Book Review: We Need To Talk About Kevin

28.9.10

Brace yourselves, this is an incredibly long review for an incredible, incredible book.

Image taken from bookarmy
Written by Lionel Shriver (a woman, not a man), the blurb says this:

"Eva never really wanted to be a mother; certainly not of the boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker and a teacher who tried to befriend him."

Pretty gripping stuff, hey? The book is formatted as a series of letters sent by Eva to her estranged husband, and this inventive style of writing was something that I really enjoyed in this book. I do however have to admit that this took some getting used to, and I struggled with the story at first. It’s my own book snobbery, but I tend to prefer those written by English authors over American books. I think it’s the use of language, and with this book that definitely was a factor in why I took so long to get into this story, as well as the use of overly descriptive detailing that this book uses.

The characters in We Need To Talk About Kevin are extremely well developed. By using the letters, Shriver really gives an insight into the mind of Eva, who is brutally honest about her feelings at times. Kevin himself is horribly repulsive and the behaviour he exhibits is unbelievable, yet somehow it is all so realistic.

I was talking to a friend about the point in the story where Eva tells baby Kevin “Mummy was happy before widdle Kevin came awong, you know that, don’t you?” and her response was to feel sorry for Kevin. I on the other hand pitied Kevin at no point during this story. At the end of the book there is an afterword by the author where she also details the divide in attitude of her readers that she has noticed.

"One camp assesses a story about a well-intentioned mother who...is saddled with a "bad seed", a child evil from birth... The second camp of readers appears to have read another novel entirely: about a mother whose coldness is itself criminal."

The one word I would use to describe this book is shocking. I couldn’t put this story down, and after finishing it at about 8:30am whilst sat in the office before work I was literally dumbstruck. I sat there in a state of shock and it took me a good half an hour to get back to normal. Never before could I have said that a book had the possibility to do this. The reason for this is (without giving too much away) that the reader’s entire belief throughout the book is shattered 13 pages before the end. You’ll have to read it to see what I mean, but hand on heart try and tell me you didn’t see that coming.

This novel was a break from the norm for me. I never usually go for crime stories nor (as I mentioned before) American books. But this book has stomped its way through to my top 5 books, perhaps even top 2. Seriously girls, give it a read. The Daily Mail said that it “knocks you sideways and takes your breath away…horrifying, original, witty, brave and deliberately provocative” and it quite rightly won the 2005 Orange Prize. If you like your books to be a more than the usual fluffy chick-lit then please give this disturbing tale a go. Not enough people have, and it has left so many thoughts in my mind….I need someone to share them with!

Have any of you read We Need To Talk About Kevin? Or any of Lionel Shriver’s other books?

T x

8 comments

  1. i've had this book on my bookshelf for ageeees, probably over a year, and haven't even touched it, haha. i think i'll give it a go when i've finished my current read! great review. (: xx

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  2. I had to read this book over the summer for extra Psychology reading. I've almost finished it, and I must say it really is a brilliant book. I don't feel any sympathy for Kevin either! x

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  3. @Clare Marie - it sat on my shelf for ages too....but definitely do pick it up! x

    @Jenny - isn't it amazing? Just wait for the finale! x

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  4. This sounds so interesting! (:

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  5. I admire that you read a lot!

    I've given you award just to thank you for being supportive from day 1 :) thankyou. x

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  6. I saw this book on the shelf a while ago and the blurb intrested me(:
    but your review has made it a deffo read for me:)

    www.Elsie-Rose.blogspot.com

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  7. @Reyna - I wasn't sure to begin with, but it's such a thought-provoking book x

    @Monica - lol I'm a bookworm! Thanks for the award :) x

    @3ate4 - do it!! x

    @Elsie - I can't say enough good things about this book. It's unforgettable x

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