Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Book Review - The Casual Vacancy

As someone who loves to read, I usually surprise people when I admit I haven't read any of the Harry Potter  books.  I think I'm going to read at least the first one this year sometime, and see what all the fuss is about.  With that in mind, I didn't have much of an expectation about J.K. Rowling's new novel, The Casual Vacancy.  I've heard really terrible reviews from several people, so I had low expectations, but I read it because it was the January Literary Junkies selection.

The plot was pretty interesting.  Basically, in a small town in England, a local council-member dies, leaving the spot open, and various characters from the town want to fill it.  Of course, all of these characters have very convoluted lives, and as the election takes place, more drama happens.

A few things that bothered me:
  • I didn't actually like any of the characters.  They were all jerks and I didn't feel very bad for them when bad things happened.  Sure, it made me sad, but I didn't feel invested at all.  I mean, really terrible stuff happens, I should have been crying!  
  • There were so many characters introduced at once.  It was hard for me to keep everyone straight at the beginning.  The first part of the book basically has 1-page chapters, so it jumps around a lot.  I've heard several people say the book is boring.  I wouldn't say boring, but it was definitely hard to get interested, just because you don't get to hear from the same person very much for the first 75 or so pages. 
  • I don't really know how to say this, so I'll just throw it out there - I think Rowling was trying a little too hard to make this an "adult" novel.  There was so much language, and so many really dark themes in the book.  I get that she was trying to show how messed up the people in this town are, and how hard their lives are, but there were moments that just seemed really forced.  I found this especially distracting since one of the characters is obsessed with being "authentic", and the book did not feel authentic to me.  
So, have you read this book?  Did you love it?  Hate it?  Somewhere in between?  Do you think I should read Harry Potter?  

1 comment:

  1. I agree 100% with all of your bullet points! she was trying way too hard. I do think you should give Harry Potter a chance. They are books I will keep forever and re-read. I'll tell you this much, they are the complete opposite of The Casual Vacancy.

    Great review!