The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Amazing. When I started this book I didn't have high hopes. I'd heard a lot of bad reviews from friends and reviewers alike. In fact, I refused to spend money on it. It so happens that I work for a publisher and I ran across the book on our sales team's shelves so I asked to borrow it. (They gave it to me. Didn't want it back.) I'm not fond of politics and there was A LOT of character development, which also doesn't generally hold my interest when it goes on for too long. When I was still in the first half, "tedious" was the word that kept coming out when I was asked how I liked the story. However, somewhere a little past halfway I realized I was actually looking for time to continue reading, dragging the book with me everywhere. (I've always said if you're bargaining with the clock, that's a good sign.) I was thinking about the characters and Rowling's writing even when I didn't have the words in front of me. My brain was untangling knots I didn't even know I'd picked up. I found myself deeply impressed with Rowling's insight into people's innermost thoughts and personality quirks. It's so accurate it's a bit uncanny. The intertwining of the psychology of Self as well as community was yet another level that snuck up on me. In fact, I didn't even realize all the levels this book made me think on as I read it - I only started counting the staircases as I sat afterwards and looked back at all the paths I'd been led down without realizing. The more I think about it, the more I see. In the first half I thought surely Rowling had killed her career (not that it matters when you're richer than the Queen). Now - *now* I see the genius. Most novels dole out happy juice to your frontline neurons all the way through, a little at a time, and thus "a good book" is very satisfying. This story leads you along in such a way that weeds out those who can't/won't see, or never explore, the space between. If you've never been in the dark back alleys of your own brain, you won't get it. Only if you're persistent and aware do you find the rush of revelation at the end that leaves you high while your brain grasps all the truths and keeps finding more hidden in the depths. In fact, I'd say the majority won't/don't get this book (hence the reviews). It's too far above normal thought.
As I turned the last page, one ironic word replaced the original description in my head: authentic. This book is extremely authentic.
Well done, Joanne.
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