Outlander vs Outlander

outlander

Hello all! I’m doing something a little different today with this review, because I pretty much read the book and watched the show alongside each other. So I thought I would share my experiences by comparing them. Though to be honest, my biggest impression of it is a massive spoiler for the end of the story… That said- let’s get to some of the other comparisons first.

Characters

TV Show: I preferred the main character in the TV show for sure- she had more of an edge to her and the actress breathed life into the narrative. All in all, I think the TV show does a really great job of bringing the characters in the book to life.

Book: Despite the words being the same, for the most part, this can come across a little flat in the book.  One of the main criticisms I had was that the rapey Randall came across as a moustache twirling villain– which I promise we’ll get to, in excruciating detail…

randall

Atmosphere

TV Show: easily has the better atmosphere– not just because of the amazing shots of Scotland, but because of the wonderful soundtrack:

Book: The prose is slightly clunky, so this can get in the way of the atmosphere, but it’s still enjoyable enough

Plot

TV Show: For the most part it’s fast paced and interesting.

Book: Sometimes feels slower in the book due to the aforementioned clunky prose, but not much difference, apart from some parts being drawn out in the book as opposed to the show. Plus I have to give the book credit for the unique concept, if not to the way rape is so integral to the plot…

*Okay time for the very long spoilery bit*

The Rape

TV Show:

So like I said, there’s a lot of rape in the book and I didn’t have a problem with it for the most part because it’s set in the 18th century and contextually accurate. Plus for the most part I personally have a pretty strong constitution. But when it comes to summing up my emotions for the episode when Jamie is raped I’m really struggling not to just let out a stream of swear words– cos let’s be honest, there was *a lot* of swearing in my notes. It was over the line for me- for many, many reasons- but mostly because it was fucking ridiculous (yeah, sometimes only swearing will do…). It wasn’t even REMOTELY realistic.

It wasn’t just that the setup was strange (I mean we could start with the fact that Randall attempts to rape everyone but only “succeeds” once) but that the progression of emotions is really weird. Now it’s not that the emotions don’t make sense- or that the writers’ intentions to show the varied psychological affects is a bad idea- but that it skips through all of these emotions far too quickly. At the same time, rather than jumbling the emotions to show how mixed up Jaime feels, it goes through each feeling on its own, which makes for a super weird viewing experience.

In fact a lot of what was wrong with the pacing. I could deal with how jarring it was to go from his recovery to the rape- yet calling this “flashbacks” would imply speed. Instead we’re “treated” to long, drawn out sequences that I can only describe as torture porn. Now that’s totally fine if that’s your jam, but it was really not what I signed up for. For some reason the show makers took the artsy route. Everything is taken slowly and shot in such a way that it actually comes across as ridiculously romanticised. Not to mention the fact that they hammer you over the head with messages and imagery- not that, say, a subtle hint of the sacrificial Christ imagery would have been a bad thing, they just felt the need to point this out to the audience, in case we hadn’t already got the allusion. The writers become so caught up with trying to *say something profound* that they actually get it all wrong.

Book: It’s a little strange to say this, but I thought this was portrayed better in the book.

There are so many reasons for this- starting with the attitudes to rape in book being more matter of fact. In a way that took away some of the stigma that becomes impossible to get over in the show. They’re all tiptoeing round and speaking in hushed tones in the show, which makes me wonder how Jamie is supposed to recover in the course of an episode. Which- to be fair- is one of the biggest differences- because what takes up 10% of the book is only 1/16 of the series. It’s a slight difference- but to be honest it felt a lot less jarring because it was given more space. Even little things, like the confession scene, feel less out of the blue.

By comparison, the book doesn’t show nearly as much detail of the rape, paying far closer attention to Jamie’s emotions and recovery. This makes the psychological drama that’s playing out in Jaime’s head work so so much better. I got the sense of him surviving, yet not being able to live with it. His speech in the book is perfectly done:

“Now it’s like … like my own fortress has been blown up with gunpowder—there’s nothing left of it but the ashes and a smoking rooftree, and the little naked thing that lived there once is out in the open, squeaking and whimpering in fear, trying to hide itself under a blade of grass or a bit o’ leaf, but not … but not … making m-much of a job of it.”

And without all those long drawn out scenes, there’s a little bit more ambiguity which works better for creating a horrifying atmosphere- imagination is a powerful tool after all. Yet even with this ambiguity, some careful distinctions are drawn- such as between arousal and enjoyment, and between participation and coercion. It is a shame then that the show dance right over these lines into some pretty murky territory.

Finally, the cleansing ritual in the book, where Claire and Jamie re-enact bits of the rape and come to terms with it, is left out. Now I get why they didn’t put it in. The logic behind the scene is almost like saying “I’ll help you get over physical abuse by punching you in the face”- which is why I’m surprised that I’m saying I think it worked in the book. As illogical as it is, it actually symbolically deals with some of the psychological scarring, making Freudian links to the Oedipal desire to return to the safety of a mother’s care, allowing him to conquer his demons and find a safe space inside his own skull. Yes, yes, I know that still sounds weird- I for one am not normally a fan of Freudian psychology- still this actually gave a small sense of closure that is completely lacking in the show.

Verdict

Ultimately, neither the show nor the book (which I rated 2.5 bananas) were good enough to continue. Everything I liked about one, I didn’t like about the other. I find it very hard to give up on things- but when it came to this, I have no hesitation saying I won’t be continuing. I guess if I want to know how it ends I’ll read spoilers online.

And if you got to the end of through this very long (and very ranty piece) I salute you!

So have you seen/read this? Did you prefer one or the other? And what did you think of that infamous rape? Let me know in the comments!

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57 thoughts on “Outlander vs Outlander

  1. Zezee says:

    I haven’t read it, or watched the show, but I’ve been curious about it. If I do decide to jump in, I’ll probably read it and just watch the show to get a sense of the atmosphere, since you said it’s well done there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Well I don’t know if I was just thinking that it worked because the show was so bad- I don’t know if it was a “by comparison” thing, but definitely recommend the book over the show. I’d be interested to see what you think of it!

      Like

  2. LizScanlon says:

    I’ve been interested in the series (book and TV show wise) but I am afraid to take on a task such as this series at the moment… I hardly have time to watch TV at all-at all so I’m afraid that should I get hooked on the show I won’t read at all anymore 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • LizScanlon says:

      Gah… silly, forgetful me! Of course, enjoyed this post. You compared really nicely and some of the things you mentioned are the typical faults in between book/movie/show adaptation, like atmosphere, etc, I think…

      Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Ah I understand that- I happened to binge a lot of it with a friend recently, otherwise I’d have been scared off. And to be honest I initially liked the show so much that I was considering quitting the book- even though I started the book cos I was hooked and couldn’t watch anymore for a while after I binged it. But, in the last episode, the show went so far off the rails that I’m totally done with it and wish I’d just read the book (cos that’s ruined for me now too) Anyway, that was long and rambly- I hope that if you read/watch it, you end up liking it more than I did and have less problems with it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • LizScanlon says:

        Oh man, that book/show journey sounds crazy 😀 I can totally understand how one could kind of ruin the other… pity though… In a way a good thing is if you’re so putt off by something you don’t feel regret of quitting the show or the books… 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • theorangutanlibrarian says:

          hahaha yes, it was a bit mental 😉 Yeah it really is a shame. hahaha yes!! That’s true- this is the first time I’ve ever quit a show where I feel no guilt and no desire to pick it up again- it’s truly a miracle cos I usually really struggle to give up on shows, even if I hate them!!

          Liked by 1 person

      • Bookstooge says:

        Nah, I think explaining it all for others is good. But that is one of the things that I DNF on in a book. In entertainment there are a few things that I think should never be part of the entertainment and that is one of them.

        Liked by 1 person

        • theorangutanlibrarian says:

          Oh fair enough- I can definitely say that I should have given up on the show- the only reason I didn’t was that it came as a shock (even after 15 episodes with this being a threat, it had never materialised into anything). As for the book, I was going to DNF that- but in the end thought reading it would be the only way I could wrap my head round what I’d just watched (if that makes sense). I can completely respect someone switching off for something like this- it’s what I should have done.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. daleydowning says:

    Yeah, I kind of liked parts of the book – and although I will admit to skipping over large chunks of the scenes where Jamie talked about what actually happened with Randall (since that type of thing is not my dig at all), I could tell by the scenes afterwards, in which Claire responded and tried to help him recover – that was well done, and it was an interesting twist, based on the time period, and showing how Claire’s “modern” way of thinking of such a thing being so vastly different to the culture of the era may very well have saved Jamie’s life. I watched about 4 episodes of the show and gave up. The scenery and the soundtrack definitely drew me in, but I didn’t hesitate to chuck the whole thing when I realized they were certainly about romanticising a homosexual rape culture as a-historical-incidence-of-closet-gays. That so wasn’t the purpose in the book, since in post WW II most Europeans/Brits didn’t consider homosexuality anywhere near acceptable, and it was more about showing that Randall was such a monster, as opposed to any PC agenda. Plus for me it was BEYOND CREEPY, on steroids, that in the show the *same actor* played Randall AND Frank. Geez Louise, folks, how *not* to do it!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Really agree with what you said here!! Yeah I agree- a lot of things were done well in the book (and totally makes sense you skipped over what actually happened). And YES the show definitely twisted a lot of things for its own agenda. They were clearly trying to say a lot of things about rape and homosexuality, but it backfired spectacularly. And, on this occasion, the silence from the PC police was deafening. I couldn’t understand their perspective at all- I ended up thinking “really? This is what you’re ok with- eroticised gay rape?” I think, like you said, it had to do with the fact that the showrunners were pushing a certain agenda (I watched many interviews afterwards where they claimed they were “trying to bring awareness”)- so therefore whatever they did was a-okay by the media’s “standards”- it didn’t matter how badly it was done cos their intentions were “pure”. It is hypocrisy at its worst. My honest opinion is that had they portrayed a female victim of sexual assault in an eroticised manner we’d have never heard the end of it- but, funnily enough, the showrunners trying to bring awareness to the issue kind of proved their point by accident- no one cares about male victims of rape. So in a backward way they succeeded. It’s just a shame they had to make a farce of the whole thing to prove their point.
      And yes- agree it was a weird and creepy decision to have the same actor for Randall/Frank- it hadn’t bothered me until I saw the rape scene and then I was perplexed as to why they did it (and having googled some spoilers now, it makes even less sense!!)

      Liked by 1 person

      • daleydowning says:

        Yeah, there were just too many things about the way they approached the whole topic of sexuality in its portrayal in the show that really bothered me. I don’t care for erotic literature, so I decided not to continue with the novels when it became clear that’s just part of this author’s writing style. But I feel, that in the spirit of being true to the messages/themes of the book, the TV show should not have gone that far off the rails as it did, especially with something so sensitive and emotional (probably for a lot of viewers, too).

        Liked by 1 person

        • theorangutanlibrarian says:

          I can one hundred percent understand that- it’s not my go-to genre, so I rarely pick it up and completely understand why other people wouldn’t. My issue is also with genre changes- I like to know what I’m going to expect (aka I don’t want to read contemporary and then have it shift gear into sci fi for no apparent reason- it just gives me whiplash) Yes one hundred percent agree with that- I think they wanted to be bold with it, but they should have stayed true to the source material, where it was much more sensitively handled.

          Like

  4. Fictionophile says:

    Loved both the book (which I read many, many, years ago) and the show. You are correct about the soundtrack. I had to download it. It gives me goosebumps – in a good way.
    Although the character of Jamie is excellently portrayed on TV, he is not the Jamie of my imagination. I’ll stick with MY Jamie.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Keira says:

    I found the rape scenes in the book disturbing, but the TV ones were just too much for me and I found myself skipping ahead. It is of course harder to get inside the characters heads in the TV so I guess that might be why. I do like the books and the TV show both, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. journeyintobooks says:

    I loved this review it was very unique. I really need to read this series as both a lover of historical fiction and being from Scotland and thanks to this review when I finally get round to reading it I will be able to try and mentally prepare myself for the rape.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Thank you! Ah I did really like the Scottish elements, especially as I lived in Scotland for a while- I hope it lives upto your expectations! Yes, definitely, and in the book a lot of it is done well, it was more the show where I had a problem with it- hopefully it won’t be so bad for you!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Riana says:

    I started the TV show not realising it was about a book (honestly, the worst thing ever), and immediately wanted to read the book but it’s so intimidating! It’s just so big and scary, haha. I’ll gather up the courage and read it one day!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. luvtoread says:

    Great review! I DNF’d the book after about 100 pages, but I keep intending to go back to it someday. When I first heard about the rape, I wasn’t sure I was interested in reading the book or watching the show, but so many people just rave and rave about the series, it makes me want to try and revisit Outlander at some point and give it a second chance. But now I’ve read your review, and I’m having second thoughts again…. you mention it being filmed in an artsy way – that reminds me of what they did with Sansa in GOT and how they filmed that scene. It makes me very uncomfortable for sexual violence to be portrayed as art in any way, so I’m back to thinking I may not try this one again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Thank you!! Ah well, I actually thought it was much worse than the way they filmed the Sansa scene. (aka imagine if it was 30 minutes instead of 30 seconds and they showed Sansa smiling at points…) I can understand why people don’t want to see graphic scenes in general, but this wasn’t just graphic, it was really badly done. If you do have a particular problem with watching rape, I’d say the book is a better option. Or a lot of people said they skipped over all the rapey bits in the show- which would also cut viewing time in half 😉 Thanks so much for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Analee @ Book Snacks says:

    Sorry to hear that both have been disappointments! I haven’t read this series or watched the show and I don’t exactly plan on it, but I know a lot of people enjoy the series, and it’s a shame it wasn’t the same for you, but I totally get why it wasn’t! This doesn’t sound like my cup of tea either. Lovely post! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thoughts on Fantasy says:

    This is a really interesting comparison! I have only read the book, but I had similar problems to you with it: e.g. slow pacing and the moustache-twirling villain (by the end it almost felt comical how evil/depraved he was). I also personally found it too rapey, to the point where it was a bit gratuitous, especially toward the end… which is part of the reason I haven’t watched the show. I’m actually glad to know the show is worse on this front because now I definitely won’t watch it!

    It’s really hard with this book because so many people I know raved about it that I wondered if I’d accidentally read a different book… but I didn’t, so I guess it’s just not my cup of tea.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Thank you!! Ah yes I’m glad you agree with me on those. And to be honest, I one hundred percent agree- on reflection, I don’t know why so much of the plot had to hinge on that. Yes, I do agree- I think the only reason why I didn’t have such a problem with it in the book, was because I had such a huge problem with it in the show- it may sound a little strange, but the only way I could be reconciled with it in a way was by reading the book and going “ah that wasn’t *as* bad” (I really don’t know what I would have done if it had been worse in the book) Yeah- if you had problems with the book then DEFINITELY steer clear of the show. I swear I’ve never reached breaking point with a tv show before… but this was definitely it for me.
      hahaha yes- I felt the same way- I was so confused when I read reviews of the book afterwards, and especially after I read/saw reviews of the show. But like you said, I guess we’re just not in the same boat (and have very different taste in tea 😉 )

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thoughts on Fantasy says:

        Haha yes, I suppose we like our tea in many flavours, just not this one. Oh well, each to their own!

        Before I read your review I thought maybe the show would be better, and might help me see why everyone likes the story so much… but it’s funny to read that your experience actually made you like the book more! Anyway, I’ll definitely steer clear as I’m sure I’d feel similarly to you about the show.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Kat Impossible says:

    I am not going to lie, I never even got through the first book. I made it through about one third of the story, but I was bored out of my mind. The writing just wasn’t for me and the pacing … nope. So, I do prefer the show all in all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      haha that’s totally fair- I felt the same way about it to be honest- it’s why I didn’t rate it highly at all- the only reason I finished it was to compare the endings. (haha makes me sound so dedicated- but really it’s cos I had such a problem with the show) But I think that there were a lot of things to prefer in the show

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Lashaan and Trang (Bookidote) says:

    Oh my, who would’ve thought that a rape scene would get this much focus! I like how analyzed both the book and TV’s version of the rape sequences. There definitely are fine lines that should’ve been taken into consideration in the TV adaptation. Well said. Sucks that neither managed to keep you hooked to pursue the series. Great comparison review! 🙂

    – Lashaan

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Ha- yeah it got wayyy too much attention in the show and it kind of became the focus of my problems with it!! Thank you! Yeah, I really felt like they could have done it differently- thank you very much! Yeah it was a shame, cos I really wanted to like it. But thanks!!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. NeverSeenANevergreen says:

    I haven’t read the book, though I was curious at one point. However with the nnumber of reviews I’ve seen on it, the rape issue never really gets better. As for the TV show, I think I stopped watching right before it happened so I can’t say much about that. I did like the show but can recognise it’s because of the costuming, accents and the scenery, not as much about the story line. The story wasn’t bad but it never forced me to keep watching.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. mimfilip says:

    Call me a tragic, I am well in the 5th book in the Outlander series and still enjoying the romping tale. I started reading the the second book after watching series 1, the follow on is to go air in Australia soon. I had missed the rape scene with Jamie and Black Jack Randal, when it was on TV and only watched it recently after giving the DVD to my 90 year parents for Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

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