Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The Casual Vacancy

Level: Explicit
Genre: Fiction > Contemporary Fiction
Obtained: Borrowed from the library
Reviewed by: Nic Echo
Yes, I realise I said I was reading Fool Moon next. I had even started it, but then this came in at the library. As much as I was enjoying Fool Moon, the library doesn't care that I was reading a book before hand so this got moved to the priority reading spot.

I have heard a lot of complaints about this cover, mostly it's too boring and they should have used Rowling as a cover instead. I am glad that they didn't use Rowling as a cover. I am sorry, but unless the book is about her, having her on the cover just makes her seem egotistical, and personally, that is bound to put more people off. You don't need the author's face to sell a book, even when you are using her name to sell. Here's a crazy thing: people can read, especially the people you are catering to. We don't need pictures to realise that Rowling wrote this book. Now, I'll admit this isn't the most entertaining cover, but it still works. It's simple, much like the town of Pagford. It also has what looks like a ballad vote, which again, ties in with the book. Choosing an X instead of a checkmark even works in its favour since x's are often associated with death and targets (lots of targeting people in this book). The cover designer also made sure to use brighter colours to grab your attention, which is bound to help.

About the Book:
In the small town of Pagford, England, Barry Fairbrother drops dead, leaving a seat open in the local council. His death affects the people of Pagford, both directly and indirectly, causing a flourish of gossip and glimpses of what humanity tends to be.

Rating: 10/10
When this book originally came out, I had little to no intention of reading it. Even though it was written by J.K. Rowling, I felt like it would have been of little interest to me, but then my friend suggested it to me so I decided to give it a go. I must say that I am entirely glad that I did. To sum it up in one word: wow!

Now, I will say that there isn't a lot of plot in this book; it most certainly is a book that focuses on the characters -- nay, people. To say they are simply characters would discredit Rowling's talent. Her creations have so many complexities and layers that the word character doesn't quite hit the mark. Rowling did such a wonderful job of portraying the faults of humanity that I had to stop reading several times due to emotional overload. That's not to say that all the characters are horrible people. Many mean well but end up making bad decisions, and many make decisions based on their wants and needs more than anything else. Now, the drama may be above average (we have physical abuse, drug addicted parents, and suicidal thoughts, for example), but unlike a soap opera, you can find yourself believing all of these situations. It certainly helps that Rowling takes up through the characters' thoughts. Now, one thing that may bother some readers is the constant shifting point of view. Personally, this didn't bother me, and I cannot see the book working as well as it did if she had written it any other way. However, this can be a major turnoff for some readers so I thought it wise to mention it. Honestly, the only problem I had with the work was that it had a slow start. A lot of this had to do with introducing a large cast of characters, but it was certainly a struggle to get through the first hundred pages or so. Still, it was worth it.

Before I wrap up this review, I would like to talk about a couple more things that kept surrounding this novel, mostly the language and sex, although the latter isn't in minute detail. Dear god, I have heard so many complaints involving the adult content that I felt the need for a rebuttal of some sort. A lot of people seem to be under the impression that J.K. Rowling upped all the mature content to remove her from Harry Potter. A lot of people have been saying that she is using too much language, too much sex. Bollocks! Now, I am in no way saying that there isn't a lot of foul language and sexual content. Hardly but these people don't seem to realise how much people cuss. Besides it's not like J.K. Rowling is having every single character cuss like a sailor. Guess what? Sex also happens to be a large part of humanity as a whole. Again, not every one of us is driven by our genitals, but at large, humans are very sexual creatures. Yes, we tend to hide it away, but remember that this is a book that is supposed to get inside the characters and show us their secrets. Needless to say, you are bound to get uncivilised acts and language when you are reading a book of this nature. This certainly isn't a book for everyone. However, for those who don't mind some uncouth language and some very real type problems, for those who enjoy character driven books and stories that dig into the crevices of the characters' minds, I could not recommend this book more. 

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