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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

4.2 (695 )
5 star
 (372)
4 star
 (185)
3 star
 (75)
2 star
 (29)
1 star
 (34)
Overall
4.2 (594 )
5 star
 (331)
4 star
 (151)
3 star
 (63)
2 star
 (16)
1 star
 (33)
Story
4.2 (592 )
5 star
 (323)
4 star
 (166)
3 star
 (53)
2 star
 (22)
1 star
 (28)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    jlit5 12-22-14
    jlit5 12-22-14

    Love to read and love to listen to books!

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Inventive Narrative/ Horrible Reading"
    Would you try another book from Lionel Shriver and/or Coleen Marlo?

    I would by Lionel Shriver


    What other book might you compare We Need to Talk About Kevin to and why?

    Unique


    Would you be willing to try another one of Coleen Marlo’s performances?

    No!


    Was We Need to Talk About Kevin worth the listening time?

    I wish I read it instead.


    Any additional comments?

    Marlo was not right for this at all, however the story is captivating and the point of view unique to the topic. There is very little dialogue which lends to the books unique structure. Told in letters, I enjoyed the story being unfolded as we went along with the protagonist on this painful journey. The author had me feeling very different about her from the beginning to the end, and it happened in a subtle way. The story is worth the read for sure!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara 07-29-14
    Barbara 07-29-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    182
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    69
    47
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    11
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Just couldn't get into it"
    What disappointed you about We Need to Talk About Kevin?

    It was just really, truly boring.


    What could Lionel Shriver have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    It needed more than just a woman complaining that she's single. I get it, it sucks. Move on!


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Coleen Marlo?

    I think she did a fair job. I've heard better and worse.


    Any additional comments?

    I was disappointed in this book. I was expecting something more. Ah well, you win some you lose some.

    0 of 1 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

    Audible is better than TV

    HELPFUL VOTES
    29
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    56
    43
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    3
    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
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    92
    18
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    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 2015

    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 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    37
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    38
    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
  •  
    Book Hoarder 04-09-14 Member Since 2015

    I have a book addiction and an 2 hour commute, thank god for the sanity of audible

    HELPFUL VOTES
    0
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    91
    12
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Self centered mother, excuses and dictionar abbuse"

    I only managed to get to chapter 4 before I could truly take this book no longer.
    The mother has spent the entire time writing letters to the father justifying their decision to have a child in the first place and while I appreciate a broad vocabulary, she comes off as a self centered snob who is only trying to impress you with her knowledge of words. Considering this was supposed to be a book about the after affects of a teen high school shooter and so far its all about the mother and her conceits, I cannot recommend this book. The rambling memories and still not having brought me into caring about either one of the "supposed" main characters, and the descriptors using 15 big words when 2 would do....

    I will try something else from the narrator she sounded good but the words she was reading alternated between making me just want to skim (hard to do in an audio book and I'm certainly NOT wasting money on this book in publication) or fall asleep (and considering that I listen while commuting that's not good either).

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sammie Bozeman, MT, United States 03-04-14
    Sammie Bozeman, MT, United States 03-04-14 Member Since 2011

    -sam

    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    53
    10
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Cardboard characters"

    I am having difficulty believing in any of these one-dimensional people. Kevin is evil incarnate from the moment he is born with none of the characteristics of a toddler or child. His mother is shallow and narcissistic. His father is a 2D cardboard cutout, never seeing anything wrong with his evil son. The mother and father never discuss anything, never question, never seek help for their son. The self-indulgent mother ultimately feels pride in her evil son's accomplishments.

    This tricky topic could have been made a compelling read had it addressed the development of psychopathy. But it appears the author has no psychological understanding of human emotion or motivation. She never addresses any issues, answers any questions or provides any insight. I finally quit listening.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Moren Kansas City, MO USA 12-05-13
    A. Moren Kansas City, MO USA 12-05-13 Listener Since 2008

    texas mommie

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    137
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Blah"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    I thought this book was going to be very thought provoking and intimate. I felt like I was reading the diary of a very boring woman. She didn't share any perspective that I found intriguing. She is very cold and uninteresting.

    A very drowsy book.


    What was most disappointing about Lionel Shriver’s story?

    The main character's persona


    0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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