Saturday 10 November 2012

Book Review - The Casual Vacancy

Title: The Casual Vacancy
Author: J.K. Rowling
Publisher: Little, Brown
Release Date: 27 Sep 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1408704202

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.
Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty fa├žade is a town at war.
Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils...Pagford is not what it first seems.
And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?
The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.

My Review
I obviously only wanted to read this because it was written by J.K Rowling, but I knew it would be nothing like Harry Potter and a lot more adult. But I was determined to give it a go, and it left me with mixed emotions. 
The book starts of with Barry Fairbrother dying, this causes turmoil in the small town of Pagford and becomes a campaign to see who will take his place on the local council. But it also becomes so much more than that.
The book sort of starts off quite wide - focusing on a lot of different characters fromo all through the town and although you stay with all of them throughout, a few become more prominent, mainly Krystal, Arthur, Fats, Gaia and Sukhvinder (the younger generation) but everything they do effects the older generation.
I will admit that I found it quite confusing throughout, there are so many characters that I couldn't remember who was who, Simon, Howard, Samantha, Shirley, Maureen, Stuart, etc, When I sat down and read in chunks of 100 pages or more it would get easier and I would be more focused, into the story I suppose, but when I put it down and came back to it later (sometimes up to a day) I would have to try and figure it all out again.
For me the first half of the book was really slow, not much really happens. J.K focuses a lot on character development and letting you see deep into their 'world' but I wanted something to happen. Things do start to pick up a bit and get more interesting but I can't say I was captivated. I didn't really like any of the characters and didn't feel involved with any of them, more like I was a spectator to their lives. There just wasn't much for me to connect with. I suppose I felt closest to Arthur and even Kay. They stood out as the characters I wanted to know more about.
This book is definitely adult. It has sex, drugs, violence, abuse, rape, bribery, theft, death, mental illness. The lot. At points I felt a bit uncomfortable reading it - partly because I knew it was Harry Potter's creator writing it, but also because I'm quite naive in general and tend not to read that sort of thing.
I honestly didn't hate it, but I wouldn't read it again. It seemed to take a long time to not really get anywhere. And the whole thing started with the rivalry for the campaign, but once the new person gets elected it doesn't seem that important and isn't really focused on. 
It was written well, of course. The book did offer good imagery and description, I could picture the characters and village easily. 
I'd say this book was worth a try but just wasn't for me, but I'm not disappointed as I didn't really expect to love it. Just not my sort of read. Good to try something different now and then.

My Rating

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great review :) I have heard so many different things about this novel. It is nice to see someone who reviews the book based on the novel and not based on the fact that it is written by JK Rowling and that you also say that you know it is going to be nothing like HP :)