We have all been waiting for the Rowling book that would come after the Harry Potter series. What has finally appeared, five years later, is well written with well developed characters, but the book itself was disappointing to me. The plot revolves around a man on the Perish Council, (for U.S. it would be town council, I think). The man who is the catalyst for the book takes his wife out for an anniversary dinner in the first chapter and drops dead on the restaurant parking lot from what they assume is an aneurism. But his death starts a whole series of events. There is a perish council election coming up, because of his death, to fill “the casual vacancy.” Whoever is elected will determine what happens next with the money in the perish. The man who died, named Barry, wants them to put more money into a drug rehabilitation program and provide more money for services for those who are poor. But most of the council does not want to even keep the program open. They want to cut back on providing any services to “these people who don’t work” and shut down the rehabilitation methadone program. So this is the backdrop for all the things that happen. We are introduced to amyriad of characters, most of them very unpleasant, with their children, equally unpleasant. The book reminds me of Elizabeth George’s “what happened before he shot her” but it is much more relentless with the most sympathetic character being the ungovernable teenage daughter of a drug addict. It’s also quite long. And if it hadn’t been Rowling, and if I hadn’t liked Harry Potter so much, I probably wouldn’t have finished it. The Harry Potter books were dark, but she managed to put some lightness in them here and there, and the reader liked several of the characters. That isn’t true here. So my final conclusion: the book is interesting but disappointing to me.
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.
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.
If someone were to ask me who my favorite writer is I would respond "JK Rowling," with that said this book is Horrible. I only made it to chapter 8, could not make myself wast any more time I could spend listening to a book I enjoy. Definitly not in the league with Harry Potter. I knew it wasn't going to be fantasy but this book was just plain boring. Sorry JK :(