So, anyone who knows anything about me knows that I'm a Harry Potter geek. Hardcore. I was the girl who conveniently had a birthday at the end of JulySo, anyone who knows anything about me knows that I'm a Harry Potter geek. Hardcore. I was the girl who conveniently had a birthday at the end of July, so I'd have Harry Potter theme parties. I would anxiously wait in long lineups with my friends so that we could be the first to read about Harry's adventures. And of course, this mania carried into my 20's. I bawled my eyes out in the theatre with my best friend as the finality of the Deathly Hallows movie marked the end of my childhood.
The world that J.K. Rowling creates in The Casual Vacancy is far removed from that of the Wizarding World. This is the world that Dudley Dursely was left to every time Harry hopped aboard the Hogwarts Express. This is the world of Petunia Dursley craning her neck over the fence to catch the latest tidbits of gossip. This is the world where young girls are force to deal with drug-addicted mothers, and social issues such as rape, domestic abuse, and self-mutilation exist.
While I will always love the Harry Potter series for the magic that Rowling breathes into the pages, I fell in love with The Casual Vacancy for the exact opposite reasons. Everything just felt so gosh darn real.
This book is a testament to Rowling's gift for creating 3-dimensional, relatable characters. There's no black and white, no good vs. evil. Instead, the characters are brought forth, dissected, and then analysed to the point of mundanity. And yet, these mundane details add so much depth to each character. By the end of the novel, although we may not have grown to love each character, we have a better understanding of their motives. She creates pathos for characters that we would otherwise find repulsive had they been portrayed in any other way.
Having gushed about The Casual Vacancy, I understand that this isn't a book for everybody. Readers will be turned off by the vulgarity and the social issues that Rowling brushes upon. The fact that this book isn't Harry Potter will cause some readers to automatically dislike it. However, I believe that what makes this book so outstanding is that there's nothing outstanding about this. This book is written about ordinary people living ordinary lives. As another reviewer so eloquently stated, this is Rowling captures the insignificant details of life that can lead to every day tragedy, and what isn't believable about that?
Prior to reading this book, I read Fury by Salman Rushdie. In this book,Malik Solanka, an artistic genius creates a character so big, so iconic, that he becomes synonymous with this character. Everything that he creates is compared, and criticized against his masterpiece. His life is cast into the shadows of a monster that he so lovingly created.
Although I agree with the millions of you that fall into the "Harry Potter is freakin' awesome" category, I think that as readers, we need to separate J.K. Rowling's talents as an author from her celebrity. There's so much to love about this book, and I can't wait to read more of Rowling's "adult" novels.