Normally, when I get a much anticipated book into my hot little hands, I read it so fast, I seem to miss the tiny details and hidden gems written inside these great books. Well, this time, I fought the urge to breeze through and tried to absorb every morsel that J.K. Rowling served up. Although it was very difficult to keep my excitement in check, I did it. I read slowly and I enjoyed. I was completely transported into yet another Rowling world.
Being a gigantic Harry Potter fan, I was a little shocked at just how different this world of Pagford was. Rowling wrote of a small little town that embodied the brutal realities of everyday life. There was no magic, no good versus evil, just complex human tragedy, heartbreak, unrest, and all those other things that those of us born in suburbia like to pretend don't really exist (at least not in our neighborhoods).
Yes, the Potter books are dark too, but in Casual Vacancy, the reader must face something much scarier than Voldemort. The story of Pagford is page after page of sex, betrayal, drug abuse, physical abuse, mental illness, bad choices, and guilt.
This is not some fluffy novel you read to pass the time. There are times when you are thrust into ugly situations and you are forced to live through some terrible moments in the lives of the citizens of Pagford. This may sound terrible, but really, it is an amazing book. I often find that I have trouble separating what people should be like and how they really are. This is usually because I often read books that cast characters in one specific light. They are either good or evil. Rowling does not do this.
Nobody in Casual Vacancy is all one or the other. The heroes are hard to find because their faults are exposed to the reader, and the so-called “bad guys” also show their vulnerability. Rowling makes it almost impossible to decide who to put on which team. This is what I absolutely love about her writing. This is what makes her characters seem so real. Whether they are in the Harry Potter series or this very literary novel, we can relate to her characters because they are true to human nature.
I highly recommend Casual Vacancy to anyone looking for a breathtaking novel. The attention to detail that Rowling pays to every character and every situation blows my mind. She has a way of tyeing the tiniest moments to huge events. She does not use words to pretty up the page. Every word has purpose.
Ok, I could go on and on, but I will leave it up to you to pick up the book, read slowly, and enjoy.