Well. I finished reading Casual Vacancy. Here's the review that I wrote on Goodreads.
The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
The biggest reason that I bought this book was because it's written by J.K. Rowling. I was hoping for and under the impression based on the description that this book would be a mystery. I'm not sure what genre this book would be listed as but it's a drama that doesn't pull any punches about being a fictional look at some very real problems.
While it's easy to recognize Rowling's style and appreciate that the book is well-written, I did not like this book. The characters were developed in such a way that they felt real, but I could not connect with any and disliked all of them. Even the two I least disliked, Krystal and Sukhvinder, never managed to pull me into the story. I was turned off by the amount of swearing and graphic narrative in the book. Throughout, it felt like a little kid had learned a cuss word and was testing the limits of how many times they could use it without being reprimanded. To borrow a word frequently used in the book, it felt inauthentic. I didn't feel like it genuinely did anything for the story; I thought that Rowling threw things in just to say "See, this isn't Harry Potter and it's not for kids."
And this book definitely is not for children. Most high schoolers aren't going to be exposed to anything in this book that they haven't already been exposed to, whether in real life or through television, movies or books. A mature middle schooler might be able to read the book, but I would suggest that parents read it first to decide.
After reading it, I can tell you that I would not have bought or read this book if it hadn't been written by Rowling. I have varied taste in books, but this type of story does not appeal to me. I read to escape from real life, not to have a window into such a depressing, downer society. If you enjoy dramas rooted in stark reality, this might be a great book. But for me, it was not enjoyable.
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