We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Finally finished! This book was FANTASTIC by the end but so incredibly boring for such a long time. I wish like crazy this had a better first 2/3 but it really didn't get great until the last 100 pages or so. The end was heartbreaking and cathartic as we find out exactly what Kevin did and how he did it. Read it, but be prepared to hate a good chunk of it.
7/30/2012 - OK here's the real review after I've had some time to digest. There are spoilers in this post.
It took me FOUR MONTHS to finish this book. That is how badly I hated the first 300 pages. I was determined, after having it sit on my desk for so long with people asking me "Oh what's this about? It looks so interesting!" that I was going to finish it, come hell or high water. And I finally did, last night, as I lay in bed determined to get this book OFF of my "Currently Reading" list.
Eva comes off as spoiled, immature, narcissistic, and wholly absorbed in her own perfect life. When Kevin comes along, she sees him as a derailment rather than a continuation. In immediately rejecting her son, her son in turn rejects her. She states it the opposite way at the end, but from her portrayal when she describes the birth, she clearly states that she feels absolutely nothing for this child, and in turn he spurns her. The rest of his life is a power struggle - he wants her to know that he knows she hates him, and he hates her in turn.
The first 1/4 of this book was spent talking about how much Eva and Kevin hated each other, how much her husband loved Kevin to the point of blindness, and how much Kevin despised his father. After 300 pages of this, I had had enough. Thank God that's when it finally started to get interesting. When Eva starts talking about what exactly Kevin Did, and who exactly he killed, and how, and reveals the major plot twist (that, to be honest, I did not see coming) that explains WHY she is writing all these damned letters, it felt like a punch in the gut. THAT is how I wanted to feel for 300 pages. THAT is how I should have been made to feel at least 150 pages sooner.
The ending makes this book. It's like the movie Hancock - the entire movie was a giant stinking piece of crap. And then you get to the hospital scene at the end, and you feel like your heart is being ripped out of you, your stomach is in knots, and you just want to scream. THAT is what this book is like. You want it to be over, and then suddenly the climax happens, and then it's really over. I could have used the climax earlier. That would have made it an AMAZING book, not just a good one.
I've passed this on to the next reader, and hope she will enjoy it more than I did. Finishing this book was like water torture - getting one drip of intensity at regular intervals. But nothing HAPPENED until the end, and even though it had happened in the past, even though it was all being rehashed in letters to a dead person, it is action all the same. It FINALLY fulfilled its purpose, and then it stops.
I'm left still thinking about Kevin, about everyone Kevin destroyed, about his confession to his mother at the end that he doesn't know why he did it anymore, about the fact that these letters Eva has been writing this whole time are to a dead man. I don't know how to feel, really, except that it wasn't quite worth it to strain myself to read it, but then again, maybe it was.
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