Yes, this book is by J.K. Rowling, no it is nothing like the Harry Potter Series. If you have read any books under her pseudonym, Robert Galbraith, you will know a little bit of what to expect.
The Casual Vacancy is a study of humanity. It delves into the minds of all the people who live in the small town of Pagford. Everything is set off when Barry Fairbrother dies at the beginning of the book. We see how he affected everyone around him, and how his absence has set off a heightened battle among the people of Pagford. Should they keep the Bellchapel Addiction Clinic that serves the people in Yarvil, or should they close it to save on costs? There is a stark line drawn between the two towns. Many in Pagford see Yarvil as a drug filled town packed with people living off the government. Others see it as a place of value with people who need help.
There are many characters in this book and at first it can be hard to keep them straight. We get glimpses into their mind that last a few pages, and then we move on to the next character. The book is a slow-build, but the character development as a result, is fantastic. With each glimpse into the townspeople's minds, we see a few more of their flaws. Sometimes they inspire hatred; other times they remind the reader of their own shortcomings.
This is a very powerful book. Not only does it bring up questions of class, society, humanity, and government; but it also challenges the reader to examine their own thought life and evaluate how they treat others. This would be a great one for book clubs and discussion groups.
Follow this link to Overdrive and check it out today: The Casual Vacancy
There is also a mini series based on this book on HBO, read the book and then see how the show compares!