IS THE SHIT!
How had I never heard of Outlander before? HOW? I’ve read a fair amount of books in my 23 years on this planet and yet I had somehow completely missed the Outlander craze until the TV series came out. At that point, I thought “Oh, there is a book? No way! Oh, look at that… it came out decades ago.” And in the depths of BookTube, I found the Holy Grail of reviews, and I got the book on Audible, and I started listening.
But then there was this little issue with it just not being fast enough. I wanted to know what happened and reading was faster than listening due to the fact that putting the reading speed up resulted in me not understanding the Scottish accent. So I downloaded the Kindle Book (It was 2 am, and I couldn’t wait to go buy the paper copy) and started reading. MY GOD THIS WAS GOOD. I remember thinking that I cannot possibly imagine how Diana Gabaldon managed to come up with this and develop it so thoroughly. I felt like I was there and I knew these people. They seemed like real individuals and not characters that came to be because of an author’s imagination. It was mind-blowing. I know you are all probably thinking that it’s just the sign of a good book and if the character isn’t believable, then it’s just bad. But this felt different. I’ve read a good amount of books in my time and never felt quite like this about a pair of characters.
I have to put it out there that Outlander is most certainly NOT a book for everyone. There is violence, detailed sexual content and frankly, some gruesome scenes. But I think it’s a fair and historically-accurate representation of what life was like during that time period. While some moments of the book are undoubtedly hard to swallow (I had to put the book down and walk away from it for the rest of the night), it is a beautiful book about love, lust, war, fear, courage, loss and so much more.
Was “Outlander” A Difficult Read?
Well, yes and no. It wasn’t a particularly difficult text in the sense that you don’t have to apply yourself profoundly to understand what’s going on. The story flowed beautifully, and you were naturally eager to follow it. But, and this is a big but, it is a draining book. I actually felt emotionally spent after reading it. The characters that you grow to love have to go trough some pretty terrible things through out the story, and it’s because you feel so invested that it actually makes you feel all the feels.
Also, “Outlander” is a long book. I mean look at it. It’s almost 900 pages, and that’s a daunting book to even look at because you know that it’s going to take you a while to finish. But it didn’t work for me. I wanted to know what happens so bad that I sped through it with the speed of light. It’s long and intense, but never boring and that is what actually makes it readable I think.
What About The Characters?
As I said before, I think the characters were expertly built. I felt an instant connection to Claire and Jamie, and I was rooting for them the entire time. I mean Jamie … If you’ve read the book, then you know what I’m saying. I’m pretty sure that he’s most readers’ imaginary boyfriend. And his depiction during and after “the incident” was so realistic and heart-wrenching. I hated Randall with a burning passion at that point (well I kinda hated him from before, if we’re completely honest). I also loved Claire’s character and her strength, which was in complete contrast to what was expected of her at the time that she traveled to. It was marvelous that her skill to heal the men is what made her invaluable and helped her save herself. If she hadn’t been a healer, none of them would have ended up trusting her probably. Her eagerness to get back to Frank was also touching, even though the whole time I was thinking “YOU HAVE JAMIE IN FRONT OF YOU!!! FORGET ABOUT FRANK AND STAY WITH THE SCOTTISH HOTTIE.” And thankfully she listened (eventually). The development of the side characters was also great, and it really helped bring the story to life and make it what it is.
The Spanking Scene Controversy
There has been a ton of controversy surrounding the infamous scene where Jamie punishes Claire by spanking her. He does it without her permission and chases her around in order to catch her and inflict the punishment. Afterward, Claire doesn’t speak to him, and he feels bad about it. Some readers insist that it was a terrible idea to put these scene in the book in the first place as it showcases abuse, violence, etc. The claim is that it is belittling to women who have faced abuse and also that it romanticizes it, seeing as how Claire forgives Jamie upon seeing that he’s sorry (not before holding a dagger to his throat).
My opinion is that the scene was there for a reason. Yes, it did show abuse, but it was also portraying wife-husband relations from centuries ago when this sort of thing was not as shocking as it is now. Naturally, I do not believe that a woman should stay with someone who has hit her. I am very much against that type of violence and abuse of someone’s trust. But I think that it was historically accurate. And not only that but I believe the scene was also an integral part of Jamie’s development. It was interesting to see him torn between his personal feelings on what he’d done and the pressure of tradition and the other men around him. I think the scene showed him evolving into making his own decisions regarding his wife.
The World Of Outlander
Ms. Gabaldon certainly did her research and well. As someone who has never actually been to Scotland, I felt like I got a good sense of it through her writing. The details she provided in regards to both architecture, plants, historical events, etc. I did not know much about Scotland or Scottish traditions before reading this book, and now, I really want to go and see it. But more importantly, the author’s ability to completely immerse the reader in the different sceneries of Claire’s world and Jamie’s world is fascinating. At one point I was so immersed in what was going on and the surroundings that I completely forgot about the whole time-travel aspect of the book.
But while “Outlander”’s world is breathtaking and colorful, it can also be very dark and sometimes hard to walk through. Towards the end of the book when we get to the part about what Jamie had to endure, as well as the way he copes with it, it is hard to keep on reading. At least for me, it was.
Anyways, this review is pretty long as it is so I will end it here. Let me know your thoughts on Outlander, and we can have a discussion! 🙂