Review: The Casual Vacancy

Good girl gone bad-
Take three-
No clouds in my storms…
Let it rain, I hydroplane into fame
Comin’ down with  the Dow Jones
Rating: 3.5/5
Author: J.K. Rowling
My biggest barriers in appreciating the book was first, realizing it was not a children’s fantasy novel, which I did know beforehand yet persisted in stubbornly looking for elements of Harry Potter in, and second, finding among the pool of hypocritical, self-serving and venomous adults and cheeky and ungrateful or cowardly and weak children a character to give my sympathy to.

The themes are certainly very adult – suicide, child abuse physical, verbal and sexual, rape, adultery and pedophilia, subjecting every character to various degrees and making them all perpetuators. That is what sets the greatest difference from Harry Potter – Harry is ultimately too good to cast the Avada Kedavra on Bellatrix following Sirius’ death. Hermione, despite her bosiness is little-miss-perfect. Snape, perhaps the most flawed is still tragically sainted – real, serious and despicable flaws are reserved only for Lord Voldemort, even the Death Eaters are merely pitifully deluded. Yet, in The Casual Vacancy, each character is shamelessly twisted. In the place of self-sacrificing children and their equally self-sacrificing families in a time of war, you have dirty politicians, their vicious spouses and their venomous children in the aftermath of another politician’s death, harder to pity and infinitely harder to love. Yet, it is these flaws which infinitely mark them as humans. Perhaps it is absurd that all the issues contained in the plot should happen in one single, insignificant town, yet these issues are nontheless very real today and it is through these issues vis-a-vis their flaws that allows the reader to sympathize with the characters, albeit grudgingly and feel especially for the tragedy which ends the book and turns the plot around.

It certainly is no Harry Potter and in my bias, perhaps, I believe no subsequent Rowling work will produce the same impact as her previous series has done but The Casual Vacancy is certainly well-written and in possesion of valuable insights to ponder over. It’s no Harry Potter and remains in no position to compete, even in the field of more mature litterature but it remains a must read, although I have to say that I’m not too attached nor will it go to my pile of frequently re-read books.

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A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena


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    • says

      Well, it was nice. Very well written, well-developed plot but I found it much harder to connect with the characters and because of that, I feel that it won’t be one of the books in my shelf that I will re-read religiously. But I recommend it for all that. =D

      Thanks for the meme, I’ll be joining it as soon as I post this reply =D

  1. says

    I haven’t read these adult books JKR wrote cos I want to keep Harry Potter and JKR as pure as I can in my mind /weirdo. I won’t be able to keep myself from judging these books unfairly to HP haha.
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