I'm surprised that I liked this book more than I originally thought I would. It's not I book you have to read and also not one I would widely recommand. But it's really not as bad as many people think or thought it would be.
It's a bit difficult to get into. The book starts very slowly. At the beginning the general situation of the town is explained and the main characters are introduced. As those are a lot it took some time until I finally remembered who everyone was. Once that was done I slowly started enjoying the book.
I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I hadn't completely disliked most of the characters. There wasn't one character whose motives I could understand completely. Most characters - except for Simon Price - did and said things I could understand. But each of them also acted in ways I just didn't understand and also disliked.
What also bothered me was that J K Rowling put so many passages in parenthesis. She never did that in her Harry Potter novels (or maybe I just don't remember). I didn't like this method because it kind of disrupted the flow of the story. To me, a text in parenthesis is something you don't really have to read and that just gives more details which aren't really necessary to understand the story. That's fine with a sentence or two. But it gets really annoying if these passages are several paragraphs or even pages long.
I think that J K Rowling had to write this book to distance herself completely from her Harry Potter novels. "A Casual Vacancy" is written in an entirely different style; if you didn't know that it was written by J K Rowling you'd probably never guess.
"A Casual Vacancy" is not the best book J K Rowling ever wrote and it's definitely not the best one I ever read. But it truely is an above average novel. If it were possible to rate half stars I'd have rated this one 3.5 stars because of the slow start and the many disagreeable characters. The novel however definitely prooves that J K Rowling can write and that her Harry Potter novels weren't just her one time success.