The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling: Part One

Oh my goodness J.K. Rowling has a new book!!!!!!! is the only proper way to begin this piece. I actually held out for about two days before I bought it, partly hoping that it could be a good item for my Christmas list (ha! like I would’ve lasted that long), and partly trying to be one of those people who doesn’t spend too much money on books for a little while. Well it was a noble attempt, right? Actually, I had also heard how expensive it was (like $26!) and maybe part of me was rebelling the unnecessarily high cost. But a little trip to good ole Costco solved that problem. I mean $19.99 is so much better than $26, right?

And moving on. So Rowling’s new book. I’ve just finished the first five chapters and, I’ve gotta say, and with a great deal of pain: I’m not sure I’d keep reading it if it wasn’t written by her. There! I’ve said it. I’ve defiled the provider of Harry Potter! I will now have to repent in some way…perhaps with finishing the rest of her book.

Granted it has only been five chapters. If I can say one good thing, it is that I think the plot will go somewhere. Maybe a second good thing would be that none of her characters seem to follow any cliched role I can think of. But now for the bad things. Well first I guess would be that it’s an adult book. I knew this going in of course, but was wholly unprepared for the reality. So far there’s been the occasional swear (sidenote – seeing Rowling swear in her writing is pretty distracting and off-putting, though I wouldn’t normally have a problem with it if it were any other author) and these very awkward sexual comments that just seem so out of place. Like describing somebody’s ugly boobs. It’s so weird I don’t even know how to comment on it. Okay let’s move on again, please!

So bad point number two would be that it’s boring. This guy dies and townsfolk of all kinds are reacting to it. Twenty-six pages in and I’ve lost track of the myriad of characters already introduced, and really not interested in their small-town politics. Like I mentioned, it kind of seems like it could perhaps become interesting later on, but maybe that’s too much to wish for.

My next beef is the tone of the novel. Everything so far is set up to be incredibly depressing. This guy is repulsed by this woman he’s sleeping with; A teenager has a bad relationship with his father; People rejoice in the death of a town leader; This guy dies and leaves his four children fatherless! J.K. Rowling what have you done! What about the Weasleys and Dumbledore and…and…and THIS IS CRAZY! MOVING ON!

Lastly, I’m disappointed with just about everything. Rowling has had my greatest praise and I suppose the bar was so high, the fall has been catastrophic. She has every right to branch out into new areas, but it’s as if a completely different author has written this. Every once in a while it seems like there’s a typo, but I’m not sure if maybe it’s just a stupid way of saying something. There’s also some oddly-phrased lines like “She was perennially acquiver to detect condescension…” (pg 16). I just don’t know what to make of it anymore! Also, the book cover is ugly.

Well I’ve done it. My first scathing review, and on the J.K. Rowling of all people. But there is a chance at redemption  Perhaps Part Two won’t be as painful to write. Now back to my chore.


5 responses

  1. Ha! Oh, Kaite!! I feel for you. How disenchanted you sound. Poor J.K. is just trying to branch out and try something different. Thanks for the review, though. Pretty sure I won’t even be taking this out of the library (laughed at your “restraint” in buying the book)!! Actually, I pretty much laughed through your whole review. Love and miss you, Kaite!

  2. Pingback: The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling: Part Two | A Novel Thing

  3. I felt The same way after 5 chapters but pressed on bc I felt I owed it to JK for all that HP meant to me and my family. The book gets better!!! Much better. I would say at about page 250 or so. Now I can’t put it down!!!!

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