The story was extremely depressing & slow. I almost fell asleep while driving. The narrator is probably good, but there's not much he could do with this story. I read lots of English novels...not just Harry Potter. I love JK Rowling, but this is just not up to her standards. I tried to plod through, but after starting the 2nd download, I just had to quit.
It was just a very depressing & slow story overall
He was good, it just wasn't good material.
Not really. I wasn't expecting all the bad language.
I wanted to like this book, but I just couldn't.
I don't often write book reviews. In fact, I think this may be my first. But with everyone writing in about how terrible they thought this book was, I thought I'd chip in my two cents.
I thought about not reading this book due to the terrible response it was getting from die-hard J.K. Rowling fans. I didn't want this book to change my opinion that Rowling is one of the best writers out there, as it seemed to be doing for so many fans. I thought about it. I'm glad I ignored them all.
This book will not please everyone because it wasn't meant to. It's like a Tarantino film. It's gruesome, it's hard, and in that way, it is a realistic representation of certain aspects of life as many people experience it in this world. And, like a Tarantino film, this book draws these same hard aspects of life out to such an extreme that it seems to glory in them, making you feel like it's just a little too much -- what? Too much to handle maybe, or too much to believe, or possibly... too much like your own life to really be enjoyable.
The thing that makes the Harry Potter story so fantastic is that it is, actually, painful to the point of being diffult to bear. My childhood memories are flecked with grief drawn by Rowling's pen. I remember where I was when Sirius died, and Dumbledore, and Snape, and (fleetingly) Harry. I felt real, hard, human grief over a character. I mourned the death of -- what? Dumbledore was never more than a cluster of words on a page. How could I feel real feeling at this fictional loss? Still, I remember my dad explaining my sombre expression at a family function. "She just finished the sixth Harry Potter book," he said, and it was all he needed to say. They understood because they'd felt it themselves.
That, truly, is Rowling's power. She has the unique ability to make her readers really feel what her characters are feeling. When a character dies in her books, it can feel like a character in our own lives has passed away.
I would suggest that she has actually honed this power in writing "The Casual Vacancy." Harry Potter was able to escape the post-trauma pain that followed him by throwing himself into school work, solving the mysteries of his world, or exacting revenge.
Escape is not an option in Pagford. Though many of the characters think about getting out, and some try to, their endeavors are always somehow thwarted. Ultimately they must each turn and face the things that make their lives difficult.
It is not an easy book, but then, I don't think Rowling has written an easy book since "The Chamber of Secrets." It is an enjoyable read, if you are the kind of person who doesn't mind walking around in the shoes of people who have difficult lives for a while. "The Casual Vacancy" is complex. It constantly encourages its readers to form opinions about characters and organize them into neat little cubby holes. Then, again and again, Rowling throws those opinions into a vortex, leaving us to try and pick up the pieces of our misconceptions.
Like Zadie Smith's "White Teeth," it's a brilliant reflection of society. You'll like it, if you're the kind of person who isn't interested in an escape.
Originally posted at: A Girl that Likes Books
Why I read this book?
Ever since the book came out I wanted to read it even though it got so many bad reviews from a lot of people. Having it available as an audio book gave me the option to give it a try, without getting the physical book.
What's the book about?
This book tells us how the lives of several inhabitants of Pagford after Barry Fairbrother, a member of the parish council dies.
What about the main characters?
This book has several main characters in my opinion; this "main lines" will tell the story of all at the same time. I found both Crystal and Suckhvinder as different as they are, they were very well written, and I could feel for them more than empathy. I had a bit more of a problem sympathising with any of the adults in the book, since they all seemed whiny and funny enough, behave as teenagers as much as the teens themselves. I found Samantha very entertaining, but even then, it didn't fully click.
I believe that most of the people who were "disappointed" at this book it was because they were expecting something like Harry Potter...and this is so not that type of book.
Now that we have established this, I will tell you that I actually quite enjoyed the book. For a book with so many characters it was easy to follow what was happening to whom. There is a lot of social critic without being a "soap box" book.
Funny enough this book reminded me of Under the Dome, simply because of how a single event modifies so drastically everyone else in a tiny town. In a way the people of Pagford are also under a bubble, except that in this case is of their own construction.
There were some very crude moments but this brought deeper "humanity" to the characters and by the end the felt quite tangible for me. The end was unexcpeted enough to surprise me, but not out of the blue in a way that would've ruined the whole dynamic of the book for me.
I really enjoyed Tom Hollander as a narrator, his tone is very pleasant and although, as non native speaker, I'm more used to an American accent I had no trouble whatsoever following him.
I would recommend this book to SOME friends, but not all. The story is about a town, not a protagonist. Like in HP, Rowling weaves many characters together in a compelling, multi dimensional story. Some people might be frustrated by the nebulousness in such a story. Others, like myself, see this as a reflection of real life.
Hollander brings a british authenticity that brings the story to life for a Yank like myself. His tone, tied with Rowling's british stylings, drench this book in a beautiful modern british feel.
Rowling doesn't create stories. She creates human, relatable characters and sets them loose in the little town of Pagford. While this is elegant and natural, it may not satiate some reader's need for good/evil.
I did not like any of the characters or care about their problems. I kept listening because it was JK Rowling but I give up . I'm too old to waste anymore time with people I don't want to spend time with.
What genre? ?part of the problem?
yes I felt bad for him having to read this.
Anger because I did not care for these people and I kept listening hoping for it to change.
It seems like she's biting off a bit more than you're willing to chew - perhaps too many intersecting stories, perhaps a wavering narrative, going to and fro between characters and their thoughts, in a rather unoriginal way, with the disgruntled poor, the midlife crises, the teenage angst, the disconcerting revelations of growing old and of growing old with someone else; all items checked. But in the end it all seems to come together - predictably, yes, so really no surprises along the way; but still, a reliable story and a respectable writer, all in all.
former nuclear scientist
All is not right in the Muggle world. Or so I thought with annoyance as I listened to the first chapter. The gritty, profanity-laced small town England Rowling has created here and populated with bitter, ineffective, or downright destructive characters feels more like a screenplay by Guy Ritchie than a novel of the most beloved children's books of our generation.
But then I left my own prejudices behind and got drawn into the story. Those unpleasant characters have backgrounds, those angelic characters have nuances, that society of interlocking stories is bolstered by shared small-town history and weakened by private secrets. Once the politics of the "casual vacancy" - a vacant town council seat caused by a casualty, or death - is established, the story comes alive with concerns and machinations of myriad characters. Even the smallest characters are more than sketches, but fully fleshed out in a brilliant combination of internal monologues, regard by other characters, and external descriptions.
The politics of the small town serve as a framework for clashes and alliances among the factions fighting to either preserve or destroy the vision advocated by Barry Fairwater, the man whose death causes the vacancy, and whose shadow hangs over a surprisingly large portion of the town. Within this framework, Rowling explores the effect that grownups have on their children, and the lengths to which people will go to feel significant. Although I was put off a bit by the frequent, lacerating profanity, I have to concede that this book is a masterwork of fiction.
If you were looking for Harry Potter, how disappointed you must be. This story could almost be about a town where the Dursleys' live. Small minded arrogant people who must find a way to feel they are better than others to allow them to have some control over their lives. To have a poor project "on the other side of the tracks' creates the tension and tragedy that follows. This woman knows how to draw you into the story even when you despise the characters for their weaknesses and lack of charity. It is a gritty tale but one more purely true in our world than my beloved Harry Potter. Don't give up on this book even if the beginning is a bit raw. In the end you will have at least a beginning understanding of why people hate each other for really no reason at all and the devastation it can bring to the world of everyday people. I commend JK Rowling for the courage it takes to change paths after such a phenomenal success with the Potter Series. This one is definitely not for children. It is definitely a 5 star read.
I read a slew of reviews before launching into this book, so I knew what I was tackling.
I don't know if I dislike it because it is good or if I dislike it because it is bad or somehow...both.
While I definitely do not need or want stories to be puppies and unicorns, I am not sure what the point is of writing a story in which everyone is miserable.
I've been pretty darn miserable during sad lengths of my life, but I still knew plenty of people who were fundamentally happy. I made it through the dark patches and proceeded to be pretty happy. If there are communities out there in which every single person is completely miserable, the citizens should consider moving!
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it's really well-written social satire and dark comedy, and on the other, it's like women who wear unrelieved black all the time. You wish they'd throw a bright scarf over it sometimes, to lighten things up.
Book clubs would love this one; much to discuss. The very smallness of the concerns of self-satisfied small-town residents, NIMBY, generational gaps in understanding, the way she NAILED teen attitudes and obsessions, and the nuances of marriage and other relationships.
I didn't love it, but it certainly was a GOOD book. If you know what I mean.