Stephanie's Reviews > The Casual Vacancy

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
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Dec 07, 12

Read from November 22 to 30, 2012

Good god. If I had known how crushingly sad the last 50 pages or so would be, I would never have finished this book before bed.

For now, let me just say that J.K. Rowling could teach Ellen Hopkins a thing or two about writing a depressing story (although there were some happy endings in here, sort of...though I wouldn't really say any of these people were happy by the end of the book).

12/08/12: I kept forgetting to update my review of this book. I had a lot more things to say but it was late and I was a little upset when I finished it.

So. My primary thought on this book is that it just proves what I thought all along: JK Rowling is not a fantasy novelist; she is a character writer. And man, can she write characters! I was pretty quickly pulled into the story from the beginning, and I had been told that it would be hard to keep track of all the characters at first, but I didn't find it difficult, even though that is often my problem in a book with many characters. I think the reason was that they were so clearly described from the outset, with such boldly defined places in the town and in their families, that I had a strong picture in my head from the first time each person entered the story.

I loved the grittiness, even as it broke my heart. What a strong portrayal of all the facets of social classes, although I don't think the book really had an opinion; equal time was given to each side, I would say. The people on the side of the Fields seemed infinitely more sympathetic to me, but maybe that was just because of the youth factor (and perhaps my own history - I would be interested to talk to someone who leans the other way, socially, about this book).

Regardless, I felt strongly toward all the characters, whether good or bad, and I suspect that JKR herself had once lived in a place like this because it seemed so real.

And I should also point out, in case you, the reader, are wondering if you should read this book (you should) - I didn't really like the sound of it when I read the description. I didn't understand how she would wring an entire plot out of one dead man's council seat (how relevant is local government, anyway?), and usually I hate it when a novel starts with the death of a character. Too much mourning about someone I never got to know or care about. But I was wrong to doubt, and Barry Fairbrother, the dead man, was perhaps the most central character of all. It made perfect sense once I got into it.

It was a fascinating, riveting, heartbreaking, hilarious (no, really) story, and I'll probably read it again next year.
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Reading Progress

11/25/2012 page 223
44.0% "The multitude of bad or at least disappointed reviews made me apprehensive to read this, but I'm happy to say that I've been pleasantly surprised."

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