Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Julia Reviews " Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon

Title/Author:Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Publisher/Year Published: 1991 by Dell
How I got this book: The Library
Where I got it: The library because everyone and the mother's half-cousin's maiden aunt twice removed had read it and loved it
Why I read this book: Everyone was recommending it to me. Thought I'd see what the fuss was about.
Rating: 2.5 stars

I read this back in June 2009. This is what I wrote right after finishing
You know I started off liking this book. I really did. Even at 200 pages in I was still enjoying it. But then something happened and it started to lose its "magic." It's been a while since I actually read it but I remember the feelings of "What?" and "I am pretty sure I could have conveyed the exact same feeling/thing in about 20 less pages" pretty well.

I think it started near the climax. It was done acceptably well. "Now lets get to the wrapping up part. What? There are still 200 pages? What the hell happens there? "

One of the things I really hate when reading is a book that goes on and on after what is clearly the climax (my biggest problem with Kite Runner as well). I mean, there were some interesting parts that happened after, but since this was already going to be a series, why not just move it over a book and end it with the reader feeling invigorated and not thinking "End already!"

I feel like I am in the minority in the dislike of this book. Clearly, some people must like it or Gabaldon wouldn't have the following she does nor would there be six or so succeeding books. And going back to some notes I took while reading it, I was enjoying it. But I have this feeling that if I pick up the next books in the series, I will hate myself.

So in conclusion. It was OK. Just OK. Maybe a good. An OK and a half. Will I be picking up the next books in the series? Unlikely. I feel like there are better books in the world that I can spend my time reading.

Overall, I still feel the same way. I just don't get it. Well, I get it more than I get Twilight but that's a whole different can of worms. It has time travel, love, action, interesting characters (when they are not being ridiculous). It has a lot of things. Actually, it has a lot of messed up things as well that really made me think, "I can't believe that just happened!"

I realize I have a inherent vendetta against long books, long defined as plus 500. If I feel it can be cut, I don't want it in there. I like plot driven by well rounded characters. At 800+ pages, this has fallen into my "too long!" box of no. I probably would have given the second book the good college try if it wasn't for that pet peeve. I have liked long books before (eg The Brothers Karamazof, Gone With the Wind, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Three Musketeers) but I think I judge them harsher than I would a shorter novel.

How about you? What is your feeling on long books? Skip/Skim/Savor?

As for Outlander? I'm giving it a 2.5 only because there were parts I genuinely enjoyed.


  1. I'm like you. I just don't get the hype of this book and I ended up abandoning this book. I don't mind some long books but they had better be good enough to keep my attention for that long. For example, I really liked The Passage by Justin Cronin and it was quite long.

  2. I really really really liked this book, but the second book did absolutely nothing for me. I am almost on the verge of hating it and I'm only reading the 3rd because I found a copy for 25 cents. Blah.

    As for long books....I get frustrated because I could read several smaller books in the span of one larger one, but I also feel very accomplished finishing it. Harry Potter doesn't count, I read those in less than 12 hours. :)

  3. What happened there? My comment just disappeared.

    I was wishing you all the best for 2011 and apologising for not returning your visit before now and was about to say that I know exactly what you mean - I have read several books this year which I just did not get - Fallen being one of them. The hype about this was tremendous, something I just couldn't understand.

  4. I completely agree with everything you said. I felt Outlander could have been a least 200 shorter, it just started to lose momentum half-way through. I also thought the heroine's persistent kidnappings got a little redundant. (I can't even remember her name that's how big an impression it left). A good idea, just not very well executed.

    As for long books, I can sometimes be a little weary because of daunting sizes, but if its a good story I find them very rewarding.

  5. I’m also in the minority here with respect to Outlander. I had to give myself several pep talks just to get to the end. I’m not adverse to reading long books, and I plan to read Les Miserable this year – gulp! Glad to see that Gone with the Wind falls into your acceptable Long Book category.

  6. I also agree. I have heard such rave reviews. I thought it was ok, but nothing special.

  7. Long books can be skimmed or savored. It all depends on how well the story is carried out. I've read a few long books that went by very quickly and others that I felt were neverending.

  8. I don't necessarily mind long books, War and Peace is one of my favorites, but sometimes it feels gratuitous.

    I read Outlander when it first came out and loved it, but when I reread it--after years of improving my literary diet--I was slightly appalled. I do think that it depends on what you are used to reading.

  9. I read this book last year & couldn't understand what all the hype was about when I first started. As I continued reading, I liked it more & more (although there were definitely parts that dragged). I loved the historical aspect of the novel, & I quite liked the characters.

    I read the 2nd & 3rd books & couldn't bring myself to read the next one. They are too long & there are so many more books I'd rather read. I thought the storylines were not nearly as good as the first one, so I don't have a desire to see what else happens in the series.

  10. I'm kind of on the fence about long books. It depends on it it keeps me engrossed all the way through. Some books can, like The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Brothers Karamazov, Harry Potter...but some books can't. Anna Karinina, War and Peace, and especially Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I must have started that book 10 times to no avail.
    The book I'm reading now is a fictional novel about Jane Austen told from her perspective. I am 200 pages in and she has yet to be published.
    I think when a book leaves you with a feeling of nothing accomplished, it's a bad thing.

  11. I'm pretty picky about long books too. Some books (like the Harry Potters) didn't feel long because every page was worth reading. I can't think of anything I would really cut out and it never felt like the plot was dragging.

    A book like Twilight, on the other hand, could have been trimmed considerably without damaging the plot. I think I would have liked it a lot more if there was some trimming.

  12. I may be in the minority in this, but I love long books - especially in the wintertime. I definitely savor as much as possible. Reading Gone With the Wind right now, and taking it slow and leisurely...and enjoying it a lot!

    I enjoyed your comments on Outlander too. As a fella, I've always steered away from these books because some readers have said they're more romance than adventure. But again, the idea of an entire series of long books is appealing. Have you read any of the others beyond Outlander?

  13. I don't mind long books at all. Quite the opposite I enjoy the challenge and the achievement of finishing them. I intend to read several 1,000+- page books this year alone.

    It depends on the book of course. Some books are long unnecessarily and some are prematurely short.

  14. Honestly all I remember was the sex and that was good enought for me at the time I read it! HA!

    I have so many people in my life who love this series and I just don't feel compelled to move on after the first.

  15. I'm with Greg - I love a nice long book. The more I like a book, the more let-down I am when I feel it has ended too soon.

    I own and have read (and reread) all the Outlander series books, and I really enjoyed most of them. I see your point about parts of the plot dragging on unnecessarily, but by the third or fourth book I was so hooked that I couldn't put it down.

  16. I'm definitely okay with longish books - The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova was one that I really enjoyed, and I'm reading The Passage by Justin Cronin right now, which is *awesome*. But, not every story can carry that much volume to it - and with Outlander, I just couldn't get into the story at all. I sort of enjoyed it, and although I know it's a romance-y type of story, I just felt like "Gah! Too much!!" Not to mention, what about that ending? I don't know about anyone else, but I hated it! :(

  17. I got 450 pages into that book and ran out of steam. Unfortunately I bought the whole series before reading number one because I'd heard such rave reviews about it. Now they're all just sitting on my bookshelf waiting for me to try reading them again one day.

  18. Jenn said "I think when a book leaves you with a feeling of nothing accomplished, it's a bad thing."

    This pretty much sums up my feeling on books in general. Short or long, I want a story arc. Well said!

    @Greg Zimmerman There is a very heavy romantic element in Outlander, but until some very heavily romantic stories, there is another plot. As for reading beyond Outlander, I have not. I've toyed with the idea, but I have 200 some books on my TBR list and would rather hit those up instead of something in which there is almost a guarantee that I won't like it.

    Like many of you said it depends on the book, but if there are two books in front of me that I want to read and the only variable between them is the page length, I am more apt to read the shorter one.

  19. I got this via paperback swap, and it ended up being sent out to another swapper that very same week. I just could not get into it. I skimmed through it, and saw that it didn't seem to get any better hundreds of pages in. I couldn't stand the male MC's voice.

  20. Okay, well after reading some of your comments on this and everyone else's, I think I'm the minority here when I say that I freaking LOVED this book.
    However, I do agree with you that I thought that there were parts that I really thought could be cut out, but I really fell in love with the characters.
    And, I guess everyone has different things that they like and they don't like.

    As for books in general, I don't mind long books, IF the plot makes sense, it doesn't drag, and the characters are interesting. Take those things away and I won't read them.

  21. Usually when I read a long book, it confuses me as there are most times too many characters to keep up with. I haven't finished many long ones.

  22. I don't mind long books - if they're good, then the longer the better. It does seem that more and more "longer" books are being written these days, doesn't it? I'm not sure why this is, but more than one of my reading friends have made this observation as well.

    As far as Outlander goes, I read it last year on the recommendation of a friend. It was a good page turner and a diverting read, but I don't know if I liked it enough to read the subsequents books of the series. I also remember thinking that Jamie & Clare were two of the "horniest" main characters I've ever run across... :-)

  23. Savor. Definitely. :) That being said, if the book seems to be overly drawn out, the characters are not exciting, and the prose is boring, I'd just as soon burn it as finish it. If Jane Austen had a 1800 page novel, I would be in heaven. If John Grisham had a 600 word novel, I wouldn't even open it. :P

  24. Ooh I have this on my shelf but haven't gotten to it yet. I'll prob give it a try but I won't rush to get to it. I can't stand books that are hundreds of pages too long.

    However, I totally will read long books but they need to keep me in..I need to still care about what is going on and I can't stand when, like you said, tons of stuff could have been taken out because they add nothing to the story.

  25. Thanks for the review, I have heard so many great things about this series I put Outlander on my TBR. I don't mind chunky books but I need it to be filled with some type of action.

  26. @S.Leighanne It's strange really, because most discussions I've encountered of Outlander I am in the minority disliking it. Or I guess, not loving it.

    Thanks for the awesome discussion guys! I love hearing these view on long books!

  27. Oh, I love long epics-- a long epic series is even better BUT Outlander didn't do it for me. I did finish it but won't continue the series.

  28. I have the hard copy of this book and I gave it on my kindle. I really need to tackle it and see if I'd be interested in the rest of the series. I already own quite of few of her other books from the series, but they just kind of fell in my lap. It would be good to know if I should keep them or not. They sure do take up a lot of valuable shelf space!


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