Since the end of the Harry Potter series fans have been counting down the seconds until the literary queen J.K. Rowling writes again. On Thursday, Rowling's newest book The Casual Vacancy finally hit stores, and made good on the wishes of millions of readers. The young adult novel takes place in the very non-wizard world of small town England, and early negative reviews have sparked hypotheses that this novel will not have a lasting stay on the New York Times Bestseller list (which it will undoubtedly reach at least in these early weeks).
Rowling finds herself in a tough position as anything she penned after Harry Potter was sure to be met with unrelenting scrutiny. The Casual Vacancy comes five years after the release of the last book in the boy-wizard series. Rowling's new novel has already hit number one on Amazon's best-seller list, and thanks to pre-sales it has been in the top 100 for the last 84 days. For comparison, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sold 2.6 million copies in Britain on its first day, and book seller William Hill puts 2 to 1 odds on The Casual Vacancy surpassing those numbers.
As stated, reviews for the novel have been shaky. Michiko Kakutani or The New York Times writes, "Unfortunately, the real-life world she has limned in these pages is so willfully banal, so depressingly cliched, that The Casual Vacancy is not only disappointing — it's dull."
Deepti Hajeli at the AP writes, "this isn't a book that's easy to fall in love with ..."
The Potter books sold over 450 million copies worldwide and it is quite unlikely that Rowling will ever meet the same numerical success. But Rowling has already successfully completed what may be her hardest task as a writer, writing a follow up to the biggest series in the world.