The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

The Casual VacancyThe 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.


12 thoughts on “The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling”

  1. I know a lot of people were disappointed in this one, but I think that you went into it with a great mindset. Knowing that it was entirely different than the Potter books was probably the key to your enjoyment of this one, and now that I know the gist of what it’s about and what to expect, I will probably pick this one up when I can. Very classy review today. You managed to love on the book without over-hyping it.

  2. Like you, I hated ever single character but loved the book and the overall story. The race to get Barry’s seat is actually the most uninteresting part, you’re right. I was more drawn to the way people treated each other, and thought JK Rowling did a phenomenal job. It was a great book to curl up with and read on a rainy day. I’m looking forward to what more she brings!

  3. I’m glad you pointed all that out, because I find it hard to sift through the reviews and determine who expected it to be as awesome as HP and who went in realistically. Frankly I’m scared to read it. I may wait awhile, then try to get it on audio.

  4. i borrowed the audio of the book from the library & didn’t make it to the end of the 2nd CD. I did not like the characters or the storyline. the narration was good but it was not enough to keep me interested.

  5. I find it so interesting that EVERY review I read of this book says the reader hated every character. And yet people still enjoy it. Sounds like a train wreck that you can’t look away from! 🙂

  6. I’ve a copy of this, planning to read it with the average reviews in mind, which I hope leaves me like you, enjoying it because of the knowledge it won’t be HP. Glad you liked it. It’s almost like a debut, being so different to HP, so maybe she’ll improve once she finds her adult-lit voice, so to speak.

  7. I am so on the fence about this one. Kathy didn’t really care for it and we share similar tastes, but you read so many of the same books as I do too! So, I have to decide whether or not I will read it…..

  8. I’ll probably always read whatever JK Rowling writes — ten years of Harry Potter has bought her a very great deal of benefit of the doubt — but I didn’t enjoy Casual Vacancy at all. I hated everyone so much that it was hard to care what happened to them. Alas!

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