The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
Published by Little, Brown and Company, an imprint of Hachette
From the publisher:
When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.
Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.
Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems.
And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity, and unexpected revelations?
Even though The Casual Vacancy has gotten mixed reviews, there was no way I wasn’t going to pick up this novel. I am a huge fan of J.K. Rowling and I really wanted to see what she could do with an adult book, so I went into this book knowing that it wasn’t going to be like Harry Potter at ALL. I think that expectation helped me because I did enjoy this one – enjoy is a difficult word to use because this book is incredibly sad, but whatever – and I think that Rowling has a great future in writing books for adults if she chooses to do so.
Anyway, about the book. Well first of all I have to say that I absolutely hated every single one of the characters in this book. Okay, I didn’t hate maybe three of them, but most of them were pretty small-minded, despicable people. But for some reason, I was interested in their lives despite this. I wasn’t interested in the petty stuff (for example, the race to fill Barry’s seat on the council annoyed me) but there were seriously complex relationships going on here and I was truly interested in finding out how some of the conflicts and issues would (or wouldn’t) get resolved.
Particularly woven into my heart was Krystal, the teenage daughter of a severe drug addict, a sixteen-year-old girl who was basically raising her four-year-old brother because her mother’s addiction left her incapable of doing anything. Her story broke my heart in a million ways and as I was just devastated as her life spiraled more and more out of control.
Reading The Casual Vacancy proved to me even more what a master Rowling is at creating complex characters and tying everything together in a unique way. I thought she did this so brilliantly with the Harry Potter books, and in this book her talent shined as well. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this was a five-star read, but I did really like it and am impressed with Rowling’s venture into adult books. I will definitely read anything else she writes.