I've tried to write this promised post several times now. Hopefully this time it will actually happen.
The photo above is of the cast of my favourite TV show (and book series) called Outlander. I have since learned that there are millions (yes millions not an exaggeration) of fans around the world. And despite what many people think, this is not a "chick flick". There are nearly as many male fans as female. One of the things that indicates what a terrific book (and show) this is are the conversations it inspires. This isn't just a passive sit and read or watch. People love to talk about it. They talk about what already what they just read (or saw). They talk about what they think will happen next. They ask questions and suggest possibilities.
I started reading the books around 2005. And I was late the party then. The first book came out in 1990, so thirty years ago. Wow, talk about being fashionably late! I had not heard a peep about these books despite the fact that, apparently, they were on best seller lists everywhere. Which, I suppose, proves that I pay absolutely no attention to those sorts of lists.
The books showed up at our house in Colorado in a big box of all sorts of books. Let me take a moment to explain. As I've stated before, I come from a family or readers and we share. If I remember the story correctly, my sisters oldest daughter was the one who started the ball rolling. She had three of the books, I presume that she read them, then passed them along to her mother (my sister) who in turn passed them along to my parents and then eventually, my folks added them to a big box of other books which were shipped to me.
So there they were. Three enormous books in a box with normal sized books. I set them aside and read the other books first. Eventually I read everything else in the box and so I randomly picked up one of the three and opened it up. I was entranced from the very first sentence.
"It wasn't a very likely place for disappearances, at least at first glance."
That is the first sentence of the first book. I was intrigued immediately. It sounded like a sort of mystery. I like mysteries. But it turned out to be so much more than that.
First of all let me say that these books are huge. I mean HUGE.
Just for comparison sake, I set one randomly selected book of the series next to my camera. This particular book is 1438 pages long. Holy Cats! It sounds intimidating. Until you start reading.
I swear to you that when I got to the end of the first book, my only thought was that I wanted more. I was so sorry it was over and couldn't wait to start the next one. And then the next one. And the next until I had read all 8 of the books of the series and now, like all of the rest of her fans, I eagerly await Book 9. The author, Diana Gabaldon, says that there will be 10 books in the entire collection. Which is yay, because there is more story to come but boooo because well, then it will be over ;(
The TV show began to air in 2014. So they waited quite some time before translating it to the screen. And that was probably a good thing. I generally cringe when books are made into movies or TV shows because, and I apologize if I sound too elitist saying this, usually the screen version is not as good. In fact, I'd say the move from book to screen ranges (usually) from sort of okay to horrible. This one is the anomaly. They've done a brilliant job of being respectful of the original work. There are times when the dialogue is word for word what is said in the book. Are there differences? Of course there are. When you have a book that is over a thousand pages long it is not going to move to the screen page by page for heaven's sakes. But I've honestly never seen such a painstakingly beautiful job of it done before.
So, I'm sure if you are still reading at this point you are wondering what all the brouhaha is about. What exactly is this story? What sort of book/TV show is this?
Well that's hard to pin down. It's not just one genre. And regardless of what you may have heard, it's not a bodice ripper. (Though I confess at least one bodice was ripped). It is an action/ adventure, historic drama, romance with a lot of humour, oh and a little bit of science fiction. Like I said, difficult to pigeon hole.
The author spends the better part of 3 years writing each book and the amount of research that goes into each book is astounding. The producers, directors and writers of the show then spend over a year creating the script, the sets designs (which are amazing), the costumes (which are astounding) and every other teensy tiny detail necessary. The actors, well I cannot say enough good about the actors who bring these characters to life. They aren't playing these characters, no, when they are on screen, they become these characters. It is captivating.
I haven't read very many books that are as beautifully written and I haven't seen very many TV shows as well done. In fact, I'm not sure that I could name any that were done better.
If you are tempted at check any of this out for yourself, I should probably tell you ahead of time that the writers (of both the book and the TV show) do not shy away from uncomfortable or difficult topics. All scenes are courageously presented with absolute authenticity while still displaying sensitivity to the topic, the actors and the viewers. Just a fair warning. Personally, I am not squeamish about real life. I don't always like it, but I would always rather know the truth and then deal with it rather than pretend it doesn't exist (or perhaps didn't exist way back when)
Or perhaps you are already a fan and all the way through this you were nodding and saying, yepyepyep.
At any rate, there you finally have it, my review of Outlander. Take it or leave it, here it is.
Book and TV show are Sam Approved (and recommended)
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.