Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Casual Vacancy - J.K. Rowling

Rating: 1 star

It's so incredibly rare that I don't finish a book. For one, the sheer pain associated with reading an awful book makes me so mad, I don't want to have toiled so hard for a book I can't count among my yearly numbers. But oh god. Maybe you've noticed I've disappeared for a while. Over a month, I think, without a decent post, tweet or tumblr quote. Part of that is the volume of work I've had to deal with this Fall - our fiscal years don't align with the calendar year and so, September and October are busy, busy planning months. The other part of my silence was this new and godawful book by J.K. Rowling.

It took me the better part of two months to read a little over 100 pages. I finally made the decision to quit on Friday of last week, realizing I was wasting a lot of valuable reading time desperately trying to get through this novel just because J.K. Rowling wrote it.

My complaints mirror the complaints of the masses. Just Google it - you'll find more bad reviews than good ones. What gets me the most is that J.K. made a concentrated effort to have this marketed as an 'adult' novel - the Harry Potter author goes rogue, she can write what she wants, etc - and then reduced every single one of her adult characters (and there are so, so many) to mere caricatures. They might as well all have been named either Vernon or Petunia Dursley. And, surprisingly enough, the only characters with any depth at all are the teens. Unfortunately, their chapters can not carry the burden that is this book.

The book begins with Barry Fairbrother's death, a very well-written chapter that falsely draws you in to the terrible narrative that is to come. As soon as Barry hits the pavement, literally, the section titled Monday launches. In it, each character is given a chapter and a chance to react to the news of Barry Fairbrother's death. Sometimes more than once. Since Barry held a seat on the Parish Council in Pagford and was an instrumental player in the fight to keep The Fields (housing projects) a part of their well-to-do town, the reactions vary from distress to political plotting. And then Tuesday happens and, if you didn't guess it, I'll tell you - each character is given a chapter to talk some more about Barry Fairbrother's death, the reactions varying from distress to political plotting.

I couldn't. I'm sorry - I just couldn't. The plot crept along and the characters were utterly unlikable. J.K - how could you expect me to keep reading?


  1. I'm of the same thinking as you. Didn't much like it but I bet it'll be adapted to TV before long.



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