I would probably give this 3 stars for the writing itself--it's not terribly literary stuff, but it gets the job done--the job, in this case, being to carry a really original and nerdy plot. So I'm giving this book 4 stars out of geek solidarity--it is so totally my kind of yarn! It has secret societies, computer programming, underground libraries, font design, copyright trolls, Google, boob simulation software, love interest, ebooks, books, and illicit book scanning. It's sort of like Cory Doctorow meets The Night Circus meets The Magicians. It's one of those novels that collides at the strangest intersection of disparate (and interesting) things, yet it all works together to create a dashingly fun book. This is a must-read for all geeky bibliophiles.
If you're thinking about reading this book in order to rekindle some of that Harry Potter magic, you'll be disappointed. It's definitely an adult novel with adult themes and content. I'm sure there are some Potter fans out there who have typecast J. K. Rowling as a naive, mild-mannered, proper Englishwoman who would be shocked by things like drugs and sex. If that's you, and you don't want that illusion shattered, then don't read this book. If you want an uncensored look at small-town English politics and what happens when class boundaries are blurred, what rural poverty looks like and its very real effects on children, teenagers, and adults, then this is an excellent book. Rowling really has achieved something remarkable in the Casual Vacancy--she has redefined herself as a novelist and I will gladly read anything else she writes. The Potter series will always stand alone as one of the greatest fantasy series of all time and I'm thrilled that Rowling has more to say.
*slight spoiler alert*
This is a very sad and painful book. After ruminating a bit on this novel, I feel like I should say that if you were touched by the magic of Harry Potter, and transported away from the realities of your day-to-day existence, then you owe it to Rowling to read this book. It serves as a counterpoint to the magical escape she crafted for the millions of people who found comfort and solace behind the walls of Hogwarts. Rowling lived the pain and suffering of the everyday people in The Casual Vacancy and it's clear to me that we would not have Potter without a Pagford and without The Fields.
I just finished Age of Miracles and I would say that it is interesting enough to give it a read. The premise of the novel is that all of a sudden, the earth's rotation suddenly begins to slow. As the days and nights get longer, the narrator--a sixth grade girl--struggles with all the usual sixth grade issues in addition to a world that is slowly falling apart. I picked up this book because it is ostensibly science fiction, but its problem is that it's not quite sure what it wants to be and the result is that it just kind of sits in limbo. This really ought to be classified as a young adult book, yet there is some strong language (not that young adults don't use strong language). It also wants to be a science fiction novel, but the core premise--the slowing of the earth--is unexplained and not based on physics, however its effects are. That breaks the cardinal rule of science fiction, nudging this story into fantasy territory. Finally, Walker, at times, writes with a sophomoric flourish that seems to indicate that she wants this book to be literary. There are several stand-out passages, but ultimately, if you want to read this book, it will hold your attention, it just won't blow you away.
Had the opportunity to read an advanced readers copy of The Passage. It's the first in a planned trilogy and all I can say is that it left me DYING to read on. Very seldom are books of this genre so exquisitely written. It grabs you from page one and drags you breathlessly through vistas that range from grizzly horror to the sublime, all the while making you question the very things that define us as human.
DC-based Thievery Corporation's breakout album pulls together a fusion of Jazz, world, and hip-hop that is not only flawlessly performed but can serve as the perfect backdrop to any "chilled-out" occasion.