Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My Super Serious Official Book Review of The Casual Vacancy


Greetings and salutations, my fellow bibliophiles! I've decided recently that one thing my blog is missing is literary discussion. I mean, NOTHING spices up a blog or increases pageviews like reading a book and then sitting down to tell people about it at length against their will. So, I read a new book recently, and I wanted to tell you my thoughts on it. You might want to do yourself a favor and get right into a fresh pair of of literary pants because it's time to TALK ABOUT LITERATURE.


My Super Serious Official Book Review of The Casual Vacancy
I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical, picking up J.K. Rowling’s book at my local library. Would it live up to Rowling’s usual standards? Would I be sucked in and end up completely unable to put it down? (Admittedly, I was not able to put down Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows because I was attempting to fix a ceramic unicorn immediately beforehand and, in fact, glued my hands to the book.) How would it end? And, most importantly, what was going to happen to Harry Potter in it? Would he live? Would he die? Would he finally destroy Lord Voldemort? Potterheads with inquiring minds want to know!

But I decided to cast aside my worries and checked Harry Potter and the Casual Vacancy out from the library. “NO SPOILERS!” I chuckled to Glynis, the librarian who was on duty at the time, holding my fingers in my ears in what must have been an extremely comical manner. “Don’t tell me what happens to Harry!”


But old Glynis, she’s a stoic old soul. She just pointed at the keyboard and grunted, “Pin number,” in a way that said to me that she was not much of a Harry Potter fan, but if she were, she would not say a word.


I took the book back to my apartment and sat down immediately to read. And I am happy to report that I later finished it and was excited to share my thoughts in the review I am now writing.


I’m sorry to say that Harry Potter and the Casual Vacancy did not have enough wizardry in it. I had looked forward to more adventures with Harry and his friends and was disappointed that Harry seemed to not be mentioned at all. In place of the usual spell casting, fleeing from Death Eaters, and exciting Quidditch matches, I found a lot of somber reflection over the death of a Muggle named Barry Fairbrother. For several chapters I assumed that he was another victim of Lord Voldemort’s scheming. But, in actuality, he was just a man who died of natural causes. I can only assume that Rowling was attempting an elaborate metaphor for the fragility of human life in the face of the evil that is Lord Voldemort.


I read a few more chapters, eagerly awaiting Harry’s return to Hogwarts. But where I expected to find Platform 9 and ¾, Professor Flitwick, and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, instead I found Terri, the heroin addict. And she could not cast spells to save her life. I read and read and read, and at every opportunity Terri had to pick up a wand and cry, “Expelliarmus!” she chose to pick up a spoon and a lighter instead. In place of a riveting lesson in Transfiguration with Professor McGonagall, there was an emaciated woman tying off in a dingy living room.


I decided to read on, despite my disappointment. Unfortunately, favorite characters like Severus Snape, Neville Longbottom, and Nymphadora Tonks made nary an appearance. The book finally ended with the deaths of two people, and not a single other character rushed to a nearby portrait chamber or Mirror of Erised in an attempt to see the ill-fated characters one last time. I can only assume that Harry Potter never made an appearance because he spent the bulk of the book hiding from Lord Voldemort under his invisibility cloak.


All in all, I was very disappointed in Harry Potter and the Casual Vacancy for the reasons stated above. I can only hope that book 9 will yield more Peeves, the Poltergeist pulling pranks on unsuspecting Hogwarts students, and less awkward teenage fingering.   


I suppose I should finally go back and attempt once again to pry apart the final 75 pages of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and read them. Maybe that will help shed some light on this literary travesty.


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