Customer Review

671 of 776 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No Vacancy, September 27, 2012
This review is from: The Casual Vacancy (Hardcover)
The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling is perhaps somewhat of enigma. I, just like countless thousands of other readers was so curious about what this author would come up with after so many hugely popular Harry Potter books. This book was in a way, refreshing, and in a way disappointing. Let me explain.
I knew going in after watching the news coverage on the release of this book, that it was intended for adults. I also knew that it was a...bit off the beaten path, particularly when held in comparison to her previous books. I think that is where we reviewers may be going wrong. As much as we swear we will not judge this novel off of previous books by this author, the magic and wonder of her previous series is steadfastly and stubbornly locked in our minds.
I did my best to lay Harry and his magical friends to rest when I picked up "The Casual Vacancy." So from here on I will not mention the previous series again.
What I loved about this book: This book was funny at times, sad at others and moved along at a good enough clip to keep my mind occupied. I thought the town was great, the characters were sharp and the writing itself was very good. I liked that the author told the fans what she wanted to write this time rather than beat a dying horse to death and stick with the program.
I liked that the ending left you wondering certain things and yet answered the most important things. I thought the book was well edited and intelligent, regardless of the subject matter.
What I didn't like: (Attempting to do this without spoilers) I really couldn't see how some of the material in this book could be considered as coming from a comedic standpoint. The opinion I got when watching the pre-release coverage for this book was that it was supposed to be tinged with comedy. Some of the issues in this book are just plain depressing and not at all what I would have considered a topic to laugh about.
I found an undercurrent throughout this book that strangely, made me hate it for the same reason I loved it. I felt as though the author went to extremes trying to prove that she could write something other than young adult fiction, that in an odd way, made the writing came out a bit juvenile.
I also felt that the author spent a bit too little time on description and a bit too much time pondering the macabre. Perhaps it was just me, but I came away feeling a bit dry. For me, this book was like sitting on a hilltop with your camera poised on a beautiful sky waiting for that perfect sunset. All of a sudden, your expectations are shattered when a huge cloud moves in front of the sun and ruins the shot. I expected so much for a book that was five years in the making. I did not feel this book measured up to that expectation.
J.K. Rowling previously said that she would not want to talk to anyone who did not cry at the end of this book. I hope I am not the first to disappoint her, but Not a single tear did I shed. I seriously came away feeling casually vacant.
To those of you who are moaning and groaning over the prices of the kindle books and leaving negative is wingardium leviosa....NOT Wingardium Levi-o-sahhhhhhh. Read the book before you judge. I did.
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Tracked by 7 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 31 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 28, 2012 8:45:33 AM PDT
J. Green says:
Very good, thoughtful review that echoes many of my own impressions of this story.
I too felt like Ms Rowling went too far with the adult themes just to prove that she could write an "adult" novel. I found this very off putting and it spoiled my enjoyment of the book.

Posted on Sep 29, 2012 3:15:43 PM PDT
Dear Ionia,
Thanks so much for reading the book in it's entirety and for your thoughtful response. I appreciate it very much and will make the purchase with my eyes open.

Posted on Sep 30, 2012 5:44:16 PM PDT
A. Allen says:
your last comment made me laugh out loud and read to my husband ;) I appreciated your thoughtful & fair review.

Posted on Oct 3, 2012 3:37:38 PM PDT
Lyn Robie says:
Wonderful review - thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts,

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 4, 2012 11:48:39 PM PDT
JR Corry says:
Very clever indeed!

Posted on Oct 7, 2012 8:23:04 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 7, 2012 8:23:46 AM PDT
Z'annae says:
What's with the HP puns? This is NOT Harry Potter.

I was one of the people who didn't fancy this book much, and it's not for the reasons you say. This has nothing to do with, specifically HP, this has to do with the author's skills not being the same. The writing, narrating, description, etc do not "pull you in" as it does in her previous work (and yes, plenty of non-fantasy books can still suck you in).

So perhaps you're reflecting yourself. But I knew this was an adult book the moment uhh... you read the description? ADULT NOVEL. *blink*

I just hate that it perpetuates the notion that adult = bland, dull, insanely corrupted, ineloquent, perverse, etc

Children = eloquent, intelligent, charming, high quality, advanced, etc...

Ironic, eh? We tend to think we're SO much better than children. Yet according to our entertainment... we're not.... apparently. O.o

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 7, 2012 6:41:51 PM PDT
Tom O says:
The reviewer said nothing of the sort. But even if they had, they would be justified in saying it - this book is a special case; for many, its individual merit is intrinsically linked to its author's past success. There's just no way around that - it's the inevitable emotional response of passionate readers. If 'The Casual Vacancy' weren't written by J.K. Rowling it would be largely overlooked anyway (which says nothing about the quality of it, and everything about the fickleness of the market).

I don't see why your comment needed to be so snarky. This reviewer was nothing but fair and impartial. What's the issue with quipping about Harry Potter? Much of the review audience would be HP graduates, so what's wrong with making a lighthearted reference? (It made a reader laugh out loud just a few comments up.)

I don't think the gulf between children's and adult's literature is quite as wide as you've implied. Human emotions are universal; it's only the approach that changes. I think the notion you've suggested stems from your own perception, and is not indicative of how it really is (certainly I've never thought of adult novels as bland or corrupt, and children's as the inverse!).

Posted on Oct 8, 2012 10:30:09 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Oct 8, 2012 11:33:58 AM PDT]

Posted on Oct 9, 2012 1:51:43 PM PDT
Z Traveler says:
Great review. Thanks for taking the time to detail your thoughts. I haven't determined if I am going to read it but definitely won't judge until I make the decision to read it.

Posted on Oct 12, 2012 10:03:23 AM PDT
Michele says:
I also did not find much funny in this book, but I think I may have missed some of the humor because British humor is more subtle, right? Also, I'm a very sympathetic sort and was too focused on the depressing parts; I did cry near the end.
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