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.

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