October 4, 2012

Act Casual

I'm sure you've heard by now that J.K. Rowling - queen of children's books in the wake of the Harry Potter phenomenon - has a new book out. A Casual Vacancy.

There are two things that surprised me about the book. Or, rather, the release of the book since I haven't actually read it.

First, the price. It's listing for $18 in electronic form which really feels like a rip-off. That's more than discount hardcover price. I refuse to pay more for something digitally than I would in physical form. Right there J.K.'s publishers lost me.

Second - and craziest - the comments from parents about kids letting them read the book. People are seriously considering buying the book for their kids or reading it with them. Because it was written by the Harry Potter lady. The interviews I've read with these people are amazing, pretty much along the lines of because she wrote a bunch of kids' books, this one must be fine for them to read too, right?.


Roald Dahl was a great example of what Rowling is trying to be. A hugely successful children's author, Dahl had a parallel writing life, publishing adult novels and short fiction that was, at times, risque and violent, some of which were later adapted by Alfred Hitchcock and - gasp - Quentin Tarantino.

I loved the Harry Potter books and will surely read A Casual Vacancy (as soon as the price drops). In the mean time, I feel Rowling. She's got a hard road to hoe and however great her adult novels may be, she's going to leave a trail of disappointed parents and kids.

Have you read it? Will you?

Posted by Chris at October 4, 2012 7:25 AM

Picked up the hardcopy last night at Costco...knew she was working on an adult book but didn't know it was out...my husband picked it up for me and I wasn't sure if I wanted to read it or not, but then remembered how much I enjoyed the HP books. So I have her book...I've got about 20 books in front of it, but I have it...you'll probably read it before me.

I'm hoping it's good.

Posted by: cyndy at October 4, 2012 9:36 AM

It's on my to read list - along with about 50 other books. By the time I get to it I'll be able to find it in the $3 bin at Barnes & Noble.

Posted by: COD at October 4, 2012 10:31 AM

I like the library, so I will wait until I can get it there. I haven't given in to electronic books yet.

Posted by: beth anne at October 4, 2012 10:43 AM

I likely will not read it. While the Harry Potter stories were very engaging, even for a kids book I thought her writing was mediocre, at best. Can't imaging what her writing will be like for an "adult" novel...

especially if these quotes are real:


Not that I am against raunchy, but these quotes are just so... awful.

Posted by: Kaz at October 4, 2012 10:55 AM

I'm trying to decide if I'd read it because I think it'll be good or because of who wrote it. It's kinda weird. I'm this way with music too... if I know the creator, I'll be more likely to gravitate to the creation. Still, I'm hearing really mixed reviews. Makes me wonder how much of my time I waste on crap created by people with talent, and on how much awesome stuff I miss just because I don't know who made it.

Also--it's hard to hoe a road. I recommend a row instead. But then, in this case, it may just be Herculean enough a task for Rowling to separate herself from Potter that hoeing a road is appropriate. ;)

Posted by: Martin at October 4, 2012 10:57 AM

I have not read it but I am interested to do so. I WILL NOT READ IT TO MY CHILDREN! It is purely adult content. They did a bit on the book on NPR the other night on the day the book came out. They interviewed Rowling and she said she let her 19 year old daughter read it but she would never ever EVER let her younger children read it, the content is NOT for children.

JK Rowling expressly said after the HP stuff that she would likly never write another children's novel again so people need to get it through their thick craniums and do their homework before reading books to their kids. Even some of Dahl's childrens book are a bit dark for certain ages. My son made us stop reading The Witches because the ideas in that story scared him - he was six at the time!

Posted by: Christina at October 4, 2012 11:01 AM

Have not...probably will not.

Posted by: Julee at October 4, 2012 1:53 PM

I probably will, once I get through A Song of Ice and Fire and the rest of my TBR list... once it drops in price significantly. I enjoyed her creativity, and I'd like to see her creativity towards an adult book. Though, I'll be expecting it to be an adult book of Ron, Harry, Hermione, and Ginny, which will make it difficult to get into once I start reading, I thin.

Posted by: Kim at October 4, 2012 2:37 PM

I had no idea this book existed until it was all over my FB newsfeed. I am on the wait list at the library for it, will wait for then. I rarely buy books, digital or otherwise anymore. The library is FREE!

Posted by: Lisa at October 4, 2012 3:10 PM

Just got a copy at the library today...hope to read it this weekend. I'm curious despite the bad reviews which really made me NOT want to buy it, even digitally.

Posted by: natalie at October 4, 2012 3:30 PM

Read most of what was for free on bn.com in the preview. It wasn't good. Nor does the plot intrigue me. It seems way less universal a story than the HP books. Won't be reading the rest.

Posted by: alektra at October 4, 2012 4:10 PM

Wow, people are going to read that to their kids??? I haven't read it (don't really have any interest in it) but I read a lot of book blogs and have read several reviews by bloggers. From what they've said, in this new book Rowling uses a ton of swearing and sex scenes. A few bloggers mentioned that it seemed like Rowling was just trigger happy with the "adult situations" in this book, because she's had to restrain herself for so long while when writing children's books. I hope people will at least read it on their own FIRST before putting it in the hands of their kids!

Posted by: Nicki Mann at October 4, 2012 5:30 PM

I read the first chapter at work (I work in an independent bookstore, for anyone besides Chris who reads this), and I liked it enough that I'll probably read the rest of it. Eventually.

As far as price goes, it doesn't seem to be deterring people: In the first six days of its release, the book sold 375,000 copies, all formats included. It's rare that new fiction in hardcover costs that much. Most novels run from 25-30 bucks. Of course, if you're buying from Amazon or another big retailer, you're essentially paying a wholesale price, as they often use books as a loss leader. Yes, I encourage you to visit your local bookseller instead of buying books at Amazon, Target, Costco, or Walmart! Or your local library. Libraries are great, and sometimes you can even borrow e-books from them. :)

And as for the parents who are thinking of letting their kids read it, WTF? Really?

Posted by: Alison at October 4, 2012 8:04 PM

I've got it waiting for me at the library. Just have to go pick it up.

Posted by: Kim K at October 5, 2012 11:08 AM

I am actually about 100 pages in give or take. It's just starting to engage me now. It's actually far more political than I thought it would be.

As for children reading it, or being read too I guess it would depend on the reading level/maturity level of the child as well as their interest. My parents would let me read anything as a kid that would hold my attention so I was pretty much reading at an adult reading level by fourth/fifth grade. That being said- for ME as a kid? This book would have not held my interest AT ALL because it is far too politically driven- and as a kid-books like that weren't my thing.

Posted by: Amy at October 5, 2012 11:23 AM

I can't say that I will, but I can say that I am interested, and if I read half of what I *want* to read, I would. I really enjoyed the HP books and think that JKR has an amazing imagination, if nothing else, and I would love to see what else comes out of her head. I'm sure I'll see your review on Goodreads to help influence my motivation :)

Posted by: Angela at October 7, 2012 6:28 PM