Candice: I decided I wanted to give this book a try before Christmas so stuck it on my Christmas list. I’d heard mixed reviews of it but wanted to see what else JK had been up to as I had really enjoyed the Harry Potter books.
We all know how hard it would be to follow something so well-loved, everyone wants you just to write more of the same. I suppose, like Stephanie Meyer you could write in a similar genre (Twilight and The Host) or you can write under a pseudonym (like Stephen King and Richard Bachmann). But either JK wanted to keep her name on it or her publisher did.
So I started this book just after Christmas, and I only finished it last week. Why? Because each time I went to pick it up I would grab for something else instead because it was such hard going.
I’m trying to be fair in this review because it’s not Harry Potter and I wasn’t expecting that. But this was like the author trying to get rid of all of her hate of the UK, its people and their idiosyncrasies in one book. I think she might have finished and gone “Nur” to the popular press.
The premise is the sudden death of a local council member which creates a “casual vacancy”. This causes a ruckus in the small village that it affects as different parties decide to stand for the position. It seems the departed councillor was the glue holding the village together and with him gone the semblance of nicety that villagers have been keeping up, falls apart.
And that is the crux of it, each family involved has their own problems: father beating son, son discovering he is adopted, daughter with drug addict mom, the list goes on. The trouble is, you just don’t like any of them. And I mean, they are hateful people and reading the book actually made me feel somewhat depressed as their nastiness went on and on to greater depths.
The reason I say it’s JK thumbing her nose to the media as this is what we like to report on. Soaps, news papers, magazines are all full of this level of dirt as we try to find greater and greater ways to shock. It’s just not pleasant in a story and therefore does not make for a fun read.
All in all I wouldn’t say it’s badly written, it just isn’t my cup of tea. To make up for feeling depressed for most of January I read two books in a week, Manhattan by Ronni Cooper ( a stonking good read for chick lit ) and The Girl who loved Tom Gordon, which Phil reviewed the other week and I devoured in just over a day. Phew, normal book reading returns.