29 Nov 2016

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN.

Hurrah! The third of this years challenges completed. A book I had read previously though declined to re-read when it was recently chosen as a reading group read ... where incidentally it was one of the most talked about books we have ever read. I have however decided on it as my last book for the 2016 Reading Challenge: 'A book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller' category. 


WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN by LIONEL SHRIVER.

AMAZON.CO.UK BLURB: Eva never really wanted to be a mother; certainly not the mother of the unlovable boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker and a teacher who tried to befriend him. 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 absent husband, Franklyn. 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.

SOURCE: A friend's copy. Unfortunately I returned the book before making a note of the First Sentence or my MEMORABLE MOMENT.

MY THOUGHTS: First read when it was first published or thereabouts. I couldn't remember much about the book though a sense of how harrowing I thought it prevailed. Would I find it any less harrowing twelve or so years on?

Yes and no.

OK so it could be argued that any writer who is able to provoke such strong reactions in their readers is a good writer and yet, surely equally valid, is the argument that not necessarily a good writer so much as a writer who knows the value of the shock factor and, if nothing else, We Need To Talk About Kevin is high on the shock factor.

Having done her homework as far as the psychological aspect goes and obviously having put her thesaurus to good use if the number of 'unnecessary' words is anything to go by, alas I found the narrative horribly pretentious. The decision to have the main character communicate via endless letters to her ex-husband not a tactic that I felt worked .. but then its no secret that I'm not a big fan of this format.

Not characters I could ever see myself liking but I had expected to have had at least an inkling of empathy towards Kevin and his (un-diagnosed condition) or, indeed, his mom and yet I found myself feeling little aside from the abiding thought that it was a pity that it came across that Ms Shriver herself cared little for her characters or their plight, seeming to rely on the shock factor.


11 comments:

Natasha Hill said...

This is a book I've heard so much about and it's been on my list for quite a while. I've seen the film adaptation of this, which I did enjoy, and Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller were great in the troubled mother and son roles, but I'd like to see how different it was from the book, so I'll have to track this down for next year I think to finally read! Another great review. - Tasha

Suko said...

Tracy, I always count on you to post honest reviews. Thank you for your continued honesty.

Kelly said...

Congratulations on completing another challenge.

I can see how this might be a good story from a purely voyeuristic viewpoint, but I'm not sure I'm up for the shock value. Real life seems to have enough of that to satisfy. I'd be curious about the film adaption, too.

Literary Feline said...

Congratulations on completing another challenge! I think I've just about given up on any remaining challenges I'm in. Next year will be challenge free, I think.

I loved this book on many levels. Eva is not someone who I could ever see being friends with, but I could relate to her in some ways in a round about sort of way. I hated the movie version. I'm sorry this one didn't work for you, Tracy.

Brandi Kosiner said...

Congrats on the challenge, and for honest review as always.

Brian Joseph said...

A book like this has so much potential. The premise is so good. Too bad that it descended an attempt at shock value.

Mary (Bookfan) said...

I really appreciate your thoughts on this one. Congrats on completing the challenge!

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I've been curious about this one, but was afraid to read it because I could see myself getting angry at his situation. Now I'm not so sure I'd like the format either. Good review and congrats on the challenge.

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

I have heard of this book, but I didn't have any idea what it was about. I am glad you reread it and shared your thoughts with us. Sounds like a tough book to get through. The shock factor sounds like it is there, but sorry the characters weren't more likable.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I've seen and really liked the movie - I'm a big fan of Ezra Miller. Sorry the book didn't quite work for you though!

ClaudineGueh@CarryUsOffBooks said...

I missed the boat on this one when it was released, too. Have heard a lot about it, am very curious about the story and how it'll end.