The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (2012)
Reviews for this book were late coming because of the embargo, and are very mixed. Negative reviews seem based on the fact that this book isn't Harry Potter, exclaiming about the foul language and sex. Well, it's a novel for adults and filled with adult problems, which tend to involve things like sex and swearing.
Rowling's talent for creating colorful characters is apparent here, in the large cast of villagers with various neuroses and quirks and complicated relationships with one another. This is a fairly long book - over 500 pages - but it needs to be, with all that is going on. She gives ample attention to each character, and their detailed personalities and genuineness are the real strengths of the novel.
I've always enjoyed Rowling's writing style, easy and fast-paced with an undercurrent of humor, even in this serious novel. Despite some of the negative reviews, I thought The Casual Vacancy was compelling and even fun, while still tackling serious, complicated issues. Rowling has proven that her talents extend beyond fantasy for children and I'm looking forward to what else she has in store.