Book Review

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Publication Date: March 25th, 2003

Publisher: Serpent’s Tail

Genre: Adult Contemporary

Format: Kindle eBook

Pages: 400 pages

Source: Purchased

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository

Rating: 2 sm

Eva never really wanted to be a mother—and certainly not the mother of the unlovable boy who murdered 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 sixteenth 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, Franklyn. 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.


I had originally rated this a three out of five stars, but upon more reflection, I’ve decided to bump it down to two. I really wanted to like this book. When I read the synopsis, it was different and sounded very interesting. However, I found myself really disappointed in this book; mostly because I couldn’t stand the characters. The story is told in a letter format; more specifically, letters from our main character Eva to her estranged husband. The letters, along with the story, make for a very unreliable main character; which is something I don’t have a lot of experience in. It wasn’t exactly that Eva was unreliable that I didn’t like, it was Eva herself.

Eva decides from day one of Kevin’s life that he’s evil. Which let’s face it, he committed mass murder at the age of (almost) sixteen, he’s probably a little evil. (This isn’t a spoiler, it’s literally in the synopsis for the book.) But from day one? Really? I constantly wanted to reach through my kindle and shake this woman. I was meant to read this book with a couple of friends and spent most of our schedule days behind because I just didn’t want to read it. If I’m being completely honest, if I hadn’t been reading it with friends, I probably wouldn’t have.

I actually did like her husband, Franklin, at least for the first half of the book. Most of the book is Eva telling stories from their past, leading up to when Kevin commits the mass murder. I do have to say, the last three-fourths of the book were easier to read. As we got closer to the day Kevin kills his classmates, and to the big reveal at the end, it was able to keep my interest a little better. It just wasn’t enough.

Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this book. I will state that both of my friends seemed to enjoy it for the most part. I, for the most part, didn’t mind the writing style, but it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea either.

*The image and synopsis were both taken from Goodreads. Clicking on the “add to Goodreads” image above will take you to the Goodreads page for this book.*
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