A book-related Freebee Friday!
This awesome review was written by my good friend, and reading buddy, Tiff. 🙂
When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little 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 town’s 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? Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.
I had high hopes for this book. I love books set in a small town atmosphere. The plot seemed interesting enough and let’s face it, I loved Harry Potter so this was a must read for me because I wanted to see what type of book JKR was going to write post HP. I see so many individuals writing reviews comparing Casual Vacancy to the Harry Potter series, that’s annoying. The author made it clear this is no way associated to HP series. So, the book is destined to fail for you if readers are expecting wizards and magic. It’s a book for adults.
It’s a slow starter. There are a lot of characters. I lost count but I think the book shifts perspective between 16 people. At about 40% I’d say it started to really capture my interest. The story isn’t that exciting, it’s more of a big soap opera. Stop now if you don’t want spoilers.
Here’s why I didn’t like the book. The book portrays the worst in people. Out of all the characters I only could muster liking two or three of them, barely. And the character I had such high hopes for to redeem herself and better her life ends up dying in a tragic, horrible way. In this story there was just the worst in people brought out and it seemed that there was no humanity. We have to believe there’s good in some people right?!
There’s sex, drugs, profanity, murder, rape, pedophilia, and bullying. None of which offend me but it’s a bit much to cram in a small town! The characters are at each other’s throats and the whole town is a bunch of extremist gossips & bullies. The main issue stemmed from the majority of the town council wanting to cut off funding and close a rehab clinic that’s directly linked to several of the characters. The lack of sympathy for others was appalling. There are a few good people and outcomes as a result of the big climax, I’ll give it that.
I can take depressing books, in fact some of the best books are downtrodden because they expose us to things outside our comfort zone and different cultures. But this one was too much. I felt there were too many tragedies crammed into the vast amount of characters in the small town.
So in short it was the lack of humanity, sympathy, goodness in people and the tragic death of a character I’d hope would redeem herself that ruined the book for me.
But, read it for yourself, perhaps you’ll disagree with me. The reviews out there are very much mixed.