The Casual Vacancy

It's time to leave Hogwarts behind you, and move into much more adult territory. 

Author J.K. Rowling's first novel after her best-selling Harry Potter series, The Casual Vacancy was released today, and judging from the reviews, readers will experience a whole new—and especially raunchy—world.

So what do the reviews of a book which talks about a boy's "ache in his heart and in his balls" and something about a "miraculously unguarded vagina" have to say?

"The Casual Vacancy will certainly sell, and it may also be liked. There are many nice touches, including Rowling's portrait of the social worker's gutless boyfriend, who relishes how, in an argument with a lover, you can ‘obscure an emotional issue by appearing to seek precision.' The book's political philosophy is generous, even if its analysis of class antagonisms is perhaps no more elaborate than that of Caddyshack. And, as the novel turns darker, toward a kind of Thomas Hardy finale, it hurtles along impressively. But whereas Rowling's shepherding of readers was, in the Harry Potter series, an essential asset, in The Casual Vacancy her firm hand can feel constraining. She leaves little space for the peripheral or the ambiguous; hidden secrets are labelled as hidden secrets, and events are easy to predict," said The New Yorker.

The Hollywood Reporter mentioned that, "if fans are expecting a Harry Potter-like book, they're in for a shock: The Casual Vacancy features some similar Harry Potter themes, such as morality and mortality, but that is where the comparisons end…It's difficult to imagine the phrases ‘miraculously unguarded vagina' or ‘with an ache in his heart and in his balls' being found in the G-rated wizard novels, but they abound in The Casual Vacancy."

"Rowling has said the worst anyone might say about The Casual Vacancy, is that it is ‘dreadful' — and that she ‘should have stuck to writing for kids.' Well, here goes...Sorry, J.K. The Casual Vacancy, which one bookseller breathlessly predicted would be the biggest novel of the year, isn't dreadful. It's just dull," wrote The New York Daily News.

"This isn't a book that's easy to fall in love with, the way Harry Potter was with its charming, winning hero and his plucky friends, saving the world from evil with the help of a powerful spell or two. Even with its moments of humor, it's a hard story where some people just don't get saved, because really, they never had a chance," Fox News said of the novel. "But what could have been an unreadable story becomes something else in Rowling's hands, thanks to her gift of being able to make her characters complex and really, just human."

The Guardian opined, "There are some superficial excitements here, in that the younger characters get up to things that Harry probably never dreamed of: taking drugs, swearing, self-harming, having grimy casual sex, singing along to Rihanna," and later added, "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, perhaps creeping into the Richard and Judy Book Club, or being made into a three-part TV serial."

Looks like there's some mixed reviews. Are you planning to read J.K. Rowling's new novel? Let us know in the comments!

Believe it or not, there is life beyond Harry Potter

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