Li Seagull's Reviews > The Casual Vacancy

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
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's review
Apr 12, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: realistic-fiction, meh





Actual review

Wow. that was



Alright, so this book is definitely not for everyone. But, aside from the high-strung language, graphic sex and violence, and even the genre-related differences, I think that the real differentiating factor between this novel and the Harry Potter series is the unmitigated pessimism, for lack of a better word to describe it.

See, at the end of the Harry Potter series, while people have died and the world of Britain is still very much war-torn and healing, Harry has emerged victorious alongside his two greatest companions that have been with him from beginning to end. The plot is clear-cut. The characters are all clear-cut. There's no doubt about the fact that Harry is the protagonist, the consummate good guy, and that Voldemort is the evil, unspeakable one whose desire is the disruption of the human race.

Yet, for this book, none of this is apparent. We have so many characters to pick and choose from that we're never sure who is the true protagonist and antagonist. And this isn't a bad thing. We have Fats, Andrew, Gaia, Kay, Miles, Gavin, Mary, Krystal, Tessa, Cubby, Si-Pie, Ruth, Howard, Shirley, Samantha, Parminder, Sukhvinder...

And the list goes on.

Each of them does some pretty horrible and graphic things. And in the end, though hard to imagine, we actually DO get a well-thought-out conclusion that wraps everything up nicely.

Yet there's no absolution for so many of these people; Sukhvinder barely gets anything from Fats, even after months of ceaseless cyber-torment. Parminder only has the schadenfreude that accompanies watching an enemy succumb to a long-plaguing illness of sorts. Andrew still has to deal with his abusive father, and Fats is in such deep shit with his family that I can't imagine anything going well for him within the next few years. Don't even get me started on Krystal and Gaia.

Inexplicably so, however, you, as an impartial reader, get every single side or perspective possible when dealing with the tragic nature of Pagford. You yourself watch the town fall apart, slowly at first, then so quickly and horrifyingly that you can truly empathize with each and every one of the characters. Each character is foiled nicely; you can empathize with Fats and Sukhvinder both at once, with Kay and Gaia, and even with Krystal throughout her horrible predicament.

And then the writing.

If you weren't convinced of Rowling's awe-inspiring talent of piecing the English language together from the Harry Potter series, or if this is your first book of hers (either way, shame on you!), this book will probably do the trick. If you don't like the characters, if you don't like the genre, or if you just hate every little thing about this book and its setting, you just have to enjoy the writing.

One of the most striking aspects of her novel, however, is the unsettling, abstract accuracy of her similes and metaphors. Seriously. Does she have a dictionary for this sort of stuff? She has one scary knack of picking and choosing the weirdest words to give the reader the best image of each character.

HIGHLY recommended to the now-grown fans of Harry Potter or to any adult lit buff, really.
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Quotes Li Liked

J.K. Rowling
“The mistake ninety-nine percent of humanity made, as far as Fats could see, were being ashamed of what they were, lying about it, trying to be somebody else. Honesty was Fats' currency, his weapon and defense. It frightened people when you were honest; it shocked them. Other people, Fats had discovered, were mired in embarrasment and pretense, terrified that their truths might leak out, but Fats was attracted by rawness, by everything that was ugly but honest, by the dirty things about which the likes of his father felt humiliated and disgusted. Fats thought a lot about messiahs and pariahs; about men labeled mad or criminal; noble misfits shunned by the sleepy masses.”
J.K. Rowling, The Casual Vacancy

Reading Progress

April 12, 2012 – Shelved
September 30, 2012 – Started Reading
October 1, 2012 –
page 102
20.28% "boy oh boy oh BOY is this book not for children"
October 6, 2012 – Shelved as: realistic-fiction
October 6, 2012 – Finished Reading
March 17, 2018 – Shelved as: meh

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Maryann (new)

Maryann I'm holding off on it until I get a stronger impression or I can get it free/cheap. Can't wait to hear what you think.

message 2: by Li (new) - rated it 4 stars

Li Seagull Alright. A hundred pages in, and boy oh boy is this not a children's book.

rameau I'm waiting for the library book.

rameau Finally finished reading it and yeah, that. I now want to buy it but the bookshops seem to only have the translations. Oh, well. Hunting I go.

message 5: by Li (new) - rated it 4 stars

Li Seagull Ahhhhh, I got the hardcopy but gave it to my friend as a birthday gift. I'll wait for the paperback or something. Best of luck to you!

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