I'm sure that I'm not alone when I say that I was a bundle of emotions when I realized J.K. Rowling was writing another novel and then when I received said novel in my mailbox. I was excited and happy to have something, anything by her in my hands and yet I was nervous and worried that it wouldn't live up to my expectations. She did, after all, write the greatest series in the entire world. (To me, at least). The thing about this book was that my love and admiration for J.K. Rowling actually kept me from being overly critical and judgmental when it came to this book and I'm so glad that I had that type of mentality because this book was NOTHING like Harry Potter but in a good way.
First and foremost...the writing. Holy words. As if it weren't evident by her insanely amazing Harry Potter books, this book for adults confirms that she can write. J.K. Rowling is a God (ess?) when it comes to language and sentence structure. She is pure genius. I loved every minute of the writing in Casual Vacancy. She just has a way of wrapping ever word around your heart and tugging just when you're ready to step away. She also makes you feel like you're actually in the story with the characters. Speaking of characters, these aren't your typical Harry Potter kind of characters....these are effed up, psychologically damaged, off their rockers kind of characters. I know quite a few people who reviewed this novel didn't find any redeeming qualities in many of the characters but I happen to think that the characters were fairly developed, executed and position pretty well. I think the point of this novel was more of an experiment in human psychology and behavior. I appreciated the intimate, honest look into Rowling's characters in this book.
The first thing that I think is missing from this novel is a bit of humor. I feel like it's just a really dark novel (and that's fine) but I wish I could have gotten a little bit of humor out of it. I think my biggest complaint about this novel is that by the end of it, I had no idea what the purpose of the novel was. I felt like I just read a 500 page novel about nothing but characters trying to figure out their effed up lives. I just felt like this was such a huge departure from Harry Potter and it feels really weak in comparison. I wanted to feel alive and in love with the characters/the story like I was with Harry Potter and that did not happen with this novel.
Overall: Honestly, I can't recommend or not recommend this novel solely because it's J.K. Rowling....I think she's earned the respect of her loyal readers to at least give Casual Vacancy a try, but at the same time, I know for some, this will be a 500 page waste of time. My ending words for this book were: Good, mediocre, but not exceptional.