Since J.K. Rowling’s new book has come out, reviews have poured in from major media outlets all around the world. The standpoint on the book goes from dull and unimaginative to a beautifully written work of fiction. However, the book is definitely being purchased.
J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy is reportedly “on track to become the year’s bestselling novel in hardcover,” according to EVP of Little, Brown Michael Pietsch.
Source: Entertainment Weekly
In this post, I’ve compiled some notable snippets from various reviews, as well as my own perspective.
The first tidbit, from the Winnipeg Free Press, sums up the general standpoint of A Casual Vacancy nicely.
Her incredibly hyped new novel, which follows her seven-volume Harry Potter children’s series, the most commercially successful books in publishing history, shows first and foremost an author who refuses to repeat herself. It also shows that that she is the real deal.
Magic there is not. This is a remorselessly gritty and mundane book, a sustained exercise in what the author clearly conceives as the social-realist mode. It is structured around two funerals and a suicide and includes the piteous death of a child. It is centrally concerned with a council election and the consequences of malicious internet postings.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald
Though it’s undoubtedly going to happen, it would be unfair to compare this novel to the Harry Potter books. They’re worlds apart.
This is a complex book with lots of layers, humor, pathos and allegories everywhere. Readers may even find a timely message in this story of rich and poor and the politics that accompany them.
Source: The Spectrum
The ability to create characters who move you so much that you want to shout aloud “Don’t do that!” or “Don’t say that!” is rare. Krystal Weedon moved me to laughter, admiration, distaste, anger and finally, in her great battle against such unfair and immense odds, to tears.
Source: The Guardian
In my opinion, all of these reviews were partially true. A Casual Vacancy was extremely hyped-up, and no matter what, it will still be a best-seller, just because it’s J.K. Rowling. When it comes to the actual review of the book, I won’t say I wasn’t a little disappointed. In the beginning, I couldn’t help but compare it to Harry Potter. However, a few pages in, it was almost like Rowling was trying too hard to distance herself from her previous work. The amount of sexual references, curse words, and other mature topics were overwhelming. But once I moved past the obscenity, I found myself in a story that I genuinely enjoyed. Contrary to other reviews, I thought the characters were amazingly well done. I loved how each character’s background connected to the others.
I only have two real criticisms of the book. First, there was little suspense. The reader’s omniscient view made an air of mystery almost impossible. Secondly, I wasn’t a fan of the ending. There were little uplifting moments, but mostly I just felt dejected with where the story left off. Not that there’s anything wrong with a sad book, but I wish the audience hadn’t been left hanging where they were. Overall, I thought A Casual Vacancy was well worth a read. It was thought-provoking and enjoyable. Best of all, the social and political aspects in the plot reflect perfectly on the conflict we face in our lives today.