Libriomancer Rant (with Spoilers)
I continue to be thrilled and grateful at how well Libriomancer [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy] is doing. Reviews are still showing up on Amazon, Goodreads, and elsewhere, and while they’re not all five stars (and nobody would believe them if they were), the overall reaction has been both positive and encouraging.
Now, I knew when I wrote the book that there were at least two things some readers would be unhappy with, and that this would be reflected in the reviews.
I’m okay with that. I truly appreciate everyone who took the time to think and write about the book, even if you hated it. (But especially if you loved it!)
No book will work for everyone. While I’m sad to see negative reviews, and I am very sorry if you bought the book and were disappointed, I have no hard feelings about anyone posting a negative review. Nor do I have any intention of arguing with those reviewers. That way lies madness.
But I am going to rant about a specific aspect of certain reviews, not because I want to defend the book, but because I want to talk about the attitude behind this particular criticism.
The two things I expected would lose some readers were Isaac’s moon battle and the resolution of the love triangle. The former in part because it breaks the accepted standards and norms of urban fantasy. The latter because the expectation is that a love triangle will be drawn out through multiple books, with two opposing “teams,” until the protagonist finally makes his/her choice.
I wanted to break that trope, which is one of the reasons I had Lena choose both Isaac and Nidhi at the end of Libriomancer. Now, there are plenty of ways to critique the romantic subplot. You could say I didn’t set up that ending well enough for it to be believable, or that I didn’t develop Lena’s character in a way that let you see why Isaac fell for her, or that I focused too much on the physical, or that I just flat-out can’t write romance for crap, and should stick with nose-picking jokes.
All of those are totally valid opinions.
What makes me cranky are reviews that come off as more of a knee-jerk, “Polyamory is bad and you should feel bad!”
Or to put it even more simply, “This book fails because the relationship is different from the kind of relationship I like.”
I’m sorry, but I have no patience for that kind of attitude.
For what it’s worth, polyamory doesn’t work for me personally. But I also know people who have made it work, and who have built relationships that, as far as I can tell, are as solid and stable as my own with my wife.
I’ve also seen people attempt polyamorous relationships, only to have them go down in flames. I’ve seen that with attempted monogamy, too. So what? It’s one thing to know your own romantic preferences. It’s another thing entirely to presume that all other preferences are wrong, or to simply pretend those other preferences don’t exist. Especially as an author, where I feel there’s a duty to be honest about the world.
Fanfic possibilities aside, I would never have tried to put Danielle from the princess books into a polyamorous relationship. She and Armand were traditionally monogamous, and were very happy that way (when he wasn’t getting kidnapped or cursed or whatever). But for Lena Greenwood, it made sense. For Isaac and Nidhi, it will be a harder adjustment, but they’re both characters who would be willing to at least explore the possibilities. Nidhi in particular has the communication skills that could help this work.
Will it work out in the long term? Great question. Lots of relationships don’t, regardless of how many people are involved.
But I promise you this much. If their three-way relationship does fall apart, it will be due to problems within the relationship, the natural conclusion of conflicts and other challenges that they’re unable to resolve.
It will not be due to a knee-jerk judgment that a consensual relationship between three adults is “icky” because it doesn’t look like my own relationship.
Thus endeth the rant.
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