When A Writer Stops Writing

I am a writer. By describing myself as such, I am implying that I am a person who writes. This definition, however, is problematic. What happens to me if I stop writing? Do I stop being a writer?

To further explain, as a person in my early twenties trying to figure out city life, I have been unable to write as often as I normally would. Even more recently, I have found myself uninspired. The mere idea of writing exhausted me. I had so much to do, so little time, but I could never put my fingers on the keyboard.

Yet, I still felt like a writer. I loved the world of books and, more specifically, I loved the world of words. I would still listen to musicals, awed by the wordplay and thematic musical hook. I read articles, surprised by how the author could say so much with so little. But I wasn’t writing. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t write.

So, where was I? Can someone be a writer without writing?

I’ve come to the belief that being a writer is a way of life. It’s a way of seeing the world. Being a writer is being a specific kind of person. A person who analyzes the fundamentals of life – putting it together and taking it apart. A person who can say a lot with very little or, at least, admires the ability to do so.

Writers block comes and goes as does the busy times in life. So the action of writing matters very little in the definition of being a writer. If you believe you are a writer and respect the power of words, then you are a writer. It’s that simple.

2015 Favorites

With 2015 coming to a close, I wanted to write about some of my favorite books that were published this year! These books made me laugh, they made me cry. Most importantly, they inspired me to read more and more.

The below are in order my author name, not by preference.

  • Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  • Golden Son (Red Rising Trilogy, #2) by Pierce Brown
  • Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
  • I Was Here by Gayle Forman
  • Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman
  • At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen
  • You Deserve a Drink by Mamrie Hart
  • Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
  • Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4) by Sarah J. Maas
  • All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
  • Binge by Tyler Oakley
  • Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

These are only some of my many favorites that were published this year.

What about you? What were your favorites in 2015? Any suggestions for books being published in 2016? Let me know in the comments!!

Author’s Intentions VS Reader’s Interpretation

Let’s talk about the difference between what the reader believes versus what the author intended. In the literary world, we see this a lot. Readers read something into a piece that the author never intended. So, who is right?

One example of this is JK Rowling’s portrayal of Severus Snape. Some fans believe that he is a great hero, an underdog that loved too passionately. While some other fans believe that he is an abuser and a bully with no redeemable qualities. This last week, JK elaborated further on who she believes Severus is and, in addition, why Harry chose to name one of his children after him.

Below are some of those tweets:

Snape is all grey. You can’t make him a saint: he was vindictive & bullying. You can’t make him a devil: he died to save the wizarding world

There’s a whole essay in why Harry gave his son Snape’s name, but the decision goes to the heart of who Harry was, post-war.

In honouring Snape, Harry hoped in his heart that he too would be forgiven. The deaths at the Battle of Hogwarts would haunt Harry forever.

Snape was a bully who loved the goodness he sensed in Lily without being able to emulate her. That was his tragedy.

Snape didn’t die for ‘ideals’. He died in an attempt to expiate his own guilt. He could have broken cover at any time to save himself 1/2

but he chose not to tell Voldemort that the latter was making a fatal error in targeting Harry. Snape’s silence ensured Harry’s victory. 2/2

At the end of the day, I’m a firm believer the books belong to their readers. What the author intended is all well and good but if it’s not read in the piece then it’s not canon. So, to half of the fan base, Snape is canonically a hero and, for the other half, he is canonically a bully and an abuser (I happen to fall in this camp). How the reader reads the story is how the story is, regardless of what the author intended.

What do you think? What’s more important? The author’s intentions? Or the interpretation of the reader? Comment below!

Opinion: Love Triangles

Love Triangles. We all have opinions about them.

I have a friend that adores love triangles. The more complicated, the better. I, on the other hand, absolutely hate love triangles. If I know there’s a love triangle in a novel, I will actively refuse to read it.

Why I Hate Love Triangles:

  • Perfect Character: When writing a love triangle, it’s too easy for a writer to fall into the ‘perfect character’ trap. With the love interests boasting the amazing qualities of the lead, it can sound preachy. We get it, everyone loves him/her. He/She is great. Let’s go back to the actual plot of the novel.
  • Reduces MC to a Choice: The MC, especially if it’s a female, becomes reduced to a singular choice. This choice makes or breaks the character in the readers’ eyes. If it’s a heterosexual female MC, it reduces her to her decision on a man. There should be more to a character than one decision.
  • Reflecting Poorly on MC: If the MC takes too long making his/her decision, it can/will reflect poorly on him/her. In a majority of novels with love triangles, the MC drags these love interests along without the intention of eventually making a decision. This is a selfish act that can make readers dislike the character more and more as time goes on.
  • Brothers/Best Friends: If this is crucial to the story line somehow then fine. But besides that, what does a relationship between the two interested parties offer? Tension and conflict, sure, but can’t that be created some other way? For me, making the interested characters brothers/friends just feels lazy.

The Love Triangle Trend:

If I hate love triangles then I will just stop reading books with them, right? Wrong. A majority of popular literature have love triangles nowadays. Why? How did this all start?

It’s my belief that Twilight restarted the love triangle trend. “Team Edward” vs “Team Jacob” wracked the hearts of many. Who will Bella pick? The manipulative, controlling Edward Cullen? Or Jacob, the one who eventually imprinted on her child? (No Twilight hate here. We all had that Twilight phase after all …)

It became silly. It became tiring. But mostly, the Twilight love triangle was just not well done. It was clear that Bella was always going to pick Edward. Jacob, while seemingly the better pick on paper (he was human after all), never had that connection with Bella that she shared with Edward. In the end, Edward won and half of the fandom collectively sighed in sadness.

Then, with the YA boom, love triangles became a trend. Every prominent love story had them. The beautiful MC of all of these novels had to pick between two equally stunning love interest. Who will the MC end up choosing?

The Hunger Games has a love triangle. The Selection has a love triangle. The Mortal Instruments has a love triangle. Throne of Glass has a love triangle. Matched has a love triangle. Shatter Me has a love triangle. Shadow and Bone has a love triangle. Throne of Glass has a love triangle. Red Queen has a love triangle. The list goes on and on …

My point being, there was (and one could argue still is) a point in time that you couldn’t read a story without a love triangle. Because of all of this, it appears that people have taken a firm stance on love triangles. They either love them or hate them. I, personally, hate them.

Do you love or hate love triangles? Why? Tell me in the comments below!

REVIEW: One More Thing

Title: One More Thing
Author: B.J. Novak
Genre: Literary Fiction
Links: GoodReads || Amazon || Barnes & Noble || Author Website

THE SUMMARY:

“B.J. Novak’s One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories is an endlessly entertaining, surprisingly sensitive, and startlingly original debut that signals the arrival of a brilliant new voice in American fiction.

A boy wins a $100,000 prize in a box of Frosted Flakes—only to discover how claiming the winnings might unravel his family. A woman sets out to seduce motivational speaker Tony Robbins—turning for help to the famed motivator himself. A new arrival in Heaven, overwhelmed with options, procrastinates over a long-ago promise to visit his grandmother. We also meet Sophia, the first artificially intelligent being capable of love, who falls for a man who might not be ready for it himself; a vengeance-minded hare, obsessed with scoring a rematch against the tortoise who ruined his life; and post-college friends who try to figure out how to host an intervention in the era of Facebook. Along the way, we learn why wearing a red T-shirt every day is the key to finding love, how February got its name, and why the stock market is sometimes just . . . down.

Finding inspiration in questions from the nature of perfection to the icing on carrot cake, One More Thing has at its heart the most human of phenomena: love, fear, hope, ambition, and the inner stirring for the one elusive element that might just make a person complete. Across a dazzling range of subjects, themes, tones, and narrative voices, the many pieces in this collection are like nothing else, but they have one thing in common: they share the playful humor, deep heart, sharp eye, inquisitive mind, and altogether electrifying spirit of a writer with a fierce devotion to the entertainment of the reader.” – Barnes and Noble

THE BAD:

TOO SHORT: I’m not a fan of short stories. I think they serve their purpose in literature, but I also think that longer pieces have more to offer readers. That’s just my opinion. Or, at least, that was my opinion before I read One More Thing. I will rave about the book below, but one of the things I disliked about these short stories were how short they were.

When a writer is talented, I want to read more. Needless to say, I read the entirety of One More Thing in one sitting. That’s how talented Novak is.

THE GOOD:

FRESH VOICE: There is no doubt in my mind that B.J. Novak is a talented writer. However, with the trend of celebrities turning to fiction, it’s rare to find someone who has a fresh voice, let alone multiple voices. Novak’s stories range from quirky to surprisingly real, bringing the reader through a myriad of emotions. Some pieces make you laugh, some make you think. Overall, every piece is different from the next and different from what we commonly see in trending fiction.

THIS QUOTE: “She waited until a morning fog of dishonesty settled over them one day, and she disappeared into it. She loved him, but she never quite got over the suspicion that she was just his favorite thing in the bookstore.”

AND THIS QUOTE: “The third fantasy comes at night. At first it came only in dreams but now, often, I dream it instead of sleep … We figured it out, he says. We can make everything what it was, now that you understand the significance of everything that happened. And then they put her on the phone, and she says one more thing.”

AND THIS ONE: “It’s not always enough to be brave, I realized years later. You have to be brave and contribute something positive, too. Brave on its own is just a party trick.”

MEANING: Although some pieces are painfully short, they all have a point. Novak does what very few authors achieve. He has the ability to say a lot with only a handful of words. Even with a twist of wordplay, Novak stumps the reader, leaving them clawing away at their own mind. But, sometimes, his shortest pieces are the sweetest and their only cause is to make the reader smile. Either way, every story left me satisfied.

THESE STORIES: The Rematch; Romance, Chapter One; Sophia; They Kept Driving Faster and Outran the Rain; The Man Who Posted Pictures of Everything He Ate; Closure; Kindness Among Cakes; Being Young Was Her Thing; One of These Days, We Have to Do Something About Willie; Regret Is Just Perfectionism Plus Time; War; Never Fall In Love; The Bravest Thing I Ever Did.

THIS DISCUSSION QUESTION: “Why or why not?”

OVERALL RATING:

One More Thing, without a doubt, get’s a four out of five. I want to rate it five out of five but my personal opinions of short stories prevent me from doing so. I love the voice of these stories so much that I can’t give it all five stars. I want to read MORE of this. If Novak can say so much with so little, imagine what he could say with an entire novel? In a way, this is what he accomplishes in his collection of short stories. But instead of this piecemeal thoughts and lessons, which are powerful and poignant on their own, I would love to see what Novak can accomplish with the same characters and the same plot. His work on The Office for nine seasons suggests he would be able to create the same fresh voice just fine.

Needless to say, whether Novak is writing short stories, novels or entire television series, he’s going to execute it flawlessly. And, as a long-time fan of his work, I will continue to be there to watch/read it.

Writing Classes: Are They Worth It?

As I write this post, I am sitting in the middle of a writing class in New York City. The attendees vary from age and gender. Sitting at my table, there is a middle aged woman and her mother. Next to them is a man who chain smoked one too many cigarettes. Across from these three is a twenty-something-year-old guy with thick frame glasses, gelled back hair and, I kid you not, a PBR.

I’ll be honest. The content isn’t exactly riveting.  There’s nothing that I’ve been taught this last hour that is brand new information. The lesson is the same lesson most creative writing classes are trapped with. “Books have plots, characters and themes. Characters have motivations.” And, of course, there are writing prompts which should help teach the students about writing but instead just give the teacher twenty minutes of silence.

Out of the handfuls of classes I’ve taken, I’ve only ever enjoyed one of them. I took the class while I was a sophomore in college. A friend and I decided to take the plunge and dedicate a grade on our transcripts to our futures in writing. The class focused on edit groups where the entire class would read a short story written by their fellow writers and critique it. It was a unique format for a class and it worked flawlessly. Over that semester, I had three short stories edited by fifteen people, including the professor who is a published author. In addition, I befriended a professor who encouraged me towards publishing.

Yet, the class I’m currently sitting the complete opposite. Why? Well, a few reasons.

1. Writing in the classroom.

I may be in the minority, but I don’t think writing classes should mainly consist of writing. There should be a ten minute maximum on time allotted for writing in these classes. Here’s my logic behind this: I can write at home. I don’t need the teacher telling me that I should write. I can do that in my free time. What I need are the instruments to do this. If you want to discuss character motivations, then go over making minor characters three-dimensional and realistic while in the background of the story. Don’t tell me to write about a character whose mad for ten minutes. That doesn’t help me. That doesn’t help my classmates. Discussing things we can’t do at home helps more than writing does.

2. Discussion.

I love going out with my coworkers. One of the reasons is because they’re great people. The other is because no one understands the industry we are in, except us. It’s like we’re in a secret club. We have inside jokes, we complain about the same things. This discussion does two different things. It 1) bonds the group of people together, allowing mutually beneficial writing relationships to grow and 2) it validates the individual’s feelings.

Being a writer is a solitary activity but writing classes are ways to break out of that.

3. A teacher who cares.

Writers, like actors, are told to depend on other skills to survive in the adult world. Those who become successful to live off of the money this brings in are the lucky ones. It’s because of this that many writers automatically believe that what they are doing is a hobby and just that. And, sometimes it is. Hobbies are extremely important to have. But for those who eventually want to reach the publishing world, it’s great for there to be a teacher there who nudges them in the right direction.

Overall, a class is what you make of it. I made my class into a great opportunity to people watch and write this blog post. It was also a great way for me to see other writers in the city. So, are writing classes worth it? Well, that depends. But, at the end of the day, I think it’s worth the shot.

About The Author

Unfortunately, I haven’t updated this blog in forever. I know, I stink. The reason for that is … I moved! Yes, I moved to Brooklyn to fulfill my New York writer dreams (and also it’s closer to my paying job – so yay!).

In other recent events, Pitch Wars is this weekend! For those of you who don’t know about the contest, go to Brenda Drake’s blog for more information.

In order to 1) update my blog and 2) partake in Pitch Wars, I wanted to write up a small “about the author” summary. After perusing my blog, I realized I don’t post a lot of information about me personally. So, here we go internet …

About Alexia:

  • I’m a big fan of sarcasm.
  • If I had children, I would name them HBO Go and Netflix because that is how much those websites mean to me.
  • This picture. (I don’t really have anything to add. I feel like this describes me.)
  • If Mythbusters offered me a job as a Mythbuster, I would – without hesitation – accept it.
  • Although I spent four years in New England for college, I still have yet to use the term “wicked” unironically.
  • I’m an animal lover. (I’ve recently become obsessed with French Bulldogs. I mean, look at them!)
  • Also, this moment in history.
  • If I could live off of three things, it would be Coke Zero, Tiramisu and Pasta.
  • I’m waiting for my Princess Diaries moment where I wake up and realized that a relative of mine is actually the Queen of Genovia.
  • If Rory Gilmore (Gilmore Girls) and Sweet Dee (It’s Always Sunny) had a love child … it would be me.
  • Chandler Bing is my spirit animal.
  • Favorite Shows: It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Sons of Anarchy, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Outlander, Agents of Shield, New Girl, Game of Thrones (I just started!) and yes, my guilty pleasure is anything on the CW 🙂
  • Favorite Books: This is like asking a mother to pick her favorite child. But, at this moment, my favorites are … The Spectacular Now, The Heir of Fire, The Adults, Outlander, When You Are Engulfed In Flames and 1984.

In all seriousness, I’ve been writing since I was a Freshman in High School (about 9/10 years ago). I have since completed three manuscripts. One that I’m querying and two others that I’m editing. Although the Harry Potter books opened me up to reading, it was Pride and Prejudice that made me fall in love with novels.

Overall, I’m just a 23 year old book nerd who spends too much time on the internet. 🙂

To Summarize:

How To Become a NY Best Selling Author – The Secret

Although no one wants to admit this, there is a one-step formula on how to become a New York Best Selling author. It’s simple, it’s to the point and it gets results. All best-sellers have this one step in common. You can thank me later when you’ve accomplished just this. Are you ready?

The secret is to keep writing and to not give up.

I know, it’s cheesy. Often times, writers roll their eyes when they hear those tired words. Yet, every single author out there is published because they continued to write, even when their manuscript seemed impossible to finish, and they continued to query, even facing rejection on the way.

So continue forward, keep your head up high and remember that if it worked for those who are already published, it will work for you.

REACTIONS: Grey, Chapter One

As we all know, EL James released Grey this week. Grey is a retelling of Fifty Shades of Grey from Christian Grey’s perspective.

Often times when I read novels, I recap them with my friends. By doing so, we laugh over ridiculous storylines and insane quotes (or if the book is good, I encourage them to read it!). To honor the release of this Amazon and B&N best-seller (yes, unfortunately you read that right), I figured I would read the first chapter of the book (because that’s all I could get through without vomiting) so no one else would have to read it.

Yes, I am a hero. I’m glad you agree.


“I have three cars. They go fast across the floor. So fast.” Anyone else think of the doge meme? Such speed. So fast. Much wow. Clearly, Grey is off to a great start already. THIS IS A BEST SELLER, PEOPLE! TAKE NOTE FELLOW AUTHORS.

“My mood is flat and gray.” Get it? Because his name is “Grey”? Oh, silly EL James, you are a laugh riot.

“The thought is unnerving so I dismiss it completely.” I dismiss EL James’s use of the word “dismiss” so frequently.

“She gapes at me, and I resist rolling my eyes. Yeah, yeah, baby, it’s just a face, and it’s only skin deep.” My favorite part about Fifty Shades is how utterly humble Christian is. Appearances mean nothing! Inner beauty is all that matters!

“Does she have any sense of style at all?” The book then suddenly flashes to an episode of What Not To Wear staring Christian Grey, the charismatic CEO who has a thirst for style.

“Bemused at my inappropriate thoughts …” Really Christian? You’re confused, perplexed and bewildered that you thought of sex after coming to the conclusion that Ana was a submissive type? DOUBTFUL. I think you mean AMUSED. Clearly, someone needs to retake grammar classes.

“It occurs to me that I could redefine her motor skills with the aid of a riding crop.” Okay, I don’t have anything funny to add about this. YOU JUST MET HER. STOP. STOP. STOP. YOU’RE A CREEP.

“Stop being a shit, Grey.” This is literally the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy summed up in one sentence. SPOILER ALERT: He never stops being a shit.

“Heart? Me? Oh, no, baby.” No, Christian Grey isn’t a human being. He’s a robot! Suddenly, everything makes sense. His lack of understand of the concept that “no means no”. His lack of social skills. Someone, for the sake of everyone, just unplug him. Please.

“- Insert a bunch of crude comments thought by the main love interest within the first meeting -“ Who needs feminism right? I mean, women aren’t objectified in real life or in literature. #meninistchristiangrey

“‘So you want to possess things?’ Yes, baby, You, for one.” Again, I can’t find it in myself to make a funny remark about this line. It actually upsets me that this series is telling women that this is what the perfect relationship is.

“She’s dressed in clothes from some cheap store like Old Navy or H&M.” First of all, Christian, I shop there and sometimes I pay full price on my $5 dresses so excuse you. Second of all, I think you know a little too much about women’s fashion for your own good buddy.

“Nothing wrong with consumption – after all, it drives what’s left of the American economy.” Who knew that sex and the economy were the same exact thing? Christian Grey for President, 2016! His running mate? Donald Trump.

“‘Are you gay, Mr. Grey?’ What the hell!” Christian, you’re supposed to say “no homo”! God forbid someone asks you about your sexuality, right? Oh, how fragile the heterosexual male ego is.

“Christ, Olivia is annoying – mooning over me all the time.” The Christian Grey Motto: Assuming every straight woman is attracted to him since 1901. Yes, I did google Edward Cullen’s birthday for that joke. It’s not something I’m proud to have in my search history.

“Welch, I need a background check.” You know, when I have a crush on a guy, I do the same exact thing. I plan out a contract for our relationship and I make sure that he passes a background check (let’s throw a credit check in there too – you can never be too safe). #relationshipproblems


Ending Notes: I can’t make any comments on the entire piece since I’ve only read the first chapter (and that’s all I plan to read). But, that being said, I would say that the first chapter is worse than what you would expect. With the original series in the media, it should be of no surprise to anyone that Grey would contain similar themes and tones. The fact that it’s narrated by the problematic abuser, who is still somehow a love interest, makes the novel incredibly unpleasant to read (even more so than its counterpart) and that’s putting it lightly. However, it is because of this fact that I feel inclined to be more lenient towards Grey. 

Unlike the original series, the story from Christian’s perspective shows how much of an abuser and a predator he is. The original series washed all of these attributes away since it came from a lovesick narrator who was unaware of her abuse. Although I’ve only read the first chapter, Christian’s inner dialogue in just a few pages was enough for me to question whether or not he was mentally stable. Hopefully, Grey can start an actual conversation regarding the negative impact of the series since the proof of Christian’s abuse is more clearly stated. Unlike what the name suggests, the book is black and white in that sense. Christian Grey is no romantic hero.

REVIEW: Outlander #2 and #3

Title: Dragonfly in Amber & Voyager
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Genre: Historical, Romance, Fantasy
Links (for Dragonfly only): GoodReads || Amazon || Barnes & Noble || Author Website

I hated parts of it. I really did. And yet, I still ran to Barnes and Noble to get the follow-up, Voyager.

To give you an idea on how that went, I’ve already finished the third novel. Here’s my review on both.

THE SUMMARY (DRAGONFLY IN AMBER):

“With her now-classic novel Outlander, Diana Gabaldon introduced two unforgettable characters — Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser — delighting readers with a story of adventure and love that spanned two centuries. Now Gabaldon returns to that extraordinary time and place in this vivid, powerful follow-up to Outlander….

For twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to Scotland’s majestic mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones … about a love that transcends the boundaries of time … and about James Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his….

Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper-haired daughter, Brianna, as Claire’s spellbinding journey of self-discovery continues in the intrigue-ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart … in a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising … and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves….

Following on the heels of the mass market publication of Outlander, which introduced readers to Claire Randall and her journey through time, Dragonfly in Amber returns us to the heroine 20 years after her fantastic voyage through the stones in Scotland.” – Barnes and Noble

THE BAD (BOTH):

ACCURACY VS SENSIBILITY: One of the best parts about the novel is that it sticks to the historical accuracy of the time, even if the material is hard to read. Some examples of this are the vast amounts of sexual assault and violence against women written throughout the series. Claire’s best protection against this is her marriage to Jamie Fraiser. But, even then, she is constantly at risk of being harmed and used as a possession. Although I understand the historical accuracy of this, at what point has there been enough? We get it. Everyone is a rapist and everyone is at risk. Claire is sexually assaulted multiple times, Jamie is raped and even his nephew, a young child, is raped.

The use of this as a dramatic plot line constantly throughout the series, with little followup regarding the state of character after the act, reduces the worth of the story. It feels more like background noise at this point and that’s something that truly upset me.

DOWNRIGHT INSENSITIVE: I didn’t want to feel this way but after reading the second novel (and even the third) I’m beginning to think that Dianna Gabaldon has a personal vendetta against the LGBT community and POC. First of all, the two main villains in the first few novels are attracted to men. Gabaldon has gone on record of saying that Black Jack (the villain of the first two novels) “derives sexual pleasure from hurting people, but he’s not particular about the gender of a victim“. But, even so, very little is highlighted about his female victims (considering he sexually assaulted Claire and Jaime’s sister). A MAJORITY of the series, however, focuses on the relationship between Jaime and Jack. While there’s nothing wrong with that per se, the implication that the attraction there is a bad thing (yes rape is bad but male-male attraction is not), was hard to read.

Second, the characterizations of the few POC’s were just downright racist. One example is “Mr. Willoughby” or, more commonly referred to as, “China man”. He is a Chinese man, with broken English, who is often the butt of many jokes because he tries to have sex with women’s feet (yes I know, I was equally annoyed with that storyline). And, of course, he knows acupuncture. Another example is the African slaves that Claire runs into. The only scenes they have involved a voodoo ritual which includes the killing of a crocodile, along with consuming its blood and a hallucinogenic.

Really, the writing concerning any character that isn’t white or straight is just horrendous.

THIS QUOTE: “And finally I put down the last and the best advice I knew, on growing older. Stand up straight and try not to get fat.” (550)

THIS SCENE: Yes, that’s right. Gabaldon made Jamie a rapist. The fact that this was out of character is the least of my issues. The fact that he continues to be the romantic male lead, even after this, was terrifying. (I, personally, consider this scene to be horribly out of character for him. It, also, adds nothing to the story which makes me believe that Gabaldon was not under the impression that what she was writing was rape – which is equally disgusting.)

Her struggles were accomplishing by force what he had tried to do with gentleness. Half-dazed, he fought to keep her under him, while groping madly for something to say to calm her.

“But—” he said.

“Stop it!”

“I—”

“Take it out!” she screamed.

He clapped one hand over her mouth and said the only coherent thing he could think of.
“No,” he said definitely, and shoved.

What might have been a scream emerged through his fingers as a strangled “Eep!” Geneva’s eyes were huge and round, but dry.

THE GOOD (BOTH):

STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER: What I loved about this series was how amazing the female lead was. Unlike other female characters that are written to be strong by being physically so, Claire Beauchamp is a war nurse who saves numerous lives throughout the series. She is strong in her sense of self and, because of this, is often sought out for advice from other males. Despite the fact that she has two love interests, Claire is also never defined by them. She has a life outside both of them and she never falls into the trappings of a love triangle. Claire’s character never diminishes throughout the series. She continues to be the well-rounded character that she always was.

UNIQUE CONCEPT: The Outlander series is a series that focuses on a woman who accidentally traveled back to Scotland in the 1700s and must survive. Since its original novel, it’s addressed many of the political issues of its time all while telling the story of a romance that literally stands the tests of time. The novel is not a romance, nor a fantasy or historical fiction. Instead, it sits in its own genre. The best way I can describe it is as an epic adventure. It’s uniqueness in that sense is one of it’s strongest qualities and it’s own that does not diminish past the first novel.

SHEDS LIGHT ON A SERIOUS ISSUE: Although I mentioned before that I had an issue with how many times the author used rape as a plot device, I do have to admit that it’s extremely honest in that sense. Women are only safe by their marriages and often times, even then, are still unsafe. Women are sold off to the highest bidders for money. Women cannot even own land without a man to claim it. What I liked about this honesty was that it constantly juxtaposed Claire’s 1900s life. There’s a clear commentary there. While Claire is often believed to be a witch because of her healing abilities, she notes that she was a surgeon in her time in the 1900s. That being said, it’s still mentioned that women’s rights have a long way to go – even in the 1900s. Gabaldon makes sure to highlight throughout the entirety of her series.

BEAUTIFUL IMAGERY: I don’t have much to add besides “oh my god”. The imagery the author creates were just extraordinary. As the settings change every book, the reader gets more rich detail regarding the previous eras and the simplistic beauty that came with that. I recommend this series to any novelist who wishes to write rich imagery. Gabaldon certainly does not lack this talent.

GREAT RELATIONSHIP: The first novel painted a beautiful picture of Jamie Fraser and Claire Beauchamp. Needing each other to survive, they get married in haste. But neither of their love starts at the point of their marriage. While most stories are a ‘will they or won’t they’ story where it ends with the couple getting together, Outlander practically starts with Jamie and Claire together. They become each other confidants, combating political turmoil together all the while seeking each other’s advice on how to proceed. There’s a clear respect between them. Jamie praises her healing abilities and Claire respects his ability to live off the land. There’s an understanding of each other’s pasts, even if they come to haunt them. Although Jamie is wanted from the law, Claire decides to live life as a runaway with him. When Claire is accused of being a witch, Jamie fights for her honor. Together, the two of them become stronger than they were before. The first three novels are a great example of this.

(Of course, by saying this I exclude the Jamie scene I mentioned before in my ‘cons’ list. As I said, it was extremely out of character that I don’t even believe it should be attributed to him. The author made a horrible mistake in writing it.)

OVERALL RATING (BOTH):

I loved Outlander. Although I didn’t review it, I would’ve given it a four out of five. While the following novels have many of the strengths the first novel had, it also had some large hurdles that were hard for me to look past. The second and third novels were often times horrendously insensitive to people of color and to the LGBT community. To give Gabaldon the benefit of the doubt, I’m sure some of this was meant to continue historical accuracy. But it wasn’t the presence of the slaves that bothered me but rather the treatment of them in the writing. All of these diverse characters were written stereotypically rather than as full, complicated, human beings.

All in all, I give the novels a two and a half out of five. It had all of the strengths of the first novel but, overall, was just way too insensitive for my liking.