RandomAnthony's Reviews > Outlander

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
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May 28, 08

Read in May, 2008

(Ok, first off, there are going to be minor spoilers/hints in this review…read at your own risk, although I’ll try not to reveal too much.)

Outlander is a damn good book. Sure, the book has a blue fake leather cover, costs four bucks, and screams “spinning rack at the airport bookstore”. I approached the text with suspicion but found myself invested in the language and storyline within the first hundred pages. Here’s why:

TEN GOOD THINGS ABOUT OUTLANDER

1. The characterizations of Jamie and Claire, along with a few other less important figures, are stellar. Ms. G. goes out of her way to create rich, deep personalities. If you thought Jamie was only going to be a caricature of romantic manhood, you’d be wrong. If you thought Claire was going to be a plucky damsel in distress, you’re wrong.

2. As I’ve said before, Ms. G. did her research. Her sense of detail, whether discussing plants or historical elements intrinsic to the plant, is admirable.

3. There are a few truly funny passages in the book. Claire’s interactions with men who try to tell her what to do, and her sharp tongue, are often quite entertaining.

4. There are a few very, um, stimulating parts in Outlander. You know what I mean, those of you who have the reached the cave scene and a few others earlier in the book.

5. Ms. G. displays strong insight in trust and relationships. The fights between Claire and Jamie seem real and at times harrowing. Jamie’s recovery near the end of the book and his description of his trials are nothing short of terrifying. She doesn’t spare her reader or the characters tough questions and emotional pain. Outlander is not an easy read.

6. The plot moves quickly. I found myself wanting to cheat and page ahead to find out what was going to happen. This book screams screenplay. Why is it not a movie?

7. Ms. G. writes well. I know that sounds trite, but she structures her sentences intelligently and reading rarely dragged. I knocked out 850 pages in three busy weeks but looked forward to picking up the book after the house grew quiet.

8. John Randall and the witch (can’t remember her name, Ginnie or something) were both well-drawn. Randall in particular fascinated me. Villains are usually less complicated than Mr. Randall.

9. The “time travel” facet of the book, as Kirk pointed out, is handled very well and not overused in a sensationalistic manner.

10. Outlander raises some fascinating ethical questions. I could see it as a good book club book. Should Claire get married? Did she put herself in unreasonable danger and some of her friends in danger in turn? What’s up with Randall? Those types of questions.

THREE THINGS I THOUGHT OUTLANDER COULD DO BETTER

1. There were times when I felt Ms. G. was setting up the sequel a bit too much. You know when you’re watching a movie and you can tell some plot points aren’t going to get resolved until the next one? That feeling? I could feel that a couple times.
2. The prison and Lollybrook (sp?) scenes dragged a bit. Outlander really could have been two books.
3. I wasn’t comfortable with some of the religious discussion during Jamie’s recovery. I’m not sure why Ms. G. put the priest in and the conversation in which Claire’s actions are rationalized. I didn’t think that was necessary.

Ok, I have a question. Why is the quality of Outlander so controversial? It’s a flat-out good book. Is it because Outlander is aimed, it seems, primarily at women? Is it the huge, smelly pile of Fabio-covered romance novels tainting Ms. G.’s work? I swear, and I think I’ve said this before, market this book differently and you’ve got a respected hit on your hands rather than a less-respected novel that sold a zillion copies but appears to be of lesser quality than it is (thanks, fake leather cover!). Don’t be afraid of Outlander. It’s a solid adventure story with decent psychological insight and some good sex scenes. I doubt you’ll be disappointed. Take the risk. Don’t be a wuss.
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Comments (showing 151-155 of 155) (155 new)

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message 151: by Kelly (new) - added it

Kelly Watt I agree with this review. I don't understand why the book is being touted as a smutty romance. It IS well written, insightful and thoroughly researched. No, the characters aren't perfect, and the relationship may not be everyone's cup of tea, but you really can't deny that it's a well crafted piece of literature. When I first read it, I came at it expecting a historical fantasy romance, and that's exactly what I go. I had no idea it was meant to be Harlequin's next door neighbour until I looked it up online.


message 152: by Weinz (new)

Weinz I still think RA is full of crap.


message 153: by Weinz (new)

Weinz Right back atcha.


message 154: by Ian (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ian RandomAnthony said: "Outlander really could have been two books."

Nice review. I actually think Outlander could have been one book....just 250 pages shorter.


message 155: by Weinz (new)

Weinz Who deleted in the last year to make it look like I'm talking to myself?

I blame RA.


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