Definitely not a hit and miss!
We Need to Talk About Kevin is a contemporary thriller written by Lionel Shriver, published in 2003. It is quite frankly, the best book I’ve read this year. If you ever want to have kids, read this with a pinch of salt – otherwise you’ll be completely put off like I’ve been!
The novel is written from the perspective of Eva Khatchadourian, Kevin’s mother and each chapter is a different letter addressed to her husband, Franklin. From the beginning of the novel, we know that an atrocity has happened. There’s been a high school shooting, and Kevin was the brains behind it all. As you can tell, this isn’t a light read. Evil is addressed in all its unique gradients.
A few years ago I’d picked this up at the library and not long after put it down. Eva’s written style is reflective and lofty, she goes off on tangents more often then she describes the action. I found this frustrating in my first reading attempt, but having to read it for uni this year, I’m so glad I read on. I can now see Eva’s long-winded narrative as justified. Kevin’s actions have torn her life apart, and now she has all the time in the world to think about it how he did it.
One of the best features about this book is how many questions it raises, like: why is Eva writing to her husband? A popular topic for debate in ethics is whether people are born evil, or become it. There are various instances in the book where you could argue for both sides for Kevin, showing there really isn’t a clear-cut answer.
Something which Shriver pulled off with flair and ease was her characterisation. I hated Eva, Franklin, and Kevin – none of them had redeemable qualities! And because of this fact, I felt compelled to keep on reading to see what nasty things they would get up to. We Need to Talk About Kevin draws out the morbid curiosity of the reader. Every time Kevin did something wicked, I couldn’t imagine how he could get worse, and then Shriver would stun me. The novel is a slow dialing up of tension, and I loved every moment of it. It gave me the same feeling I get when watching The Walking Dead, you can foresee bad things happening, but as the reader, you’re helpless to stop it.
We Need to Talk About Kevin is a fantastic novel and holds particular relevance in modern day America. I can’t praise this highly enough!
Header image: Ian Espinosa
Other images are hyperlinked.