Friday, 13 December 2013

Book Review: A Casual Vacancy by Joanne K. Rowling

Hey everyone!

I tried Grammarly's online plagiarism checker free of charge because failing whole classes because of tiny little citation mistakes in your term paper is a real thing here in Germany, and it isn't nearly half as much fun as it sounds.

I've finally had time to get around to a bit of reading, which I especially love doing during Christmas time. Well, I don't mind reading during any other time of the year either, but cuddling up on the couch with a good book is the perfect excuse not to go outside when it's cold :D

So, I read Joanne K. Rowling's A Casual Vacancy. I tried not to see it as a book from the wonderful person who wrote my favourite books ever, the Harry Potter series, because I knew that would lead to my comparing the two. And luckily I was able to do that! So you also won't find any comparison in this review.
A Casual Vacancy is the story of the little town of Pagford, where one of the town's most beloved citizens, Barry Fairbother, dies. The story then starts right there, and then continues to describe what happens in the following time. There is no definite story visible in the beginning, as the book picks up on different persons' lives.
A huge variety of people is represented: you have your poor and your rich families, ones that are liked and some that are outcasts, people with illnesses, people of all ages, people that are nice and some that are just utterly hateful. Drug addicts, alcoholics, social workers, gossipers, teenagers in love, pretty much everything you could imagine. Each person has an interesting personality with specific reasoning for any action, and Rowling does a wonderful job describing them, making them comprehensible and authentic. That does not mean, however, that they are all likeable. To be honest, I found myself to dislike most (pretty much all actually) of the characters.
None of these characters is utterly positive or does only positive things. That means on the one hand that none of them can be identified as the hero of the story or any of the sorts. On the other hand, however, it also makes the people wonderfully realistic. Not realistic in a sense that readers can relate to them, however, because I don't expect the main readership to be similarily behaving drug addicts. But realistic in a sense that these people are, just like your everyday people, flawed, uncontent, selfish and insecure.
It was very interesting to follow the evolvements of the characters. Some undergo growth, others just remain as ignorant and pretentious as they have been all along. There are of course a lot of different events that take place during the course of the book, connecting all characters.
Partly I was very infuriated by this story. Some characters' behaviour or actions just made me very angry, as they were reminding me of the fact that these things can be very real to a significant number of people in real life. The story is filled with domestic violence, abuse, rape, manipulation, greed and ignorance. Not very pleasant topics to be honest.
A Casual Vacancy was a very very interesting book to read. Even though in the beginning no real plot is foreseeable, I was hooked. I wouldn't call it a pleasure read, but it's not that difficult either. Definitely nothing for you if you look forward to a perfect little story with likeable characters and one main villain, because that does not exist. But that also makes it special and worth a read.

Has anyone of you read it? What did you think of it?

xoxo, Misch

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