Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Dragonfly in Amber - And the Series at Large

I whipped through over 800 Nook pages of Dragonfly in Amber--second in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series--in about a week. Keep in mind, I am on the go for work/commute from 6am to nearly 7pm. Greyson is in bed around 8:30. If that doesn't give a clear enough indication of my addiction, I'll say it straight.  I've been reading while standing in front of the elevator, going to the bathroom, and standing in line at the grocery store.

Andi's Blurb: Jamie and Claire find themselves embroiled in the frippery of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the French aristocracy. While the hell that broke loose in Outlander was largely of the physical, adventurous, sword swinging kind, Dragonfly in Amber largely resembles a game of chess. Cryptic letters, mind games, and murder abound. Still some sword swinging, but not as much.

This book had a very different feel than Outlander, which according to moi, is a positive thing. My biggest fear going into this book was that a formula would begin to arise. Not so much! Not only was the plot different, but there were structural adventures as well: flashbacks namely, with some rotating narrative perspectives thrown in.

I won't go getting any more specific than all that for fear of giving something away. And truthfully, after almost 2000 pages of this series gulped down since April 23rd -- 16 DAYS -- some of the plot points from one book to the next are running together. I have to think a minute to discern where Dragonfly ended and Voyager began.



The bigger question is this: WHY this series?

I know y'all are wondering the same in light of a few key points about me that I've made well known:

1. I don't do chunksters -- ever
2. I'm a book tart, rarely reading a second book by any author (waves at F. Scott Fitzgerald and John Irving)
3. And I don't do chunksters. Oh I mentioned that already?

In short, I love these characters. And I mean I LOVE them.

Claire is great because she's feisty, headstrong, useful. She is not one to lay down (figuratively) for anyone and Jamie figures that out early on in the series. She's not literally perfect, but she's smart, self-aware, loyal. She seems like a real person and not a damsel in distress. Her flaws are realistic flaws and none too annoying.

Jamie is super because he's much of the same balance. He's smart, he's loyal, he has a hell of a moral compass (for a traitor). And Gabaldon realizes these characters in a way that I never felt like they did anything to betray themselves. There were no endeavors that made me cock my head and think, "he'd do that?" They react to events in the story the way I think they should, even if what they're forced into by circumstance makes me want to throw up (with anxiety).

I want them to BE OK! TOGETHER! So badly.

The story is masterfully woven, intricate, and just WORKS. I believe it and I want to know more all the time I'm reading. The end of every chapter is NOT a cliffhanger, but reading these books has left me personally in a state of cliffhanger. One more page. One more chapter. Just a few more minutes!!!

At some point in this little adventure, I will have to take a break. Because I'm exhausted. Tearing through these books is exhausting. An endurance test not so much because of the number of pages but because I am so thoroughly invested in finding out what happens next.

I will probably force myself to take a break after I finish Voyager, but I can honestly say I haven't had a reading experience like this one since my adolescence. In my adult life I have never read a series back to back. I rarely read chunksters like this one so darn fast. I rarely meet characters I will remember for the rest of my life.

These are damn fine stories. These are damn fine characters. These are favorite books.




36 comments:

  1. Well, there you have it, I guess. I'd love to find a series of books that I could become addicted to like this one. I have a feeling this series is not the one for me, probably a detective series would suit me more.

    But I am glad to see you're having fun and I enjoyed this post.

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    1. C.B., I wish I could help you out with a detective recommendation. If you find a series like this one in that genre, you let me know because I want to try them, too. :D

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  2. Ok, you make me want to read them. I've had Outlander for at least 15 years. I've heard everything good thing there is to hear. But THIS POST makes me want to read them. Can you just remind of that in a couple months? I'm pretty heavily scheduled for May.

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    1. Lisa, I am not kidding when I say I'll pre-schedule a Hootsuite post to go to your Twitter account on June 1. And on from there every two weeks or so. :D

      I hope my hype doesn't hurt your overall impression. They're just so good. So fun. So so so!!!

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    2. Better make it June 15!

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  3. I am officially convinced, off to check my library system to see if I can get hold of Outlander.

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    1. Yayyyy, Sam! Hope I haven't set the bar too high. It takes off around pg 75 and then REALLY takes off around 250.

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  4. LOL I do exactly the same thing all the time unless I'm in a reading funk - or when I forget my current book, like today (aaahhhh!!! but I had an audio book...) I cannot live without a book in my hand every second I am not doing something else :)

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    1. Amen, Kathrin. Good thing you had an audiobook or you would've been lost!

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    2. Oh, absolutely! I'm so glad I have so far never managed to forget both my current read AND my iPod! I'd probably return to get at least one if not both, no matter where I am...

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  5. I'm so happy you're loving these. :) I think I flew through the 6 that were out in about 2 or 3 weeks. I was OBSESSED. I don't think I have ever read anything else so fast.

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    1. OMG, Allie! That's a breakneck pace!

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  6. Heather is blissfully happy.

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    1. As am I, Heatheroo. As am I!

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  7. I have so enjoyed watching you fall for this series. It reminded me of the way that I devoured this series. I got to the point where I knew I couldn't buy the next book in the series unless it was a Friday because otherwise I would have to go to work on no sleep!

    My son had to get his own dinner of cheese sandwiches. He was three or four so not too early to teach independence right?

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    1. Marg, I'm there. My coffee consumption has doubled so I can stay awake and read longer. lol

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  8. Okay, I'm a long time Jamie Fraser lover (I consider him damn near perfect) so with that in mind, I will warn you that Drums of Autumn and The Fiery Cross are the low points of the series, IMHO. They are still *good*, gripping, haunting, etc., but they do drag a bit more than the earlier titles. HOWEVER, I will say that A Breath of Snow and Ashes and An Echo in the Bone are beyond fabulous-o and had me enthralled from the earliest pages, and you must read through the other two to get to where we're going. An Echo in the Bone ends on such a cliffhanger...I am ready for the next book NOW. I adore this series. Gabaldon's a master.

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    1. Tammy, THANK YOU for the warning! I knew there'd have to be a mid-series slump somewhere. I'm glad to know it's coming up. I'll not feel so bad about taking a wee break (see the accent sneaks in) to read something else before I jump back on it.

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  9. I read these back to back before I started blogging, and much like you, I gobbled them up and couldn't do anything but read. I finally burnt out around book 5, which I need to get back to. It's a very amazing series, and has it's fair share of adoration, and it's a series that I still think about weekly, even 6 years later, and mention so frequently that my husband knows Jaime and Claire too. Sometimes he will ask me when I am going to get back to Jaime and Claire, and that's a big thing for my husband to remember and prod about a book. He knows I love that series so. Keep having fun with them!

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    1. Heather, this will definitely be a series I think about regularly. Jamie and Claire are just so great -- as are some of the peripheral characters like Murtaugh, young Ian, Lord John Grey.

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  10. I'll admit that I was a little skeptical about this series when my mom announced she was going to read it. And it's not because she's my mom and people say that's uncool, but she is definitely one of the coolest ladies in my book, but because our taste generally varies DRASTICALLY. However, it appears you are hooked with little hope of liberation! I might just consider giving it a go. So glad to see you are enjoying the series. :)

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    1. Beth, "hooked with little hope of liberation" is spot on. Never felt this way about a series save Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.

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  11. I had no plans to read this series (Game of Thrones is plenty of fantastical chuncksters), but reading your reviews and this recap makes me want to pick them up RIGHT NOW.

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    1. Kim, so so so so so good. Escapism but nicely written and wonderfully, richly historical. Can't get enough.

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  12. count me among the officially convinced as well - I haven't had a great reading year so far and need to break out of the reading blahs. And, girl ---you have LONG days!

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    1. Courtney, my days are ridonk. Up at 6am, dropping G off at daycare at 7am, on the road to work until 8am, work til 5:30, home between 6:30 and 7pm (depending on traffic). Arrgh! Makes me wish for a work-at-home day.

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  13. Crap. Now I'm going to have to read this series.

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  14. Ha. I love that last comment. Go for it, Trisha. :)

    Yep, sounds like you might want to take a break, soon, so you don't go cross-eyed from all that reading while cooking and walking and standing in line.

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    1. Right on. Have moved on to my next book, but of course it pales in comparison. :(

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  15. I've just recently fallen for this series - and Jamie and Claire - as well. I wasn't really sure if I'd like them, and stayed somewhat unsure for a little while during the first one because it wasn't what I expected, but they are so good! I'm reading Voyager now as well. I like that I have no idea where she's going with this. It's rare for a series to not start to feel predictable, so I hope that sense of surprise continues!

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    1. I just finished Voyager, and WOW, what a ride!!! Glad to be chatting with another new convert, Lindsey!

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  16. Oh, I am so relieved to hear that the books don't become formulaic! I didn't jump into Dragonfly in Amber immediately after finishing Outlander because I was worried about that. (Plus I was exhausted! A whole week of work and staying up late reading finally caught up with me.) I'm also doing the Neverwhere read along for the Once Upon a Time challenge, and I'm a little afraid of picking this one up because I don't want to get distracted! I might have to live vicariously through you for a little while. (Ha. Ten bucks says I cave in by Wednesday.)

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    1. It is exhausting, isn't it??!! But SO much fun! Let me know when you cave!

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    2. ARGH! I just went to download this from OverDrive and someone already checked it out!! Grrrr . . .

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  17. I am so convinced that I need to read this series now. Dammit, I wish the print on my copy of Outlander wasn't so darn small. I might have to download it on my Nook so I can read it.

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