I just finished The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling's new adult novel. It is nothing like Harry Potter (in spite of the Hagrid Night's joke I saw on SNL last Thursday Night). Overall, I liked the book. It was slow to build, but once it got going, I wanted to find out where it ended up.
It introduces a lot of characters, but eventually they become fairly easy to sort out. The story is very British drama. It reminds me of Downton Abbey, minus the time period. It takes place in present time, in a small English village.
I did not know anything at all about the book before I purchased it and started reading. I avoided any advance press. The book started strong, I found the first chapter very compelling. It slowed down a little as Rowling started to introduce all of the characters and began hinting at some of the secrets that might be unearthed in the course of the book.
It is told from an omniscient point of view, so we get to know what many of the characters are thinking, and many of their underlying motivations. It is the story of a small village, trying to resist change and trying to hold its skeletons close.
I'm not sure what else to say without giving anything away. I liked the book. It's not like Harry Potter, but I think it is also appropriate for an older teen audience, as well as adults. There are a number of teenage characters in the book. I think that overall the teenagers were better written than most of the adults in the book.
I'm going to give The Casual Vacancy, 4 Stars.
It's worth a read, especially if you like kind of soapy dramas, with a lot of British feel.