August 14, 2016

Finding Fraser - KC Dyer

Berkley Publishing, February 26, 2016.

Three Stars

Emma is twenty-nine and recently divorced. She is unfulfilled by her work, and she’s well on her way to an early mid-life crisis. Her solution is to quit her job (well, actually she got fired), sell all of her belongings, and travel to Scotland to find her own version of Jamie Fraser, the fictional hero of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander novels. He is her perfect man in every way, so she tries to be more like his love interest, Claire, beginning with an attempt to follow Claire’s journey through Scotland – the path Claire took when she first travelled back in time to meet Jamie.

Although Emma is supposedly almost thirty, she generally acts like a child. In fact, this reads like a millennial version of Eat, Pray, Love – Emma is silly and na├»ve, and it’s no surprise that she repeatedly finds herself in awkward and sometimes devastating situations when she chooses to trust the wrong people. Emma’s first several mishaps were funny and endearing, but it just never ended, and she didn’t seem to learn from her mistakes. This is definitely not a profound story of self-discovery – at best, it is a light beach read, not that there’s anything wrong with that, if it’s what you’re in the mood for.

Emma arrives in Scotland with no real plan, aside from the map found in the front of her well-used copy of Outlander. In her random search for her own Jamie Fraser, she seems to be only focused on his physical appearance, instead of the more important qualities that the fictional Jamie possesses. When she does find a man that she thinks might fit the mold, he ends up being manipulative and emotionally abusive – but it’s fine, as long as she has her Jamie. Emma is on a quest for love, but instead she should be trying to find herself, which would have been much more empowering.

The structure of the novel is gimmicky, as Emma writes blog posts about her travels, and various friends, family and fans respond in the “comments” section. What I did like was how she omitted lots of important details in her blog to make things sound more glamourous and fun than they actually were – then she described the true events afterwards. It shows how everything you read on the internet has been manipulated to show a certain side of things. I just wish Emma had used the real life events to develop more as a character – even though she announces that she has changed in the end, it doesn’t ring true.

This novel is clearly trying to capitalize on the success of Gabaldon’s books, especially with the recent popularity of the Outlander television series. I think it is definitely necessary to be an Outlander fan if you plan on reading Finding Fraser – I don’t think it would make any sense at all without the background of the original series. The author is attempting to imitate Gabaldon’s quirky humour, but it isn’t quite successful. What makes Jamie and Claire so special in the original is that they don’t fit the tropes of the historical romance genre – and when they do, it is with an ironic wink. In contrast, Emma and her story are the definition of chick lit, and I just didn’t find it interesting. This was a two-star read for me, but I’m bumping it up to three because I think many Outlander fans who want a light, easy read will enjoy this.

I received this novel from Berkley Publishing and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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