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The Dog Ear: Rowling's latest novel is a great read

By Alyssa McDonagh
On January 20, 2014

2013 was an interesting year, filled with various ups and downs. I found myself encountering many new adventures that taught me about myself and the world around me. The year also contained surprises. The most notable one in the literary world, in my opinion, was J.K. Rowling's new novel, "The Cuckoo's Calling" written under the pseudonym, Robert Galbraith.
The novel had been released for three months before Galbraith's true identity was exposed. For Rowling, someone who has always had to live up to the expectations of her immense fan base, it was probably liberating to write a novel with zero pressure. This pseudonym gave her an outlet for her creativity and the chance to start over again as an undiscovered writer. Since she already has an established writing career, there was nothing for her to lose. I feel bad for Rowling that her secret was exposed, but without this divulging of information, I never would have read this excellent novel.
When I first began reading, I was worried that the book would be a repeat of "The Casual Vacancy", Rowling's first novel outside of the Harry Potter series. "The Casual Vacancy" severely disappointed me. I felt that Rowling was trying too hard and unsuccessfully to break into the adult book category. To my immense relief and enjoyment, "The Cuckoo's Calling" was a heart-pounding, page-turning, cleverly written novel.
A flaw I found with "The Casual Vacancy" was the large amount of characters, leading to confusion over which character did what. This problem was fixed in "The Cuckoo's Calling." Readers only experience the point of view of two characters, a detective, Cormoran Strike, and his secretary, Robin. These main characters encounter many others, but the point of view never extends beyond these two. Since there are only two protagonists, readers are able to learn a sufficient amount of information about their lives and relate to them. As the novel progresses, you can't help but desperately want Strike and Robin to solve the mystery and remain a team.
Strike is investigating the death of a model. The model and the other celebrities mentioned in the book are entirely fictional, but Rowling's writing is so vivid that it makes you believe they are indeed real, famous citizens of our society. The details come in the perfect amount. Readers can become immersed in the novel yet not feel dragged down by unnecessary minutia while reading.
The conversations between characters, composing a majority of the novel, are excellent. One of my favorite parts of the novel was a confrontation between Strike and another individual. There were a few pages of only Strike talking, paragraphs of information about criminal evidence. The forcefulness of the final accusation comes through in Rowling's writing. I found myself turning pages faster and faster as the close of the novel drew near. The ending did not disappoint.
I can only hope that 2014 is filled with surprises equivalent or better to a new, well written J.K. Rowling novel. Sometimes, it's simply the little things that can make our days better. For myself, a brand new book can be just what I need. With the start of a new year comes more books to read and more opportunities to discover. Happy reading!

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