It took me a while to get to The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. I was so worried. I had seen so many reviews that didn’t particularly shine a very good light. But then I decided to just dive in. I like literary fiction, and I was dying to see if Rowling could prove herself. I had always said, seven books is cool, but she would really prove herself as a writer when she wrote something outside of the Harry Potter world. (At least to me.) So here was the proof. And man did she do well.

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling book cover

So many intriguing twists and turns that made me smile and get giddy. I really liked it the further I read, even though it was a really long book. It probably could have done with some more editing cuts. But Rowling really knows how to write teenagers. The teens in this book were very deep, diverse, and strong. It may have been an adult book, but she should keep teens in all of her work.

The use of parentheses was a little overboard. There were some times I would be reading and suddenly I would see a closing parenthesis and think, what is that doing there? I’d look back and see that she had inserted an entire page and a half parenthetical. There is also the issue of switching narrators from paragraph to paragraph. I actually found it very smooth since most of the transitions went from one person thinking about another to the other person then narrating, or something of that sort to show a change in narrator. I rarely had to go back to understand who was talking.

I think this book caught such a hard wrap because Rowling’s normal audience couldn’t wait to devour more of her work. And this is exactly why publishers say not to switch genres as an author. For literary fiction fans, this book is definitely a hard hitter. For young adult fans, it is a complete dud. So take it as you will.

My biggest advice on this one: pretend it’s not by J.K. Rowling. Don’t think Harry Potter will come out and save Pagford from Voldemort in the end. This is not Harry Potter. This is something so different and yet completely stunning in its own right.