Station Eleven review: overhyped?

station eleven.png

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor station eleven book coverStation Eleven

by Emily St. John Mandel

read in December 2017

format: library (hardcover)

Read the synopsis here.

Spoiler-free review!


I am not the kind of person who goes into hyped books looking for reasons to hate it. But it occasionaly happens that I finish reading an incredibly popular book and think “I don’t understand why so many people love this”. Unfortunately, I felt this way after finishing Station Eleven.

I don’t think the hype swayed me. I borrowed this from the library because this has received so many raving reviews, but I didn’t have any expectations going into this. Nevertheless, this novel disappointed me.

Station Eleven is primarily a character-driven book. Don’t pick this up if you expect to learn much about survival after 99 percent of the population has died as the result of the Georgia flu, because Station Eleven is not that kind of novel.

I usually like multiple point-of-views and don’t mind a non-linear storyline, but it sadly didn’t work for me in this book. First of all, the characters weren’t very compelling. And since they were the most important part of the story, I was bored while reading this.

Clark for example – one of the protagonists – is queer (presumably gay). I read a lot of books featuring queer characters, yet I had the feeling that in Station Eleven it didn’t matter. Which I’m fine with, but since this is a character-driven novel, I find that odd. We never even got to read a scene between him and his boyfriend. The readers are supposed to care about the characters, but we hardly even get to know them!

The male characters sounded very pretentious, as if they were written by a male author. That’s not a compliment, because I don’t read many books by male authors because their characters are often insufferable. I had problems with Jeevan and Arthur’s behaviour in particular. Human beings are flawed, but I prefer characters to be more likeable than them. Arthur for example told the press he was leaving his wife for another woman because he was too afraid to tell her!

Thanks to the Prophet storyline the novel finally became more interesting, but the author could’ve done so much more with that plot! It was the only thing that made me intrigued to find out more, but it was ultimately a disappointment and dealt with in a rather anti-climatic way.

Each protagonist was connected with one another in same way, but I didn’t find that very meaningful. Hollywood star Arthur Leander is their main connection, though Shakespeare’s play and the Station Eleven graphic novels are fundamental as well. Admittedly, I am not the biggest Shakespeare fan. I have a hard reading poetry and classics because I don’t like to “dissect” while reading, so I ended up skimming most of those lines. Additionally, I didn’t care about Dr. Eleven either.

Perhaps that’s why I didn’t enjoy this book as much as other readers did. I am not good at metaphors and I assume Dr. Eleven and Shakespeare made the novel beautiful, but I didn’t get it… I, however, don’t want to blame myself too much for not enjoying this. I’ve enjoyed plenty of other literary and adult fiction before and seen the beauty in those novels.

Sadly, there are also some more important stuff I had problems with. A lot of ableist language is used. I completely understand that “the end of civilisation” is frightening, but why is it associated with mental illnesses? I read another Post Apocalyptic novel a few weeks ago and it used ‘crazy’, ‘insane’, ‘lunatic’, etc. numerous times as well. As a mentally ill reader, those words make me very uncomfortable, especially because there was absolutely no need to use such ableist language.

Furthermore, it was rather “convenient” that the disabled character apparently committed suicide. It made me feel as if disabled people were an inconvenience and it was better to dispose of them before continuing the story.

I also didn’t appreciate the way one of Arthur’s ex-wives was referred to: she is a “actress/model” who is described as “looking malnourished”.

content and trigger warning for: religious cults, paedophilia, abuse, mentions and descriptions of death/murder and suicide, ableist language (see examples above and e.g. depressing used as a synonym for ‘sad’ instead of actually referring to the mental illness), rape


Sadly, Station Eleven didn’t live up to the hype for me. I didn’t find the characters compelling and the Post Apocalyptic setting could’ve been developed further. I would give this novel a three star rating, because it was overall just okay, nothing special.

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recommendation: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

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Afbeeldingsresultaat voor homegoing book coverHomegoing

by Yaa Gyasi

read in December 2017

format: library paperback

Read the synopsis here.

Spoiler-free review!


“We believe the one who has power. He is the one who gets to write the story. So when you study history, you must ask yourself, Whose story am I missing? Whose voice was suppressed so that this voice could come forth? Once you have figured that out, you must find that story too. From there you get a clearer, yet still imperfect, picture.”

Homegoing is a multi-generational story, following the lives of a black family in both America and the Gold Coast of Africa. As a white European, I cannot deny the educational value of this fictional story. Of course I was aware of the horrors of slavery, but there were other aspects I didn’t know much about, such as the different (not necessarily better) treatment of biracial children, how some African tribes helped with the slave trade as well, etc.

As a history teacher, I love historical fiction that shapes my education; I will certainly remember Homegoing while teaching about these topics and I plan on  buying a physical hardcover copy for myself soon.

Though this novel is only 305 pages long, it truly felt as if I was time-travelling. This book seems a thousand pages long instead, but not necessarily in a bad way. You can tell the author spend years crafting Homegoing and that it’s is an important and personal story to her. It did take me a while to get through this, but that was mainly because of my reading slump and because this book isn’t supposed to be an enjoyable read (see trigger and content warning below).

As a matter of fact, this book was fast-paced: only eighteen pages in, yet fifteen years had passed already! I cannot emphasise enough how much I admire Gyasi and her writing, because there aren’t many authors who can pull this off.

Effia was our first protagonist and one of my favourites. It’s disgusting that these white men did not treat slaves as humans, yet they had no problem “marrying” black girls. So there was this power imbalance right from the start in these “relationships”, no matter what the white man might say.

I also loved Yaw, who is a scarred history teacher, so I related to him. He taught his pupils that history is written by those with power, and I love that message. His point-of-view made me very emotional.

I know multiple point-of-views aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it was necessary for the story. I did miss the characters once their chapters were over, but they were always connected in some way. Each character had a distinct voice and personality, which once more proves how talented Yaa Gyasi is.

Having said that, I did feel more attached to the first and final characters. The ones around the beginning of the second part, weren’t as memorable. Because we are only told about our previous protagonists from a certain point on, their stories didn’t develop much further. Quey, for instance, seemed queer, but once his chapter was over, we never find out how things worked out.

But, like I said, it was necessary to give us so many different protagonists. That way, the author crafted a story in which it became evident that the treatment of black people in both America and Africa before and after the American Civil War, are completely connected. Though slavery might have officially ended in the United States, black people’s struggles today are still an aftermath of that. I’d for example recommend watching the documentary ‘The 13th’ on Netflix, because it shows how black people are still arrested for the most futile things and are in the prison system once more treated as slaves.

content and trigger warnings for: child abuse, domestic violence, “unable to bear children = cursed”; “womanhood = having your period”, anti-fat remarks (in which being fat is considered ugly and disgusting), slavery, rape, racism, imprisonment, physical injury (such as severe scarring and being whipped), lynching, suicide, ableism (such as ‘crazy’ and ‘crippled’), drug addiction


I would recommend Homegoing to everyone, though do check out the list of trigger and content warnings first. Perhaps read some other reviews beforehand as well, because I might have forgotten to include a few triggers. Anyway, I certainly plan on buying a physical copy of this book soon and I will forever treasure this beautiful, yet heartbreaking historical fiction novel.

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recommendation: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

long way down.png

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor long way down jason reynoldsLong Way Down

by Jason Reynolds

read in December 2017

format: e-book

read the synopsis here.

spoiler-free review!


Since November, I haven’t picked up and read a book even once, but when I saw Long Way Down was free for only 24 hours on December 3rd, I had to make an exception. Thankfully, this is an incredibly fast-paced read.

The story is written in verse and AAVE is used, which made the book both unique and seem very genuine, as if a young black kid actually wrote it.

I’ve heard a lot of great things about Jason Reynolds’ writing, but this was the first time I’ve read his work. Though it certainly won’t be my last! I’m very keen to read more books featuring black boys and I think Reynolds’ work is the perfect place to start, because he doesn’t sugar-coat things. Shawn wasn’t a saint, but does that mean he deserved what happened to him? No.

If the blood

inside you is on the inside

of someone else,

you never want to

see it on the outside of

them.

The way the “rule of revenge” was explored was very beautiful. It was a bit unconventional at first, but if you just go with it, it’s a wonderful story. Will has lost so many people close to him due to gun violence, yet he is only fifteen years old. Though Long Way Down is a fictional story, this is the reality for so many black kids. It’s absolutely heartbreaking.

the rules weren’t mean to be broken,

they were meant for the broken to follow.

content and trigger warning for death, murder, guns


I would recommend this fast-paced book to everyone. I wouldn’t give it 5 stars but probably closer to 4.5 because the stuff in the elevator was confusing at first, but it’s still a beautiful read!

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book review: The School for Good and Evil

the school for good and evil.png

The School for Good and Evil 

by Soman Chainani

read in November 2017

format: audiobook

review contains minor spoilers!

synopsis


I received the entire trilogy for my birthday two years ago, so I am incredibly disappointed I didn’t enjoy The School for Good and Evil. I wish it wasn’t as (over)hyped, since I don’t plan on continuing this trilogy.

The plot of this novel is incredibly repetitive, predictable and messy. Over and over again, Agatha forgives Sophie for screwing her over. THAT’S THE ENTIRE PLOT! How am I as a reader supposed to believe that these two are best friends, when Sophie has never done something that didn’t benefit herself?

So many events didn’t have any consequences, it makes me wonder why they were included in the first place. The plot dragged and seemed all over the place.

I had the feeling the author attempted to show how there are shades are grey and not everything is black and white, but he ultimately failed in my opinion. In The School for Good and Evil, someone who is evil is either ugly, disabled and/or scarred, whereas a good person is conventionally beautiful and skinny. This resulted in many anti-fat and ableist language.

Unfortunately, the setting only featured allocishet characters. Boys and girls are in seperate classes, only “he or she” language is used, the boys “act like a man”, etc. At the end, two girls share a a true-love’s kiss, but as far as I can tell based on reviews, that was purely a friendly thing and doesn’t result in queer representation in the following books.

There was also some paedophilia, because the schoolmaster – who is over 200 years old – was in love with a child.

content and trigger warning for: anti-fatness, ableism, deceased parents, allocishetnormative


This author attempted to write about complex themes, but he ultimately failed. Unfortunately, I do not plan to continue this series as I didn’t enjoy anything about it. There was too much problematic content for my taste and the plot and characters weren’t redeeming either.

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review: The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson (#Spookathon)

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Afbeeldingsresultaat voor the kind worth killing coverThe Kind Worth Killing

by Peter Swanson

read in October 2017 (#Spookathon)

format: paperback (library)

spoiler-free review!

(synopsis)


If you are looking for a suspenseful mystery thriller filled with many unpredictable twists-and-turns, The Kind Worth Killing is the book you’re looking for!

When I first picked up this novel, I was a bit wary. Right from the start, Ted and Lily are discussing murdering his wife, Miranda. It was very fast-paced and I was wondering whether the entire book was going to revolve around their plans. But like I said, The Kind Worth Killing took turns I never could’ve imagined.

I really can’t talk about this book much, otherwise, I’d be spoiling it. Maybe I should’ve written a spoiler review instead. If anyone is interested in a review with spoilers, please let me know! Anyway, even the ending had me on the edge of my seat. It’s promising, but you can’t tell for sure what happened next. AND I NEED TO KNOW!

Multiple point-of-views in thrillers usually don’t work for me, as I don’t like finding out plot twists before the characters do. It really takes away a lot of the mystery and surprising elements. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case in this novel; it was done perfectly!

The only reason why I can’t rate this five stars, is because I always felt a bit of a distance while reading it. I guess it’s because of the characters. They weren’t very memorable and I had the feeling we had to dislike anyone but Lily. Even now, I have no idea whether readers were supposed to root for her, or whether we’re supposed to see her as a bad person. In my opinion it’s the latter, but I can’t for sure whether that was the author’s intention.

content and trigger warning for cheating, paedophilia, sexual assault/attempted rape, murder (both animals and humans), food poisoning, excessive drinking, guns, stabbing, driving while intoxicated, car accident


The Kind Worth Killing is one of the best thrillers I have read. There was an abundance of unexpected twists-and-turns and I am looking forward to reading more of this author’s work. Still, I can’t give this five stars because I always felt a bit of a distance while reading this novel, perhaps because I’m uncertain whether or not the reader was supposed to root for Lily. But don’t let that stop you from reading this book, because it was so good!

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review: The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

the child finder.png

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor The Child Finder book coverThe Child Finder

by Rene Denfeld

read in October 2017

format: audiobook

spoiler-free review!

(synopsis)


Despite the beautiful cover, I am relieved I didn’t buy a copy of The Child Finder, but listened to audiobook instead. I don’t like to compare my reading experience to that of other readers, but in my opinion, this book is very overhyped.

I was so bored while reading this. The Child Finder isn’t a bad book, but I just didn’t care about it. Perhaps this is more of a character-driven novel instead of action-packed, but I usually like that. Unfortunately, The characters didn’t stand out; they didn’t have much of a personality.

Apparently, this author is a licensed investigator. Well, for a book that’s marketed as a mystery thriller, there’s wasn’t much of a mystery due to the multiple point-of-views. Naomi, who is “the child finder”, didn’t actually do a lot of researching.  I like the idea of this novel, but the execution didn’t satisfy me.

I don’t read mysteries that often, yet I found The Child Finder very predictable. This genre is supposed to make you gasp out loud, make you question everyone and everything, yet this novel didn’t do that even once.

In this book, a child has gone missing. We soon learn she’s been abducted, beaten and potentially raped. In my opinion, this was a case of Stockholm syndrome, and that made me quite uncomfortable. Though I appreciate that the child molestation wasn’t too graphic, the book kind of made it seem as if the abductor cared about the child, and she cared about him. Especially because of the information we learn at the end, which I saw coming from a mile away.

In The Child Finder, there’s deaf representation (though be aware that’s the villain), autism representation and a character of Native American descent. I can’t tell you whether or not this was done well, since I’m neither deaf, autistic or Native American.

content and trigger warning for child abduction, molestation and rape


Unfortunately, The Child Finder did not live up to the hype for me. I was incredibly bored while listening to the audiobook and considered DNFing it. Furthermore, there’s wasn’t much of a mystery due to the multiple point-of-views and no twist and turns.

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review: The Killing Lessons by Saul Black (#Spookathon wrap-up)

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Afbeeldingsresultaat voor the killing lessons saul blackThe Killing Lessons

by Saul Black

read in October 2017 (#Spookathon)

format: Kindle

(synopsis)


The Killing Lessons is a mystery thriller that’s suspenseful and unpredictable from the very first to the last page. The novel starts with the murder of Rowena Cooper at her isolated farmhouse, though thankfully her ten-year-old daughter Nell is able to escape. You might think you know what’s going to happen next, but trust me, you don’t. At a certain point, I thought that Nell’s point-of-view seemed a bit disconnected from the rest of the protagonists, but it all tied-up nicely in the end.

This was a great page-turner with short chapters. There are many narrators, but I didn’t mind, except that the perspective from the perpetrators did make me feel sick at times. A lot of the crimes that occur in The Killing Lessons, create the effect of ‘shock value’. I am usually not a fan of that – it’s cheap writing, in my opinion – but unfortunately, these atrocities do happen in real life as well. But don’t be mistaken: this novel is very heavy. It’s absolutely not a comfortable read and it’s certainly not suitable for all readers. It evoked similar emotions as when I read Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter.

I think the thrillers aspects of this novel were phenomenal. Sadly, I have many issues with the rest of the book.

First of all, a great deal of ableist language is used: ‘crazy’ is said 27 times, ‘insane’ 11, ‘retarded’ multiple times as well, etc. Reading such vocabulary makes me very uncomfortable. It’s unnecessary and it easily could’ve been left out. 

There was unneeded hatred between two female characters, Valerie and Carla. At a certain point, Valerie says: “She felt herself wanting to like Carla. And somehow not being able to”. Female writers do this as well, but it doesn’t surprise me that a male author can’t possibly imagine women getting along. The drama between them definitely made the book seem cheesy, it was so over-the-top. Furthermore, it’s so typical that Valerie has a troubled life. It’s hard to name five successful woman in fiction who also have a happy private life.

About five pages in, a teenage boy was fantasising about lesbian porn. At that point, I was already so annoyed that I picked up a book by a male author. The Killing Lessons primarily features allocishet, white characters. A minor character was described as having “skin the colour of faded mahogany”. Okay… Just say whether they’re people of colour or not, there’s no need to make a mystery of that as well.

Having said that, the author called out an attempted rape for what it was and that meant a lot to me. Unfortunately, there are many authors (include women) who sometimes can’t tell the difference between consent and rape. So though there is an abundance of sexual violence in The Killing Lessons, it’s made very clear that it’s wrong and a crime.

“Surely the woman was, when you got right down to it, asking for it? Half the time it was women who made this argument. Women who didn’t seem to understand that what they were defending wasn’t a woman’s right to move through the world as freely as a man, but rapists’ and murderers’ right to do their thing as long as there weren’t likely to be witnesses.)”

I watch a lot of true crime documentaries and really enjoy reading mystery thrillers from time to time. My biggest concern is that marginalised people often end up being demonized. In this novel, it is for instance said that they might be looking for “people with a harelip or speech impediment” without even knowing whether that was the case for our perpetrators. My father was born with a harelip. Does that mean he’s automatically a suspect if a crime occurs?

This might stray from the topic, but these things scare me. Culprits aren’t an exact science. Just because you are different from the vast majority, doesn’t mean there’s something “wrong” with you. It frightens me that if a crime would happen, I would potentionally be a suspect because I am an introvert, don’t have a lot of friends and am getting treatment for my mental health.

But as much as I’d like villains in thrillers to be pure evil without any sad back-stories, without any reason why they do the things they do, it’s not always like that. A quote from this novel worded my feelings perfectly:

“In the midst of her rush was a small deflation: that grotesque mistreatment had produced a grotesque person. That there was mitigation. That there was partial cause, partial explanation. The world didn’t want it that way, of course. The tabloids liked their monsters simple: pure evil. No excuses. No history. No comprehension.

And that was the case in The Killing Lessons as well. Both men who committed these crimes had an incredibly difficult childhood. That doesn’t excuse their actions at all, but it does offer an explanation.

Having said that, it will always make me uncomfortable if marginalised people turn out to commit horrible crimes. Yes, it’s realistic, yes, your circumstances absolutely influence the decisions you make, but I just wish that wasn’t the case…

Content and trigger warning for rape, murder, sexism (language such as ‘cunt‘ and ‘bitch’), mutilation, very graphic descriptions (of rape, murder, torture), ableist language, miscarriage, child abuse, graphic sex scenes, alcoholism, slut shaming, stalking, kidnapping


The Killing Lessons was a captivating and unpredictable thriller from start to finish. The crimes committed in this novel are absolutely horrible and very graphic, so be aware if you consider picking this up. In my opinion, the thriller aspects were phenomenal; I couldn’t put the book down. I, however, wasn’t a fan of some of the other elements in The Killing Lessons, such as the ableist language.

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review: Bird Box by Josh Malerman (#Spookathon wrap-up)

bird box.png

Bird Box

by Josh Malerman

read in October 2017 (#Spookathon)

format: audiobook

(synopsis)


I usually don’t say this, but I think this book is incredibly over-hyped. I don’t understand why Bird Box has received so many raving reviews. I tend to get scared very easily, yet I constantly felt indifferent and even bored while listening to the audiobook.

If this had been a short story instead of a full-length novel, I think I would’ve enjoyed this more. I cannot help but think that the writing was very lacking. The characters didn’t have much depth, the atmosphere should’ve frightened me, the dialogues were boring…  I’m all for character-driven stories, but at least make sure your characters read as actual people instead of props without any personality.

Additionally, I didn’t care about the flashbacks. For me, they added nothing to the story. I would’ve been much more interested in solely reading Malorie’s journey on the river, but it’s not like I could’ve skipped the flashbacks because this book has no chapters (which is so annoying, because I didn’t know when to stop reading).

One of my main issues is the lack of explanations. If this had been a short story it might not have bothered me so much, but by the end of Bird Box, the readers still don’t know what is happening, or WHY it is happening. Why, for example, does Malorie decided to leave her safe place after four years, risking not only her own, but also her children’s lives? No offence, but I think that’s lazy and easy writing. If you continue reading this novel because you want answers, don’t bother because you won’t get any.

Sadly, I cannot help but think that the entire premise is ableist: people are driven to “insanity” when they see these creatures and end up killing themselves and potentially others. The question was even asked in the novel whether it would affect already mentally ill people, or whether they would be the lasts ones standing. What’s the author implying here? That people with mental illnesses are already “so far gone” that it couldn’t possibly get any worse for them? Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but this offended me.

content and trigger warning for murder, mutilation, death (both human and animal), suicide (very graphic descriptions!)


Bird Box was a disappointment from start to finish. It would’ve worked better as a short story for me, as the entire premise, the characters, the explanations, basically EVERYTHING was lacking for me.

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review: A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena (#Spookathon wrap-up)

a stranger in the house.png

A Stranger in the House

by Shari Lapena

read in October 2017 (#Spookathon)

format: audiobook

(synopsis)


I’ve heard so many great things about Shari Lapena’s work, so I was very excited to pick up A Stranger in the House. Unfortunately, I found this novel rather boring and predictable.

When I read a book, I usually write down my thoughts and things I want to mention in my review, but when I was 40% in A Stranger in the House, I still hadn’t written down a single thing.

Because of the multiple point-of-views, there wasn’t much of a mystery. I usually like multiple perspectives, but in thrillers, it doesn’t often work for me. It takes away the surprising elements.

Don’t get me wrong, plenty of stuff happens in this novel, but nothing was memorable. Tomorrow, I probably will have forgotten the characters’ names already. I have the feeling as if I’ve read a million books similar to this one already. Furthermore, I didn’t care about any of the characters, Tom in particular. He acted like a baby, he was so annoying.

Unfortunately, A LOT of ableist language is used, such a cr*zy. It’s never addressed and it’s a vital part of the story. I found that very problematic and can’t believe that could be published in 2017.

I also found the ending problematic. Beware, what I am about to mention, contains spoilers! I had seen it coming, but other readers might be surprised to find out that Karen was lying about her abusive past. I am tired of media demonising women who come forward, either as a rape victim, as a victim of domestic violence, etc. Books like this reinforce the idea that women lie about such serious matters, and it causes people to not trust other women who come forward with similar stories. As a result, women stay silent, and they get blamed for that as well. It’s incredibly frustrating and I am very disappointed that Lapena reinforces that idea.

content and trigger warnings for murder, fertility problems, cheating, ableist language, abuse


Sadly, A Stranger in the House was a rather disappointing read. It was both predictable and boring. In my opinion, the author made some problematic choices, so I am wary to pick up more of her work. Still, a lot of readers seem to love The Couple Next Door, so I might give that one a chance someday.

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rant review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

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Afbeeldingsresultaat voor outlander book coverOutlander

by Diana Gabaldon

read in October 2017

format: audiobook

review contains spoilers!


I am a fan of the TV show adaptation of Outlander. Though I have a lot of issues with it, I have watched the first season twice already and I decided to buy the entire book series all at once last year. I absolutely regret that decision now.

In my review, I will be comparing the book to the TV show adaptation. I already knew the characters, plot and world-building, so I didn’t learn much new information while listening to the audiobook.

I think the TV series stays very true to the book. Sometimes the book is more fast-paced, sometimes the show is. Though I love Claire in the latter, I felt rather indifferent while reading this. I didn’t really care about anything that happened and just wanted to get through this so I could write my review. I think I will stick to the adaptation from now on, even though I hate that I spent money on those books and don’t plan on continuing them.

My main issue while reading this was Jamie Fraser. This book is marketed as a historical fiction romance and many readers absolutely adore him. In my opinion, he is an abusive piece of shit. There are numerous sex scenes in this novel, but I can count the consensual ones on one hand. Because I listened to this on audiobook, I didn’t write down every single time he raped her, but it was A LOT. Here are some examples of what is done and said:

  • On multiple occasions, Claire asks Jamie to stop before or while they are having sex (“Stop please, you’re hurting me!”, but he doesn’t (“Yes, beg me for mercy, but you won’t have it though”). After a while, she gives in, but just because your body is responding, doesn’t mean you are actually consenting.
  • Claire (nearly) gets rape and it’s followed by Jamie and her immediately having sex and talks about how the rape affected him.
  • Jamie physically abuses Claire to punish her. He admits he enjoyed it.
  • Jamie threatens to rape Claire. The scene ends with her apologising to him and them having sex. He says: “Your mine whether you like it or not”. Claire narrates that “[her] thighs were bruising”.
  • Jamie performs oral sex on Claire while she is asleep. I don’t care that he’s her husband, when you are unconscious, you can’t consent, so that is rape.
  • They have sex in the same room as their sleeping nephew, even though Claire initially didn’t want to.
  • Jamie says to Claire after he was raped “I want to use you like a whore”.
  • In the very final scene in this book, Claire says “No Jamie, I can’t bear it like that again”. He replies “You can and you will, because I want you”.

There is so much more where that came from. Everything I mentioned above, actually happened, so it’s a fact that this relationship is incredibly abusive. And no, it doesn’t get better because in their very last sex scene, he rapes her as well.

Even if their relationship becomes more consensual in the future, it doesn’t excuse that all of this happened and that this is sold as a romance novel. It will get swept under the rug, without ever addressing that his behaviour was abusive and possessive. Progress doesn’t matter if we’re only going to pretend that it didn’t happen in the first place.

I did some research on Goodreads and the amount of people who deny the abuse and find this relationship romantic… It very much frightens me that rape culture is so normalised, so mainstream that we can’t even recognize outright rape while we’re reading it.

Yes, this is historical fiction. Yes, rape was more accepted and commonplace back then (though in this day and age, it still isn’t condemned as much as it should), but that’s not what the author wanted to show while writing this relationship. I can accept that excuse when it comes to the many other (attempted) rapes in this novel, but not when it comes to Jamie and Claire. Their relationship is supposed to read as romantic. The readers are supposed to swoon for him. Their sex scenes are supposed to arouse you. Unfortunately, so many people get carried away by that and refuse to see how harmful this marriage is.

As a queer person, I wasn’t pleased with the queer “representation” either. So far, we know of two characters who are queer: the Duke of Sandringham and Black Jack Randall. The first is a paedophile, the latter the main villain who loves torturing and raping people.

Of course queer people can be bad people, but if you’re only queer characters are portrayed that way, I think that definitely shows what you think about us. It’s incredibly queermisic and unfortunately, the show doesn’t handle this any better.

Maybe if I hadn’t watched the adaptation first, I would’ve enjoyed this more. But I still would’ve felt the same way about the problematic content, even though it’s also present in the show as well.

Actually, I think the TV series is more violent in some ways. In the book we are rather told about Jonathan Randall, instead of having to see with our own two eyes how horrible he is. I prefer that approach because in the adaptation, I think a lot of scenes are altered purely for the purpose of shock value, which is something I detest. It’s the reason why I absolutely hated Ramsey Bolton’s scenes in Game of Thrones.

There was less animosity between Claire and Jenny in the book. In the TV series, Jenny instantly dislikes Claire and they only become more friendly once they get to know each other. It’s sexist to think that women see each other as competition, rather than possible friends.

Finally, there was also some ableism in the book. Jamie for example said he wanted to die because he thought his hand would be amputated. He then adds that his disabled brother-in-law is only “whole” because of his wife. This is harmful for disabled readers as it gives the impression that our lives aren’t worth living and that we aren’t “whole”.


Clearly, I was not a fan of Outlander. If you watch the show and enjoy it despite its issues, I still wouldn’t recommend reading the book as the issues are even more prominent in there. Though in some aspects the book did a better job, I cannot look past Jamie’s abusive nature and how his relationship with Claire is supposed to be romantic, while it’s in fact incredibly harmful. Furthermore, this book is queermisic as well. Though I own physical copies of the entire series, I don’t think it’s very likely I’ll continue it, at least not anytime soon.

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