Book Reviews

Review: Outlander

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The short version: I loved Jamie and Claire, but there were definitely things about this book that bothered me a lot.

The long version: This one was a little complicated for me. There were things I absolutely loved about Outlander, but then there were things I absolutely hated, too, so I just wasn’t sure how to feel about it.

First of all, I loved Jamie and Claire. When they weren’t busy having sex (which, admittedly, was most of the book), they were so wonderful together – they had a lot of chemistry, and I felt like their romance was believable. Also, I loved their initial awkwardness, which was completely adorable – although, I think adorable is probably the best word to describe Jamie in general, really.

I had a lot of fun reading from Claire’s perspective. It was delightfully snarky, and I actually chuckled in a couple of places. I was also very impressed at how well Gabaldon pulled off the whole historical fiction within a historical fiction thing. Granted, I haven’t studied a lot of modern history, but it felt pretty believable to me.

And now, for the things I didn’t love so much. Throughout the book, Randall was probably the main antagonist. I felt like there wasn’t nearly enough substance to him. He was, from the moment he first met Claire, EVIL. His whole goal in life seemed to be to make life miserable for Claire and Jamie, and there didn’t really seem to be any redeeming qualities to him. I mean, initially it seemed like he was just trying to do his duty by the Crown and all that – which is totally understandable – but by the end of the book, Gabaldon completely departs from that and just turns him into the Bad Guy.

The other thing that made me really, really uncomfortable is all of the rape and/or near-rape that happens in this book. It happens a lot, and I really didn’t see why it was necessary. It felt like Gabaldon just included all those scenes in order to point out which side was the Bad Guys, and just left it at that. It felt like just a plot device, and that really bothered me, especially when there are so many more effective ways to define your characters.

All of that being said, I’m glad I did finally get around to reading this book, after having it sitting in my room for awhile. I got sucked in pretty much from the beginning, and as much as I loved Jamie, I could completely understand why Claire would be so conflicted, because Frank was a pretty appealing option in his own right. I think this is a series I’m going to have to continue reading.

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5 thoughts on “Review: Outlander”

  1. So interesting to read your take on this. I love these books,and started reading them in 2000 or so, before I was blogging about books. I've never thought about it before, but you make an excellent point about the rapes… And having read many books in the series, I can say this is definitely a device that she over-uses. Great review!

  2. This is a great review that I mostly agree with. Honestly, I never quite believed that Jamie and Claire would like each other so much as soon as they did, but it was believable eventually. I guess I just felt like she forgot Frank pretty quickly. The over-use of rape definitely annoyed me, as did much of the characterization outside of Jamie and Claire. My sister read all of these, but I just never wanted to read more after the first one even though I mostly liked it.

  3. Hmm… definitely intrigued by this one, but the older I get (and especially now that I have a daughter), the more hesitant I am to pick up a book with rape or tons of general violence. Still, I might just have to check it out because Claire sounds like a MC I'd like. Thanks for the review, Stephanie!

  4. I think I remember liking it better than you describe, but it's been a while and I couldn't give you concrete arguments! I don't remember that rape or near-rape issue, for one. 😐

  5. Outlander made me laugh, think, and even made me cry. Diana Gabaldon has crafted an amazing work that, despite its size, is a fast read and nearly impossible to put down.If you read further into the reviews, you'll notice comments on homophobia, and beatings. Don't worry, later novels put the homophobia to rest, and Jamie beating Claire, while disturbing, does have a point to it, and isn't just random cruelty. And if that does disturb you, he swears never to do it again, as well.

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