Thursday, October 18, 2012

Review: The Casual Vacancy

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

 I will start this by saying the same thing that I have seen written in many other reviews: This is NOT Harry Potter! Ok, I’m glad I got that out of the way. Now on to business.

Barry Fairbrother dies, and as a result the town of Pagford goes crazy. Maybe not the whole town, but let’s say that the the characters whom Rowling’s story follows go crazy.  Fairbrother’s death means that there is an empty seat on the parish council, and there are a few people who would want to fill it for different political and personal reasons. The book follows many different characters who are all connected to each other is some way (other than they live in the same town). There are families in which we follow and parents and children, and people in relationships from which we get both sides. Interestingly, the audience does not get a look into the live of the Fairbrother widow or children. As the blurb on the book cover says, Pagford is a town at war with itself. There are no allies, and each character is their own army. When the Ghost_of_Barry_Fairbrother makes their mark, the result is like a bomb going off in the little town.

I have no idea how many stars to give this book. I thought the writing was good and the story was well told. Each character had a distinct personality and I could tell who was speaking/thinking even before names were said. It took a while to figure out how all of the characters were connected and become used to the transitions between characters. I did get caught up in the story and, and although it took me awhile, once I did I never wanted to stop reading. But I didn’t like how the book made me feel. There was not a single character that I really liked. There were some characters that I could not stand at all, and others that I could stand most of the time, but I still didn’t particularly like. Krystal, among the only characters whom I felt had some redemptive qualities, completely blows it at the end and left me feeling even more depressed as I closed the book than I had as I read the rest.

The Casual Vacancy reminded of J.M. Coetsee’s Disgrace; I thought both were good books, but I could not say that I liked them. Usually I try to rate a book on whether or not I liked reading it, if I thought it was written well, and if I think it would be worth reading again. This book contained a well planned and written story with a few twists and turns to keep readers engaged. It was a good book that I am in no hurry to re-read. Is it worth re-reading? Yes, I think so. But not anytime soon.

I hope I succeeded in making this as confusing as possible.

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