The Casual Vacancy is a story about a small, British town, and their reaction to one of their beloved (or loathed) citizens: Barry Fairbrother.
The cast is a mix of teenagers and adults, rich and poor, who all have faults. Rowling did well presenting realistic, believable characters. It is difficult to really like any of them, because they all seem selfish, absorbed in their own lives, oblivious to the needs of others, but very willing to gossip and maligner. I think she did well presenting why each of them were the way there were, and I was sympathetic to most of the cast of characters.
The tone of the entire novel is negative. The ending is very touching, and in a way disheartening, although maybe it presents a change in at least one family. It takes a long time for the novel to get a "start." There is a lot of dissecting of relationships, and with all the characters there are, Rowling needed time to give to all of them.
Sukhvinder was my favorite character, followed by Krystal. The adults were a bit more difficult to care for, probably because they lack the innocence of the kids, who just want fairness and justice. Casual Vacancy presents the strong classism in the town, and how the poor are at the whims of the rich and powerful. Even those who want to help, are pushed aside. Rowling's message is that if you do push the poor aside and leave them to fend on their own, nothing positive will come out of it. It is not as simple as some think it is.
Overall, I liked the story, but it was a bit too long for the main goal.