Finally. I’ve finished Casual Vacancy and yes, finally, I can put the book on my shelves and stop the depressive vibe it emitted. When I got the book in my hand, I didn’t expect this one to be better than Potter series, I think it’s very hard to top an international super mega best selling series Rowling created, but what I was looking forward her style in writing that so rich in detail and yes, I found it.
Casual Vacancy was a story about a little town in England which had been having a conflict that lasted many years, the man that was trusted to overcome the conflict, the hero in this book, died in the first chapter. He was the parish councilor so naturally, there will be a vote to fill his vacant seat. Many people, including his opponent side, his friends, an opportunist saw this vacant seat as something that could be beneficial for their own interests. This was the root of all the problems that kept growing in each chapter, each of the characters have their own issues and it collided in events and chances, their stories tangled in a web bigger than the first problem.
I always think that Rowling has the rare ability of storytelling. When she tells hers, it’s already finished. She knows the end -and not only that- she keeps some of the information for later, she spills enough in the right moment, and opens another surprises when we least expect it. It always makes me go, “ohh! now it makes sense..” when actually even before I open the box of surprises, the story already makes sense! She’s a genius. I could see in this new book that she pushed it, she made this little web so delicate and complex it was beautiful.
You wouldn’t find Harry here, not a trace of Gryfindor’s bravery or Slytherin’s wickedness, you wouldn’t know whose bad and whose not. There was no clear line between noble and malevolent, because you could find those in each personality of the characters. You would be in their head, knowing their steps, their thoughts, their fear, their ambitions, and their secret desire. It was crazy but in a thrilling-crazy way. You realized something when you’re in their head : they were you. those people were as real as you.
I didn’t say my ride when cruising every page was delightful, the contrary perhaps. I found the book very depressive and sad, I found it bleak and dark, and I couldn’t help but wonder as I reaching the end of it, what would be the final blow? You saw teachers, mothers, daughters and sons, each in their lowest point and you couldn’t help but just saw it as it was. How can a book be so gloomy and grim yet I managed to finish it enthusiastically? Maybe because Rowling drew the curtain and let people see what was inside, things that most people avoid to see. I guess I knew why this book was so devastating: all the problems in the world was there, in a little town called Pagford: Junkie, rebellious teenagers, heartbroken widow, abusive dad, a teacher with mental-illness, racism, self doubt, affairs, bullying, the-have versus the-not, they were blundered into one story it made me depressed that I had to took two days off from work to finish this book! LOL.
If somebody asked would I read the book again, probably I said no – aside that I rarely re-read books I’ve read- I don’t think this book tops Harry Potter series, but it’s just different kind of genre. I can see Rowling in every sentences and paragraphs, but not Harry, and I think that’s wonderful. I think the biggest enemy a great novelist should defeat wasn’t the popularity of the first book, but themselves. Yes, this book wouldn’t be as good as Harry and if this was her first, probably it wouldn’t be in the “pre-order list” my bookstore made, but still only skilled artist could produce a story as complicated and dark as Casual Vacancy.