Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling

Barry Fairbrother did not want to go out to dinner. He had endured a thumping headache for most of the weekend and was struggling to make a deadline for the local newspaper. 

I must say that I really didn't expect much from J.K. Rowling's first adult novel. The plot sounded boring, and the first few chapters were extremely off-putting. But it actually wasn't half bad, though certainly not as good as Harry Potter. When the aforementioned Barry Fairbrother dies, the seemingly idyllic town of Pagford is thrown into turmoil. There's tons of controversy over this district called "the Fields", full of drug addicts, which many think shouldn't be part of Pagford. Though it seems like a typical English village, Pagford is home  to some pretty nasty people. On the surface, the plot seems unremarkable, but really, the novel was interesting, though also slow, in parts. 

The annoying thing was that you practically couldn't read two pages without coming across either a lewd reference or a curse word (and by curse word, I mean the f-word or the like). And really, I think that though some of it was necessary, a lot could have been taken out, and a lot better novel could have been crafted. 

However, The Casual Vacancy was - if not suspenseful- then certainly something that kept you reading, once you got into it. All of the characters were interesting, and the good part about it was that there were chapters narrated from the point of view of many of the characters. So, for example, "Fats", one of the teenage boys, is bullying this other girl, so you think he's evil. But obviously, he's not totally evil. He's just a person, like everyone else, who does some bad things, just like everyone else, and who has a good side, just like everyone else.  

The writing wasn't nearly as good as in Harry Potter, but on its own wasn't bad. I really was kind of surprised that I liked it. I started the first few chapters perhaps a month before reading the whole thing, and immediately gave up The Casual Vacancy as a dud. But perhaps I shouldn't have been so hasty. There were some parts that made me squirm, and it certainly is an adult novel. Die-hard fans of Harry Potter will probably be disappointed. But on its own, it isn't a bad book. 

Read The Casual Vacancy:
  • if you like J.K. Rowling
  • if you like books set in small British towns
  • if you like books about political power play
503 pages.
Very Good! I would recommend this book!


  1. Hmm... I'm still reluctant/ I really after reading the summary don't even know what it's about. I don't mind curse words but if they are just put all over the place I could see how that would be annoying. I honestly think it would take me a couple years like I did with Harry Potter to read this book. Then maybe I'll be ready and enjoy it more. I don't want to read it just because it's by J.K. I want to read it because I'm excited about it.

  2. I'm really looking forward to reading this. I've had it on hold at the library for ages :X Really not sure what to expect though.