Monday, December 24, 2012

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

Book Review: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling 


Things to know up front...

Recommended to: realism fans, people that haven't read Harry Potter (though you won't actually listen, I understand)

Rating: 6/10

Setting: A little town named Pagford during modern times

Content:
  • Very strong language including frequent uses of the f-word and c-word.
  • Quite a few instances of sex, but usually described in about two or three sentences. A young woman is raped, but this is also described in a few sentences. Plenty of dialogue about sex. 
  •  Quite a few instances of domestic violence. 
  • A lot of drug use, particularly heroin. 
  • Some deaths, all varying in level of disturbing-ness. 
  • A lot of large vocab. 
  • Overall, not suitable for young readers. Not even slightly. 


The Casual Vacancy starts with the death of a man named Barry Fairbrother, a prominent member of the local government and a generally well-loved man. What follows is the stories of several characters from the tiny Pagford and their experiences during the aftermath of Barry's death.

The Positives

-Most of the characters. The majority of them were well rounded and very distinct from one another. There were a couple, however, that seemed a bit ridiculous and unbelievable.

-The small town atmosphere. As an experienced member of a small town, I can tell you that this is a pretty accurate portrayal of a little town, especially the way that everyone literally knows everyone and their business.

-The realism. If nothing else, The Casual Vacancy has a very real and stark feel to it, which I like (though many people probably do not).

The Negatives

-There's very little change in the characters. Naturally, I wanted to see the characters grow up and learn, but I think that about two of them really did. Disappointing.

-The story line. You wanna know why this is? Because it's close to nonexistent. It's kind of a book about a town election, but it's really a book about people--which isn't necessarily a bad thing--but I prefer a stronger focal point than this one.

The Mehhhs

-The writing. For the most part, I enjoyed J.K. Rowling's writing, but there were quite a few times that I was stopped in my reading tracks because a particular part sounded really awkward.

-The ending. I just don't know how I felt about it. On one hand, it's really exciting and fast paced, but on the other...it was a lot of action compared to the rest of the book.

Overall

It was alright. I really wanted to like it because of how much I love J.K. Rowling, but this was really not a good thing. Not only did it jack my expectations up (even though I had read several poor reviews), but it was hard for me to get out of my head that J.K. Rowling wrote this, so it was incredibly difficult to get past the fact that the woman that shaped my childhood was throwing out the f-word like it was nothing, among other things.

If I can suggest anything at all, it's that you can't go into this expecting the sheer awesomeness that is HP because it's apples to oranges, my friends. And honestly, I highly, highly, HIGHLY suggest that you are a huge HP nerd, like myself, to just not pick it up at all, no matter how tempting it is.

Now, if you have no previous Rowling experience, go for it: I'm sure it won't amaze you, but it probably won't be a letdown. 

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