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3.0 out of 5 starsA rare instance where the adaptation is better
Reviewed in the United States on May 15, 2018
"Killing Eve" is my new favorite show, so I was excited to find out it was based on a book! While I am grateful to Mr. Jennings for inspiring the series with his work, I have to say the show is superior to its origin.
1.0 out of 5 starsFans of the TV version can totally skip the book.
Reviewed in the United States on March 11, 2019
As a total admirer of the BBCA television series "Killing Eve," which is based on this, and as someone who is so often the "but the book was better" guy when it comes to adaptations, I wanted to like this book so much more than I did.
This is just a standard spy thriller, a bit on the dull side, with one-dimensional characters and a meandering plot. In the book's version of the world Eve is after Villanelle not because of the appealing self-questioning or confused obsessiveness Sandra Oh's Eve displays, but simply because she's the good-spy character who is angry that her colleague was killed by the baddie. The book's Villanelle is not the badass mischievous psychopath infatuated with her pursuer as Jodie Comer plays the role, but just another unexcitingly-written assassin who has some dull sex scenes with strangers in between killing people and musing over her tragic past of killing people. The barely-written-at-all supporting cast are also nowhere near as interesting as the TV versions; prepare for the thrilling adventures of stock spy colleague, stock hacker kid, stock assassin guy, stock Chinese person, and so on. This book is "Killing Eve" minus anything that made the TV series interesting.
It's obvious that, while this novel was used as a starting point, the real charm of "Killing Eve" comes from Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Jodie Comer, Sandra Oh, and the rest of the cast and crew adding real depth, spark, charm, and appeal to the characters and settings. This novel is basically the rough-draft pencil sketch of a masterpiece painting, better completed by others.
2.0 out of 5 starsSkip the book. Watch the show, it's much better.
Reviewed in the United States on April 22, 2018
Skip the book. Watch the show. Somewhat exciting but never on the edge of my seat. It was liberally peppered with designer names, popular artists (to the point that it frustratingly pulled me out of the story), but missed opportunities to describe details. For example, it described Villanelle's pants then said she was wearing a "Miu Miu sweater." Not a color, texture or sleeve length, just designer. Is this product placement? Is the author looking for freebies? And there's a "Nikki Minaj song." It was excessive and made me realize how temporary this book is supposed to be. It's like reading a book written in the 70's that describes a club scene where the girl is wearing plaid bell bottoms and the floor is full of people dancing to Afternoon Delight. It's embarrassing at most, distracting at least. On the bright side, you get a little bit of Villanelle's history, which I've either missed in the series or it hasn't been described yet, but likely will. Really, don't spend the money on the book. The series is much better (and I've only seen the first 2 episodes). In addition, Sandra Oh's Eve is much more brilliant/funny/sassy than the author's. The book lacks character development to an extreme degree.
3.0 out of 5 starsThe BBC series is far, far better
Reviewed in the United States on November 4, 2018
I want to find things to like about this compilation, but it’s difficult after watching the BBC adaptation; the television series is so much better, this really was a disappointment.
“Codename Villanelle” lost its first star from me due to a few glaring technical inaccuracies: the author calls a gun magazine a clip (NOT the same thing), and he refers to either a flash-bang grenade or a concussion grenade as a “stun grenade.” This is not a term used by anyone in the know. Why either of these two things mattered to me is that an action/spy thriller depending on weaponry for authenticity needs to be, well, authentic.
The book lost its second star because, frankly, it’s not all that thrilling. *SPOILERS* For example, neither Simon nor Konstantin’s characters are well-developed, so I cared very little when they were both killed off. Also, I’m still at a loss as to why Eve so badly wants to get Villanelle before Simon’s murder. She’s just interested in the rarity of female assassins? Ok...that’s boring.
I wouldn’t recommend this book; I highly recommend the BBC series.
So poorly written that I gave up at page 51 (of 200, paperback), two pages after Eve is finally introduced, and donated the book to the library. Assassin training is lifted from the 1990 'La Femme Nikita' film, including the 'grande dame' teaching her haute couture. Dull plotting and unrealistic dialogue. If you're into thrillers, do yourself a favor and instead read the first two Jack Carter novels by Ted Lewis.
If you've watched the BBC series this brings you up to date at just that point. Season 1. The But is because for $10 I expected more than 4 chapters. However it is an exciting book and really holds your attention. Easy to finish in a day. For those of you who are watching the series, I can tell you this fills in quite a lot of holes you don't get in the series. And it's a little different but not disappointing. You find out who The 12 are and what their goal is from Chapter 1. I didn't quite understand the murder in Italy and now I do. Fully explained as are many other things. Now I question do I spend the money on the companion book or not? I probably will, I just don't like the prices. For the money or a dollar or 2 more this should have been the complete book not a teaser. It's a psychological thriller packed with a lot of action and hidden agendas that make it a page turner. The characters are all well developed. They all have a conflict in their personal and professional lives that overlap and confuse them at times. Especially Eve and Villanelle the 2 main characters. If you don't buy the book i do recommend the series. And vice versa
3.0 out of 5 starsMediocre compared to the TV series
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 19, 2018
Its usually the case that the book is better than the film or tv series but I'm afraid it's not so with this book. Its as though the screen writers took the central plot from an okish book and transformed it into something amazing for TV. If you want ok read the book if you want spectacular watch the tv series
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 29, 2018
I loved watching Killing Eve so thought reading the book would be superior... as the book is always better than the film or tv show, right? The book is better in the detail, the sense of peril, Eve and Villanelle's personal thoughts come to life and the action, which the reader feels party to, is second to none. There is such great action and creative murdering! This really is a fun read and you will love both characters even more than the tv show.
What's different from the show? The off the wall kookiness of Villanelle wasn't there. That's not a bad thing but that is one of the reasons I enjoy the show so much. Eve is also quite a lot more serious and capable. But, I'm good with both of these. I think the trade off of feeling more personally invested in both lovely ladies trumps craziness and capability any day.
If you are looking for a fun spy thriller, this is a winner whether you've watched the show or not. There are plenty of divergences so the story feels fresh.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 23, 2018
Loved the TV series, but the original text is curiously flat, one-dimensional. The author deserves credit for coming up with the idea for the two main characters and the varied and ingenious hits, but it never comes to life on the page. If I'd read the book first, I doubt if I'd have bothered to watch the adaptation. It's usually the other way round for me.
So even more credit to Phoebe Waller-Ridge for spotting its potential and the cast for breathing life into the characters.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 11, 2019
It has been a long time since I gave any book a five star rating, but this one truly deserves it. The ending left me breathless and hungry for more. Although I have many books currently sitting on my TBR mountain, I am going to have to skip over them all to read the next installment, No Tomorrow.
The pace is tremendous and the narrative is never boring. Read it in bed and you will be staring at your clock, wondering if it is really three in the morning.
I started reading Villanelle because I was so impressed by the TV series, Killing Eve and the brilliant performances of Jodie Comer as the cold-hearted protagonist and Sandra Ohas her obsessed pursuer. Although the characters and theme are the same, there are major differences between the book and the drama series. Those differences make it all the more interesting.
There were points of personal interest. For example, the references to a certain Army camp are clearly references to one in which I served a significant part of my own military career. All of the buildings are gone now, but it remains as private Ministry of Defence land. There are also references to places within cities with which I am very familiar, not least the Bois du Boulogne, where Villanelle takes her morning run. I have run around there many times prior to breakfast and work in La Défense.
I thoroughly enjoyed a long passage in which Eve, her colleagues and some clever friends crack a password on a locked file. Limited to three attempts, it is extremely unlikely that they would be able to crack the password in the way that they did, but it was very inventive and a lot of fun for the characters and for the reader.
So, there is nothing left for me to say, except, "Bring on the next volume!"
2.0 out of 5 starsDisappointing writing style switched me off.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 24, 2018
We were so hooked by the TV series of Killing Eve that we watched the whole series over a couple of nights. It was a great story with a mix of dark humour and drama. Characterisation was excellent. On the strength of this I bought the first book; Codename Villanelle, and to say that I was disappointed is an understatement. Whilst I expected that I would already know the story, I was looking forward to reading it with the TV characters stirring my imagination (as I do when reading the excellent 'Bosch'). I was quite pleased to see that the storyline differed from the TV adaptation but was wholly disappointed by the story telling, which was akin to an audio voiceover for the blind. It was one dimensional in the third person, present tense for most of the book, except it didn't draw you into the story, it just appeared that someone uninterested was describing the story to you. I saw it through to the end....well actually, it wasn't an end. It was nothing; just an invitation to buy the next. It is an invitation that sadly I won't be accepting.