Today I am giving my review for the February prompt for #Diverseathon2021: A main character with a mental illness. The book I am reviewing is We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver and I am also giving a movie comparison. This month the host is Lee over at DarkestwingsRead. She is at YouTube, Tumblr and Instagram.
Her announcement post over on YouTube, and she is also hosting a GIVEAWAY!!!! Be sure to click on that link for the giveaway information.
We Need to Talk About Kevin
Author: Lionel Shriver
Narrator: Barbara Rosenblat
Published: April 14, 2003
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: January 28-February 19, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
Eva never really wanted to be a mother. And certainly not the mother of a boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and a much–adored teacher in a school shooting two days before his sixteenth birthday.
Neither nature nor nurture exclusively shapes a child’s character. But Eva was always uneasy with the sacrifices and social demotion of motherhood. Did her internalized dislike for her own son shape him into the killer he’s become? How much is her fault?
Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with Kevin’s horrific rampage, all in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her estranged husband, Franklin.
A piercing, unforgettable, and penetrating exploration of violence and responsibility, a book that the Boston Globe describes as “impossible to put down,” is a stunning examination of how tragedy affects a town, a marriage, and a family.
I had heard of We Need to Talk about Kevin years ago and its shocking ending. I can say I finally read it as a part of #Diverseathon2021: February’s prompt was a character with a mental illness. Well, I listened to the audiobook, and it was quite a challenge for several reasons. It was 15 discs and the final disc was an author interview. I have been listening to books through the Libby app on my phone, but this was only available as a cd, so I listened to it whenever I was in the car and it took a while to finish.
In addition to the length I had issues with the audiobook narrator’s voice. It was almost like nails on a chalk board for me. Also, Eva, our narrator and mother of Kevin is not likeable at all. But I persevered and it ended up being worth it!
Eva speaks to the reader via letters to her husband Franklin. Eva is very detailed, candid, graphic, and everything out there in her nearly daily letters written to Franklin. Eva never wanted to be a mother, but Franklin longed to be a father, so Eva gave him the gift he wanted, and the result was Kevin. Kevin was an issue with Eva from the second he was born. His birth was not an easy one and Eva felt nothing towards Kevin. Some people should not become parents and Eva is one of them! In some ways Eva is an unreliable narrator with her one-sidedness towards Kevin.
The novel is hard to digest and you can’t really read too much at one time, and it does tend to drag at least halfway through. There are some shocking decisions that Eva makes that I could not believe as I read. And the Eva vs. Kevin relationship is just so messed up on so many levels.
We Need to Talk About Kevin leaves you thinking about so many things long after you have read it. Is it nature versus nurture? Was Eva the cause of Kevin’s behavior with her lack of love for him? Or was Kevin born to be a sadistic murderer?
We Need to Talk About Kevin is NOT for everyone. It takes place just 12 days before Columbine, and the Columbine shooters and other school shooters are referenced as well as the 2000 election. Kevin is a very difficult read, but if you can persevere then the ending makes it worth it Kevin is a very difficult read, but if you can preserve then the ending makes it worth it. And again, that ending I just did not see coming. Knowing the ending now, I should have seen the red herrings that were shown throughout!
I don’t think I will ever read this novel again, given the extreme difficulty I had with it, but I am glad I accomplished it. Many thanks to #Diverseathon2021 for ‘causing’ me to finally read this one.
Movie Comparison:Movie Trailer:
We Need to Talk about Kevin the film is very close to the novel. It is not the format of letters, but the movie comes strictly from Eva’s perspective. I did like how we got to see more of the aftermath of the shooting and how the town treated (or mistreated given your opinion) Eva. We get that more than we did in the novel.
Eva does visit Kevin in prison more in the novel than the film, and there was one shocking part from the novel that did not make the film. I would have liked to have seen that particular scene.
Eva is perfectly played by Tilda Swinton who matches the description of Eva to a ‘T’ for me: Tilda Swinton has those angular features which Eva has described in the novel. Ezra Miller plays 15 year old Kevin and he does a fabulous job. Even ‘young Kevin’ who was played by Jasper Newell did a very good job portraying Kevin.
This will most likely be a film I will never watch again, as it is a one time watch film due to the nature of the film. It is one that also leaves you thinking.
I would say read the book first, as you get more of Eva’s personality/ experiences in the novel and then of course that ending is so much more effective than the movie. The movie handles it well, but again the book is much better. It’s hard to say more about the book and film with out giving spoilers, but I would love to discuss this book and movie with someone who has read and seen both!