Oh what to say about Outlander...
I finished it weeks ago but couldn't decide what to write about it, but I'll give it a go now. I didn't like the beginning at all, but once I got past hundreds of pages to about the halfway point it did pick up for the last half. Not because it necessarily became good, but because I gave into the ridiculousness of it all and let myself enjoy the over-the-top plot twists.
I will give it this - it wasn't predictable! I won't be reading any more of the series though; I didn't enjoy it enough nor am I interested enough.
Some faults I had with the series - Claire gets to (mostly) act like her 20th century self in the 18th century and get away with it without many real consequences. She may have gotten an S&M spanking from Jamie that I think she secretly enjoyed anyway, but she didn't, say, get punched by some guy she was mouthing off to and lose teeth or anything that might've happened back then.
I also have objections with the negative gay characters. While I was surprised that Gabaldon wasn't completely cardboard with her characterisations, she wasn't much better either. And not only was Randall gay, but so was the other man who visited the castle at some point who also wanted Jamie. He wasn't portrayed as evil per se, but he was portrayed as repulsive. While I don't have any problem with an author portraying people reacting negatively to gay people (as would've often happened in those days as well as even today), I do have a problem with an author presenting it so one-sidedly and portraying it as if the author could also agree with the characters who are repulsed by gay people. I could even forgive that if the book were written a long time ago, but this was published in the 1990s.
I have heard that Gabaldon heard the gay criticism and tried to assuage it with her later books, but it still stands that this singular book comes off very badly on that front. I remember many people objecting to us reading Ender's Game because of the author's views on homosexuality and some possible anti-gay content in the book. I've now read that book as well, and while Card may be much more vehemently and vocally homophobic in real life, there is no doubt that Outlander is a much more homophobic book than Ender's Game. I suppose the only argument in Outlander's favour is that more of its audience probably has their views already formed anyway, while young boys reading Ender's Game may be much more susceptible to influence.
Anyway, mostly I found this book preposterous. And I would say I didn't like it, but I do like the character of Jamie, and I did enjoy some of the scenes in spite of myself, so I'd come away from it saying it's good enough, with the large caveat of for a particular audience. The Romance selection from last year, A Town Like Alice, I found to be better written and a better story overall.
I don't know how many of you peruse goodreads reviews, but I found a gem for Outlander. It's a bit mean, but I laughed so much reading it, so I'll share it for anyone interested: Link to funny review/"interview"