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Goes Way, Way Beyond the Ridiculous Threshold
on January 20, 2014
Last week when I posted my review of Outlander, I wondered whether it would be smart to press on with the series in one massive reading binge, or whether, due to their epic length and the difficult emotional content, it would be smarter to take them slowly... as if I could. A longstanding joke in my family is that I was absent the day they handed out will power, and sure enough, even as I knew it would probably be too much for me emotionally, I devoured Dragonfly in Amber and then Voyager. And maybe it was too much of a good thing, or maybe it was just that I hit a wall and had no more empathy to waste on Jamie and Claire and their endless trevails, but I reached a point midway in this book where I just could not willingly suspend my disbelief anymore.
I'm not sure what happened. Having finished Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber, I was already well used to the endless cycle of Jamie and/or Claire finding themselves in mortal peril with no way out, only they do get out, celebrate their narrow escape with sexy times, and then shortly find themselves in mortal peril again. I'd suspended my disbelief quite a bit, and was just enjoying the ride.
Back in December 2011, the DBSA Romance Fiction Podcast (hosted by Sarah Wendell of Smart B****es, Trashy Books and Jane Litte of Dear Author) had an episode about the Ridiculousness Threshold -- that point at which the reader can no longer accept character or plot insanity and no longer enjoys the book. For me, I hit the Ridiculousness Threshold the moment Laoghaire's daughter walks in on Jamie and Claire at Lallybroch and calls him "Daddy!"
After that, no matter how I tried, I could not silence my inner skeptic. Almost every twist and turn of the convoluted plot made me roll my eyes and think, "Oh, for pete's sake, seriously?" The entire rest of the book is one absolutely ridiculous coincidence after another, and even in a series where I was willing to believe in time travel and the main characters' repeated skin-of-the-teeth survival against all odds, I just could not believe in pirates and slasher-killers and secret babies and zombies and shipwrecks and all of the rest of the insanity writ large over the 870 pages of this book.
And you know, the worst of it is that even though I'm totally done, and can't shut up my inner critic enough to enjoy reading, I still want to know what happens to Jamie and Claire next. Maybe I can find some Cliffs Notes.