American Critics Hate The Casual Vacancy: While reviews for the book have been mixed everywhere, American book critics seem to slide more to the negative side, what with the book being far more about British issues and leaving certain intricacies of UK life unexplained for the foreign reader. American fans, on the other hand, are simply divided.
Awesome Moments: Andrew standing up to his father (every time counts), the rowing eight's achievements, Barry having managed to keep Krystal in the rowing team, Parminder calling Howard out on his hypocrisy, Sukhvinder trying to save Robbie and arranging a whole funeral practically all by herself, Andrew sending the post that started it all.
From the series, Barry's speech at the parish council, and Krystal calling the police on Obbo after Terri was on drugs she got from him at the time of Kay's visit. Parminder having called Howard out counts as well.
Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: With an extremely mundane premise and a cast of characters that range from extremely pathetic to pure evil, many have found it very difficult to become attached to any of the characters, and thus care about the story's conclusion.
Heartwarming Moments: The interactions between Barry and the rowing eight, especially Barry and Krystal, Gaia and Sukhvinder's friendship (to the point that Gaia yells at Fats for being a Jerk Ass.) Colin and Fats reconciling might count.
From the series, Barry bailing Terri out and his interactions with Krystal (like when he offers her an apprenticeship if she does her O-Levels at least in one subject) his nephews (Andrew and Paul) and Mary (the latter being Harsher in Hindsight as his death is a Foregone Conclusion, see Tear Jerker).
Hilarious in Hindsight: Gaia's sentence in the book about how it's all "so white" at Winterdown (said to Sukhvinder during biology as they look into microscopes) becomes this with Gaia and Kay receiving Race Lift in the series.
Memetic Mutation: Some of the racier quotes like "miraculously unguarded vagina" are kinda hilarious when taken out-of-context because Rowling wrote them. Naturally, the Internet became flooded with fanfics like Harry Potter and the Miraculously Unguarded Vagina within hours of Vacancy's embargo lifting.
One-Scene Wonder: Absent for most of the book and barely mentioned, Patricia Mollison's brief appearance near the end of the book has a large impact. The revelation that she walked in on her father being orally pleasured by his assistant Maureen years ago, passed on via The_Ghost_of_Barry_Fairbrother, likely causes Howard's second and near fatal heart attack and his wife's near attempt to kill him in a fit of rage just beforehand.
However, also kinda averted. Those who skip to the last page will see Krystal rowing in a team again saying to "win it for Barry", with no implication that she's dead and it's a flashback.
Tear Jerker: Krystal, Terri and Robbie's story, Mary snapping about how lonely she felt while Barry was working for the community, Tessa Wall having to play middleman between Fats and Colin and getting nothing but forgetfulness from Colin and disdain from Fats in return not to mention how Fats got to that family to begin with and Colin shouting he never wanted Fats in the first place clearly deeply hurting Fats, Sukhvinder's problems, Andrew's homelife.
From the series, Krystal crying after having bonded with Terri a bit, and the Foregone Conclusion kicking in after the scene when Barry offers Krystal a job.
The Woobie: Sukhvinder, who is dyslexic, has hair growing on her upper lip, and is The Unfavorite in her family. Fats ridicules her constantly at school, calling her a hermaphrodite and a lesbian, and sends her mocking pictures and messages on Facebook. Her mother is emotionally abusive because of Sukhvinder's poor school performance and her father, while loving, doesn't seem to expect much of her when compared to her siblings. Krystal Weedon, a former friend from her rowing team, turns against her when Sukhvinder's mother is accused of being the cause of Nana Cath's death, and threatens to have her gang beat her up. To cap it off, Sukhvinder spends her nights cutting herself and wishing she were dead.
Krystal counts for most of the book, at least until she negligently leaves Robbie by himself so she can have sex with Fats, and Robbie falls into the river and drowns. Even then, she almost still counts, since the reason Robbie was with her at all was because she found Obbo alone with him, and was desperate to keep Robbie safe, so she took him with her.
Even then she'd still count since the only reason she was going to have sex with Fats was to try and get pregnant and therefore be more eligible for assistance in order for herself and Robbie to leave their mother's. The only way she could think of getting out of her situation was a stupid plan, but she was basically teetering on the Despair Event Horizon and jumped straight off it when Robbie died.