Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Book Review - The Casual Vacancy

I loved Harry Potter. But it's been so long that I can't distinguish the character I had in my head while reading or Daniel Radcliff's version from the movies. Now when I reread the books I see Radcliff in my mind leading the way. So when J.K. Rowling authored an adult novel I was intrigued.

And now I'm glad that I have read it so I will never have to read it again.

I hated it! It took me two and half months to slog through the 500 or so pages. The first ten chapters jump around trying to introduce two town's worth of characters. I had to restrain myself from getting pen and paper out to keep track. Additionally none of the characters really resonated with me. In the rush to identify them all I felt they were half-formed. So-and-so is married to so-and-so but they like or don't like this person or maybe they are related. But how are they related? A ten chapter mess.
Then her usage of similes and metaphors drove me nuts. A good author can describe people and places without resorting to simile after simile. And then her usage of simile just made me shake my head. My head-pixels changed from Minecraft version of characters to big question marks. For example:

"Krystal's slow passage up the school was like the passage of a goat through the body of a boa constrictor, being highly visible and uncomfortable for both parties involved." p. 58

The only positive aspect I glean from this tortuous novel was the vocabulary. Maybe it's just British (you know, that country that pronounces words correctly) English that was new to me. For example:

"Garrulous and engaging in person..." p. 4
"What you call it when a council seat becomes vacant through death. Proper term," he said pedagogically. p35

Unfortunately, I wasn't impressed with this novel. And I so wanted to be impressed. That cozy spot between Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Fast Food Nation will remain vacant. Casually. Like sand on a sunny beach.

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