Customer Reviews for

The Casual Vacancy

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

415 out of 484 people found this review helpful.

Readers missing the point

I see a lot of readers giving this a book a bad review because of the language the writer used. They believe she does this to make a profit. These readers a totally missing the point. This writer doesn't need the money. She has made a fortune off of the Harry Potter...
I see a lot of readers giving this a book a bad review because of the language the writer used. They believe she does this to make a profit. These readers a totally missing the point. This writer doesn't need the money. She has made a fortune off of the Harry Potter series. She is now free to write about something for herself. She is giving you a glimpse into the world she has experienced growing up and into her adulthood. She doesn't care what the critics think; this book is for her. She shares the pain, anger, frustration, cynicism, sadness, and hopelessness, of the past she has experienced and risen above. I suspect it to be cathartic for her. It has made her the determined, driven person she is. Positive outcomes can come from negative experiences. Yeah for you J.K, you did it!

posted by eire11 on September 29, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

113 out of 524 people found this review helpful.

Lost All Respect

I have lost almost all respect I had for J.K. Rowling. Unfortunately I didn't read the sample before buying the Nook book, expecting innovative and engaging storytelling. What a waste of $20. It's sad that authors feel they have to use sex, drugs and swearing to succeed...
I have lost almost all respect I had for J.K. Rowling. Unfortunately I didn't read the sample before buying the Nook book, expecting innovative and engaging storytelling. What a waste of $20. It's sad that authors feel they have to use sex, drugs and swearing to succeed in the world today. It doesn't make for a great story, all it does is make those of us with morals uncomfortable, and perpetuates the idea that sex sells, so we must need more out there. I'll stick to books that are intellectual, not degrading, thanks.

posted by 1927985 on September 28, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2012

    New book, new Rowling.

    As I read the reviews, I recalled an interview that J.R. Rowling gave in regards to this book. She said that it was meant to be very different from the Harry Potter series, along with being darker and with a more English and personal edge to it. I understand that the language and vulgarity may be an issue, but I don't believe she's using it for her own entertainment. I believe that she's just writing about what she's familiar with.

    48 out of 59 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2012

    Stick to the facts, please

    Come on, people! You cannot compare this book with the 'Harry Potter' series. Yes, there is foul language; yes, it costs $17.00; and yes, the size of the font is small! Please base your reviews on the actual content of the book. That being said, JK Rowling is a great storyteller, no matter the genre. The Casual Vacancy is depressingly good, I found myself being sucked into these characters horribly realistic and devastating lives.

    24 out of 31 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2012

    This conservative mom of 5 IS IMPRESSED.

    I finished it last night, and wanted to sleep on it to crystalize my opinions. I woke with many of the characters still on my heart, which to me is a sign of a very well-written and thoughtful story. *slight spoiler alert* IF YOU ARE OFFENDED BY SEXUAL REFERENCES (MANY, ALL TYPES), DRUG/ALCOHOL USE AND PROFANITY, you will not be able to enter this world. And entering it was a little difficult, I will agree with some of the other reviews on that. I see this as due to 2 reasons. 1) it is emotionally and mentally jarring to read realistic (quite graphic) adult fiction from JKR, esp. as I am SO familiar with the HP books and also know that she's a seemingly happy married mom now, no longer living in any semblance of this world she presents; and 2) being an American myself, I was distracted by some of the current Anglican English references. For instance, it took me a couple of chapters to discover that the Anglican meaning of "estate" is not only entirely different from my western mental image, it means different things at different times in the story. Get past those little speedbumps, though, and once I could keep the characters straight I was completely engrossed. In execution, it IS a little heavy-handed, but I would argue that the graphic nature of some of the acts/characters/etc. is necessary in most instances to jar us out of our comfortable mental moral status quo. We begin to sympathize with the characters in many ways BECAUSE we see them part of such ugliness in their own lives, so foreign to many of us, and it fosters empathy. JKR is a consummate wordsmith and I found myself arrested many times by the turn of phrases she chose. She has a knack for using amazing combinations of words to either illustrate nuances to whatever character or action you are reading, but also many times to give you insight into the exact feelings of a character. She has a gift for making you CARE about the characters, even if you wouldn't ever have them over for dinner. It is a heavy, gritty story, and is DEFNINITELY not for kids or teens. I have 5 kids, oldest is a very mature 14 year old, and my yardstick is whether I would have to explain words or acts to them, and whether they need be exposed to such ugliness yet for any perceivable good purpose. I would never give this book to a HS teen, but in college they will be ready to discuss the issues it raises and whether they are willing to take up the challenges they see reflected here. My vision of the English countryside, with it's ancient towns and churches, as an idyll set apart from the passage of time is forever altered. You will laugh, you will cry, you will be forced to confront your own prejudices and moral standards, and you will probably be more aware of social deficiences and differences than you were before you read this. It is a book I will happy visit again later on, when I am more confident that I can overcome the difficulties I had in the first chapters, that of being unable to divorce the HP lovlieness with the dirt and grime of this story. But it is staying with me, and I am impressed at her talent and courage to put this out.

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2012

    A Must Read

    J. K. Rowling has captured my attention with her spellbinding Harry Potter saga. Her writing had immediately cast a spell on me; and with her writing techniques so profound: leaving clues throughout the seven installments, guessing what could come, Rowling has made her place as one of the most promising authors. With her new story, J. K. Rowling introduces us to a struggling town of Pagford as her first novel for adults, stepping faraway from Harry Potter, "The Casual Vacancy".

    Unlike her introductions in the Harry Potter books, Rowling immediatley begins with the death of an important man named Barry Fairbrother. News of his death travels fast throughout Pagford, taking an affect on its inhabitants (others take the news as a shock, or others quite delighted). On top of Barry's death, Ms. Rowling throws the characters of the Casual Vacancy to their own problems: abusive husbands, cheating husbands, out-of-control sons and daughters; a town that seems to fall apart after a death of a man. And there is this ruined abbey that sits on top of a hill, that every single person of Pagford knows, holds a mystery that might or may have some significance to thr story.

    I have only read the sample (Part One: Sunday and Monday) but have already, once again, been captured by Rowling's spell with "The Casual Vacancy".

    10 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2012

    Interesting read

    If you're looking for something Potter-esque. Forget it, don' t buy this book. The language is gritty, the situations sometimes crass, but all appropriate to the story being told. An interesting, well written tale of small minded small town poltics, with the addition of teenaged angst often fueld by those same narrow minded attitudes. Kudos to Rowlings for stepping outside the much loved Potter box. My only regret was a determined bleakness, and lack of any humor.. for even in the worst of times, and the worst of people, there's always humor. It may be black, but still humorous. Overall a great read, and actually well worth the cost to see another side of a great story teller. The way Rowlings made you love Harry and all of his friends, is much akin to the way she makes you loathe these people. The true mark of a great writer is to engage the reader with an emotion, be that emotion love or contempt, if you "feel" it they've done their job. Even bad reviews are good reviews if the author elicits emotion. Before purchasing this book, read the reviews, there's no middle ground. Love it or hate it, she's still done the job of a truely great writer. This is not the Potter feel good book. It stands alone, raw and real.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2012

    Great storyteller

    I enjoyed this book even though I would regard it as not an easy read. It had so many characters, most of whom I could not stand. There were times that I had to go back and reread parts so I could remember someone. It was full of social issues and could invoke a lot of debate. When the first official reviews said that it was about a small english town at war with itself, that is it in a nutshell. It was hard to believe that this is the same woman that wrote my beloved Harry Potter books. It is definitely not a kids book

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2012

    Good book

    Was good and thoughtful book. People that are complaining about the cursing need to grow up. Must be nice for them to live in a fantasy worlf where nobody curses.

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 26, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Following the immensely successful Harry Potter series is no eas

    Following the immensely successful Harry Potter series is no easy feat, and I can completely understand Rowling's decision to avoid all similarities to the magical world she created.


    While I definitely enjoyed this book, I'm certain I would not have bothered to read it had it not been penned by this author. In the back of my mind, I constantly compared it to her earlier work, marveling at the differences. In Vacancy, the characters -- all of them -- are much more developed than even the central cast of the Potter books. We see their deepest motivations (which are primarily ugly). We see their pains, their fears, their delusions, and their machinations. It's as if Rowling wanted to display the exact opposite of the epic and altruistic battle between good and evil, taking us instead into the minutae of disparate individual hungers.


    Unlike Potter, no character is 100% likeable or 100% detestable. Unlike Potter, each central character (and there are many) is a point-of-view character. Rowling slips almost seamlessly from one voice to the next quite frequently, something for which a less famous writer would be chastised (and mercilessly edited). Her ability to make each character distinct is impressive, as is her precise use of analogies to nail character traits and feelings.


    The plot itself is a cause-and-effect character study rather than a traditional 3-act play structure. Each act of fear, desperation, revenge, and rage cascades through the Pagford populace like an emotional avalanche.



    I felt the conclusion somewhat rushed, even thouh I was more than ready for resolution in the characters' sorry lives. While I have absolutely no desire to revisit Pagford or its denizens, I think Vacancy has the potential to become a quite popular television program. I also believe it would be excellent material for study in writing courses

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 10, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    There may not be magic here, but this is still a book about chil

    There may not be magic here, but this is still a book about children: little ones who are victims of circumstance, teens enraged at but impotent in the face of the world around them, and sad-sack middle agers wondering where their youth went. Take the time to meet these characters. And to those who decry this book as lewd and unseemly, I suggest you remove your rose-colored glasses and look for the bits that resemble your own life. Well done, J.K.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2012

    A good read

    Complex character and very realistic dialog. I loved the realistic representation of small town politics and that teenagers and family dynamics are the true influences behind the people in office, which seems to be my experience in small towns.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2012

    enjoyed the book

    Huge JK Rowling fan and I had really high expectations for this book. I enjoyed it and appreciated the different style. The characters were interesting and written so that the reader relates with each in different ways. I loved the way social issues were inserted in ways that we all face on a daily basis with the various characters' perspectives. My one thought was that there were too many characters... But I'll read it again and may feel differently.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 1, 2013

    I kind of liked this book. I wasn't expecting another Harry Pott

    I kind of liked this book. I wasn't expecting another Harry Potter from Rowling but the good thing is that she's at the point where she can experiment with other stories in her mind. I think she had the idea for this book for a long time in her head. Yes, the language is bad, but you know what? For me it made the story what it is. Rowling tries to paint a clear picture of the small town and the people in it along with the social and even political going-ons in it. This book wasn't meant for children even when news floated around of it's existence. Rowling wrote this exclusively for a grown audience. It a story that reflects some of the modern problems we face. For me, it's an amazing book from an amazing writer.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2013

    I don't know why everybody is giving this book a bad review. Poi

    I don't know why everybody is giving this book a bad review. Point blank it is not even remotely close to Harry Potter, however it is still brilliantly written by Rowling. I quite enjoyed seeing what else she could write, and I was gladly surprised to see how versatile she can be as an artist.
    The book itself is pretty much a snapshot view of a little town and the drama that occurs after a city council man dies. Almost every chapter comes from a different view of a different person in that town and it was quite enjoyable to see how they intertwined with each other. It has great character development and if you're really into gossiping then this is right up your alley. 
    I am giving this book a 4 out of 5 only because the ending left me wanting more. It seemed to end on a flat note and I was looking for more of an intriguing climax. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 26, 2013

    I enjoyed this story. The swearing that some people are complain

    I enjoyed this story. The swearing that some people are complaining about please just get over it. She is using this to show her characters frustration. I swear too much as well and I will say this gave me a different perspective as to why and how it began. Maybe with some of the insight that I learned from this book I will be able to clean up my own swearing problem. THIS IS A GOOD BOOK. Read it give it a chance.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 1, 2013

    A well written Adult fiction that involves teenagers actions and consequences.

    Once you accept that the text uses street language of Western Great Britain, you have a tale of first loves, teenage bullying, grief, and how poverty and drug-addiction can destroy lives young and old alike. The story begins with the death of a self-made man that rose from the wrong side of a ancient parish community that wants to preserve it quaint country image while he is trying to improve where he grew-up (Fields). The politics at the adult level shows extremes of liberal and conservative views and the personal lives of many adults with actions of several 16 year old teenagers makes for a tragedy. The adults are so caught-up in their own battles that their children can act out some of the worst behaviors of disenfranchised teenagers which results tragedies that should make all of us think about our own experiences with life and hope for something better.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2013

    For Adults, not children.

    The Casual Vacancy was a very compelling book for me. I was not able to put it down. However, if you are s kid who is readisng this book, you probably won't understand it, or think it is terrible. This book has nothing to do with Harry Potter. It has none of the lightness and fantasy that was so enjoyable for most of us. Ot has adult themes and humor. Children have every right to read this bool, of course, and I am merely stating that they would probably not understand all the themes and hidden messages in this book, and would likely find it extremely dull and boring. This book ciuld not be more different from Rowling's Harry Potter series. There is no magic,, and all the humor used is very black. This book is laced with morbid surprises, and while I agree the first few chapters were something like roadblocks, the rest of the novel is very rewarding. I would definitely reccomend this book for adults. For kids...well, just stay away for a few more years.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2013

    Touching,reaa Tiuc Touching real and jarring

    Never would have imagined this book from this author but i am so glad she wrote it because i might not have read it otherwise. This was a very compelling and jarring story about the ugly nature of humanity. It really made me reflect. Well worth the read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2013

    Engaging Story and Characters

    The story sounds like it would be boring, local politics and all, but there are enough twists here and there that it stays interesting. The characters are well-written, flawed, and realistic. Be advised that the story can be a bit of a downer, as it is not a happy tale, but it further proves that Rowling is a real writer. She draws you in, and by the end, you really feel invested in this little town she created.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2013

    Every one of us

    Well-written study in the "me" in every micro-society. If you do not see yourself somewhere in this story, you are blind to your own reality.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2013

    Great book

    There's no magic in this story. This isn't a portrait of the seedy underbelly of civilization; it's our own selfish nature shoved right in our snotty noses. It's hopeless; stoners and cynics alike are doomed. The characters, though very well developed, are a little on the Dickensian/archetypal side, but then again, we cling to stereotypes for a reason. Great departure from our good old friends from Hogwarts.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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