Mishel Reviews: We need to talk about Kevin – Lionel Shriver

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Release Date: May 2011 (First Published 2003)
Publisher: Counterpoint
Pages: 414 (Kindle Edition)
My Rating: 4.5/5 
Source: Library
Cover: The kindle version is a tie-in with the movie. I do like the simplicity of the hardcover though.
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 startlingly 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.
 I came across this some time ago while searching through upcoming DVD releases online. The title grabbed my attention and I’m a fan of some of the actors so I looked up the trailer for the movie. The trailer was good but didn’t tell me much so when I dug a little more I found out what it was about. I had no idea the movie was about a school shooting or that the movie was adapted from a novel. (I love when I see a good movie, or movie trailer in this case, and find out it’s based on a book!!) I still haven’t had the chance to get my hands on the movie but I remember watching the trailer several times throughout my reading. This is not a happy story. It does not have happy or even likeable characters. But the story is gripping and the relationships inside have made me appreciate things more in my life. The depth of emotion caused me to take my time reading the book. I didn’t want to skim or miss anything important. The school shooting itself is more of a backdrop to Eva Khatchadourian’s life; because this story isn’t about just Kevin and his actions on that fateful Thursday. This is about Eva herself, her relationship with the world before and after Kevin entered it, and her ability to pick up the pieces of her life and get them working again. 
My only real issue with the book is the author’s use of vocabulary words. Bring on cuss words, bring on made-up words, and bring on lame dialogue that makes me roll my eyes any day! But bring on extravagant and excessive language and you’ll have to give me a moment to look that up please. I mean thank goodness I was reading the book on my Kindle or I’d have to have a dictionary or thesaurus with me. I literally had to highlight at least one word every other page (if not every page) to see what a particular term meant. Maybe that says poorly about my own use of terminology…I know my vocabulary could be much better. I know I could be more sophisticated, but hot damn some of those words were crazy. Of course context clues can be your best friend while reading but sometimes after I highlighted and looked up a word I literally said “Seriously?!? You couldn’t have just said *insert something a little less over the top here* But I digress; the vocabulary usage is more a problem for me because I’m not a literary critic and honestly, it was probably above my level in many different aspects. 
While the characters aren’t the people you want to be your friends, neighbors, or even live anywhere near you so you might run into them kind of people I was still completely fascinated by them. Eva and Kevin both are impossible to forget and I have a feeling I’ll want to re-visit them many times in the future. I’ve always wanted to be a mother and I love every minute of it. However, how would my life be if I had a child that seemed to hate me and the world? I don’t know… and that scares me. Putting myself in Eva’s position is very unsettling and I like that that this story has affected me so. I like books that make me question things, that make me uncomfortable, and can make me cry and cringe. The author has certainly accomplished something with their book if it can affect readers on such an intimate level. I enjoyed Shriver’s writing (even with her excessive vocabulary lessons, thank you by the way) and I’m looking forward to more of her work. No matter how difficult this book can be for certain readers I think one is missing out if they pass up on Kevin.


20 thoughts on “Mishel Reviews: We need to talk about Kevin – Lionel Shriver

  1. Karen says:

    That is one great thing about reading on a Kindle – you can look up the words. i do that quite a bit.This book sounds interesting and a little uncomfortable

  2. Rita_h says:

    I keep a dictionary and thesaurus by my desk, so I could just leave them next to the couch if I read this :)I have heard about this book for a couple of years. I have even picked it up once in a bookstore, then put it back down. Not sure why it made me uncomfortable enough to not buy it that time, but your review sheds light on it. I like to empathize with at least one character in a story to get the most enjoyment– I don't know if I could enjoy this one. Thanks for the honest review!

  3. Teddyree says:

    Well I really enjoyed reading your review, glad you liked it even with the over-the-top vocab … I love the kindle for that reason. I hope to get around to reading this one soon!

  4. Mishel says:

    I both liked and disliked Eva. She's fascinating but not so much in the good way. I don't think I'd ever want to be her friend but I couldn't stop reading her story. I'm looking forward to watching the movie and I did really enjoy the book, despite not "liking" the characters.

  5. Mishel says:

    I agree it got old extremely quickly! However, once I got passed the vocabulary lesson I noticed I really liked this book. I hope you pick it up someday =)

  6. Naida says:

    I so want to read and watch this one. It's been on my wish list since forever. That's the good thing about the e-reader, easy peasy to look up the unknown words. Nice review!

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