Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Review: Outlander

Outlander (Outlander #1)Title: Outlander
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Genre: Fantasy, historical fiction, adult

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:
The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon—when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord . . . 1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life . . . and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire . . . and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

I'm very late to this bandwagon, but better late than never! I really enjoy fantasy novels and historical fiction, and since this is a little bit of both, it was right up my alley. I honestly didn't need much convincing to pick up this book; it was more the fact that I had to wait for months to get my hands on a library copy (why is it that books become so much more popular once there are shows and movies about them? Rhetorical question. I know why, but that doesn't make it less annoying!).

I honestly knew nothing about this book going into it other than the fact that Claire gets transported back in time and that everyone I know was fangirling over Jaime on the show. I was half expecting this to be a thinly-veiled romance novel given all the fangirling, but thankfully there was a lot more to the story than just a love story. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I hate love stories, it's just that I think there is a lot more to life than romance and I prefer not to read books that have nothing more than that.

Claire a remarkably strong-willed woman who was not about to follow historical stereotypes about what she could or couldn't do, and I loved that about her. She is often impulsive and a little foolish, but she is so brave and resourceful and not afraid of expressing herself. It was really refreshing after reading a lot of male-gaze fantasy novels to see a woman who was portrayed as someone with agency, especially one who was respected and loved for her skills and sharp tongue rather than her beautiful body.

Jaime, though...I have some problems with him. Yes, it was a different time, and yes, he was brought up in a more savage environment than we 21st century readers are used to. I'm not even referring to that scene. I'm referring to the multiple times when he would try and get Claire into bed and then she would say "No. You're hurting me" and he'd say something like, "Well, I know that you like it when it hurts so I'm just going to keep going anyway!" (I'm supposed to root for this guy??). Maybe I'm being hypersensitive, but this is exactly the sort of thing that perpetuates rape culture and I'm just not okay with that.

Other than that, though, Jaime was a sweet guy and my favorite part of the book was when we saw his relationship with his sister. The Frasiers are a hot-tempered and quick-tongued bunch, and their brother-sister shouting match sounds exactly like something me and my little brother would do (albeit about far more mundane things haha).

I was not expecting to see so much historical detail and political maneuvering in this book, and that was really cool. I know next to nothing about 18th century Scottish/English politics, and it was really interesting to learn about that time in history. I thought the author did a fantastic job of bringing the time period alive in terms of language, the way characters acted, and just little things like the differences in medicine Claire notices and the witch-hunting paranoia.

I definitely enjoyed this book, but this series is so huge I don't know if I will ever finish it! I'll definitely give the second book a shot though.

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3 comments:

  1. This is one of those books I think about reading but the series is soooo long. I'm not sure I want to commit. Maybe one day, right?

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  2. I'm also late to the party with this one^^ I only got a copy during last year's holiday season and I have yet to get into it. I was kind of excited to see that you recently read and reviewed it ngl XD Other than the frustration that I felt reading those bits about Jaime (ugh) I'm thinking that I'll really enjoy this one too! I love historical fantasies and even though the series is SO HUGE and the books are so long, I'll definitely be giving it a shot!

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  3. yay I'm glad you thought my review was helpful! It's definitely a lot of fun, there were just a couple of scenes that ticked me off. I hope you enjoy it!

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