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Free at Last! Fifty Shades Freed: A Review

October 7, 2012

Those of you who have read my reviews of Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker will know that I wasn’t particularly enamoured with the first two parts of E.L James’s bestselling trilogy. While they’re absolutely compulsive reading and impossible to leave alone, the writing is monotonous and repetitive and frankly, I thought reading Fifty Shades Freed would be a case of going through the motions to satisfy myself that I’d at least stuck it out to the end. How wrong I was.

Yes, E.L. James’s writing style is still unbelievably irritating. She still seems to pick a few key words to use over, and over again throughout the 562 pages and it is maddening (I never want to hear the word “heady” again in any context). But, the characters and plot are way more evolved. There’s much more to Freed than a plethora of sex scenes strung together; in fact, sex doesn’t feature as highly in this final installment as the other two novels of the trilogy, which is quite a relief.

Fifty Shades Freed kicks off with Ana and Christian on the honeymoon of a lifetime touring Europe. Their wedding is told as flashbacks, something I actually didn’t like too much. Given the extraordinary journey the pair have made just to get to the point of getting married, I felt a bit like skimming over it in flashbacks was cheating the reader out of the ending we all knew was coming. On the other hand, giving Ana and Christian a proper literature wedding would round off their story too tidily. At least by skirting round it quite deftly, E.L. James has found a way to let the readers know that things ain’t over for Ana and Christian just yet. Far from it, in fact. Upon their return from honeymoon, they don’t have much peace. If it isn’t being followed and drawn into a high speed car chase, it’s Jack Hyde breaking into Escala to kidnap Ana, or Ray getting into an accident, or Ana getting knocked up, then beaten to within an inch of her life by aforementioned psycho-pervert, Jack Hyde. There’s drama in bucketfuls in Fifty Shades Freed. What a conclusion to a slow starting, pretty mundane trilogy. Where was all this drama before?! WOW!

The ultimate ending annoyed me a bit though. From the discovery that Jack and Christian were in the same foster home as children and that Christian had landed on his feet was the reason for Jack’s animosity to the revelation that it was Mrs. Robinson’s ex-husband that had posted Hyde’s bail and allowed him to continue with his weird little vendetta, I was annoyed. It was all just a bit anti-climactic. I was hoping the link between Christian and Jack would be more controversial, like they were actually brothers (although that would have been predictable…), so to find out that they just lived in the same foster home for a bit seemed a bit of a weak and tenuous link.  And that’s before I even discovered the epilogue. The minute I read the word I didn’t want to carry on. I loathe epilogues in literature. Right from the first time I ever read Jane Eyre (“Reader, I married him”), I knew nothing good or satisfying would ever come out of reading an epilogue. I didn’t need to have Ana and Christian’s happily ever after rammed down my throat. I certainly didn’t need the tear-jerking, harrowing account of Christian’s first Christmas as a Grey, told from the perspective of his four-year-old self. Sometimes, less is more and after almost three novels and about 1500 pages of having things deliberately held back, it seems strange to round off the very end with a splurge of knowledge that by this stage, we really didn’t need.

Now it’s over, and there’s no more Fifty Shades to come, I feel kind of empty. Like I don’t know what I want to read next, except that bit’s a lie because I totally do. But, for those of you who are truly lost, fear not! If the abounding rumours I hear are true, there will be a Fifty Shades film. How it’ll work, I have no idea – I mean, considering the explicit sexual content it HAS to contain, it can’t be rated anything less than an 18 and should probably be X-rated if they make a decent adaptation of it. Let’s just hope there’s a production team and cast ready to jump to and make sure it comes out before the media hype around the books dies down…

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