Books Where The Main.Charaxyers Story Is Only.Told Over Christmas Book Review: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

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Book Review: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

Background

I will be biased on this one. There are many things in this world that I don’t like, and politics is number five on that list. This is the primary reason why it took me 2 weeks to finish reading the book which could have been read in 2-3 days. While reading pages of TCV, I keep losing energy to scroll to the next page. I confess I have never been a fan of politics and all I have for it is hatred.

Reading TCV was like walking down a path of oblivion where you give up trying to decide which direction you want to go. Maybe I’m crazy or just plain old stupid but I failed to grasp the whole point of the book. So Barry Fairbrother, the good old parish councillor, died. And almost everyone took a vested interest in the vacuum his death created. And a war between supporters and opponents of Barry and his ideals suddenly engulfs the small town of Pagford. Mini-wars also take place between two warring camps, married couples, parents and children, teenagers, friends, etc. Apart from this, the issues of rape, prostitution and poverty also need to be addressed. There are so many contradictions in the book that while reading it, you lose yourself and have to quickly review the previous pages. Simply put, the book has a lot of contradictions that ultimately fail to connect.

For example, I didn’t quite understand the need to kill off Crystal Whedon (one of the most important characters in the story) for something unrelated to the purpose of the book. The cause of his death was his own stupidity and selfishness and had nothing to do with the main conflict of the book. At the end of the story, it is not resolved whether the Bellchapel Clinic will remain to rehabilitate all drug addicts or whether Fields will be transferred to Yarville’s jurisdiction. Even his mother, Terri Whedon, came to her senses and turned over a new leaf from her heroin addiction. And most importantly, how did Crystal’s death affect Pagford’s local elections and the intentions of the people in the parish council seats? Alas, there is only slight effect.

And there was Miles, who ultimately won the election not because he was good but because he was the winner of all the losers running for casualty. In the end, it is not mentioned what steps he takes to improve Pagford’s quality of life, and most importantly, do the events of the book change his view of Fields and the Bellchapel Clinic?

There are many things that I would like to question about TCV. About how some scenes were more like filler than necessary to portray the whole plot. And as I type this review right now, I’m itching to delete the entire document because I can’t properly organize my thoughts about the book. It was disorienting, like a magic spell gone awry.

I suggest that if you want to know the whole story, please clarify and read it.

character

So after the plot disappointed me, I’m in for another disappointment with the characters. There are so many of them that I fail to empathize with any of them. The characters were either shallow or self-centered or arrogant or just plain stupid. I also don’t like Mary Fairbrother, who was unforgiving even in the death of her husband. Seriously, isn’t there anyone in the book who has the slightest redeeming quality? Adults were even as annoying as teenagers.

Sometimes, you love the book because of its plot even though the characters are so despicable. But TCV has no plot or characters to love about. Pagford is full of people who are self-righteous, self-centered and arrogant. Thus, you wonder why Pagford is still there and not falling to pieces.

Interaction and dialogue

Well, the only redeemable thing about TCV is that I find the characters’ interactions and dialogues witty and funny. And even though, some of the dialogue wasn’t the type to pass for an intelligent convo, it gave me this good feeling. I guess I have to salute JK Rowling for always making the dialogue and interactions between the characters interesting, funny and sad at the same time.

I especially love the interactions between the Mollison family (Howard, Shirley, Miles, Samantha and Wale, Mo). And that of the price family. The first family seemed united but in a deeper sense they were very divided. How Shirley disliked Sam and vice versa. As Sam disliked her own husband Miles. And who never forgets about family values? Cruel, sadistic and stupid father Simon Price and his wife who has stopped using her brain. And Andrew Price, the acne-faced boy, who I’m not really sure is on his mother’s or father’s side.

overall impression

Because of the effort and interesting dialogue, I give TCV three (3) stars. The book could have saved its face if:

  1. The ending didn’t leave us hanging on a cliffhanger.
  2. The plot was not that complicated, many corners to turn and only to find it a dead end.
  3. There is a character that emerges as the hero/heroine at the end. I don’t see Crystal or Sukwinder or Arf or Dam falling into that category.
  4. The characters were not so numerous that while reading the book, you feel like you are drowning in memorizing all the character names.

Moral of the story

This is a new part of my book review that I forgot to add to my previous reviews. As I said in the “About Me” section, there are no bad books. Criticism of a novel is always based on your personal opinion and is therefore subjective. Apart from works of art, books are a great way to take in moral lessons that teach us something one way or the other as we move through life. No matter how disappointed I am with the book, there is always a silver lining and that is, I will learn something from what I read.

TCV is actually a perfect illustration of the concept “everything is connected to everything”. Every action we take creates consequences that not only affect us but everyone and everything around us (directly or indirectly). It teaches us to always be aware of our actions and anticipate possible consequences.

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