Welcome to Book Review Friday, everybody! This week, we’ll be celebrating J.K. Rowling’s birthday with her other hit story that isn’t magically centered: The Casual Vacancy, a novel about how sudden events can not only impact families and friends but whole communities.
Now, let me say this about J.K. Rowling – her writing style is fantastic. She doesn’t go overboard with description, nor does she leave the imagination of the readers wanting. The setting of Pagford, England is pretty darn cool, and sounds like a real town/village in the English countryside. Don’t get me wrong, my respect for this woman is completely and totally deserved…however, I didn’t like the book.
Now, before you get out your guns and call the police, let me explain why I’m not the biggest fan of this book. It all boils down to what I would like to call the Jekyll and Hyde condition, though some of you may try to associate that with personality disorder. Why am I calling this the Jekyll and Hyde condition and not personality disorder? Because from what I understand, personality disorder is a constant battle between completely different identities in a person’s mind.
In the case of The Casual Vacancy, I prefer to refer to it as a Jekyll and Hyde condition because it’s a situation where there’s no internal battle between two different minds. Instead, there’s an acceptance of it, even to the point where a person has completely abandoned their moral values. Like the case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the battle was already won when Mr. Hyde was brought into the picture in the first place.
Now when I make that statement about preferring to call it a Jekyll and Hyde condition instead of personality disorder, you think I’m talking about a character, right? Well, you’re technically not wrong. In fact, I’m actually referring to all the characters. Every. Single. One. From the sweet old ladies to the robust young men to the school children, every single character the reader encounters has abandoned all moral values as soon as something tragic upsets the natural order of Pagford. Which means there’s no individuality or stability.
Let me give you an example of what I mean: 9/11. One of the most tragic modern events that happened in America since the Vietnam War. It shook us deeply, and for all the right reasons. But instead of looking to use this tragedy to our advantages, we decided to stick together like the good Americans that we are and show Al Qaeda who’s boss. Even better, we did it in different ways. We not only sent troops to the Middle East, we also improved security at airports, and peaked in the amount of trust in our government (at least for a while).
Pagford could learn a lot from that. One little hiccup (or in this case one death) and the entire town starts eating each other alive in the name of survival.
Now, in Rowling’s defense, the book is also extremely realistic. There are plenty of ways that I can make the similarities between Pagford and the US, however, if I tried listing all of the ways, this would make a really depressing book review. So, to be honest, it’s a pretty depressing book. And unfortunately, there are no Patronuses to help us out.
In short, the setting is great, the writing style is fantastic, and the characters are endless pits of depression and realism. But don’t take my word for it – you can get the book yourself on Amazon or iTunes and read for yourself! Let me know what you think in the comments. Or, if you have a certain book you’d like me to read, hit up that Contact Page in the Menu!
(Featured image courtesy of: www.queerty.com)