Author: J.K. Rowling
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: September 27th, 2012
Format: Little, Brown and Company
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I was very disappointed with this book. I knew before I even began reading that it was not going to be another Harry Potter book and that it was not going to be a murder mystery, but it was still quite bad even when my expectations were lowered. The book was very dry and difficult to get through; it took me almost a week to read the first 300 pages, which is a very slow reading pace for me. However, the hardest part of reading this book wasn't even my lack of desire to pick it up and read it; it was actually that once I opened up the book I had a hard time paying enough attention to the dry writing to even get through one page without getting distracted (another thing that does not happen often with me).
Not only was the writing difficult to get through, but I was also very bothered by the fact that there really was no plot in this book. At first, I began to think that the plot would be about the casual vacancy - the empty seat on the parish council that is opened up after Barry dies. However, it soon became clear that that was not the case, especially after the first 200 pages were solely about reactions to Barry's death, and the council had not even been mentioned then. I later realized that there would be no actual plot to this book; it really is just about a bunch of different messed up families all living in the same town.
The reason that I gave this book three stars, however, instead of two or even one, was because of Rowling's creation of very believable and well-rounded characters. Every character had a reason for acting like they did, and while they mostly seemed like despicably mean people, they were going through very real life events and issues that made their personalities horrible for a reason. I could very clearly picture this town and these people as real. The only other redeeming quality in this book was that it got better at the end. By the last hundred pages or so, some events seemed to actually occur in the book, and the characters became more likable - or rather, I loved to hate them even more.
I can't say that I would recommend this book to anyone. However, if you choose to pick up this book anyway and give it a shot like I did, simply because it was written by J.K. Rowling, I would just like to give you two quick warnings: lower your expectations, and be prepared to skim through a lot of pages.