Book Review: The Casual Vacancy

imageI read and LOVED every word of Harry Potter– J. K. Rowling is just a FANTASTIC writer. The Casual Vacancy is her first foray into the adult contemporary fiction genre. Of course there was a lot of hype! I was hyped! I got it the first month it was out! Honestly, I was not expecting Harry– I knew this one would be nothing like it (she said it hundreds, if not thousands of times). I started to read it in October (OCTOBER!!?) and I FINALLY finished it last week. I kept putting it aside, reading several books in between. I found it could not keep my interest and there were moments I thought I would give up altogether. The thing was– the story was just not very interesting!

From Goodreads:

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils … Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

The first several chapters were short and introduced you to WAY too many characters all at once. You would just figure out what was going on with one set of characters when you would be introduced to a whole new one. Then you wouldn’t hear from the first set for several chapters and forget who they were when you heard from them again. It also seemed that Ms. Rowling wanted to tackle every single social issue  known to man. Divorce, affairs, deaths, drug abuse, physically abusive parents, being new in town, beaten women, distant wives, cougarism, asthma, rape, cutting, plight of the poor, teenage angst, shacking-up, bullying, obesity, racism, perfectionism and rowing. Then there was the politics. Small town parish politics is bor-ring! Even the scandal (The_Ghost_of_Barry_Fairbrother blog posts defaming the candidates one by one) had me yawning more than wondering.

Too much. Not enough. Just not interesting. 2.5 stars (but it won’t stop me from trying J. K. Rowling again).

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