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Sparklers Review The Casual Vacancy (NO Spoilers!!!)

Sparklers Review The Casual Vacancy (NO Spoilers!!!)

Unless you've been living under a troll's swollen buttock you know that J.K. Rowling released her first non-magical novel a few weeks ago, and that we at SparkLife have been Book Clubbin' the everloving mugglespit out of it.

It was great! We talked trash, drew pictures, and Sparkler Rebellious_Cellist campaigned to be the Official SparkLife Ambassador to Pagford on a platform of "turning the fields into an underwater housing research center" and, more importantly, "sex ed classes taught by unicorns." Congratulations, Cellist—nobody ran against you, so you win!!! A gift basket of spiced pork and Finnigan's Formal Diapers is waiting in your suite at the new Pagford Visitors' Center (formerly the Pagford methadone clinic).

But with snotty tears on our chins we finished reading a week ago, and the Sparklers had a plethora of opinions. If you missed the Book Club and are still on the fence about The Casual Vacancy then you should do two things:

  1. Read what your fellow Sparklers have been saying about it right here, and
  2. Jump into the first Book Club post and meet the sociopathic citizens of Pagford for yourself.

Both those things are SPOILER FREE!!! So get some, then if you want jump into the conversation with the rest of our Book Club posts (painstakingly copy/pasta'd at the bottom of this page).

But don't let me convince you. Here's what the Book Clubbin'est  Sparklenauts among you thought of The Casual Vacancy:

Some Sparklers were ecstatic just to be in the same zip code as Rowling's newest slab of words…


Others were shocked when they actually started reading it...

"When Rowling says "adult" she means ADULT! This is not a book for elementary a warning, if you are uncomfortable with language, sex, drugs, abuse, etc, do not read this book. But as always, Rowling is a fantastic author and I am excited to see how she makes these characters come alive. This book is so realistic, she is just telling the world as it is."

Sparkler love for HP & The Hogwarts 7 died hard...

"I respect her for laying aside the characters that encompassed her life for 10 years (and asking us to do the same), but that doesn't mean I like it…"

"well, it's good, but. . . it's not harry potter"

But they quickly found new reasons to love J.K.'s work...

"JKR's insight into the estates is interesting, especially knowing how poor she was at one point in her life. I feel like her descriptions of the estates are that much more vivid because she was so poor before potter."

"I have to say, I had reservations about the book at first (all the sex and swearing kind of took me by surprise), but I've really gotten to like it. JK is just so darn good at drawing compelling characters, even deeply flawed ones."

Even though they hated most of the characters...

"I like the book so far, but I feel like to many of the characters are unlikeable. I mean, its not a problem if the reader dislikes a couple, but half of the POVs we get are from really detestable people (namely Fats, Simon and Samantha)."

"I am torn between liking Fats's weird point of view and hating his character. Why does Krystal like him? He's not good! (as my mother would say, SCUM! SCUM! SCUM!" [Take that, Rowling! You're not the only one who can use parentheses!])"

"Samantha is so obsessed with her boobs that I'm surprised they haven't spoken to her and told her to take it easy for a while and stop thinking about them… you'd think they were important and big enough to contribute to earth's gravitational pull from the way she talks about them :/"

"Don't vote for Simon. I'm sensing a Voldemort here: No friends, only 'followers' who fear him, no love in his heart, angry, no redeeming qualities, not good with computers."


"the main character nick lives in a egg and it is very cold there"

(Note: there is actually nobody named Nick in this book, but this is a fascinating sentence and somebody should WRITE a book about it.)

One character in particular seemed familiar...

"Am I the only one picturing Vernon Dursley as Howard Mollison??"

"is anyone else getting Uncle Vernon vibes from Howard, by the way? Like Uncle Vernon, I find his pompous attitude weirdly hilarious, even though he's clearly the Big Bad"

(I also pictured Howard as a chunky, chummy, triple-chinny Uncle Verny.)

But ultimately, readers came to appreciate the book for its own merits...

"Well, it did take 400 pages or so, but the casual vacancy grew on me eventually."

"I thought the ending was very powerful. Literally punching the air when [important plot point happened]"

"hold on to your seats, butts, because if the true climax went over like a whimpering fart the ending is going to be a whole other world of diarrhea AND farting"

They should've put that endorsement on the back of the book. At least one person, btw,  thought I was a better moderator than Jim Lehrer...

"Brandon Specktor, your drawings are glorious."

Awwwwww, shucks. You guys are too nice. But, after all, this IS SparkLife…

"Bam!" (x2)

Thanks again for reading, y'all! If you're just starting CasVac, hop into the Book Club here, and feel free to keep the conversation going:

The Casual Vacancy Book Club
Part 1: An exhaustive list of the 20+ characters in Pagford

Part 2: In which we call out J.K. for renaming Harry Potter "Barry Fairbrother"

Part 3: In which the first- and third-world problems of Pagford collide (and I draw a poopy diaper)

Part 4: In which we identify the Voldemort of Pagford (and I draw him throwing crap)

Part 5: Snarky notes on Barry Fairbrother's funeral

Part 6: A Helpful infographic on the 4 People You'll Meet at Your Pagford Dinner Party (plus: Sparklers call me out on a typo :o)

Part 7: An illustrated treatise on the fundamental differences of snogging near ghosts and unicorns

Part 8: How the book SHOULD end but doesn't (though one of these jokes actually came true)

Part 9: In which we realize that no adult is fit to govern anything

Part 10: An invitation to Howard "I'm not your Uncle Vernon" Mollison's climactic Super Sweet 65 party

Part 11: The real "world of diarrhea AND farting" climax and the end of the story/unicorn pics

Peace out, rainbow trout.

Did the Sparklers convince you to read The Casual Vacancy?

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Tags: sparklers, books, comments, book reviews, the casual vacancy, the casual vacancy book club

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About the Author
Brandon Specktor

For 22 years, Brandon was a fat kid living in Tucson, AZ, which gave him lots and lots of time to write. He now works at a magazine in New York City, but still loves writing almost as much as he loves muffins.

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