This Saturday, season 2 of Outlander premieres on Starz. Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander book series is one of our most popular series at the library–I can verify that it circulates a lot–and the television series based on it is so popular that ending up on a wait list for it is virtually guaranteed. (You can follow this link to our catalog if you’re interested in requesting the books or show.)
I initially was going to post a review of the book in the lead-up to the second series, but I figured since the books and the show are so popular (and, in the case of the first book, have been around for well over twenty years), I wouldn’t really need to bring the series to people’s attention, like I would for something less well-known. Instead, I thought it might be fun to post a discussion thread, so everyone can chime in with their own thoughts and opinions.
I’ve posted some questions (with my answers) below to get things started, but please don’t feel like you have to answer all of them or even any of them. As a former teacher and current book club moderator, I can’t resist starting with very general guiding questions, but you can definitely ignore them! Feel free to chime in with any of your thoughts on the books or the television show.
- With a lot of television shows that are based on books, fans are often divided between book readers and non-book readers. Are you solely an Outlander book reader or have you only experienced the series through the television show? Or have you read the books and watched the show? If you’re both a watcher and a reader, did you read the books first or did the show inspire you to try them?
- Continuing from the first question, if you’re a book reader, what are your thoughts on the show? Do you think it’s a good or bad adaptation? Or have you avoided watching it altogether?
- Who’s your favorite character? Least favorite character?
- Favorite part of the series? Least favorite part of the series?
- Book readers: What are you looking forward to in the ninth book (which Gabaldon is said to be working on now)? Television show viewers: What are you looking forward to in the second season?
- If you could go back in time, where would you travel to?
I don’t want to give too much away of my own opinions right now because that’s what the comment section is for, but I will very briefly answer the questions, just to get the discussion started.
1 and 2. I’ve only read the first book and am currently watching the first season–I’m generally a stickler for punctuality in real life, but I like to be fashionably late to pop culture–and I’ve enjoyed the show more. Please don’t hurt me.
3. As a general rule, I tend to gravitate more toward supporting characters, so the character I always looked most forward to in the book was the mysterious, unsettling Geillis Duncan. As a former history major who loves trivia and loves subjecting my family to every minor thing I’ve ever learned about history, I also like/pity Frank because of Claire finding his tendency to advance conversations solely through historical anecdotes boring. History nerds have to stick together. I also found Jamie suitably dashing and charming.
As for least-favorite characters, I’m assuming Black Jack Randall is sort of a given for most viewers/readers. (I say that as someone who usually ends up enjoying the villain more than the heroes, but he’s one of the few villains that I do hate unreservedly.) I’m also not a big Claire fan. That’s why I have enjoyed the show more. In the books, I found her first person narrative almost oppressive because I disliked her so much and I found other characters infinitely more interesting, so I kept wishing we could have their perspective. I like her better in the television show, but she’s still not a favorite character by any stretch of the imagination.
4. One thing that did pleasantly surprise me with the book–and I’m glad to see the show preserved–was the humor. I had read summaries/discussions of the story before actually trying it myself, and what I had read didn’t indicate that there would be many laugh-out-loud moments in the series. It’s certainly not a comedy, but I was pleased with those handful of comedic moments that are there. Also, I liked that, at least in what I have read and watched, the mechanism that allows time travel to exist isn’t explained. I don’t usually enjoy time travel stories, and one of the reasons is I usually get distracted parsing the author’s logic and questioning whether it makes sense. I liked the fact that Gabaldon just presents it as mysterious and doesn’t bother explaining. I think I covered my least favorite part of the series in my discussion of least favorite characters.
5. I can’t really speak to what I’m looking forward in the second season of the show since I haven’t read past the first book, but I can say one spin-off book I hope Diana Gabaldon writes is one from Geillis Duncan’s point of view. I want a Geillis Duncan book! I want it here, and I want it now!
6. I’ve pondered when I would like to travel back in time on several occasions, and I always end up deciding on the 1910s or 1920s. I’d like to go far enough back that it’s different from now, but I also like my modern conveniences too much to go back very far. Also, what’s not to love about The Jazz Age?
Chime in with your own thoughts on the books/show in the comments!