I thought the second book would be the worst-written one, being the padding between the start in the first book and wrapping up the loose threads in the third. Oh how wrong I was.
I completely forgot this was a popular fanfic. Well, I didn't forget the fact but I forgot the implications.
Yes, I know I've already discussed fanfiction in previous reviews, but I have to do it again, simply because it explains the cause of problems with narrative of the whole trilogy and this book in particular.
Imagine if all episodes in one season of any soap opera you watched got put together and split into three movies, without any editing. That's, basically, what happened here.
Oh, but you can pause the movie if you're watching it at home, and it's not different from watching DVD of the TV show, you might say. But could you really sit and watch it in one sitting? Okay, maybe you are in the mood for a marathon. But even then, does it feel like one long movie, or many episodes at once?
Now, there are novels that have been published in parts. But more often than not, those novels were planned, if not mostly written before they got published in sequels. I read a couple of those, most notably A Woman in White and Eugene Onegin, and they all have a clean plot construction and, most importantly, clear conclusion.
I, however, doubt that then-Snowqueensicedragon planned Master of the Universe that well. It's not uncommon that a writer of a popular fanfic will either stretch the story or continue even after the conclusion was reached, because reviewers demand more. Why do people like it like that? Probably for similar reasons they watch the soap operas.
But do you really want to see your favourite soap opera turned into a feature-length movie? Would it really be as exciting as when you have to wait for the next episode to see what happens? When you don't feel the investment that comes with following something for a long time?
I'd like to harp more about the lack of narrative form, but sadly, the rules have become very loose and nowadays the only criteria for a novel are that it is fiction, has a certain word count and can not be considered a collection of shorter pieces of prose.
I made a lot of soap opera comparisons, because this is what this whole book reminded me of: they are finally together and marry, but let's throw in a few more villains just because/to messily wrap up loose ends/to milk everything we can out of it. This book starts with them already married. Engagement and wedding are mentioned in flashbacks. Potential for character development is squandered when Ana's confession to Kate about Christian's habits and Ana's conversation with Christian's mum about "Mrs. Robinson" are just mentioned in passing. So yeah, their romance is concluded. All that is left is random drama, villain appearing, villain getting loose, more random drama and the baby. And, of course, continuity is screwed when the main villain just has to have personal vendetta for Christian too. And a very stupid and contrived one, at that.
No, it doesn't count as "a chronicle covering the history of the family". Why? Because the whole trilogy happens in four months. E-mail dates confirm this. Only four months in three long books. And just about any cheap plot device tossed in that timeframe too.(show spoiler)
And as for pregnant Ana...oh, where to start? First, she calls her baby "Blip". Always. Second, she then(show spoiler)
She also wants to drink alcohol and indulge in BDSM soon after being hospitalised and still in the first stage of pregnancy.
And then came the Epilogue. I'll just give you a few chosen passages:
Another thing that puzzles me about the whole series is genre. It's often thought of as "erotica lite", but I'm not sure if I can classify the book that uses "there" and "him" for genitalia as such. It sounds more like nasty fantasy of a teenager that is still half-fascinated half-squicked by sex. I'd prefer even flowery euphemisms to this.
Ironically enough, erotica seems to have better grasp on the concept of series than more acclaimed genres do. (YA and fantasy, I'm looking at you.) In most of erotica series I've read, each book focuses on a different couple, with couples from previous books in the background, though their stories are still going on. I actually prefer this to reading one romance stretched over three or more books. This does not count family chronicles - though I'm not fond of them either. But one event in life, from meeting to wedding, is enough for one book and no more, I think. I really don't care how many children they'll have. Their story is over. If you want to continue, why not write about Kate and Elliot or Ethan and Mia, mentioning Ana's and Christian's children there? Out of all things James borrowed from Meyer, this one-couple-centric-and-other-are-just-props approach might be the worst.