- Americans Hate Tingle: 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Jerkass Woobie: Krystal and her mother Terri.
- 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.
- Spoiled by the Format:
- Looks like the election is over, and Miles Mollison won the parish council seat! Wait a minute, what do you mean there's still a hundred pages left in the book?
- 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. Terri's father was abusive, her mother left, the father raped her then burnt her with boiling oil. Not even Nana Cath could keep Terri safe from him, then Terri got mixed up with alcohol and drugs. Krystal and Robbie were taken from her several times, Krystal having to more or less raise Robbie who is at a constant risk of being taken away for good now. And this is just the beginning.
- Mary accidentally getting a call from the newspaper about Barry soon after he died and freaking out, then later 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. She's dyslexic, stout, has hair above her lips, her mother always lets her know how disappointed she is in Sukhvinder, Fats Wall bullies her every day in school and on the internet, and she's self-harming and suicidal.
- 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 (Sukhvinder even notes that though his father is kindly and accepting of her faults, he can afford to be as her two siblings are both geniuses plus her older sister is stunningly beautiful too). 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.
- Andrew Price isn't on here? He gets bullied by his turd of a father, and his equally turdish best friend, and he doesn't know where he stands.
- Paul as well, though he's not as developed- he has the same turdish father who is especially hard on him as Paul is thin meek and prone to nosebleeds, he has no friend in sight and even his big brother Andrew is more occupied with his own problems (which to be fair do include getting back at the father making both their lives miserable).
YMMV / The Casual Vacancy