Polyamory: the Book

I seem to have found another “new adult” book.

I had some misgivings and some questions when I first saw it at the library book sale, but I bought it anyway.  After all, it was only a dollar, it went to a good cause, and the back was intriguing enough.  So I bought The Compass Rose by Gail Dayton.

To be fair, I didn’t think it was new adult when I bought it, I thought it was young adult.  But I quickly changed my mind for two reasons.  First, the very obvious yet for some reason suppressed sexual inclinations of Kallista, the main character, towards Torchay, the first of her companions.  Secondly, the not-at-all subtle fact that their country Adara practices polyamory.  Now, I have nothing against polyamory or any other type of sexual or romantic relationship.  I just have no interest in being a part of one or the other.

It quickly becomes clear that polyamory is the main plot point of the book.  Oh yes, there’s a good and an evil and Kallista acquires several other companions on the journey, but the main focus is on Kallista and her ilian.  Ilian is the term for the group of wedded people and ilias (plural iliasti) is a spouse.  And when the group ends up involving six people, there’s a lot of opportunity for character interaction.  So much so that the reader has to be periodically reminded that there is supposed to be a plot going on.

It is increadibly obvious that this is a new adult book when one stumbles across the incredibly gratuitous sex scenes, and the masturbation scenes.  The former are not as common as you might fear, though there’s still too many for me personally.  And they go on for such a long time describing things that I have no interest in.  Or at least, I have no interest in them when I’m trying to read a fantasy adventure.  If I wanted sex scenes, I could go read porn.  Online.  For free.

Now, the masturbation scenes are interesting because they are not conventional.  Essentially, Kallista is magically bound to members of her ilian, and using that magic she can cause herself and those involved to feel sexual pleasure without the actual act.  Which means they are interesting only for the concept.  Unfortunately, there’s a lot more of these throughout the book than the actual sex scenes and together the two add up to a total I’d rather not think about.  I’ve read books where the main character was a prostitute, or worked at a brothel, and there were fewer sex scenes there.

Despite all the problems, and there are many more than what I’ve listed, this isn’t an awful book.  Unlike the Tearling books, I do not despise it.  In fact, I appreciate that Kallista is not at all perfect, that while she may be very skilled, most of the book is her learning control all over again.  She isn’t universally liked and there’s some subplots going on that make me think Dayton has some kind of understanding of politics.

Now, The Compass Rose is somewhat rushed in that far more of the book is devoted to the characters than to the world through which they pass.  I suspected that, because Kallista had to find all her companions, there would be one or two additional books.  Which means I felt that the author made the seeking portion of the book far too easy on her, but I was not at all disappointed in my overall expectation. The story ends the adventure, but makes it clear there will be more.  A quick search turned up two additional titles, making this a trilogy.

I spent much of my afternoon debating whether or not I would keep The Compass Rose, and I have finally come to a decision.  The book will stay, for now, and I’ll keep an eye out for the other two, but I don’t want to spend much money on them.  I just don’t think the book is good enough to spend even $5 on a copy.  If I could find the others for the same price I paid ($1.00), I’d be happy.  Or I suppose I could put the two on my amazon wishlist for my birthday and have someone buy them for me…but if someone’s going to buy me books, I want them to buy me good books that I want a lot more.  Like more Heroes in Hell books.  I swear, I will reread those at some point so that I can better share the awesomeness with you.  Unfortunately, the copies belong to someone else and I’m pretty sure they’re in a box, awaiting a move.

In other book-buying news, I acquired an amazon gift card recently, and ordered a number of novels off of my list.  I got several shipping notifications today, so I’ll be keeping an eye on those.  Still, none of them will be here soon enough to help me out for tomorrow, so I should go ponder that decision.

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