The new Not Harry Potter book
Today, J.K. Rowling is giving literary birth to The Casual Vacancy. And no, that’s not a cleverly named celeb baby (I still like Blue Ivy Carter the best). That’s the title of her new so-not-Harry-Potter adult book.
The Casual Vacancy is already a hot topic. Yesterday, Hypable.com posted a link to Apple’s iBookstore, where those interested could read fifty pages of The Casual Vacancy free, before the book even went on sale. Knowing Rowling, that’s probably not enough pages to even bother reading.
Now, I’m as Harry-Potter-addicted as the next Muggle, but I just can’t find it in me to want to read The Casual Vacancy. Call it loyalty to my lightning-scarred lover, or just plain old stubbornness, I just don’t want to read an adult-based J.K. Rowling book. It’s wrong, and it shouldn’t exist. It would be the equivalent of E.L. James suddenly writing a children’s nursery rhyme book (“whips and chains may break my bones, but safe words will never hurt me!”). *Insert gagging sound here*
The Casual Vacancy…in your wallet
Even if I did want to read it, have you seen the price tag on this beauty? There’s definitely a casual vacancy, and it’s in your wallet (yours, not mine!). Is this just the spoiled book-brat in me talking? Has Amazon ruined me for higher book prices? Maybe, but I digress. The hardcover version of The Casual Vacancy on Amazon is listed at $20.90. The Kindle price? A whopping $17.99. Do you know how many poorly-edited $0.99 Kindle books I can buy instead of this? Eighteen! Eighteen books that are also not Harry Potter. And okay, yes, I’m spoiled. Sue me. But it’s not just that. Because The Casual Vacancy is already getting casual reviews.
This book is more depressing than her previous work because it is set [in] a real world without magic, and where cruelty is less apocalyptic and more believably petty. Though some sequences feel a few drafts short of being ready, others are written with a fluency and beauty that suggest that there could be more and better works to come from her pen.
And Huffpost has the nicer review. The review in The New York Times chews up Casual Vacancy and spits it out, leaving it a casualty of literary critique. Famed for her brutal reviews, it’s not really surprising that Michiko Kakutani didn’t love (or even seem to like) The Casual Vacancy. Kakutani says:
There is no magic in this book—in terms of wizarding or in terms of narrative sorcery. Instead, this novel for adults is filled with a variety of people like Harry’s aunt and uncle, Petunia and Vernon Dursley: self-absorbed, small-minded, snobbish and judgmental folks, whose stories neither engage nor transport us.
No “Vacancy” here
Lukewarm and scathing reviews aside, I’m just not sure I even want to live in a Rowling-created world without magic. There’s enough “casual vacancy” in good literature, I don’t need anymore. So, is it worth it? I don’t think it is. But I love to be proven wrong.
So tell me, how do you feel about J.K. Rowling writing an adult book? Are you going to read The Casual Vacancy? And do you think it will be worth the price tag?