Discussion of "We Need to Talk about Kevin"

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How do you rate We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver?

1 star - poor, recommend against reading it
2 stars - okay, fair
3 stars- good, recommend it
4 stars - excellent, amazing
Total votes: 22

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Re: Discussion of "We Need to Talk about Kevin"

Post by lanscot »

I have recommended it to my friend

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Post by rockin_robyn »

I recently read We Need to Talk about Kevin. While I like the story as a whole I feel like the book was a little boring and dragging. I think they did a good job in turning the book into a movie, but even the movie was a little boring and dragging... For the overall story I think it deserves 3 stars

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Daisy Ann
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Post by Daisy Ann »

after reading these reviews, i'm purchasing the book.

-- 31 May 2013, 11:56 --

I just started this last night...
Eva...what to say about Eva...she's brutally honest about herself, but this still doesn't redeem her character. She's self-possessed, self-centered and entitled. At this point in the book (she's just given birth and is becoming acquainted with Kevin's daily rages), Franklin garners my sympathy; he's stuck with Eva for better or worse...
More to come later...

-- 02 Jun 2013, 19:54 --

I finished the book last night.
If the author wanted us to dislike the narrator, mission accomplished. I wasn't impressed with some of the author's languaging; it seemed he tried really hard to use as many multi-syllable words as possible for each sentence. It was distracting and disrupted the flow of the narrative. Would I recommend the book? Yes. Would I read another one of the author's books? No.

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Post by tiamet4 »

I just finished reading this book and I really enjoyed it. I couldn't put it down for the past 24 hours (even reading it on the sly at work...don't tell!). Here's my admittedly wordy reveiw:

Being a childfree woman, I think I had less aversion to Eva's character than some. I even saw a lot of my own concerns about having a child in the first few chapters (which kind of scared me. I haven't decided against kids overall but in the moments when I doubt, a book like this will make you think "maybe I'm right"). I think the most interesting part of the book is how real and flawed the characters were, while still being engaging. I didn't always like them but I could always understand their point of view and how the intersection of all of those points of view led us inexorably to the conclusion. Eva, unable to bond with her first child, feels steadily alienated from everything she cares about which only increases her resentment and negativity. I wonder if some part of that lack of bonding was the post-partum depression and the severe mastitis, which compounded with a difficult child led to a continuing loop of frustration and resentment. Far from a "dupe", I think Franklin feels required to play the good guy for Kevin, sensing Eva's coldness. He wants to make it up to him but ends up being excessively loving and lenient as a counterpoint and the force with which they each play their role makes it impossible to really address Kevin's problems and pushes them apart. Franklin is right about Eva being unfairly mistrustful of Kevin but I think both of them see Kevin more as an abstract than a real person they can understand. Franklin wants to imagine he is all good, a normal son. Eva imagines him a monster who's primary desire from infancy is to ruin her life.

Kevin remains an enigma but I kind of suspect he started out with some sort of personality or mental disorder. The incessant crying, the inactivity, and the inability to understand other's emotions really suggests to me that he had some undiagnosed problem. However, I think with his inability to relate to people and his intelligence, he sense the falseness of both of his parents' approach to him and lashed out, seeking real emotions the only way he could elicit them-through cruelty and violence. I don't think he initially set out to attack his mother at every opportunity but I think in her, he could get these "real" moments while his father was too easily manipulated and he could never break through the good father shell to get at any meaningful connection. This may be why he chose his mother as his "audience". I also notice that for all she often feels her son rejects everything about her, he is very like her in personality. They have the same pride and sense of alienation and superiority. This might be another reason he chose to "show off" for her. Perhaps he was trying to connect with his true kindred spirit in the family the only way he knew how. In the end, she's the only person who matters to him.

Celia is a pure victim whose addition to the story I thought was superfluous but maybe it was as important to the writer to prove that Eva could love a child as it was to Eva.

Overall, my only fault with the book was that I figured out the author's "surprise" very early on. From the first page, the tone of the letters was wrong for writing to an estranged husband, who would certainly throw away all that verbose analysis of events he has his own memories of. You only write letters like that if you either never plan to send them or if you're writing them to the dead (who can never tell you they don't want to hear it so in essence are a captive audience). I guess there's not really any way to have kept it more hidden so it's only a very small false note

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Post by wendyj »

A thought provoking book. It definitely made me rethink some of my own ideas.
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Post by JuliannaSilva »

I loved this book, Kevin's mother was such an interesting narrator and there was not a dull moment. The ending was somewhat predictable but it didn't make it any less good. So well written and interesting, I would recommend this to anyone who can put up with a bit of a disturbing story.

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Post by avid reader28 »

I realize it's commonplace for parents to say to their child sternly, 'I love you, but I don't always like you.' But what kind of love is that? It seems to me that comes down to, 'I'm not oblivious to you - that is, you can still hurt my feelings - but I can't stand having you around.' Who wants to be loved like that? Given a choice, I might skip the deep blood tie and settle for being liked. I wonder if wouldn't have been more moved if my own mother had taken me in her arms and said, 'I like you.' I wonder if just enjoying your kid's company isn't more important.”
― Lionel Shriver, We Need to Talk About Kevin

We Need to Talk About Kevin is a 2003 novel by Lionel Shriver, published by Serpent's Tail.
I got the book once it came out with a punch of other books, I didn't hear about it before then.
The novel, Shriver's seventh, won the 2005 Orange Prize, a U.K.-based prize for female authors of any country writing in English. In 2011 the novel was adapted into a film :)

The book addresses a quite interesting taboo subject. what will happen if my son is a total sociopath nutcase ! can I still love him ! :twisted:

The book is a thriller fiction about dysfunctional little family, the whole story is being told from the murderer's mother perspective, it was quite interesting for me. when I hear about Eric and Dylan, Jeffery Dahmer, and John Wayne Gacy I always want to hear from the mother, what tendencies and obsessions did they have at an early age , was she able to see it ?! :?

The book is written from the mother point of view. as a letters from the mother to the estranged father following the school massacre, the letters contains the mother relationship with the father, and the bizarre, highly dysfunctional relationship between Eva and Kevin, including physical violence accident.

Eva was a well developed character, credible and easy to relate to... but Kevin was quite bit unbelievable character, he was one-dimensional evil character without any apparent depth into it.

Eva was in denial regarding her son's sociopathic behavior, he had no regards to his family well being or friends , no sense of guilt, empathy, no sense of moral consequences ,and he was obviously mimicking a fake sense of guilt in front of his mother.

My rating is 3/4 , I definitely recommend the book for every one who enjoys Thriller fiction.

Have fun :D

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Post by GailSales »

It was astonishing to me that so many of the comments blamed the mother for Kevin's actions. I'm afraid it is the sign of the times that his father refused to hold Kevin accountable for his actions from early on and even denied that he was responsible and from almost the very beginning he blamed his wife for so much of his behavior. If the father felt he was doing the better job, why didn't he stay home with him while Eva continued her thriving business? Parents need to be a team to have half a chance in raising a child.

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Post by Sinclairess »

smurphy- wrote:
26 Feb 2012, 00:36
I think with somebody like Kevin, there had to have been some sort of chemical imbalance since birth. I think he did not feel emotions the same as other people and (in a way) was jealous of what he didn't understand.
Great analysis, I agree. From the moment he came out, if he didn't even want to suck his mother's breast, a powerful instinct... Then there had to be some screwed up chemical imbalance in his brain. Do you think military school would have done anything for him? He would be a great general... then he could be the calculated killer and leader that he is.
“It's far less important to me to be liked these days than to be understood.” :sad-teareye:
― Lionel Shriver, We Need to Talk About Kevin

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