The Casual Vacancy by J.K Rowling

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Rating: 1/10

I was really hoping that this book would be good, but I was really disappointed. I managed to get to page 331, and that was a struggle. The only reason I read on that long was because I believed that stopping earlier would not allow for a truly fair review. I am now convinced that I read more than enough to know that this book is not worth the time.

The whole thing seemed clumsy and felt like she was trying to do more with the story than she actually had the skill to do. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge Harry Potter fan. I’ve read the series twice now and plan to read it again, but I feel that maybe Rowling should stick with the YA genre. While the writing was a little more mature than we saw in the Harry Potter books, I still do not feel that it was to the caliber of adult fiction.

On top of this, I had plenty of other issues with the book that I felt could have been fixed, but I have this nagging feeling that she didn’t have a great editor since they probably figured that her name would sell the book. These issues are:

  1. There were too many characters. While reading I kept having to turn back pages to figure out who was related to who. At the same time, I didn’t understand why some of them were even characters as they weren’t highly important to the story or the development of other characters.
  2. Because of the huge amount of characters she often had POV problems. The POV often changed in the middle of a chapter with no warning, not even a paragraph break, which sometimes led to me keep thinking I was in someone else’s head rather than who’s head I was actually in. Cutting down the amount of characters would have helped since it appears that she wanted to get into everyone’s head when she didn’t have to, thus leading to confusion.
  3. There were often these long sections that she would but into parenthesis to explain back story for whichever character was being focused on at the time. They were distracting and took the reader away from what was actually happening in the story. Sometimes this even happened in the middle of conversations and they were so long that I would have to go back and remind myself of what was being talked about before the interruption. If she really wanted the back story, she should have incorporated into the story rather than taking us out of it to explain certain details. Also, some of these extra back story tidbits were not important to either the story or our views of the character.
  4. She has a character in the book that is practically a carbon-copy of Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye, and I hate that book solely because I hate Holden Caulfield. The only main differences are that Fats uses the work inauthentic instead of phony (which is just a pretentious way of saying phony), and he has a sort of girlfriend that he actually has sex with. This, of course made me hate this character with every fiber of my being right off the bat.
  5. The story is uninteresting. It’s a very slow crawl of a plot about people in a town fighting over gets the vacated seat in the city council and along the way lots of family stuff crops up that sometimes affects how the characters react to things. That’s about it. I don’t care about any of the character since none of them are totally likable and there are some characters that I would just like to push in front of a bus. And not in that, “I love to hate them” way. Just in a “you are super annoying and need to leave” way.

In the end, I would not recommend this book to anyone, unless they would like to read a book that is an example of an editor dropping the ball. Many issues could have been fixed that weren’t and even then, I’m still not sure that the book would have been any good, it just would have been a little lesspainful to read. As it is, I should have stopped earlier on and used the time that I spent on this book reading A Feast for Crows. This being said, I’m still going to try The Cuckoo’s Calling, but my hopes are not very high.

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