I gave up on this book a little less than half way in. It's strange because I didn't necessarily dislike it, I just couldn't get motivated to keep going. Rowling's writing is beautiful and vivid but the wordiness made it a slow, difficult read. I didn't find any of the characters likable and couldn't seem to get invested in the story.
I listened to the audio book version and loved it. Yes, there are lots of characters, and I had to pay close attention to the reader to sort them all out. I found myself liking the foul-mouthed Crystal and hoping she would make it and be able to find a way out of her horrible life just as her rowing coach, Barry Fairbrother, had done. I think Rowling's characters' development was well done; as you progress, you see their personalities take shape. I highly recommend this book.
I was surprised to find the first non-Harry Potter book, by their author, offered by PBS. As an 82 year old reader, I enjoyed the movies so wanted to give this book a try. I found it long winded and trite, I'm sorry to say. It is a long book and I plodded along through it, thinking it couldn't get any worse. It did!
I would suggest that Mrs. Rowling stick to writing about little children riding on brooms instead of using her popularity to rope in readers because of prior popularity.
Characters are very well-developed and the book makes a solid point but it moves at an excessively slow pace with very little action. I really had to want to work to get through it.
I could not finish this book. Was so long and truthfully it was boring. Hard to keep the characters connected.