Everyone seems to be talking about this book and not for the right reasons. Normally, I would wait until I had finished a book (I'm about halfway through at the moment,) until I weighed in on the debate, but there is one thing that right now, absolutely needs to be said.
The Casual Vacancy is not Harry Potter.
I repeat. The Casual Vacancy is not Harry Potter.
Stop expecting it to be. And nor should anyone expect any author to stick to the same style or themes with every novel. Yes, many, many readers from around the globe loved the Harry Potter series and I can easily understand why. The Casual Vacancy is a very different book and not one that is going to inspire the same feelings of hope, fantasy or delight. This is not a children's tale of good versus evil. This is a book about a group self-centered eccentrics who live in the same small English town. Is it depressing? Absolutely. Is it boring. Yeah, okay, a little. Is it poorly written? No.
It seems perfectly understandable to me why after spending so many years of her life writing Harry Potter, Rowling would want to try something new and different. Perhaps the real problem lies not in the book itself, but the way that it has been marketed to the public.