When I first began to read this novel, I picked it up, read the first chapter and set it down for a year. When I began to read it in earnest I didn’t put it down again.
I have heard of people either hating it or loving it. My feelings are mixed and maybe that is why I will encourage you to read it.
The writing within this novel is true to J.K. Rowling, pure genius. I love her subtle ways of revealing the personality of a character, just as much as her fluid yet dramatic way of shocking you, and this book is shocking. By now we all know not to think of her as just the author of Harry Potter, but this novel is a complete 180 degrees of anything you can think of with a happy ending.
Image a book where there is not a single character that represents good, in fact each person has an annoying, hateful, or cruel characteristic. I disliked each and everyone one of them. I found myself wishing for something to happen to change their ways, but even when something started to stir within this interweaving community, nothing happened… besides a shift to a darker side of reality.
This reality could be seen as a reflection of our own. Prideful, self-centred, judgemental, cruel are all characteristics that were shown within the characters; in the end it was a lack of care for the people around them that made their lives painful to read about.
Upon closing the book I began to analyse my reactions. What made the characters annoy me? Was I being as judgemental to poor Krystal as most of the upper class characters had been? Would I have ever acted like Anthony or Fats in my younger years? So many conversations to generate from each character! So many ways they were described and used within the story. Even though it depressed me, frustrated me and had me wishing it was another Harry Potter book, I kind of want to read it again.
‘The Casual Vacancy’ is a mottled and grey quilt of a story, but its pattern is so beautiful and intricate that you will want it on your wall… or bookshelf.
Top Five Things I loved about it:
1) The Definitions before a section, masterfully chosen
2) Excellent example of the one rule of story telling: Show, Don’t Tell. Example: “Her distorted reflection was puffy after their sleepless night, her chestnut-brown eyes bloodshot. In her haste to witness the telling of Howard, Samantha had carelessly rubbed fake tanning lotion into the rims.” You have no idea how much I love these two sentences!
3) How she interwove the community and characters, they are all connected, even if they don’t like to think so.
4) The truthfulness of it, very reliable narrator and very vivid with unique characters
5) The art of the beginning and the end.
Don’t read if:
You can’t handle drama, death, unhappy endings or unlikable characters