Miranda Reads's Reviews > The Casual Vacancy

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
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Small town gossip, big town problems

By no exaggeration, the entire community hinged on Barry Fairbrother. He was the glue, the tape, the old piece of string.

And, they are left scrambling to hold things together when he unexpectedly passed.

Why? Because the entire idyllic town is festering over a cesspool of drugs, prostitution, self harm, rape, class divisions, abuse and sexism.

Told through ever changing narrators, we see just how Barry Fairbrother held their families - their community - together through his kindness and willingness to care.

And without him, the whole town begins to crumble. Will they pull everything together? Or will everything be lost forever?

Whoa. This one was intense - not at all what I expected from JK Rowling.

It was still good - just completely unexpected.

The characters were well fleshed out and the plot was absolutely riveting. It's a bit like watching a train wreck.

So many people, so many ways to uniquely ruin lives.

After learning all that Barry did, I'm surprised that his aneurysm hadn't come earlier.

The book did get to be a bit overwhelming - there's only so much I can take. About 3/4, the book got a bit overwhelming for me...

It ends on a semi-positive note, with a hint of a hope that things will get better - which felt fairly realistic.

I'm glad I read this one but I don't think I'll pick up a copy.

Just as a note, if you are looking for something with the harry potter vibe... this is not it.

The teens in this book are not idyllic or innocent. They are already well versed in abuse, neglect, drugs and sex, courtesy of their upbringing.

Audiobook Comments:
Tom Hollander did a pretty good job of distinguishing the characters through inflections and mannerisms. With such a large cast, I think there needed to be a bit more characterization to help tell them apart.

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Happy Reading!
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Reading Progress

December 4, 2017 – Started Reading
December 4, 2017 – Shelved
December 8, 2017 –
page 5
0.99%
December 14, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-42 of 42 (42 new)

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Miranda Reads Thank you :D


Jaline Great review, Miranda. I felt a lot like you did except it didn't leave me with a sense of hope - just a sense that I was very glad I didn't live there. lol


Miranda Reads It was more of a smidge of hope that things might change...though I agree, it's too ambiguous for a full sense of hope.


Jaline Miranda wrote: "It was more of a smidge of hope that things might change...though I agree, it's too ambiguous for a full sense of hope."

Very well said, Miranda. :)


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Great review. Thanks.


message 6: by Kris (new) - added it

Kris Well I’m glad I picked this up at a resale shop then. If it gets 3 stars I will at least start it but your review only gives me a smidge of hope that I’ll like it☺️


Audrey I think it had a good message about how people need to treat each other.


message 8: by Anahita (new)

Anahita Great review hon XOXO


Chrissie Nice review! While I also liked it, I felt that some ingredients for the cesspool you mention possibly came from Rowling simply stretching her adult writing muscles.


Joshua Thompson 3/5 is what I gave it as well. I felt like this was her transition novel into writing for adults and it definitely had its warts.


Barbara This book was a big favorite for me. :)


Miranda Reads Kris wrote: "Well I’m glad I picked this up at a resale shop then. If it gets 3 stars I will at least start it but your review only gives me a smidge of hope that I’ll like it☺️"

It was more of a 3.5 star book. I liked it but i wouldn't read it again.


Miranda Reads Audrey wrote: "I think it had a good message about how people need to treat each other."

very good point :)


Miranda Reads Anahita wrote: "Great review hon XOXO"

Thanks!!


Miranda Reads Chrissie wrote: "Nice review! While I also liked it, I felt that some ingredients for the cesspool you mention possibly came from Rowling simply stretching her adult writing muscles."

Lol! Good way to put it!


Miranda Reads Joshua wrote: "3/5 is what I gave it as well. I felt like this was her transition novel into writing for adults and it definitely had its warts."

haha, yup! It has a few rough patches but it was quite stunning in its own way


Miranda Reads Barbara wrote: "This book was a big favorite for me. :)"

Awesome. J K is the best :)


message 18: by Rylee (new) - rated it 1 star

Rylee (Hermit Odysseus) I definitely agree with the train wreck comparison. This book made me need to eat a pint of ice cream while watching an extensive amount of Friends episodes to regain some faith in humanity.


Miranda Reads Rylee wrote: "I definitely agree with the train wreck comparison. This book made me need to eat a pint of ice cream while watching an extensive amount of Friends episodes to regain some faith in humanity."

Oh gosh. Yes. I read like 3 happy books after this one to get rid of the crippling depression


message 20: by Audrey (last edited Jun 27, 2018 06:34PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Audrey I cried so hard at the end, and I don’t cry from books very often. I had to tell myself, It’s okay; they’ve learned their lesson; they’re going to be excellent to each other now.

I also don’t see it as very re-readable.


Miranda Reads Audrey wrote: "I cried so hard at the end, and I don’t cry from books very often. I had to tell myself, It’s okay; ..."

Oh my gosh. That ending. I was listening to the audio while folding laundry and when the ending happened, i just sat there, completely stunned.

I really needed another chapter of happy conclusions!


Beverly I hated the ending, even though you could see it coming. Ugh!


Miranda Reads Beverly wrote: "I hated the ending, even though you could see it coming. Ugh!"

Ughhhh, yes. That ending hurt


message 24: by LostKnight (new) - added it

LostKnight Great review. Thanks!


message 25: by Zoe (new) - added it

Zoe I love how I'm like " drugs, sex, rape etc, well this isn't very innocent," and your like: from JK Rowling.

Me: ExcUsE mE wHAT


message 26: by Sheri (new) - added it

Sheri Great review Miranda. Perhaps it's possible that the author is tired of writing YA and wants to venture into more adult themes. Is this the first book that she has written with this particular theme?? I really loved her Potter books. She's so creative it's good to see her crossing over into new genres.


Chasity I so wanted to like this but found it extremely depressing.


message 28: by Julia (new)

Julia Ash Great review, Miranda!!! I'm not sure I'm up for this one right now. Sounds very heavy and when I read, I like survival & good-versus-evil stories that are larger than life (Harry Potter, for example) and that inspire the extraordinary. This book sounds like flat-out realism in your face--even though I understand that these stories need to be told. (But realism can be quite depressing!)


Leila Not for me Miranda but that certainly doesn't take away from your excellent review. Thank you.


Jaline Great review, Miranda! I liked that you mentioned that there is a faint hint of hope toward the end. I felt that, too, but for me this village was in such a colossal mess that the thinness of the thread of hope was next to hopeless. 😎


Miranda Reads LostKnight wrote: "Great review. Thanks!"

Thank you!


Miranda Reads Zara (BookswithDaggers) wrote: "I love how I'm like " drugs, sex, rape etc, well this isn't very innocent," and your like: from JK Rowling.

Me: ExcUsE mE wHAT"


I know, right? Jaw-dropping.


Miranda Reads Sheri wrote: "Great review Miranda. Perhaps it's possible that the author is tired of writing YA and wants to venture into more adult themes. Is this the first book that she has written with this particular them..."

I think this was the first outside of the Potter World.... though she's written other novels under a pseudonym.


Miranda Reads Chasity wrote: "I so wanted to like this but found it extremely depressing."

It was definitely a downer


Miranda Reads Julia wrote: "Great review, Miranda!!! I'm not sure I'm up for this one right now. Sounds very heavy and when I read, I like survival & good-versus-evil stories that are larger than life (Harry Potter, for examp..."

Flat out realism - that sounds right :p it was heavily realistic. It was still very well written!


Miranda Reads Leila wrote: "Not for me Miranda but that certainly doesn't take away from your excellent review. Thank you."

Haha, thanks Leila!


Miranda Reads Jaline wrote: "Great review, Miranda! I liked that you mentioned that there is a faint hint of hope toward the end. I felt that, too, but for me this village was in such a colossal mess that the thinness of the t..."

I honestly try not to think about the thinness of the hope....


message 38: by NZLisaM (last edited Apr 27, 2019 03:36PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

NZLisaM 'Overwhelming' is a fitting description. Found this one heavy going and hard hitting, and as you said, about as far removed from Harry Potter as you can get.


message 39: by Deanna (new)

Deanna Excellent review!!!


Miranda Reads NZLisaM wrote: "'Overwhelming' is a fitting description. Found this one heavy going and hard hitting, and as you said, about as far removed from Harry Potter as you can get."

Definitely still good! But overwhelming. Very overwhelming.


Miranda Reads Deanna wrote: "Excellent review!!!"

Thank you!!


message 42: by Sheri (new) - added it

Sheri Wonderful review Miranda.


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