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We Need to Talk About Kevin: A Novel | [Lionel Shriver]

We Need to Talk About Kevin: A Novel

Eva never really wanted to be a mother - and certainly not the mother of a boy who ends up murdering 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 16th 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.
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Publisher's Summary

Eva never really wanted to be a mother - and certainly not the mother of a boy who ends up murdering 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 16th 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.

©2003 Lionel Shriver (P)2012 HarperCollinsPublishers

What the Critics Say

“Shriver handles this material, with its potential for cheap sentiment and soap opera plot, with rare skill and sense.” (Newark Star Ledger)

“A slow, magnetic descent into hell that is as fascinating as it is disturbing.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

“Powerful [and] harrowing.” (Entertainment Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (548 )
5 star
 (288)
4 star
 (147)
3 star
 (54)
2 star
 (25)
1 star
 (34)
Overall
4.2 (476 )
5 star
 (262)
4 star
 (120)
3 star
 (47)
2 star
 (15)
1 star
 (32)
Story
4.2 (474 )
5 star
 (247)
4 star
 (134)
3 star
 (47)
2 star
 (20)
1 star
 (26)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Jami VICTOR, NY, United States 07-18-12
    Jami VICTOR, NY, United States 07-18-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    62
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    105
    102
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Unsure About this One"

    I chose this book based on strong recommendations from others. However, this book took me awhile to get into, and it was not at all what I expected. I expected the book to focus more on the crime itself, rather than the mother's feelings about her marriage, life and child. It kept me interested enough to continue and the ending was very good. I'm glad I stuck with it, but I can't say that I enjoyed it as much as the majority of readers seemed to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    NightowlKnitter Maryland, USA 05-16-12
    NightowlKnitter Maryland, USA 05-16-12 Member Since 2008

    NightowlKnitter

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    25
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Couldn't stop, even when I wanted to"

    A quiet horror engulfs the reader as the plot matures. Even though you can see the basic story unfolding nearly from the beginning, there are twists that keep you listening to the end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    P. Porche Chicago, IL 01-29-12
    P. Porche Chicago, IL 01-29-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    11
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "For Every Person Who Knows a Kevin"

    This is a chilling story about what happens went parent(s) refuse to see their child as he really is. From the beginning Kevin is troubled; Eva's sees it, but Franklin refuses and that fuels Kevin's desires to torture his mother. I really enjoyed the epistolary format of this novel. That made Eva's story even more personal and made the reader feel as though she's reading very private correspondence.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    margaret marshall, va, United States 01-10-12
    margaret marshall, va, United States 01-10-12 Member Since 2010

    gentle reader

    HELPFUL VOTES
    31
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    76
    12
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Boring"

    I was so disappointed because this story had great potential. Unfortunately, there is no story, just the character of the mother droning on incessantly. I listened for the first 2 hours and literally nothing happened. There is no action, no plot development, no narrative drive. It was excruciating. No to be fair, I turned it off after 2 hours so maybe it got way better at the end, I can't say.

    4 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Evelyn lawrence, KS, United States 05-30-12
    Evelyn lawrence, KS, United States 05-30-12 Member Since 2010

    Dweenaleena

    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    10
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "No up side"

    Insufferably smug narrator. Intolerably pretentious writing style - like going to a minor hell where you're forced to hear the inner thoughts of someone who isn't very interesting. Telling, telling, and not showing. God. Somebody just shoot me now. Why did I download this thing?

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Saint Charles, MO, United States 04-09-14
    David Saint Charles, MO, United States 04-09-14 Member Since 2013

    Giving out fewer stars because I was inflating my start in a way that did not differentiate the mediocre and the fantastic.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    35
    25
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not for me, but maybe good for you"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    I am not sure it could have been for me. I stopped early and returned it. It was both maudlin and politically pushy in the beginning offering very little story. I also did not like the narration style of the protagonist.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    I am looking for a great horror story. I don't want a slasher, I want the hair on the back of my neck to stand up.


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    The performance was quite good. It could not shine because I was preoccupied by the story.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    The performance was good, and others may, and have loved the story. If I could have made it passed the opening chapters I think it would have gotten better. The concept of the story really attracted me to the story.


    Any additional comments?

    I returned the book, but it may be one of the best books ever for someone else. My rejection of the book is purely subjective.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nicole PROVO, UT, United States 05-09-13
    Nicole PROVO, UT, United States 05-09-13 Member Since 2011
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    73
    16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I couldn't get into it"
    Any additional comments?

    I don't know if it's how the book was written or the perspective, but I just could not get into the book.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Traveler dallas, texas 12-12-12
    Traveler dallas, texas 12-12-12 Member Since 2012

    mom of two

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Slow at first but gets better"
    Would you listen to We Need to Talk About Kevin again? Why?

    No, once is enough because it is a long story and rather depressing but worth one listen.


    Any additional comments?

    While the story starts slow, it does pick up about a third into the narration so keep listening.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janis Bethel Park, PA, United States 11-05-12
    Janis Bethel Park, PA, United States 11-05-12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The book started slow."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Once I got into it, I had to finish it even though you know whats happens, or so I thought. It wasn't one of my favorites but like I said, I had to hear the end.


    Which character – as performed by Coleen Marlo – was your favorite?

    The Mother


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Just mississauga, Ontario, Canada 02-01-12
    Just mississauga, Ontario, Canada 02-01-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    32
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    32
    27
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "So Far it's We need to Talk about Eva"
    Any additional comments?

    I am about 4 hours into the book and constantly hope it gets better, so far there has been maybe 10 minutes of Kevin, the rest is the mother droning on and on about her feelings, her life with her ex, all in letters to her ex who I am sure would not even read them, they are so self absorbed.

    2 of 9 people found this review helpful
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