I’ve already written a bad book review about this series & I’m fuckin’ embarrassed because I can’t stop getting pulled back in.
I’m not a romance reader & while I see why people are attracted to the genre, it’s just not my thing. & Outlander is not just abnormal for my reading habits but also includes a lot of romance tropes that specifically annoy me, in addition to having two main characters that I just. don’t. like.
Also, it’s a literal mom series & makes me feel old. I know it’s a stupid critique, but I was talking to my mom about shows to watch in quarantine & I found out she watched both this & Versailles & was excited I had liked them. & while my mom is awesome & let me read Whitley Streiber & Stephen King when I was in elementary school, I don’t want to believe I’m full-on turning into her just yet.
But I just can’t stop…
Spoilers for both the book & TV series are ahead.
Okay, I have stopped in “Voyager.” I’ve stopped because my hatred of Claire’s internal dialogue has reached critical mass.
Claire is an incredibly well-rounded, well-written character & everything she does & thinks makes sense based on what the reader knows about her. However, this is an example of a character that is technically true-to-build but also fucking insufferable.
Just saying — If you think your long lost husband’s affection hangs on you having more teeth than some poor woman you find out in the close, you may want to rethink it all.
I understand the vulnerability Gabaldon was trying to create there & I even felt it in moments, but most of the time I just wanted to strangle her.
Unfortunately, the TV series has me coming to the conclusion that I’m going to have to push through the pain & keep reading.
The writers & actors do a pretty good job softening the more irritating parts of the characters — which is great because a lot of the book is carried in Gabaldon’s attention to detail & the way she weaves it into the story. Her narrative style has pulled me through a lot of plot points that would have had me noping out otherwise. The TV series has to rely more on the characters & dialogue than the book & it’s done a great job.
The only problem I’ve had with the series is that some episodes feel like its trying to be eighteenth century ER, but with more banging. That feeling has gotten worse since the story shifted to the colonies.
But the most recent episode, “Mercy Shall Follow,” had me in my feelings. There was a bit of that swashbuckler feel (as most of the Stephen Bonnet eps have), which I admittedly don’t hate (fuckin’ Lord Johnnie, omg thanks).
The dialogue between Stephen & Brianna over what drives a story, revenge ala Moby Dick, & the villain’s perspective was a bit meta, a bit on the nose, but very good in a lot of ways. It kind of canned the instructions on how to write a compelling antagonist & I was almost sad to see Bonnet leave the story entirely unreformed.
But the end was so good. & Roger asking Brianna if she killed him out of mercy or out of needing to know he was dead was it.
The way people fear dying is powerful & it’s the absolute worst to think someone will die the way they fear — even if they are a complete toilet. I was incredibly uncomfortable watching Bonnet out in the water, I even got a little pissed off.
I’d rather he had been yeeted into the sun via a steam-powered rocket, but Brianna nailing him right above the eye worked for me. It was kind of corny, but also satisfying.
There was a lot packed into that single action. Jamie has killed plenty of people, but still operates in a very binary, good-bad way of thinking that is 100% appropriate for the character but seriously infuriating. Claire is also very binary-minded character but good at cajoling things around the edges so they fall into place. But Brianna’s action was coming from a wider perspective that allows for good & bad to be the same thing & for there to be a lot of gray area in between, an idea foreshadowed in that convo between Brianna and Bonnet the night before. I experienced genuinely liking a character in this series for the first time & it made me feel defeated, like I need to stop whining & keep reading.
As always, I don’t know how much of the script was derived from the book because I’m so far behind. But it gave me a bit of hope.
& hey, if the books end up being nothing like the TV series — I’m not past hate-reading something.
Someday I’ll redraft my review of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Inheritor. I have never read something with more spite or hated a character more than I hate Simon.