Book Review: Hating the Novel “Outlander” Written by Diana Gabaldon
I rarely post bad book reviews because I find most reading enjoyable no matter what kind of genre or writing style; however, the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon left me feeling disappointed. Today’s book review will not be good. I didn’t finish the first book.
To begin, I want to say it excited me to try the Outlander series and have the entire book series on my Kindle. The reason I was so eager to try the series out is because after having mouth surgery I was laid up for a few days and binged watched the first couple seasons of the TV adaption of the Outlander series. I loved and enjoyed the show, so the books would be an excellent read that would make the story even better. I was mistaken on that point.
This is one of those rare moments when my preference for the TV/movie adaption of a novel is way better than the actual book. I will continue the show but will not read the rest of the series. I can’t stomach reading another word of Gabaldon’s book. That is the truth. I own every single book of this series and I am not going to ever finish reading them, which is a shame because I truly wanted to enjoy them!….
I would like to discuss two things before I detail all the many reasons I will be giving this book a 2 out 5 star rating. First, I need to say it is difficult for me to write a bad review because it genuinely doesn’t happen often at all. I love the books I am sent through publishers and those I purchase myself. It wasn’t easy deciding I would not finish the book despite being well past halfway through the novel; but I was over it! Readers shouldn’t waste their time reading books they are not enjoying, so I believe putting books into a DNF (Did Not Finish) pile is okay.
The Outlander series is based on the premise of time travelling, which is entertaining. Who doesn’t love a historical time-traveling romance novel? The book’s plot is centered on a young woman Claire Beauchamp Randall, who after WWII is on vacation in the Scottish Highlands with her husband Frank when the impossible happens. Claire finds herself transported to the past and is pushed face first into a 1743 Scottish clan war against the English. I love Claire in both the book and TV show because she is a strong and brave woman who just jumps right into the thick of things without panicking too much about how she will get home to the future.
The book is a “romance” and that is where I take my first disliking to the story. As a reader, I am a sucker for a good romance, but that isn’t the right way to describe the love between Claire and the man she is forced to marry for her own protection in 1743 Scotland. He is a typical brute and highly disagreeable in the novel.
I think Jamie Fraser was the biggest let down in the novel because I was disgusted with his character which is strange because the TV show portrays him in such a different light and I adored him on the show. The Jamie on TV is much more easy to sympathize with and love than the book Jamie. Book Jamie is a lot more obnoxious, gruff, and way meaner than what he is like in the show. I am not sure how you could classify Claire, and Jamie’s marriage as love. It is more of a controlling and dare I say abusive situation and poor Claire doesn’t seem to mind because what choice does she have? By the time she is forced to marry Jamie, she has almost been raped, has no home, is being held captive by a Scottish clan. Claire is just trying to survive and figure out a way to return to her real husband and back to 1946.
My next dislike of this novel has to do with rape. I mean, really? Who doesn’t get raped in this book and why does every chapter have to involve some form of rape whether it is with Captain Randall of the British army or Jamie Fraser’s uncle/mentor (I am unclear of the connection which happens a lot in this book. No clarity throughout). Gabaldon missed the mark with how she seemed to favor writing in detail constantly of physical abuse with descriptive narration of the scenes yet her writing falls flat in other areas in such a massive way it left a bad taste in my mouth to say it the simplest.
Gabaldon has no trouble providing readers with every graphic way to describe the brutality but somehow can’t make me as a reader connect with the characters. They have no substance whatsoever, and Claire is a bit of a ninny with no real depths. The author tries to give them personality by detailing to the readers the character’s unique history, but a lot of it doesn’t do the trick; the book has a lot of one liner history that needed more detail. You cannot name drop the king of France and mention constant squabbles of the Scottish Clans without giving readers reference to the who they are and what they are about. Why was there a rebellion and the significance? How am I suppose to understand how important a civil war is or a royal figure if the writer doesn’t spell it out for me at least a little? Readers should care about what the characters do. There is just no way because I wasn’t feeling it, and I found that lacking despite my love of history. I mean really… As a reader I wasn’t asking for a history lesson, but some details about why it mattered should have been there to paint the picture. With that said I realize I only read the first book so perhaps there is more that follows in the others to clarify, I cannot say because won’t be reading.
I know this post is nothing more than a long rant of hate on the novel; however, it cannot be helped! There is so much that is terrible. An example of how awful it is would be when Jamie beats Claire for “misbehaving” and “not listening” to his orders. This is love? I am to admire and support Jamie? As a reader the authors wants us to root for Jamie and Claire’s love except it is anything but and I refuse to accept that abusive and controlling relationships are love. I know there is a whole argument of well it is “historically accurate”. Nope. I don’t care. That argument doesn’t hold any weight for me. I am not interested in accurate if the novel is making my stomach queasy. I’ll pass. This is all I will write regarding book one and the series because my rant has gotten long-winded. The book isn’t my cup of tea and I will not attempt to read the work of rape obsessed Diana Gabaldon again.
Disclaimer: These are wholly my opinions, and I don’t judge anyone for enjoying Gabaldon as a writer and the series itself. There was a lot of good ideas and some great writing in her book. My opinions are just that, an opinion. No way reflecting on the taste of other readers. I think all readers have unique perspectives and perhaps when someone doesn’t like a story they aren’t seeing it with the same perspective as another reader and vice versa. We are individuals here and if you loved the series than I think that is awesome. Finding books we love is always a positive in my world!
I would like to say that although I haven’t watched past season two of the television version I did really enjoy the show and will watch the other seasons.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my book review. I would love to know what others thought of the series? I know I cannot be the only hater for the book but also know that there are many who love the series. Please let me know what about the series made you hate/love it. Leave a comment in the section below!