Review–Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Outlander (Outlander #1)
by Diana Gabaldon
Summary: Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another...
In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon—when she innocently touches a boulder 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's destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning 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 passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.



Surprisingly, I enjoyed this book quite a bit.
It was recommended to me by a friend who has read the entire series and raved about it. When I first discovered I was able to borrow books via Kindle from my local library, this was the first book I requested. There was a long waiting list and I didn’t mind, because I honestly didn’t really want to read this book. When the waiting time was over and it was available to borrow, I still really didn’t want to read this book. As an avid reader, when a friend asks me to read a book and I don’t, I feel terrible about it. So I read this reluctantly, expecting not to like it. Historical romance is just not my thing and the whole time travel element just didn’t really appeal to me at all.
The good news is that this book ended up being pretty awesome and I’m certainly glad I read it and even happier that I enjoyed it and can share that joy with the person who recommended it to me.
Both the setting and the characters were extremely well developed and I fell in love with all the aspects of this story. I loved Claire as a character and enjoyed being able to experience things through her point of view. Jamie’s character was absolutely amazing and I loved him! The characters in this novel, especially Claire and Jamie, are so complex, which is something I absolutely love to come across in books. They were so real and engaging and believable.
The action and danger in this novel is also well developed and complex and completely believable. I was shocked at how violent so many events were and how the characters do not escape from situations unscathed. They are brutally affected by each situation and it shapes them, much like the real world. I appreciate this so much in books and I imagine it is quite hard to achieve as an author and it never fails to captivate me. This book just felt so real in so many ways. This is what makes this book so incredible to me.
The first 20% of the book was not my favorite at all. I was reluctant to read the book in the first place and the first 20% of it made me feel as if I would never get through it. I kept reading and reading and asking my friends when this story was supposed to get better. Once I got past this lull, I found myself flying through the pages, devouring the story. From that point, everything was interesting and I couldn’t put it down.
Length is never an issue for me in books. I find that I actually prefer longer books most of the time. Up until about halfway through Outlander, I kept thinking I’ve finally met the long book that I feel is too long. I thought I could finally understand reviewers that complain about the length of a book. I thought I met my match with this one. Fortunately, I don’t feel that way now that I’m done. The last half of the book was so action packed and interesting and awesome and I don’t feel that this book should have been any shorter. Also, a few lingering questions in my head seemed to be addressed at the book progressed, which helped a lot. I liked Claire more and more as the story went on and I realized that the questions in the back of my head were in the back of hers, too, and she was able to vocalize them towards the end. I suppose had she ignored them, I would have been a disappointed.
While I’m not really a sucker for romance, I could not get enough of Jamie and Claire. I mentioned that I loved his character, but I don’t think I can say it enough. He was such a great person and made me laugh out loud and roll my eyes and want to smack him half the time. One of the most well rounded, believable, entertaining, and wonderful love interests in a book! I always love a character as charming and sarcastic and funny as my own husband and I really enjoyed seeing such a character. It was great.
I feel like any other remark I make about the events in this book will spoil it for some. In the beginning, I was faced with a bunch of questions and wondering what Claire was going to do and then decisions are made and then I was faced with a different set of questions and curiosity and they evolve through this entire book. Each Part, each Chapter, left me wondering about more and more things and I realize that I can’t really address any of these without spoiling it for those who haven’t read it.
Overall, this is a great book. If you have the patience, even if it’s not your typical genre, it’s definitely worth reading. It was so well written and believable and detailed and well executed, I can appreciate multiple aspects of it and I think it would appeal to different kinds of readers in different ways.
I don’t know that I’m going to continue reading the series, though. I liked the way Outlander ended and I feel as if it could have been (or possibly was at one time) a stand alone novel. While I’m curious as to what happens, I feel like I need to set aside a block of time to really devour the rest of the series and I just don’t want to commit to it right now. I’m left satisfied, which is rare in the first book of the series, and that’s enough for me for now.