The Telegraph (UK) reported today that as JK Rowling’s new adult novel, The Casual Vacancy, hits Number One on the Bestsellers List with 2.6 million copies sold on pre-order, (topping the other naughty book previously holding that position, Fifty Shades of
Grey), reviews for the book are decidedly mixed. Here are a few highlights from some of the book reviews compiled in The Telegraph article:
“One marvels at the skill with which Rowling weaves such vivid characters in and out of each other’s lives, rendering them so complex and viscerally believable that one finds oneself caring for the worst of them. However, upon hearing the cries of so many souls in pain, the more sensitive reader might begin to crave a leavening of hope, or to fear that Rowling’s own cry is one of despair.” –Christopher Brookmyre (Telegraph)
“The Casual Vacancy is no masterpiece, but it’s not bad at all: intelligent, workmanlike, and often funny. I could imagine it doing well without any association to the Rowling brand…” —Theo Tait (The Guardian)
“So look, here’s the thing: This. Is. Not. A. Children’s. Book. If you’re looking for what made Harry Potter magical – Wizards! Spells! Flying Broomsticks! — you’re not going to find it. If you’re looking for what makes JK Rowling magical – emotion, heart – you will.” —Deepti Hajela (Associated Press)
“The problem for Rowling’s legions of fans will be that she has forgotten to include any basic likeability in her characters here or any real suspense as to what will happen – or deliberately chosen not to supply it, now she no longer needs to do anything other than what she wants.” —David Sexton (Evening Standard)
“The Casual Vacancy will certainly sell, and it may also be liked.” —Ian Parker (The New Yorker)
“The Casual Vacancy, which one bookseller breathlessly predicted would be the biggest novel of the year, isn’t dreadful. It’s just dull.” —Sherryl Connelly (New York Daily News)
Ouch. Critics can certainly be harsh sometimes, but you can’t expect everyone to always like everything you do. And that’s part of the risk you take when you put a work out there for mass consumption. Whether you like Rowling’s new book or not, I have to admire her for taking a risk and trying something completely new and out of her comfort zone.
But fear not Potter lovers. Rowling told the BBC recently that her next book would be for a younger audience and was considering revisiting the Harry Potter series if she came up with a “fabulous idea” for a plot.
Here’s the full Telegraph article and extended excerpts for your reading pleasure. You never know… The Casual Vacancy might just be your cup of tea.