I’ve finished the first of my 2013 stack, though admittedly I started reading this book in 2012. Just in case you haven’t heard of it, “A Casual Vacancy” is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults (and if you haven’t heard of her, J.K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter series. If you haven’t at least heard of Harry Potter in passing, I can’t help you.)
This book was just okay. Truthfully, after Harry Potter, even with its faults, I think anything Rowling wrote would be just a little disappointing. Her characters, as in Harry Potter, are fleshed out and do not feel one-dimensional. But I think it loses a lot of the … umm … magic (sorry) of her previous works because the world is normal and quite small. It’s set in a small town in England, and while the plot is complicated, it isn’t exactly action packed. If you enjoy the quirks and pettiness of small town gossip, especially small town politics, you’ll probably like the book.
It took me nearly half the book to start to care about any of the characters—quite a long time to power through something, when there is a stack of books waiting to be read. Even then, I think the character I was supposed to care about, I didn’t. My favorite characters was Colin, a sad, OCD neurotic man who doesn’t get along with his son, and is more minor in the large cast of characters.
I think Rowling used up all her happy endings in Harry Potter, because this book was rather tragic. I was surprised, though it didn’t feel wrong. If you only like happy endings, here’s your warning. Since I usually prefer the tragic/sad/depressing ending (I have yet to figure out what that says about my psyche) I’m glad she didn’t take the easy route and instead made sure what needed to happen happened. Even as sad as it was.
——————… and done——————
The book does feel like a Rowling book. She takes the time to describe objects, settings and what the characters are doing. Dialogue feels natural enough. The story just didn’t suck me in. I read this book while finishing a few others, and while I wasn’t reading it, I didn’t miss it.
I gave it two out of five stars on Goodreads. Here’s my Goodreads profile, if you want to follow me there.