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The Casual Vacancy - J.K. Rowling Honestly, I think this is one of those books where I'd really need to give my thoughts a bit of time to settle before saying anything, but... damn.

This is a book I pre-ordered the moment it was available; yet when it finally arrived, I let it sit next to me, week after week, because things I kept hearing here and there made me fairly convinced I wasn't really keen on reading it. So when I finally picked it up, I was inclined to dislike it; inclined to be disappointed.

I was wrong.

I don't think it's a book for everyone. There is very little going on, on the surface of it. It's a little slow to start, as it has a large cast of characters, all of them equally important, who need to get introduced; there is a fair bit of background that needs to be explained. There is a distinct lack of instantly likeable characters; there are no perfect people in this book, not many a reader might want to emulate with shining eyes.

There is a lot of swearing. There is casual, matter-of-fact sex; there is drug use. The people are petty and ugly and full of imperfections.

And I enjoyed it all, tremendously. The entire book is a study of people, and it's done, IMHO, amazingly well. I loved the way I was made to go from loathing a character to understanding them and sympathising with them. When things were drawing to a close towards the end, when it became clear what was about to happen... It's been a while since I've read a book where I've felt so strongly about the characters, certainly with a standalone book.

So, yeah. Five stars. No, I don't think it was a perfect book (for starters, it had a few too many semicolons to my liking, and I'm not entirely sure I found the very ending perfect), but it was one that kept me glued to the pages in a way few books do.