READ THIS! {Updates & Reviews}

Have you all been reading October's READ THIS! novel - The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling?

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I have to admit, I only started reading it this weekend! If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know I was in Target on Friday evening and picked it up while I was there! I started reading it and was immediately hooked! I can't wait to finish this book and write a final review for you at the end of the month, but in the meantime, here are a few reviews for you to look at...

Michiko Kakutani, for the NY Times Book Review, writes, "It’s easy to understand why Ms. Rowling wanted to try something totally different after spending a decade and a half inventing and complicating the fantasy world that Harry and company inhabited, and one can only admire her gumption in facing up to the overwhelming expectations created by the global phenomenon that was Harry Potter. Unfortunately, the real-life world she has limned in these pages is so willfully banal, so depressingly clich├ęd that “The Casual Vacancy” is not only disappointing — it’s dull. [...] Instead of an appreciation for the courage, perseverance, loyalty and sense of duty that people are capable of, we are left with a dismaying sense of human weakness, selfishness and gossipy stupidity. Instead of an exhilarating sense of the mythic possibilities of storytelling, we are left with a numbing understanding of the difficulty of turning a dozen or so people’s tales into a story with genuine emotional resonance."

However, not all of the reviews have been so judgmental of Rowling's novel...

Theo Tait, for The Guardian, says, "Generally, though, The Casual Vacancy is a solid, traditional and determinedly unadventurous English novel. Set in the "pretty little town of Pagford", it is a study of provincial life, with a large cast and multiple, interlocking plots, drawing inspiration from Elizabeth Gaskell and George Eliot. The only obvious parallel with the Potter books is that, like them, it is animated by a strong dislike of mean, unsympathetic, small-minded folk. The inhabitants of Pagford – shopkeepers, window-twitchers, Daily Mail readers – are mostly hateful Muggles, more realistic versions of the Dursleys, the awful family who keep poor Harry stashed in the cupboard under the stairs. The book seems doomed to be known as Mugglemarch. [...] The claustrophobic horror is nicely done: everyone knowing everyone; Howard, scheming from behind his hand-baked biscuits and local cheeses. Rowling is good at teenagers, particularly boys, and unhappy couples. The book has a righteous social message, about responsibility for others, and a great big plot that runs like clockwork; like the Potter novels, it is efficiently organised beneath its busy surface."

Kevin Nance, for the Chicago-Sun Times, remarked, "In short, if Potter lovers can get past the absence of obvious magic in “The Casual Vacancy,” they’ll find themselves in surprisingly familiar territory in which, perhaps, a subtler form of magic, this of the literary variety, is being practiced. All along, they may realize, we were living not in Harry’s world but in Rowling’s, which turns out to have been bit roomier than we knew."

And there were also a few reviews that celebrated Rowling's first "adult novel" ...

Rob Brunner, for Entertainment Weekly, wrote, "The Casual Vacancy, Rowling's overlong but often entertaining debut adult novel, is a big book that follows small people jockeying for a little position in tiny Pagford. When one of the community's 16 parish councillors dies, a bunch of town notables try to use the ensuing ''casual vacancy'' to pursue various agendas. Rowling does a nice job laying out her characters' pretensions and weaknesses, which she punctures with gleeful flicks of a sharp comic blade."

And Lev Grossman, for TIMEsaid, "It’s a big, ambitious, brilliant, profane, funny, deeply upsetting and magnificently eloquent novel of contemporary England, rich with literary intelligence and entirely bereft of bullshit, and if it weren’t for Rowling’s stringent security measures, it would or at least should have contended for the Booker Prize. This is a deeply moving book by somebody who understands both human beings and novels very, very deeply. It’s as if Rowling were an animagus, except that instead of turning into a stag or a dog or whatever, she transformed into Ian McEwan."

While the reviews have definitely been mixed, so far I am greatly enjoying the new adventure that Rowling is taking me on in The Casual Vacancy and I am excited to see what else she has in store!  
  
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