Hi, how are you all doing? Today I’m attempting my first ever book review. I hope you enjoy, but please bare with me if it’s not up to scratch!
So. Let us begin! I’m terrible at intros (very sorry!) – how DO people do them in a sophisticated way? 😀
TITLE: ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’
AUTHOR: ‘Lionel Shriver’
GENRE: Psychological Thriller
MY RATING: 4/5
Goodreads Book Description:
The gripping international bestseller about motherhood gone awry. Eva never really wanted to be a mother – and certainly not the mother of the unlovable boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and a much-adored teacher who tried to befriend him, all two days before his sixteenth birthday. Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with marriage, career, family, parenthood, and Kevin’s horrific rampage in a series of startling direct correspondences with her estranged husband, Franklin. Uneasy with the sacrifices and social demotion of motherhood from the start, Eva fears that her alarming dislike for her own son may be responsible for driving him so nihilistically off the rails.
This novel was one I was excited to read from the start. It was a suggested read by my A-Level Psychology department, so I thought I’d give it a try. I wasn’t disappointed.
Even now, I am still torn. This novel deals with the simple question – nature v nurture, and Shriver’s writing has left me with so many questions. I can’t decide whether it was Eva’s parenting that turned Kevin into the murderer he was, or misfortune that planted her with an evil son. It’s this which led me to give it a 4/5, because I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it for days.
I’d like to say that from the moment I started it, I was compelled, because I honestly think Shriver’s writing deserves that. However, I wasn’t. The first 200-300 pages were a trawl for me to get through. The novel is written in epistolary form; Eva writes letters directed to her estranged husband Franklin. The first part of the book focuses on Kevin’s early life, which I was interested in. I was less appealed to the parts which didn’t focus on Kevin – for example, Eva and Franklin’s relationship, and Eva’s present life. After a while I found it became predictable, and I was just reading for the sake of getting to the parts I enjoyed. However, when I was at those parts, I was engaged, and compelled. And in the last hundred pages, my rating flew up. I found myself second guessing everything I had thought in the early pages, and wanting to pull my hair out because I was so torn. I was on the edge of my seat, desperate to know more. And the final twist…I was shocked. But also ecstatic, because it gave the novel the edge that it needed to be brilliant.
Despite taking a long time to get to the story (it could’ve been condensed into a shorter, faster read), it meant that all of Shriver’s characters were well developed, believable, and to some extent, likeable – depending on how you viewed them. You had to make a choice for yourself, whether you thought each one was good or bad, reliable or unreliable. Kevin specifically for me was a difficult choice. The obvious choice was there – he was evil, a murderer. But as we learned more about him, I began to feel sorry for him, even though I desperately didn’t want to. His mother had always been set against him. And at the end of the novel he is portrayed as vulnerable, a side only revealed at that moment.
Shriver’s writing meant that, for me, I was on Eva’s side from the start. I found her to be independent, cultured, exciting, and likeable. On the other hand, I found Franklin to be boring, irritable, and blind to the evil nature of the son he had. This simple fact kept me on edge the whole way. It also frustrated me, and I wanted to scream at him to get with it. I always felt like he was one step behind Eva, until an event later on in the book made me question everything, changing my whole outlook on the novel. Suddenly, I wondered if Eva was an untrustworthy narrator. If Kevin’s behaviour was not merely a cause of nature, but nurture – if Eva’s parenting was the reason for him being the way he was. She’d always been against him, from the minute he was conceived. Had she set him up by her mothering?
To Sum It Up:
If you enjoy the whole nature v nurture argument, or are looking for a read in which you’ll feel so overwhelmed with frustration because you just CAN’T decide whose side to take, or which story to pick (it’s almost like there’s two entirely different ways of viewing this novel) then I definitely recommend it! There is a slow build up, which I found hard to trudge through, but personally I thought it was worth it. If you can cope with a verryyy slow beginning, then give this a try. If you make it to the end, you won’t regret it!
Well there we go. My first book review. What did you think? I’ve really enjoyed it. I’m very sorry if it wasn’t up to the standard of some of your reviews – I’m in awe at how amazing some of you book bloggers are! And if you don’t like books and found this a complete bore…well, I’m surprised you stuck around, but thank you anyway. Your support is all very much appreciated ❤
Love, Em x
P.S: How are you? What have you been up to today? It’s my birthday tomorrow woo! 🙂
If there are any books you’d like me to read and review, or you have any books to recommend, leave a comment or drop me an email 🙂