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

Well, I did it! The book is done, and my opinion of the novel is much less harsh than it once was. I have gotten over my shock, and am ready to treat the story like any other.  I’ll begin by addressing my previous critiques:

  1. The Adultness of the Book:

So this was, of course, mostly me just being a little shocked by Rowling’s new story. I knew it wasn’t going to be kids going to a boarding school or anything, but it was just so different. It’s still a bit weird for me. I stick by my line that I wouldn’t have read it (story-wise) if it wasn’t by Rowling, a point I’ll get into a bit later. I wasn’t as repulsed by the ‘ugly boobs’-type stuff, but that was both because I was more accustomed to it, and I don’t think it occurred as much as in the first five chapters, overall. 

2. The Book is Boring:

It really does have quite a boring premise, but this is definitely the point I’ll be changing my tune on the most. Even at the end of five chapters I kind of have to admit I was curious as to what would happen to the characters, though my curiosity did not meet any of the levels it is usually at for other books. I got to know all the characters better, was intrigued by the complex way they were interconnected, and wanted to see how they all ended up. I still don’t care about small-town politics, but I like the idea that books don’t have to have crazy, exciting storylines in order to draw readers. That being said, I missed Rowling’s comedic talent and lightheartedness, which, I admit, would not fit into this story at all.

3. The Depressing Tone of the Novel:

This is the point I absolutely do not budge on. I previously pointed out how miserable the story was so far, and unfortunately the book definitely continues along that line. All the marriages are unhappy, parents neglect their kids, and the kids aren’t all that nice either. This is really not the kind of book I usually like to read – life is too short, and why spend any of it unhappy? But my other shoulder is telling me that important moments in life can happen in gloomy circumstances such as these, so it’s important to read about them sometimes. Well I think I’ve filled my sadness quota for the rest of October, and am content to go back to the land of Harry Potter.

Overall I’m glad I read the book. Rowling’s ability to write is clearly not limited to the Harry Potter series, and I’m sure I’ll find myself reading all of her subsequent novels. The end nicely sums up all the stories, but definitely falls short of a happy finish – which really suits the book, though. It makes me sad that Rowling had to write such an unhappy story, but hey, she’s got to break out of her mold somehow, I guess. I wouldn’t recommend this book to the faint of heart. It’s a complex, unhappy, yet critical story about ordinary life and will not be a quick read. It’d probably pull a 5/10 from me, mostly because, though it was miserable and depressing, it had an important story and when you really get down to it, was written by a great, talented author.

Click here for Part One of the review.

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6 responses

  1. I had dismissed this book after your review (nah, not worth the time if Kaite’s not recommending it), but just now I find out that my well-read cousin really enjoyed the book. Hmm….what to do? I will read it after all, and decide for myself! She calls it a Maeve Binchy, but much darker. I will keep you posted.

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