The Casual Vacancy VERSUS The Yellow Birds
Personally, I did not care for either book. J. K. Rowling should stick to writing children’s books. Kevin Power’s book has been favorably compared to The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. For me, it doesn't even come close. If you want to read a classic about war and the human condition, read the book by Tim O’Brien. I think it is excellent. However, I will discuss the two books I was assigned by using a Pro/Con list.
CASUAL VACANCY: A story that takes place in a small town in England with a story line that drags in the ugliest of human behaviors as the town council strives to find a replacement for a vacant council seat. This is Rowling’s first novel for adults.
PROS: ummmmmm, oh yeah, it was full of dry Brit-Com humor. Rowling’s a good writer. She is a sharp observer of social behaviors.
CONS: The book is 512 pages!!. There were 15 or more different characters. It was difficult to remember them all, and I personally did not care about what happened to any of them. The ending was predictable and somewhat heavy-handed. I skipped through a chunk of it.
YELLOW BIRDS: Told in the words of a young private in the army who is serving a tour of duty in Iraq. The story focuses on his friendship with another young private and their daily struggle to stay alive amidst the horrors of war.
PROS: The author had spent time in the military in Iraq, so the story felt real and somewhat like his memoir. One cares about what happens to the characters, although one does not really get to know them that intimately. Well written. A brisk, brief writing style which I personally enjoy. It was only 240 pages, so a quick read.
CONS: Hey, it’s about war, so it was seriously depressing. The story at times reads as somewhat disjointed and rambling. “Lost my way” a couple times during my read.