Welcome to post no. 3 of my alphabet series!
Today I’m discussing:
The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling.
Famously, this book was a disappointment for Potterheads. We had been hoping for another children’s story, or the detective story she always said she’d write.
When we first heard the synopsis, we all assumed it WOULD be the detective novel because it sounded like a murder mystery. But then we started reading, and there was nothing mysterious about Barry’s death.
Then came 100 pages of character-building. This book needed to be HEAVILY edited, but when you’re Queen Rowling, who the hell is going to tell you to cut down your work? The whole word wants MORE, MORE, MORE. The bigger the book, the better, would have been the publishers’ opinions.
It was a huge mistake, because very few people cared enough about these characters to read the nitty-gritty of their lives for so many pages. Some people put it down to Rowling having had 7 books in which to build up the Harry Potter characters, and not knowing how to do it in one book. But hang on – isn’t Umbridge introduced in book 5, and by the end of that same book considered to be one of the book world’s worst villains? Aren’t Lockhart and Rita Skeeter pretty strong characters by the end of their main books, only briefly appearing later on in the series?
She was rushed. The publishers wanted to make mo’ money as fast as possible.
Please, please, PLEASE try to get past those first hundred pages. Once you’re past that point, this is an amazing book. Rowling never lost her touch. The build-up pays off. Hidden underneath all this bulk is a simple, tragic story that shares many of the important themes that Harry Potter instilled in us: namely, treat others as you would be treated, and don’t judge someone before you get to know them.
- The school scenes. Even at the beginning, when I wasn’t sure if I liked the book, these were my favourite scenes. Rowling is just so good at getting into the heads of teenagers.
- Great characterisation, especially Krystal.
- An emotional ending.
- A great TV show adaptation too!
- Too much waffling at the beginning.
- A somewhat unrealistic Dursley-esque setting.
Thanks for stopping by!