Book Review: Outlander Outcast

Season two of Outlander is set to premier on April 9th, so I thought it would be fitting to post my original review of the first Outlander novel. I first picked up a copy of Diana Gabaldon’s famous series in 2010 from my local library. I made it through about halfway through the novel before I marched it back to the library. I recall being crazy disappointed and wondering how my opinion could be so dramatically different from so many other readers.

Just to give you an idea of how many opinions I was going against here…

  • 15,861 readers on Amazon give it 4.5/5.0 stars
  • Goodreads boasts 443,592 ratings with an average score of 4.2/5.00

Clearly, I’m an outcast. So, I decided to give it another try three years later. After a painfully slow start, I’m proud to say I made it 66% through to completion. Hey, at least I made it further than last time. Since I gave the time travel tale another try, I can now clearly articulate why this novel doesn’t tickle the bits under my kilt.

Before you think, “I bet she just doesn’t like highlander or time travel books.” You would be wrong. Don’t pass go, don’t collect $200. I adore Suzan Tisdale’s and Julie Garwood’s historical romances and The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is one of my favorites.

I also respect strong heroes or heroines. However, a character can be brave while also feeling fear or sorrow. This fact explains my first reason for disliking Outlander…

Emotion doesn’t make an appearance.

{Spoilers ahead…I’ll let you know when they’re over}

She is ripped from her life, raped, and beaten. How does she respond? She trembles and shrugs it off. In a blink of an eye, she is healing people and living a pretty normal, everyday life. Yes, I admire that Claire was written as a strong character that wouldn’t roll over and die in the situation, but come on!

At another point, the character is stripped naked in front of the whole town and beaten. She thrashes around and gets rescued by Jaime at the last minute (again). Feelings of anger and humiliation are lightly sprinkled in the scene. Oh man, I’m boring myself just writing this.

Anyway, her back is shredded and she was nearly drowned. She must be suffocating in a sea of emotion. The hurt, both physical and emotional, must be overwhelming, right?! Nope. She somehow manages to ride a horse without pain for days and when given the chance to return to modern civilization, she stays with the man she has known four months.

{Spoilers over}

Grace and Frankie

I do realize she had great love for Jaime and I also loved his character. I sinfully even enjoyed the “belt scene.”  I just wanted emotion to be better projected. I constantly felt like the writing kept me at arm’s length and prevented me from getting close to the characters.

Second,  and what put me over the edge…

The pace is confusing.

Perhaps it is my ADD kicking in, but I felt there were long periods of nothing (for example, a dinner scene, a history lesson, a healing scene, etc…) followed by something crazy huge and then that huge moment is quickly skimmed over. There is no digestion of the conflict. It just happens and then it is done. Experiences shape people, but Outlander appears to simply be a series of colorful events with no consequences. I felt is was very superficial.

I am an Outlander Outcast. Nice to meet you. Do you strongly disagree with me? Do you suggest I watch the series? Let me know in the comments!


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