Title: The Exile
Author: Diana Gabaldon & Hoang Nguyen
Release Date: September 21, 2010
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
A graphic novel for fans of the Outlander series, this book tells the story of the first novel Outlander from Jamie Fraser’s point of view.
I’m not a die-hard fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, but I have read the first 3 books and enjoyed them. Therefore, when I received The Exile for review, I was definitely intrigued. I’ve been enjoying my forays into the graphic novel format, so it seemed like it’d be something I’d enjoy. Additionally, I was lucky enough to see Diana Gabaldon speak at the National Book Festival and she definitely piqued my curiosity about the book.
Let’s start with Hoang Nguyen’s artwork. The characters definitely are not what I pictured in my mind, but they are beautifully rendered. Some die hard fans will probably not be able to get over the way Jamie and Claire look – even Diana Gabaldon admitted that this is not what she imagines either of them to look like. It didn’t bother me, though, and I was able to appreciate this book for its sheer beauty. From the very first page, the reader knows they are in for a visual feast. It’s easy to just sit and marvel at this book, staring at its pages and soaking up the vivid colors and gorgeous artwork.
The story was a little more difficult. I have to say, this book does not work as a standalone novel. I read and enjoyed Outlander, but it’s been at least three years since I’ve read it. I remember the basic story, but the book is rather long and the intricate details aren’t fresh in my mind. As a result, this book often had me confused. I had trouble telling the men (besides Jamie and that vivid red hair) apart and was often grasping, trying to remember how the book went in order to understand what was going on. I’m a firm believer in the idea that a book should be able to stand on its own merits, even with a companion novel like this, and unfortunately The Exile just doesn’t do that. The book is marketed to both Outlander fans and new readers, but I don’t think that anyone who is unfamiliar with the series would be able to follow the story.
If I divided my rating between story and artwork, it would get a 4.5 for art and a 3 for story. As a result, I’m settling at a 3.5 overall for the book. Don’t get me wrong – it was a solid effort, and one that Outlander fans will likely love (if you can get past the fact that Jamie and Claire probably don’t look like they do in your head). But if you’re a new reader to the series, or like me, don’t remember the details of the first book, I’d skip this one, unless you’re more interested in the art than the story!