Book Review: Outlander

Way back in 2018, back when I was young and fresh, I read The Time Traveler’s Wife. I was disappointed because Outlander had been checked out at my library by other people and the wait list was so long that I was convinced I’d never get it.

Well, it finally became available, at long last!

And then it turned into the first book I’ve absolutely refused to finish since Thoreau’s Walden in high school.

The Book

Author: Diana Gabaldon
Amazon Link

Before you wonder why I even started this novel, I want you to realize that I thought it was about a time traveling WWII nurse who went back to 18th century Scotland and re-invented and produced antibiotics. I was excited for a novel to include details about bioprocessing and medical knowledge.


A Crappy Review

The book started alright. I thought it was a little weird that there was a sex scene with Frank, husband of Claire, but that wasn’t too bad. I knew there was a significant romance portion of this book.

But then she went back in time and got humped by Frank’s ancestor. There were lots of times when Claire was threatened, nearly killed, imprisoned, etc. because she was a single woman in a terrible situation, but the juxtaposed insistence that she was “strong and independent” and her absolute melting whenever anything she wanted crossed paths with a man just felt so wrong. It made me wonder what the point of the novel was.

Then Claire was forced to suddenly marry the main love interest, Jamie, and it just turned into a massive pile of smut. I kept going, thinking maybe it would be done soon, but then the love interest raped her while they were at a camp with other men. I was like “WAAAT” because I get furious at rape scenes. But I was like, “Well, perhaps this was a one-off thing, and she did start saying she liked it after he went too far. Let’s give it some… fuck, 1990’s slack? It’s just an awful book. Push through it.”

Then the next scene, Jamie punishes Claire for “making him look bad,” when what actually happened was she saved his life. He spanks and rapes her, definitely against her will. At this point I thought, “Maybe he wasn’t the main love interest, and in the next chapter she kills him.”

When the next chapter had Claire melt into thinking it was her fault and she had to do what Jamie and the other men said, I was like, “No. No, if you don’t slice him to pieces and run back to the standing stones, this book is stupid and I refuse to read further.”

And so I quit. I have no idea who this book is written for, and I can’t make any suggestions. I think the messages contained within the book are terrible for anyone, male or female, and it was definitely not about producing sulfa drugs like I’d wanted it to be.

1/5 Discoball Snowcones, But only because 0 isn’t an option

1 Discoball Snowcones


I didn’t finish the book, so I can’t really give spoilers. However, I looked up the rest of the plot before I finally decided that I could never finish it.

After the aforementioned rape and beating scene, I looked through the plot and found out there was definitely a male-male rape scene. I was like, “What the eff, this book is straight up erotica and smut the whole way through.”

How didn’t I know this beforehand? How did I get led so astray?

Next week:

First, in about an hour another book review will be popping up on my site: Where the Crawdads Sing. Stay tuned for that – it’s fantastic!

22 thoughts on “Book Review: Outlander

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      The only lit class I took in college (sigh, showing all my cards here) was “Monstrosity, Marginality, and Madness,” which despite the title was a feminist analysis of literature class. Ever since then, that’s been the easiest way for me to analyze books.

      Also Outlander was just not good.

  1. R. says:

    The ending was really hard to get through, too. I really like the premise of a nurse going back in time and whatnot, but there were a lot of truly frustrating moments.

  2. Pink Roses says:

    Well, I definitely won’t be reading that! Thanks H.R.R. I always have a problem with time travel anyway, like the movie Back to the Future – it messes with my head!

  3. trentpmcd says:

    I think a lot of people have really terrible taste, so I always think twice about reading big name best sellers – they usually are smut in a respectable wrapper (If I want to read smut, I want it to be proud of its smut status! Not that I want to read smut…)

  4. Tom Darby says:

    I did much the same. Wasn’t worth it, though the book came to me free. Still much to expensive to waste time passed the 5th chapter.

  5. Bea Ed says:

    What is the matter with you all. Outlander and subsequent books by Diana Gabaldon are fantastic reads. The Starz TV series also is really good. The two main actors do a really great job with the story and the fan base for Outlander all around the world is phenomenal. Have a look at youtube.

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      I have absolutely no intent to ever pursue any of this ever again. This is my least favorite story of all time, and I won’t try the TV series if it’s even remotely faithful to the book. Absolutely not my cup of tea.

      That being said, good on you for liking it. There’s probably a reason it’s one of the most controversially rated books on Goodreads.

  6. Bea Ed says:

    You need to like historical fiction, fantasy and it develops into an intensive love story with a married couple from two different times. As for the spanking, that was the custom in the 18th century if the woman didn’t obey her husband. It was for something quite serious as her husband and his clans men had to rescue her from the redcoats at Fort William but she made him promise not to do it again. I liked it and the next book Dragonfly in Amber because it dealt with the Jacobite rebellion with Charles Edward Stuart in 1745/and terrible slaughter of the highlanders at Culloden. There is a fair amount of Gaelic spoken which has aroused some interest in this almost forgotten language. But if you are not interested in history or language or Scotland then it isn’t for you. May I ask where you live, or is that against the rules?

  7. Bea Ed says:

    Of course you can, just as I can like one. I just think your review wasn’t accurate in places and could possibly give the wrong impression re the story.

  8. Mal says:

    Honest question, is it rape, though? I avoided the Outlander series because reviews were rife with sexual assault, and that’s just… not my thing.

    But I have read the first two now. I just don’t think there’s ever an instance where Jamie forces himself on Claire. As the POV is from Claire, we also know what’s going on in her head for the most part. There’s not a time when she even thinks, “I didn’t really want to, but it happened anyway.” Let alone a struggle to get away from him. I think those two examples are far ends of the spectrum, and Claire doesn’t show us either the extremes or the grey area in between?

    So I’m really wondering if we have different definitions of sexual assault or if we’re reading the characters differently.

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      I thought it was rape because 1) she didn’t want it, and it started from what I thought was an unwanted punishment. It felt like the subsequent “enjoyment” of it was caused by self-induced shame and resigning to her fate. 2) When she blamed herself for the whole thing the next day, I interpreted that she felt like the sex as well as the spanking was part of her punishment and his right. I quit at that point, though.

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