Time’s book critic, Lev Grossman (also the author of The Magician and The Magician King, which has been called “Harry Potter for grownups”) may be the only reviewer who is a fan of J.K. Rowling’s new book, The Casual Vacancy, released today.

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.

The AP review, syndicated in many local newspapers, is one of the few that is mostly positive  — “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 majority of  critics, however,  are not in love with it:

The New York Times brings out its big gun, Michiko Kakutani, to weigh its merits. Characteristically, she doesn’t like it — “The reader can only hope [Rowling] doesn’t try to flesh out the Muggle world of Pagford in any further volumes, but instead moves on to something more compelling and deeply felt in the future.”

The L.A. Times critic, David Ulin, dislikes everything about the book, from the male characters (“One of the particular pathologies of the novel is that nearly every adult male, with the exception of the sainted Barry, is brutal or weak”) to the plot (“unsatisfying” and “convoluted”) to its exploration of issues (that “requires nuance, which is what The Casual Vacancy lacks”).

Entertainment Weekly gives it an unimpressive B-  — “When the novel finally arrives at its predictable and heavy-handed ending, what started as a lively comedy of manners has turned into an overwrought slog.”

The New York Daily News’ review begins,”J .K. Rowling has gone from Potter to potty-mouth,” and then damns it with faint praise — it “isn’t dreadful. It’s just dull.”

The UK’s Guardian is a bit more positive — “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 … The fanbase may find it a bit sour, as it lacks the Harry Potter books’ warmth and charm; all the characters are fairly horrible or suicidally miserable or dead. But the worst you could say about it, really, is that it doesn’t deserve the media frenzy surrounding it. And who nowadays thinks that merit and publicity have anything do with each other?”

What ultimately matters is the response from general readers, who have made it #1 on Amazon in pre-sales. As to what they think of the book, the majority of the Amazon “reviews” are actually complaints about the Kindle prices; the single review gives the book 5 of 5 possible stars. No reviews have appeared on GoodReads yet.

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