Thoughts on books, family, and life in one impressive package.

Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana GabaldonThose who know me and have been reading my words for a while know that I have a love/hate/detest relationship with the Outlander series. What started out as an amazing story quickly devolved into the sort of novel I would never read in a million years and yet will torture myself for hours as I read the next book in the series. I fully understand that I am distinctly in the minority with my feelings, but I still proclaim them loudly and proudly. This past week, I received the following comment on my review of Written in My Own Heart’s Blood:

So I needed to post as a result of the joy I experienced when reading your reviews. Knowing that someone else shares my opinions of these books is a serious comfort in a world where these same books have sold over 20 million copies. I started book #1 in October and just finished book #8 last night. These books are each at least 800 pages long. That means I have spent the past five months reading nearly 7,000 pages. I won’t bother converting that number to hours of my life wasted.

The point is these books were BAD. Bad bad bad. Very poorly written and horribly (if at all) edited. Things do not make sense. Not in a weird philosophical manner but more of the 2+2=3 variety. This includes endless inconsistencies and bottomless plot holes (as well as the dropped plots, the pointless plots, and resurrected plots [Frank probably knows about that prophecy because Snape overheard it and told him, via owl]).

Characters do things that either have absolutely zero purpose or they do things that even Clarence the Mule would have identified as stupidly asinine. But as readers we’re expected to understand these ridiculous situations as character “flaws and development”. The sex is crap, in book #2 the main characters age 20 years and by book #8 they are both in their 60s and yet somehow manage to run around boarding ships and fighting in wars and getting shot and popping back up again.

And the way gender was handled got worse and worse with each book. I don’t care what time period it was, when every single main character less one is raped, something is wrong. And Jamie’s action at the end of the last book was ridiculous, it’s like he regresses into a neanderthal “me big strong, me kill man who touch me wife”.

I read through all of your reviews for each book of the series; they are very accurate, honest, and entertaining. You gave #1 and #2 higher points than I did (and #3, once I got to Claire holding on for dear life in a mango tree I read the remainder as comedy, the crocodile head helped). I admit that I enjoyed reading the first two books, however I did feel that halfway through book #1 I was reading fanfiction – which is interesting, because I think that book was published before fanfiction existed, at least as an internet phenomenon. As time goes on, the series reads like episodic stories of contrived scenes smothered in fluff and lemons. Also, I think the first ever Mary Sue was a Quaker.

Anyways, I digress. The point is that I am mature enough to recognize that I wasted my life and my eyesight and my intelligence on these books. Maybe the first two deserve the paper they were printed on but all the subsequent books would have been less of a smear on the world’s carbon footprint if they were used to print editions of the Twilight books in Pig Latin.”

Betty is my new hero. She and I are destined to be best friends. I ADORE her comments and continue to chuckle over some of her sentences. While this has absolutely nothing to do with anything occurring in my life right now, Betty gets major props for her forthrightness and spot-on commentary on this unfathomably popular series.

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