Katrina Carrasco's Reviews > Outlander

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
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Mar 27, 2012

it was ok
Read from April 14 to 20, 2012

Um. I'm not sure how I feel about this book. My overall impression, having just finished it, was that it had me rolling my eyes a lot with annoyance. Yet I read the whole thing, and pretty fast, too. (Spoilers ahead ... Don't all reviews have spoilers??)

First of all, I (rather stupidly) did not pick up on the fact that this was a romance novel when I checked it out at the library. I thought it was a historical novel with a romance subplot -- and yes I am "one of those people" who doesn't read straight-up romance novels, so I would not have even picked it up had I known the genre. I realized I was reading a straight-up romance novel about 250 pages in, where the entire middle span of the book turns into an unending sex scene. Sigh. Sex scenes are so hard to write well, and throwing in a weirdly inconsistent dialect only made them more laughable.

Speaking of straight-up romance ... This book has a serious homophobia problem. I was frankly disgusted that so many pages were devoted to the swoony (hetero) main couple, while the (only) two gay characters were molesters and pedophiles (and one of them was also a sadistic, incestuous rapist). Nice! So m/f sex is healing and the true expression of love and so enjoyable, and m/m sex is gross, violent and disturbing. I actually yelled "Shut up!" at the book a few times. Seeing these old and offensive tropes trotted out again and again is a big part of what ruined the book for me.

So why did I keep reading? I guess Jaime served his narrative purpose -- he was sexy. (Damn it!) Sexy looking, at least (who can resist a big red-headed man in a kilt?). He was also a ridiculous character, made of sparkles and rainbows and unicorns. Oh, he's huge and strong, but gentle! Oh, he's a virgin at 23 in Scotland, 1743! (Ha!) Oh, he loved Claire when he first saw her! Oh, he just can't believe that after having sex, all he wants to do is have sex again, and is it always this good? I have to stop, because I'm rolling my eyes so hard again that they're starting to hurt.

I don't know who I would recommend this book to. History fans, such as myself? Eeehhh ... Too much sex, not enough substance. Romance fans? I guess ... though have fun capping off that 300-page middle section of "nice" sex with an extended end-of-book scene of rape and torture, which is also recounted by the victim over and over again. Whee~! (Also, how many times is Claire almost raped in this book? WTF?) Fans of botany? Maybe! We sure do learn a lot about plants (which is not snark -- I enjoyed those bits).

I started out the review with a three-star rating (adding a star to "It was OK" because I actually finished reading the damn thing). After thinking it over, I've put it back to two. Despite its many faults, though, the book kept me engaged enough to plow through 600+ pages in two days. So, if you have a rainy weekend to spare, and have somewhere private to curl up where you can make strange, disbelieving faces and shout at the book occasionally, try reading OUTLANDER.
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