The Casual Vacancy is one of the most absorbing books I have listened to. In that way, it is still like Harry Potter - the plot is so intricate that I can't pause while reading it. The reading performance really helped me because it sounded so British, and I liked hearing how the names and words sounded.
It is also at times one of the most upsetting books I have listened to. There was some extremely tough subject matter in it.
My favorite parts were the funny parts - JKR can still be a very humorous author. I would definitely recommend this book to Potter fans because it still has a very intricate plot, and still has great characters and wit.
I stayed with this because it was J K Rowling. But it was awful. No inspiration. Author made me care about only two of the characters. Full of small-minded people engaged, for the most part, in petty or desperate behaviors. I wish I had not wasted the credit to buy and the time to listen. Ugh!
I saw that this was going to be a book for adults. I interpreted that as not being like the Harry Potter books, which adults enjoyed but were targeted to kids. This book is not what I expected.
I've lived in England and am familiar with many of the references. I would probalby have hung in there but the repetitive foul language and sexual comments were obnoxious enough to get me to stop reading after a few chapters. If Rowling hadn't proven that she could write prior to publishing this book, I would have chalked it up to inexperience. There is no excuse for this one.
The narrator, however, does an excellent job.
I'm surprised the reaction to Rowling's first adult novel has been so tepid. Her skills as a writer, realist, and satirist in "The Casual Vacancy" fully prove the talent hinted at in her "Harry Potter" series. Her ability to lay bare the foibles of human behavior in a scathing and often hilarious manner make her a modern Jane Austen in my eyes, while other scenes are quite emotionally powerful and touching. She has built a stable of complex, interconnected characters who are fascinating in their machinations, and she is surprisingly adept at examining complex social issues like welfare, drug addiction, cycles of abuse, and the burden/responsibility of the disadvantaged and indigent. It's difficult to describe the plot of "The Casual Vacancy" because the squabbling of small-town individuals over a local government seat sounds tedious in the utmost, but believe me when I say the book is anything but boring. The characters are vivid and fascinating, and their town and politics are a microcosm for society and government as a whole.
I also have to applaud the incredible narration by Tom Hollander. He does the accents and voices so well, and gives such an intense sense of humor and drama to the proceedings, it was like watching a play. I was so absorbed that I sat down and listened to the book while doing absolutely nothing else, while usually I would be running or sewing or driving or cooking at the same time. I knew I recognized his voice, so I checked him in IMDB and realized Tom Hollander is the same actor who gave such a creepy, villainous performance in "Hanna" and was so funny in so many comedies I've seen, so it's no surprise he is so highly skilled vocally. He provided the perfect mood and tone for the book.
I might not have written a review, but the ratings for Overall and Story happened through a glitch in my computer while downloading and I don't want to leave the wrong impression. While the performance by Tom Hollander deserves five stars, this is a two star story for me.
I approached this book with nothing but good will for Rowling and an expectation that this would be unlike Harry Potter. What the lame publisher's summary and the pre-publicity didn't say was that it contained significant sexual content and explicit language. It also didn't indicate just how depressing and bleak the story would be.
The problem is that this is the kind of story I usually avoid at all costs. I find no enjoyment in vicariously suffering with others. There isn't a single individual in the story for whom I found a true sympathy--sympathy in the sense of making a connection and pulling for them rather than feeling sorry for them. I read books for enjoyment, entertainment, to learn, to be uplifted, or even to escape. My life contains enough stressors of its own not to need to find more of them in my reading material. I am not entertained by the misery of others . Perhaps as a school psychologist I am more aware on an everyday basis of the various conditions of life described in this book, and need no primer on poverty, drugs, violence, sexual assault, child abuse, bullying, poverty, neglect, weakness, and self-absorbtion of others. I certainly don't desire to fill my off hours wallowing in such miseries.
The two stars I would have given the story are for its being well-written--for what it is, rather than what I wished it to be--and the clear-cut characterizations. I don't think I would want to actually meet any of these people, but I did feel I had a clear view of who they were.
I wish the publicity had been a little less coy about revealing the true tone of this work so that I might have been more prepared. This sort of story simply isn't my cup of tea and I will be far less likely to buy a book by J. K. Rowling in the future. I had hoped to like this book and had been willing to accept something completely different from the author of Harry Potter, but this is outside my ability to enjoy. If this is what Rowling feels the need to write, she's perfectly entitled to do so. I'll exercise my right and not read it. Perhaps her future books will be less grim, but it will take a lot of convincing before I try another one.
It is hard to follow. Very boring. Sorry I wasted my money.
Write the book over
A plot. Suspense. A positive outlook. Hope. Interesting characters. Fewer characters. Likeable characters.
I could barely put down the previous series of books by her. This book is so pointless and depressing, I don't think I can finish it. All the characters are annoying. There are too many , so similar that I have trouble telling them apart.
The performer did differentiate somewhat between characters. However, it was difficult to tell who was saying what sometimes.
None of the characters are memorable. There is no obvious lead character. Opposing groups are present, but after 10 hours of listening to it, I can't tell you who is on what side. They're all so boringly similar.
I was not expecting another blockbuster like Harry Potter. But, I was, at least, hoping for a book I would want to finish. This book failed to deliver that minimum requirement.
The space on my hard drive that I intended to fill with a riveting book by Ms Rowling, is instead, filled with this book. Perhaps, I should just erase it, kill it off, and create a Casual Vacancy.
Maybe in an attempt to distance herself from our favorite child wizard, the story has a very real, somewhat depressing tone to it.
Rowling reminds us how "unmagical" can people get - the characters of this book are selfish, small, insecure and misunderstood. I believed her, and gulped down this book in a heartbeat.
Boring, tedious, and drab. I kept wondering "when is it going to get good?" Too many characters introduced too quickly with no essence of individuality that would make them memorable.