SKIP THESE (consider yourself warned!)
A Casual Vacancy by J.K Rowling: Oh boy, where do I start. The word that keeps coming to my mind is indulgent. Here she is, a hugely successful author of the inimitable Harry Potter series. She knows she has the green light to do whatever it is she wants to do for her first non-HP book, and she spits out this piece of garbage and dupes devoted readers into paying top dollar the day it comes out. The story was pointless and confusing at times, as well as overcrowded with characters that you neither love nor hate – complete indifference. They are weak, annoying, unoriginal, and predictably broken in their own way. I am unfortunately compelled to read probably 98% of the books I start, so I forced myself to skim more than 3/4 of this book just to see if it ever went anywhere. Let me tell you a secret…it doesn’t. Don’t believe me? Here’s what the professional critics had to say:
- Instead of an exhilarating sense of the mythic possibilities of storytelling, we are left with a numbing understanding of the difficulty of turning a dozen or so people’s tales into a story with genuine emotional resonance. – New York Times
- More than 500 pages of relentless socialist manifesto masquerading as literature – The Daily Mail
- “The Casual Vacancy,” which one bookseller breathlessly predicted would be the biggest novel of the year, isn’t dreadful. It’s just dull.” – NY Daily News
- Rowling clearly knows how to create a universe that’s compelling, consuming even, but Pagford is no such place. Rather, it is little more than a backdrop, a stage set, its lack of depth an emblem of Rowling’s inability to engage us, to invest us sufficiently in her characters, young or otherwise, to reckon with the contrivances of her fictional world. – LA Times
- This book would be a little better if everyone were carrying wands. – Washington Post
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: I picked this book because it made GoodReads’ top books of 2012 list. Having read it now, I now must question the people who are contributing ratings to GoodReads. The first third of the book isn’t bad. A married couple has moved back to the husband’s hometown in the midwest after both got laid off from their journalist positions in NYC and after his mother was diagnosed with cancer. The story alternates between the present day, when the husband comes home to find his wife missing and the aftermath, and the wife’s journal of their life as a couple. The journal hints at a growing emotional distance between the two, so you obviously want to suspect the husband of foul play, but something else isn’t right (I actually had already figured it out). Where the novel goes wrong is in the 2nd third of the book, then takes a nosedive into a big pile of awful in the last section when it seems like the author misplaced the last cards on her storyboard and a 5-year-old made up the ending. “And they all lived happily ever after…THE END.” Save your money on this book! Use it on Blue Asylum or The Night Circus or Let’s Pretend This Never Happened….seriously!