Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Unnatural Selections: The Exile: An Outlander Grapic Novel by Diana Gabaladon and Hoang Nguyen

Unnatural Selections will be an irregular feature where I read and review books outside of my comfort zone. I'm always open to trying new genres and expanding my reading palate but I tend to stick to what I know I enjoy. However, it's always nice to step out of your comfort zone every once in awhile!

The Exile fits this bill because it is a graphic novel. However, it is related to Outlander, so in that respect it's not completely outside of my comfort zone. I'm willing to give anything a try if it involves Jamie Fraser!

The Exile gives readers an alternative point of view to Outlander, which is told from Claire's perspective. The Exile covers only the first third of the Outlander novel, ending with Claire's big decision to either stay with Jamie or try to return through the stones to her old life.

I have to say that reading a graphic novel is definitely a different reading experience. I struggled for the first half of the book. I had to "re-read" sections but about halfway through the book I was able to get into the groove of reading a graphic novel.

At first I was apprehensive about the renderings of Jamie, Claire, and other characters. As readers we each have our own mental images of the characters we love so; I was afraid the artists representations would not match up with my own personal images. However, I was pleasntly surprised by Hoang Nguyen's character sketches. Especially Jamie, which, as we all know is the sole reason most of us are head over heals in love with this series. Claire isn't quite what I had imagined but, all in all, I think the representations of the characters were accurate.

One thing about Gabaldon's novels is they're very descriptive and detailed, and with each book clocking in at over 800+ pages, it stands to reason that there was a lot cut out of The Exile. While I think die hard Outlander fans will read this simply because it's another piece of the Outlander story, I think they'll find it somewhat lacking. There's no way to get the kind of character and plot development in one slim graphic novel that we saw in Outlander. It's just not possible for the medium. I think those new to the Outlander story, might be able to enjoy this condensed, visual representation more than long time Outlander fans.

Lastly, for those of you that have read Outlander and The Exile...was the Kenneth character in Outlander? It's been so long since I've read Outlander but I don't recall this character. In The Exile, he came back through the stones as well. Was this a unique element to The Exile story or do I just have that bad of a memory?!

I'm glad I gave The Exile I chance. It was my first experience reading a graphic novel and I'm always happy to see my favorite Outlander characters. I'm not sure I'll purchase the book, but I might, eventually, to add to my Outlander collection. If you're on the fence, I'd check to see if your local library has a copy!

For those interested, Scribd has The Making of The Exile which gives readers an insight on how Diana Gabaldon and the artist, Hoang Nguyen, collaborated on The Exile.

Here are a few pages from The Exile, enjoy!
Claire has a run in with Jack Black Randall.

Jamie on the run!

Last, but ceratanly not least, is this orginal drawing of the wedding night as posted on Diana's website. This was deemed a bit too explicit and the final image has a blanket covering Jamie's arse!



  1. Hm. I've never read a graphic novel either, it would definitely be a different experience (HELLO last image!). I need to read this series, I'm out of the loop and I want on the Jamie and Claire train. Thanks for sharing Mollie!

  2. I might have an extra copy of Outlander to lend you. If, I don't have it lent out to someone else already! :D

  3. Sweet! It's nice to see people step out of their comfort zone, especially when it comes to comics! Hopefully you'll be able to find enough you like to make it a part of your comfort zone. :]

    I would like to make one point, though - while character and plot development often have to be handled differently in comics, they certainly are possible within the medium. Please don't let this not-quite-perfect experience turn you off of reading more in the future! :[)

  4. Angelica,
    Thanks for stopping by! I didn't mean to insuate that all graphic novels lack plot/character development, only that the orginal Outlander is soooo detailed and plot/character driven that it would be virtually impossible to convey that via the graphic medium.

    However, I was thinking I might give the graphic novel version of Twilight a try. One of the reasons I HATED the novel was because of Bella's incessent need to drone on and on about how hot Edward is and I didn't particularly like Bella as a person. I thought experiencing the story via graphic novel might give me a different appreciation for the story! AND I'd like to see Bella and Edward portrayed as other than R.Patz and K.Stew. :D

  5. Hmm, I'm not big on graphic novels. I know, weird, since I love manga... but I don't know, there's just something... at least, the drawings in The Exile look very nice :P

  6. Ah, I see! Yeah, going from 800 pages to 200 would definitely take a lot of trimming. That's part of why I like series so much. :]

    I haven't read either version of Twilight, but I have heard people say that the graphic novel's sparser narration is a plus for it. And the art does look ~gorgeous~.

  7. Wowzer @ that last image! :P

    I haven't read a graphic novel yet and imagine it would take some getting used to. And it's been forever since I read Outlander too. I do remember certain scenes though. LOL

    Glad you enjoyed this!

  8. @nath, that is surprising that you're not more interested in GNs!

    @Angelica I love the Outlander series, that's what made me willing to give this, my first GN, a go! I saw the Twilight GN at my library and flipped through it, definitely great character representations. The artist didn't use R.Patz or K.Stew as inspiration apparently (YAY!).

    @Ames I KNOW right?! I thought that might get a reaction or two out of folks. Nothing like a sexy, higlander arse! :)

  9. Highlander arse - bringing the world together one cheek at a time! x[)

  10. @Angelica, AMEN SISTER! ;) Think we should get that on a t-shirt?! :D

  11. Hi Mollie! I saw on Twitter that you're a Buckeye? Me too. I loved the Outlander series but I haven't read the graphic novel yet. I agree with you that the artist's representation of Claire is quite different from what I'd imagined. Jamie is lovely. *sighs*


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