Customer Reviews for

We Need to Talk about Kevin

Average Rating 4
( 230 )
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(94)

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(31)

2 Star

(18)

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(27)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

16 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

Outstanding novel..very disturbing

I just finshed this excellent novel and I am overwhelmed. The writing is outstanding, and I have not been able to stop thinking about these characters. Kevin is a sociopath AND he is evil. Mostly, I am struck by Eva's love for Kevin, which is apparent throughout, but ...
I just finshed this excellent novel and I am overwhelmed. The writing is outstanding, and I have not been able to stop thinking about these characters. Kevin is a sociopath AND he is evil. Mostly, I am struck by Eva's love for Kevin, which is apparent throughout, but especially at the end of the story. This novel is thought- provoking, disturbing and frightening. I highly recommend this novel to readers who love to figure out the endings (I did, with the help of wonderfully placed clues) of incredibly well written books. Truly the best novel I've read in a long while!

posted by Anonymous on May 27, 2007

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Most Helpful Critical Review

10 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

Atrocious!!!!!!

This book was AWFUL. It didn't have to be. It had so much potential with its plot. I liked how the author told the story through Eva's letters to her husband, but her use of language ... my God! I practically needed a dictionary to get through it. People just don't...
This book was AWFUL. It didn't have to be. It had so much potential with its plot. I liked how the author told the story through Eva's letters to her husband, but her use of language ... my God! I practically needed a dictionary to get through it. People just don't speak that way. It made her book incredibly difficult to navigate and care about. It was also horribly predictable. I knew the ending about 1/8 of the way through. I finished the book because I started it, but it took forever to do so, and I am sorry I even picked it up. I can think of five different authors who could have written this same exact story a million times better. What a shame.

posted by 720380 on December 28, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2007

    Outstanding novel..very disturbing

    I just finshed this excellent novel and I am overwhelmed. The writing is outstanding, and I have not been able to stop thinking about these characters. Kevin is a sociopath AND he is evil. Mostly, I am struck by Eva's love for Kevin, which is apparent throughout, but especially at the end of the story. This novel is thought- provoking, disturbing and frightening. I highly recommend this novel to readers who love to figure out the endings (I did, with the help of wonderfully placed clues) of incredibly well written books. Truly the best novel I've read in a long while!

    16 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2008

    A Great Debate for Nature vs. Nurture

    I picked up 'We Need to Talk About Kevin' because of the subject matter. Not because it was about a killing spree at a high school, but because it was told from the viewpoint of the mother of the boy who killed his classmates and a teacher. It puts a twist on the 'common' Columbine-like story. The novel begins after the melee, as the mother, Eva, traces the history of her son Kevin back through his days as an infant, through all his apathy and wicked stunts growing up. She tells Kevin's story in long letters written every other week or so to her estranged husband. At first, this seemed like the actions of a crazy woman trying to re-establish her marriage. But who on Earth would ever want to reconcile with a nagging, pretentious woman who uses long diatribes with $10 words to fault you throughout your marriage? Not until halfway through the novel was my interest fully grabbed and I didn't tire of reading another whiny letter from Eva. Up until that point, Eva comes off as a pompous woman with whom I really couldn't relate...and really didn't want to. You later realize, though, that this perspective is probably the way Kevin viewed her and why he held such resentment for his mother. The story itself is a good example of the old Nature vs. Nurture debate. Are people inherently born evil? Or is it based on the way they're raised? Although this novel doesn't answer the question, it gives credence to both arguments and can make for an interesting discussion. The ending of the novel is very dramatic and offers an interesting manipulation in events, which I appreciated. At that point, I was absorbed into the characters' lives and actually wanted more. I felt like a part of their 'dysfunctional' family. The characters felt real, with the exception of Franklin, Kevin's father, who resembled the 'golly gee' Mike Brady from The Brady Bunch (the movie version, not the TV one). It's hard to believe that Eva would ever marry such a naïve man. After finishing the novel, my only disappointment (and boredom) with the actual writing was that the author used an overload of detail to tell what turns out to be an excellent story. (My Creative Writing teacher would have scratched red lines through numerous sentences and paragraphs, as they seemed extraneous). Less is more! If I learned anything from reading this book, it can be summed up in this one sentence: 'You can call it innocence or you can call it gullibility, but [she] made the most common mistake of the good-hearted: she assumed that everyone else was just like her.' On that note...don't watch your back, watch what's in front of you.

    11 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2008

    Atrocious!!!!!!

    This book was AWFUL. It didn't have to be. It had so much potential with its plot. I liked how the author told the story through Eva's letters to her husband, but her use of language ... my God! I practically needed a dictionary to get through it. People just don't speak that way. It made her book incredibly difficult to navigate and care about. It was also horribly predictable. I knew the ending about 1/8 of the way through. I finished the book because I started it, but it took forever to do so, and I am sorry I even picked it up. I can think of five different authors who could have written this same exact story a million times better. What a shame.

    10 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2008

    Of Two Minds

    The book was interesting. When I finished, I was amazed that the author could write a book with an ending that made you feel like everything may be ok. But, then I started to see some darker interpretations of the ending. Like some of the other reviewers, I approached this book with some trepidation. But it was ok. Of course, my children are grown and so the topic is not so close to home. I guess my final conclusion is that it is a very good book, but that just may be because it didn't disturb me deeply as I was afraid it might. It's a nice bit of fiction and doesn't have any deep insight into the problem of children committing murder or even into families.

    9 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2008

    I didn't get the allure

    I bought this book because of all these wonderful reviews. However, the book did not live up to its reputation. I found the book to be annoying and hard to get through. Just like another reviewer commented on - the author uses TONS of UNNECESSARY $10 words and not just one at a time. I would not recommend this book anyone, in fact, I've told many people not to bother.

    9 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2007

    A reviewer

    One of the most brutally honest books I have ever read. Taking such a different slant on such a tragedy was thought provoking. An unforgettable look at our culture and getting right to the core.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 10, 2012

    Terrible waste of language.

    The writer uses language well, in my humble opinion - if only she had used it to tell a story, instead of having the story unfold in letters. No woman in the universe - no matter how austere, educated, narcissistic, etc. - could have penned these letters. It was simply unbelievable that such letters could ever have been written.

    Shriver should simply have told us her story, instead of infusing the book with unrealistic letters from wife to estranged husband. I could not stop rolling my eyes and wondering who on Earth would write like this. Answer: Nobody. Not today, not in 1800, not ever. It was that bad.

    I look forward to the movie in this instance, knowing that Tilda Swinton can save it. I hope they don't have her reading letters for 2 hours though.

    Skip it and hope the film is better.

    7 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2006

    Scrapbook of Horror

    This book is an incredible read. The narrator writes letters to her husband, revisiting their lives together both before and after the birth of their son. Fifteen year-old Kevin has murdered 7 of his classmates, a teacher and a cafeteria worker. The mother speaks matter-of-factly, talking about how she felt about the child from the moment he was born, how she is seen and treated by the community in general and by the families of her son's murdered classmates. She reminisces, scatters hints and then quietly drops bombshell after horrific bombshell concerning her life with her family. A well-crafted psychological sketch of the ultimate dysfunctional family- I highly recommend this tale.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 27, 2010

    Chilling subject matter

    I was taken by the book's honest portrayal of what can be a difficult mother/child relationship and then the whole family relationship centering around an emotionally distanced child.
    The book moved carefully, gradually more intrigueing as the relationships emerged.
    Excellent read.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2008

    Odd

    This novel is very odd. For one thing, i would have liked it if the book touched more on the shooting and why he did it. Also, i didn't like the format of the character writing letters to the husband. It was great in the beginning, but than it slowed by the middle and got worse in the end. Couldnt even finish it.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 30, 2012

    This was one of the best books I have ever read. Yes, it's wordy

    This was one of the best books I have ever read. Yes, it's wordy, like most of Lionel Shriver's books, and yes, she doesn't always use the simplest of words. And yes, you need more than a 6th grade education to appreciate it. The quintessential question of nature vs. nurture which is the main theme of this book is one that more people ought to be thinking about in these troubled times. Can a child be born bad? Or can you mold the child to BE bad? Eva struggles with this question throughout the book as it races (and yes, I said races!) to it's horrifying climax. I couldn't put this book down, and when I finished it promptly read it again to see what I had missed the first time. Shriver always has a twist in her books that you never see coming, and this one took my breath away. (If you liked this book, read her "So Much for That".) I think Lionel Shriver is BRILLIANT, and this novel should be mandatory for anyone who is even thinking about having children.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2006

    Excellent book just finished it last night

    I was pleasantly surprised at how great this book was. Although the book is a bit slow in the begining it does pick up and you find yourself guessing how it's going to end...my guess was off the mark. Although you're not given a clear cut answer as to WHY Kevin did what he did you can draw your own conclusions based on all the 'tell tell' signs of his childhood. I don't think that Eva was any more of a 'villain' than Franklin was an absentee disciplinarian. Children DO crave boundaries. Perhaps Kevin would have responded differently had their parental tactics been role reversed? The end of the book was marvelous and showed that Kevin wasn't this super human bad seed and a mother's love no matter how cold and aloof she may be perceived IS in fact unconditonal in every sense.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2012

    Tough read

    The author seems to spend more time trying to use big, complicated words instead of telling the story. It is written in letter format. Would have been better to just write a story. Save your money or just see the movie.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 18, 2010

    too wordy, story too long

    too wordy, story too long

    3 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    An interesting piece of fiction about school shootings and the impact it has on families...

    This book is difficult to get into at first, but stick with it. It's worth it at the end. This is about a completely dysfunctional family. The parents have a son, Kevin, that they don't realize is going down a road that is, ultimately, going to affect the entire family, and several other families in the community.

    Kevin is not getting everything he wants or needs out of life, so he turns to violence as the answer.

    This novel not only goes through Kevin's emotions and thoughts, but also through his parents. I found myself getting completely angry at Kevin's parents. Instead of realizing that they made mistakes and realizing that the entire situation was completely preventable, they instead throw have a huge pity party. It was so completely frustrating to me to read that, but the truth is, I can only imagine that a lot of parents are like that in similar situations.

    Stick it out to the end. It's really worth it. Not only is this one of the strangest school shootings I've ever read of (thank goodness it's fiction), but it's amazing to go through all of the aftermath with Kevin's family.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2006

    Excellent glimpse into a sociopatic mind.

    This book did get off on a slow foot. The first few chapters were excruciating, but the after Kevee Wevee was born the story takes off. Attachment disorder, non empathetic, sociopath. All of these catch phrases come to mind as you read about the life of this 'healthy, happy boy' (Daddy's words). The ending was a complete suprise, but it was eluded to very subtly in places. All in all a good read. Aside: I thought Mom had some parallels to the main character in ACCIDENTAL TOURIST by Ann Tyler.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2007

    Incredibly Poignant Thriller

    This book was painful, insightful, gripping, and heartstopping. Even though you know the result or 'end' from the beginning, the storytelling is so incredible, and filled with suspense, you simply must read on to the horrifying final 50 pages. Lionel Shriver is now a favorite writer for me!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2007

    Painful but provocative

    Figuring out the ending early made turning the page difficult sometimes. The deliberate tone and detail of Eva's letters forced me to read so much more slowly than usual. I loved that the conclusion avoided being pat or trite. This is an amazing book, that as a new mother, will haunt me for quite a while. It is NOT for the squeamish or ultra-sensitive.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2006

    Hard to read...

    This book was not at all what I expected it to be. Typically I can read a book in 2- 3 days and it took me 2 weeks to read this one. Very hard to keep up with...just dragged on and on.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    This novel was as disturbing as it was brilliant. I sometimes ha

    This novel was as disturbing as it was brilliant. I sometimes had to force myself to continue reading, but am glad I did. As a mother myself, who cannot fathom the idea of not feeling that love of your child, I felt sorry for Eva. She did love him, he was just unlovable. It makes you think, is that how all these school shooter types start? As difficult children whose parents try their damnedest to connect, only to be constantly being rebuffed and at some points, abused? It makes you wonder, and it makes you take a look at your children and wonder if, God forbid, they were to commit an awful crime would you stand behind them? I've seen parents sit behind the defendants table weep at the trials of their children, wondering themselves, how did my sweet baby do THIS? Did I miss clues? These parents are often vilified along with their children, assuming they were neglectful and provoked this behavior. The author makes you examine the story from all angles, just as she herself (Eva) does, trying to figure out how it happened. It begs the question, did Kevin spare his mother to punish her or to show love in his own way? When he gives her the "gift" at the end, and finally expresses remorse, you wonder if he is being rehabilitated or just finally becoming aware of the true enormity of his crimes. Also, the movie was brilliantly acted and portrayed the book perfectly. Ezra Miller was brilliant and scarily believable (but he's been brilliant in everything he's done), Tilda Swinton was so perfectly Eva it was amazing to watch. John C. Reilly could have been casted better, he's a little less handsome than I imagined he'd be. Oh well, still and amazing read and movie. Worth reading and worth pushing through to the end.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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