His Casual Vacancy I have mixed opinions on. I pre-ordered a copy of it, at least in part because it halved the cost of the book, but also because I, like everyone else, wanted to know what J K Rowling had managed to come up with next. I was very much a part of the ‘Potter-generation’, Harry Potter and the Philosophers stone was the first ‘real’ book I ever read, and a friend commented that the release of the final film was like the end of our childhood.
Having brought it home it sat on my bookcase untouched for a couple of months. I couldn’t quite bring myself to read it, what if it didn’t live up to my expectations? Quite honestly I can say that it didn’t, I don’t know what my expectations were but it didn’t meet them. I can’t help but feel this has more to do with a cultural attitude towards J K Rowling and Harry Potter than it does to do with the book itself.
When I first finished the book I would have told you don’t read it, it’s a waste of your time. I found a lot of the characters unlikeable, I thought she’d downplayed some pretty major themes. And there were some moments within, reminiscent of the later Harry Potter books, which were frankly cringe worthy, the sex scenes.
These scenes made sense within the context of the book as a whole and yet the writing style which delivered them brought me back overwhelmingly to Hogwarts and Childhood innocence.
Having read this far you would be entitled to assume I had only negative reactions to the book. This isn’t true. I found it a breeze to read, quite happily sitting down and losing hours to it. The ending was fantastic, there weren’t any fireworks but it certainly made me stop and think. It made me cry…
And this brings me back to my mixed opinions. Several months after reading this book it has stayed with me, whilst my brain has lost hold of stories which amazed me while I was reading them. I’ll be doing any number of things and my thoughts will dart back to this book and the situations its characters faced. By downplaying the heavy stuff J K Rowling has ensured that it is ever present in my mind. That I find pretty cool.
Would I recommend that you read this book? I still don’t know. I would certainly say don’t rush out and buy a brand new copy, as you can probably find any number of them abandoned in charity shops. At the same time though I no longer feel that by reading it you’d be wasting your time.
In view of this I’m glad I had time to reflect before I wrote my review.