Oh my stars, I feel like I've been reading this book forever. Looking at the page count, I can see that's almost 900 pages, so that's not that surprising. What makes it even less surprising is that Outlander contains one of very few things that will significantly slow me down while reading: phonetic accents. Let me tell you, phonetic accents are terrible. I hate them. When people in the NaNoWriMo community ask about using them, my advice is always one word: Don't. To me, phonetic accents make your character not only harder to understand, but also less intelligent, like they don't know how to speak properly. Most of the time, a phonetic accent is not necessary to delineate where your characters are from, and that was especially the case here. We get it, Gabaldon: Most of your characters in this book are Scots. This is abundantly clear in everything they do, your constant references to kilts, plaids, sporrans, dirks, etc., calling your main character "Sassenach..." Need I go on? You didn't need to make me struggle through 900 pages of phonetically-written dialogue, too.
Okay, that aside...this is a monster of the book. I mean, 900 pages for what basically boils down to a historical romance. That is a huge page count. And it's only the first of seven books. One wouldn't think that it would take a time-travel romance so long to unravel. I don't think it took that long to build Jamie and Claire's relationship--which, for the record, I did think was well done. It's a classic, and some would say trope-y, relationship: the warrior and the healer. Still, it's classic for a reason. Those two roles allow the leads to compensate for each other's weaknesses, and I also that their personalities matched well. I didn't mind the main plot: modern woman gets accidentally sent back in time to the eighteenth century and gets mixed up with a bunch of Scots while being pursued by those who think she's a spy. That said, this isn't exactly a book one can take seriously, despite the amount of mortal peril that comes up. Plot holes abound, and the plot just keeps going and going and going long after it seems like it should have stopped. I almost think I would have preferred to see the separate plot points here split up and made into separate stories with separate main characters.
Also...Claire's married. And while everyone tells her it's totally cool that she has a husband, she can still get married again and it's not a problem at all, I just don't buy that. There's no excuse for being unfaithful. Well, okay, there are, but Claire doesn't have any of those because she can go back and chooses not to. So basically she just buys into this whole thing that everyone, including priests(!) tells her about adultery being okay. Which, considering how adultery was viewed (another woman is pretty much burned at the stake for it!) seems terribly unlikely. Also I find it hard to believe that more people didn't think Claire was a witch, all things considered. And as for her treatment for PTSD...uhm...what was she thinking?
As others have said, this book isn't exactly a literary masterpiece, and I have to think that, all told, it was written for exactly the same reason Fifty Shades of Grey was: housewife escapism. However, I am interested in one of the books later in the series, which looks like it involves Claire's daughter Brianna as more of a main character, so I might keep reading for that purpose alone. And this did knock out my category of "A book published the year you were born" for the Popsugar challenge, which is good, too. Overall, it's like others have said: it's junk, but the kind you want more of in a weird sort of way, just like more "traditional" historical romances are--except you could fit three of those into this. Which I would have preferred...
Anyway, 3 stars out of 5.