stuff. There is clearly a demand for it.

TBTS Reviews: Fifty Shades of Grey
TBTS Reviews: Fifty Shades Darker

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