Monday, October 15, 2012

Why I couldn't finish The Casual Vacancy

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils...Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.

I'm sorry J.K. Rowling. I really wanted to like your adult novel. I really tried.

But it was obvious to me by twenty pages in that I wasn't going to be able to stomach the inappropriate content. The whole "adult" part of an "adult novel".

And what rubbish, really. Just because I'm an adult doesn't mean I want to read hundreds of "F" words and detailed sexual thoughts and acts. And that was in just the first twenty pages. By the time I stopped (at 150 pages in) I'd read thousands of "F" words and some seriously nasty details about people I'd now like to scrub out of my brain.

So much of this book is vile and offensive that it's hard to get invested in the good parts.

And by the way, this is NOT a murder mystery. It's really just about the people in the town of Pagford (many of whom are seriously screwed up) and how their local city council's civil war over a drug rehab center is affected by the random death of Barry Fairbrother. I guess it's supposed to be some sort of deep and emotional character study, except don't expect to like any of the characters. Not a one of them has any sort of redeeming value. Except maybe Barry. And he dies in the first two pages.

I am saying nothing against J.K. Rowling's writing style in general. If anything, she's far too good a writer. When she writes about awful things, she does it in a creative and stick-in-your-brain kind of way. Not necessarily a good thing when what's left stuck in your brain are details about child abuse, prostitution, drug use, affairs, cutting, depression, and sex, sex, and more sex. I shudder to think what I would have read about if I'd actually finished the book.

So if you're considering reading The Casual Vacancy, I hope I've given you fair warning.

NOT recommended.


Mrs. Mordecai said...

I am so disappointed. I read one review of the book and took it off my list. Ugh.

melissa @ 1lbr said...

I actually took myself off of the library hold list after I read some other reviews. I can't imagine slogging through all that crap and still not enjoying the book. I guess I'll look forward to something she does for kids again :)

Lynnette said...

Thanks for letting me know. I was wondering about it.

Anonymous said...

I am reading this book and discussing it on my blog chapter-by-chapter, and I have pointed out when I have found the adult material to be gratuitous. In most places, I do not believe it is gratuitous. As for the swearing, I hardly thought about it because it was in-character for all the characters.

I think it is very strange that people say there are no likable characters in this book. There are. Colin, Tessa, Ruth, Dr. Jawanda, Sukhvinder, Mary, Kay, and Gavin are all very good people. Andrew and Fats are not good people, but they are such real people that I, at least, could not help but like them.

Even Howard Mollison, a horrible person, is not completely bad. He is genuinely friendly to people he likes, and he is immensely grateful to the doctor who saved his life.

You end this by saying that you have warned the readers, and that it is not recommended. Unfortunately many of them have already followed your advice. NO ONE SHOULD DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT TO READ THIS BOOK BASED ON ANY REVIEWS. The Casual Vacancy is simply not that type of book. Whether you like this book or not speaks not solely about the book but about what type of person you are. For this book, other people's opinions is irrelevant. It is necessary to make up your own minds. Some people will like it, some people will love it, some people will hate it. It all depends on what kind of person you are.