Saturday, January 05, 2013

the casual vacancy is a cuttingly mean book about a small town

this is one cuttingly mean book about a small town.

i had long been on the waiting list for j.k. rowling's casual vacancy at my local library. right before new year's eve, my turn came and i picked up the book. i'd read that the book was a major departure from the harry potter series - a book for adults, not children. well, i finished it yesterday and it was indeed a departure.

it's a mean-spirited book. it feels like rowling was taking revenge on a whole lot of people in some small town who she felt had wronged her. there are no redeeming characters, not much of a story, no real resolution of what little story there is and no redemption for anyone at the end. in short, it's a disappointment.

that said, in some ways, it's a book i wish i'd written. i think anyone who grew up in a small town or lives in one has dreams of exposing all of the pettiness of various people for the pettiness that it is. and she definitely does that. what's sad tho', is that she comes off petty herself in doing so. a writer like jonathan franzen does it much more elegantly. his book, freedom, also had a lack of any redeeming characters, but somehow it didn't make him seem as uncharitable as rowling comes off with this book. possibly because his story was just better. the casual vacancy doesn't actually have much of a story.

i guess i expected better of rowling - her harry pottery characters are such well-drawn characters and the stories so well-plotted and drawn. i knew this wasn't going to be harry potter, but i thought it would be good. it wasn't. i'm just glad i got it from the library and that i didn't buy it.

have you read it? what did you think?


Tracy Golightly-Garcia said...

Hey Julie

I have read many neagtive reviews about this book. I wonder if Rowling will write another adult book??? Told my library to take my name off the waiting list--do not think I would enjoy the book.

Tracy :)

Unknown said...

I've started to read the book but stopped halfway as there was no push factor for me to go on. The life of the people in the town seemed to be totally focused on the death of this one particular person. After a while it becomes tedious to read on.

Anonymous said...

Even though I have yet to read one positive review of this book, I'm intrigued by it. I think that I'll wait until I find a copy of it at a used bookseller and then read it. I grew up in a small town with petty, nosy people in it, so I suppose what I really want to do is compare and contrast my memories of that town with this fiction.

[Maybe not the most noble reason for reading a book, now that I think about it. Oh well.]

Michelle said...

I agree - a disappointing read. No one to root for. Too many characters left undeveloped. I'm not much for fiction usually and this book underscored why: depressingly limited with no redeeming features.

This could have been extremely deliberate - to take her away from all the Harry Potter intensity. Now, there's no where to go but up from the Casual Vacancy!

Sammi said...

i haven't read it but i hear its based on a town just up the road from me. a lot of people who have read it have said the same as you undeveloped characters not what anyone was really expecting from rowling after harry potter, but of course everyone will read it regardless and she will still make a few bucks from it because its her name on it.