The Casual Vacancy is not a book to be devoured in one sitting. I found that if you really want to find anything to like about this one, you need time to mull it over. Each character is lost in their own personal tragedies fighting for survival in some way. Perhaps the real tragedy, is how accurately this book probably mirrors current society.
J.K. Rowling did a brilliant job crafting her story. The plot is based around the trivial act of living your life everyday in the same fashion that it isn’t until you have dug much deeper into the pages that you realize how much pain and anger exists beneath the surface of “ordinary” lives.
Perhaps the greatest aspect that sticks out to me the most is that there is not one character in this story that I can say that I like, and yet somehow I grew attached to each of them and their woes. I can’t really say that I was rooting for anyone, rather I was watching from a distance with gathering pity and a sort of self-righteousness. The miraculous part of this is that I cared about the story as a whole. And I had to ask myself, “How did she do that?”
How did Rowling create these detestable characters who could only ring out pity (at best) from me, and still make me fall for their story? The only answer that I have is that it’s because it’s J.K. Rowling. Yes, this is no where near the brilliance of Harry Potter and I’m afraid she’ll never truly escape that shadow, but you if you read A Casual Vacancy I think you will be able to truly see her mastery at writing truly show.
All this being said, no, I don’t ever see myself returning to this novel. One time was enough for me. You won’t extract any happiness from this title, unless it is happiness that your life does not suck as much as any of the characters. If depression could be a book, this would be it. I am in awe of the writing, but not much else can be said for this one.