Outlander: Book One // Season One Review

Hey everyone, how goes it?

I think it’s safe to say that a telltale sign of a book being good is when it keeps you up the entire night. Well, despite being in a reading rut all winter because of studying, Outlander (By Diana Gabaldon) reminded me what that felt like. And it felt awesome!! So for today’s post, I wanted to do a review of Outlander and decided to throw in a quick bit about season one of the show since the adapt has me completely addicted right now The two compliment each other so well!

This book 850 page book took me a very long time to get through. It’s not an easy nor a quick read but absolutely worth the read thanks to the adventurous plot, heady romance and beautiful backdrop of Scotland.

During my closing shift Saturday, it was pretty dead, so I decided to pull out Outlander. I had maybe a quarter left and here I was thinking that ‘meh, maybe I’ll finish it in the next couple days.’…

I might have ended up reading for a huge chunk of it in one sitting and when I came home, I still couldn’t put it down!! I had 200 pages until the end when 3am rolled around and I’d told myself ‘one more chapter’ but..well.When I looked up, again it was 6am and I’d finished the book. Don’t know how that happened! 😉

Plot 

“The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just 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 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.” – Goodreads

I first heard about this book from Sasha at ABookUtopia. Typically, historical fiction and fantasy aren’t really my cup of tea. But, she talked so passionately about the series and the show that it really started to pique my interests and eventually, I got a hold of book 1 despite my apprehension. PS. There might be a few spoilers throughout regarding relationships but if you’ve looked up anything about the book before hand, you might already know these things!

On just the first couple pages, I was really surprised and ecstatic by the modern tone of the whole novel and the voice of Claire. Compared to the the silent and meek women in a lot of other books I’ve read in my literature courses, Claire is so outspoken, strong-willed and funny. I was so happy to see that the typical stereotype wasn’t present despite it being set in 1743 for the majority of the book. The author really succeed in putting me in Claire’s shoes because I found myself feeling just as guilty as Claire does for being apart from Frank while also falling in love with Jaime’s character. Claire’s dilemma with her husbands isn’t a black/white matter at all which is whats so great about it.

I really wasn’t sure how I’d feel about reading this genre of book but it got me hooked really quickly. I found myself invested in the story and Claire’s journey of survival. Though the book definitely has it’s slow points, I was able to avoid getting bored by stopping at certain parts and simply reading a shorter/easier book in between and then go back to it when I was ready. It’s definitely not the kind of book that you want to rush because the descriptions and imagery are all so vivid and rich that you want to be able to stop and think about whats happening.

In terms of romance, I loved how Gabaldon set the pace for the relationship of Claire and Jaime. From annoyance to interest, lust to romance and eventually love, they have such a deep and captivating admiration for one another that had me hooked. It doesn’t happen overnight and it’s not perfect by all means, but Jaime and Claire really balance each other out (when their stubbornness isn’t getting in the way that is.) A massive selling point for me in this book was their relationship because of how realistic and emotional they are. Scenes including these characters had me grinning, my heart-racing and in tears by the end. Honestly the entire reason I was up until 6am was because there was no way in hell I was going to sleep until I knew a certain character was going to be okay.

Characters

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Claire is such an empowering character. Thrusted into such a scary and frightening situation, she doesn’t just go into damsel mode and wait for Frank to find her. Instead, Claire fights for her survival and is always adapting to the situations she’s put in. She makes hard decisions, thinks quickly on her feet and doesn’t let anyone tell her change her. I really enjoyed being in her head and seeing the way that her mind works. Though she might not be a tough Scottish warrior or trained English soldier, Claire is a badass doctor and a survivor who is strong in her own ways.

Jaime broke so many typical male character expectations for me. It was amazing. He might be talented with his blade and his fists but he’s no brute. He’d probably prefer hanging out in the stable with the horses at Leoch than being on a battleground but he’s such a loyal man that he would follow his family anywhere. He’s smart and deep, albeit stubborn headed at times.

One of my favorite scenes was (spoiler) Jaime and Claire’s wedding night. As it turns out, Claire is the more experienced one and Jaime has these kinda cute/funny expectations of what sex is like, asking some of the other male characters for advice. The wedding night was one of my favorite parts of the book (not just because it was steamy) but because it was really empowering to see the woman with the power. Even in today’s young adult books, I feel like I rarely see that happen.

Minor Characters in this book added so much to the book. Romance is definitly not the only point to the book. There is Callum and Dougal, two brothers who lead a clan of Scots who are in a power struggle with the English. Geallis Duncan becomes a friend to Claire though has a bit of a mysterious/dark side. And Jaimes fellow clansmen add for some pretty hilarious lines.

Thoughts on Season 1

Check out the trailer here!

Words literally cannot describe how much I love the show so far!!

Have you ever read a book and saw the movie after and thought ‘Yeah, the characters match their book descriptions I suppose.’ Well…Starz NAILED IT!! Catriona Balfe and Sam Heughan (Claire & Jaime) both act wonderfully in the show of the same name and also fit their characters in the book as well.

One thing that really stood out for me is the fact that I could read a part of the book, then go on to watch one episode and they’d start and end at the same part pretty much 🙂 So if the book was ever starting to feel slow, I’d be able to simply get motivated by telling myself that if I just got through this part, I’d get to see another episode. Or, if there was ever something I didn’t fully understand, it made a lot more sense once I actually saw it on the screen. To be quite honest, despite just a couple tweaks the show made, it’s the truest adaptation I’ve ever seen a show or move attempt. Also..is that theme song not seriously catchy? I always get goosebumps when I hear it.

Currently I’m on the second book, Dragonfly In Amber and I can’t wait to start the shows second season!! 🙂

Would I Recommend Outlander?

I give this book a 4.5 out 5! The missing .5 is only because of the length and because at some points, it definitly felt a bit dragged on I think. But there was so much action in the book I barely minded it despite Outlander being the longest book I’ve read to date.

Even if it intimidates or you think it doesn’t interest you, I’d highly recommend the sizzling, fast-paced show – which is on Netflix! …God help me xD

I really recommend you to read this book if you enjoy adventure and fantasy. It’s also funny and romantic a lot of the times but the star of the story is hands down Claire’s journey. I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re under fifteeen or are sensitive to different forms of abuse or violence because both the show and book have vivid descriptions of them. Like I said, it’s definitly not a light read!

Let me know if you’ve read or are interested in reading Outlander. Have you seen the show? I’d love to hear what you thought 🙂 Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

-Mel


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