Sunday, March 27, 2011
The Outlander Series: Why it's like the unpredictable teenager on my bookshelf
When I first discovered Outlander (thanks to a very intuitive friend), I was blown away. It impressed me as no other book has, before or since. The way it brought history alive, the timeless love between Jamie and Claire, the time travel, the depth and breadth of the writing itself...it was something I'd never experienced in quite the same way with any other author, or in any other book. I ordered all of the books back-to-back, hanging on every word, often rereading from the beginning. Thus began an obsessive love of the story and Diana Gabaldon's writing.
Yet, much like an unpredictable teenager, the road isn't always smooth. There have certainly been hiccups along the way. Moments when I wondered where the author was taking me, or why. Moments when things have dragged on forever and I almost gave up (the Gathering at Mount Helicon in Fiery Cross, anyone?), or times when I was annoyed or disappointed by the path the characters or story had taken.
Kind of like living with a teenager, don't you think? ;)
But no matter what happens, I can't seem to give up on Outlander, and I can't seem to lose faith enough not to see the series through. The most recent book, An Echo in the Bone, was a disappointment for me in that it veered away from Jamie and Claire so much, and took them places I would never have believed they'd go...and yet...even though I ranted and raved, and whined and complained, vowing that I'd wait for the next book to end up in the library before reading it, I know I'm fooling myself. I'll buy it. Whenever it's finally ready, I know I'll be there.
In spite of my disappointment in Echo, I still follow Diana's blog. I may not agree with everything in the books, but I admire her thoroughly as a writer, and I still read all of the excerpts she generously shares with her readers. I've even become a recent lurker on another blog devoted to the Outlander series, Outlandish Observations (which I happily recommend to any other Outlander Obsessive!).
Because even if there are some interminable slogs through slimy swamps, gratuitous amputations or endless clan gatherings, there will always be some spectacular, deeply moving moment in there somewhere that somehow makes up for it.
And strange as it may be, with both a book series and a teenager, one really good moment often has the power to help you forget all the bad. Or at least allow you to put the not-so-great stuff aside long enough to appreciate that nice moment.
It seems that my love for the Outlander story and characters far surpasses any "mistakes" they may make, or my disappointment in the paths they've traveled. I just can't abandon them, and I will always care to know where their journeys will lead them. I am devoted, sometimes reluctantly so, even if I'm just an outside observer with no say in what they do or where they go. So I'll be there when the new book comes out, regardless of whether I agree with their actions or the roads they've traveled thus far.
It can be challenging, and has it's share of head-scratching and cringe-worthy moments, but I just can't seem to turn away. Somehow, I just know it will be worth it in the end.
Kind of like that with a teenager, too, isn't it?